Travel Tips for Packing Light

Hello, beautiful friends!

Today I wanted to share a few of our top travel tips for packing LIGHT. πŸ™‚

Check out this short video to see what I packed for our 2 week trip to Italy- this backpack was my ONLY piece of “luggage” for the whole 2 weeks!

(Click Here to Jump to My Packing List)

In years past, I have totally been “that person” with a giant suitcase AND multiple carry-on bags… however, I found that I only used a fraction of what I packed- and all of that extra stuff was not enhancing my travel experience!

Image of a backpack full of clothes
I wrap extra shoes in a plastic bag to keep them separate from clothes.

Learning the art of “curating” my packing selections to a minimum has enhanced my overall enjoyment of travel.

Why I Love Traveling Lighter

#1 TRANSPORTATION: Traveling lighter allows me to relax and not be stressed out about needing roomy storage options for my luggage when traveling around countries that use metro systems (not fun with luggage)… or countries that LOVE TINY CARS…. which, fun fact, happens to be most of the world outside of the United States. πŸ™‚

#2 STAIRS: Along with the tiny-car-love-affair going on in most of the world, many of the cities and villages that I adore have ZERO elevators and LOTS of steps… Nuf’ said.

#3 AIRPORT-PHOBIA: I do NOT miss lugging all of my bags around the airport or waiting for eons at baggage claim, and I definitely do not miss the fear of my bags getting lost between legs of international flights (*ahem*- Russia…)

Prepping: lay it all out and then eliminate, edit, and curate as needed! Seeing each item helps me prioritize and evaluate.

Tips for Packing Lighter

#1 Choose Coordinating Clothing. This is the same theory as building a capsule wardrobe. If you’re going to pack light, you have to be more intentional about which items you select. By going with coordinating colors and fabrics, you can have many different outfit variations with a handful of items. You can “spice things up” with pops of color or design with a couple items, while keeping the majority of your options interchangeable. I use the same rule for my shoe choices.

#2 Embrace Old-Fashioned Laundry. If you are not staying somewhere that provides laundry service, then make sure you have a basic soap or detergent that you can use to give your clothes a quick rinse at the end of the day. This works great during the Summer because your clothing can air dry and be ready to be folded by the next morning. This keeps everything fresh and ready to wear.

Old-fashioned laundry tip: don’t overcomplicate this. I usually just give my clothing a rinse in the shower after I finish showering. Wring allllll of the water out of the fabric and stretch or hang dry somewhere well ventilated (often on our balcony chair).

#3 Shampoo Soap Bars. These are my new obsession for light traveling! There are many great brands to choose from, so I suggest choosing one that suits your needs (moisturizing, cleansing, etc.). I purchased a Chagrin Valley shampoo soap bar from Whole Foods that worked great. I even used it for my laundry and it left my clothes (as well as my hair) fresh and clean with no build-up!

#4 Choose Wrinkle Resistant Clothing. Since you may not have access to a clothes iron, make your life easier with minimal wrinkle clothing. If you do have an item that wrinkles easier, you can just take it out the evening before wearing and rub a warm damp cloth over it. Lay it on a flat surface to dry.

#5 Streamline Your Toiletries & Makeup – curate a go-to simplified regimen of the items that keep you looking, smelling, and feeling your best… without the unnecessary extras! Remember that we usually use a fraction of the items that we bring on a trip- so embrace the freedom of a pared-down small-but-mighty collection of your favorites!

The tote (above) that I usually use for shorter beach trips has just enough space for 4-5 days.

Anything that can be multi-purpose is a great choice when you’re trying to streamline: a lipstick that can also function as a blush, an eye pencil that also works as an eyebrow filler, a lip balm that also works as a highlighter, etc… get creative!

#6 Use the Fold ‘n’ Roll Method for Packing Clothes. By taking the time to smooth any wrinkles out, fold the item into a narrow strip, and then firmly roll it up into a jelly-roll log shape you can reduce the amount of wrinkles and pack more in a compact space. If this is new to you, watch the super short mini-video that goes with this post to get a better idea of what I mean!

The “fold and roll” method help pack everything in snug little bundles

The season, weather, and purpose of your trip will dictate much of what you decide to pack- but I hope this packing list and tips help get you thinking and packing lighter (and more intentionally)!

2 Week Summer Packing List

Packing light frees me up to enjoy active travels and days of adventure with less hassle! Here is a list of what I packed for our 2 week trip to Italy during the middle of the Summer heat- all in a small backpack!

Ingredients

Clothing

  • 5 Pairs Underwear
  • 3 Bras Neutral colors, 1 classic, 1 strapless, 1 sports
  • 3 Pairs Socks 2 lightweight footies & 1 warm pair for the airplane
  • 4 Tops (plus the top that I would wear for traveling)
  • 2 Pairs Shorts Jean shorts and a lightweight black pair for hiking
  • 3 Dresses Lightweight materials
  • 1 Camisole Neutral
  • 1 Swimsuit
  • Rain Jacket, lightweight This can also be used as a windbreaker on cool evenings or a long flight.
  • 2 Scarves, lightweight Handy for keeping your hair up on a hot day and also to cover your shoulders if a historic site or cathedral require this before entering (common in Italy).
  • 1 Pair Sandals, comfortable for walking (wear your 2nd pair of shoes during travel)

Toiletries

  • 1 Shampoo Soap Bar Multi-purpose washing bar perfect for compact travels! I purchased the Chagrin Valley shampoo bar from Whole Foods store. It even worked great for washing clothes.
  • Sunscreen, mineral sunscreen stick Choosing a stick over liquid helps avoid any leaks in my bag.
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • Makeup Removing Towel I love re-usable microfiber makeup removal towels. Rinse it out at night and it will be dry by the morning!
  • Toiletries / Makeup Bag Such as: BB cream, mascara, eye pencil, concealer, lip color, lip balm, hair ties, hair pins, tweezers, razor, & floss (toothpaste/brush kept in my front backpack pocket to be within reach)

Miscellaneous

  • Vitamins and Supplements Traveling can tax our immune systems, so don't forget this!
  • Travel Wallet Just large enough to fit my license, money, and credit card. We carried our passports in a concealed passport pouch.
  • 1 Guide Book or Dictionary
  • 1 Printed Itinerary or Map Include the address and phone numbers of any lodging destinations- in case you were to lose your phone and needed a printed reference
  • Copy of Passport It's a good idea to have a backup copy stored separate from your real passport (just in case)
  • Other Small Items Items that I put in the front pocket of my bag to easily access: toothbrush, toothpaste, mini essential oil packets, hand sanitizing packets, my dental retainers, a sleeping mask, a bag for trash or dirty laundry, & snacks

Video

There are definitely times that I “need” more luggage (i.e. to bring my scuba gear to the coast). And that’s totally fine! This isn’t an exclusive rule that I must always adhere to; rather, it’s more like a game that also makes my experience while traveling so much more enjoyable!

I hope something in this post inspires you. Please share your best pack-lighter tips in the comments below!

XOXO

Abi

Makeup Removing Towel

24 Comments

  1. Reply

    Julie

    09/08/2021

    This post is sooo timely for me. I travel all the time but I’m a horrible packer. I just went to San Francisco for a weekend and it looked like I was packing for a month! I think laying it all out ahead of time is going to help because I throw things in my suitcase and then when I get to my destination, I can’t figure out why I brought some of those things πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/09/2021

      I have had the same feelings as well… I hope it helps!! πŸ™‚ Happy traveling to you!

  2. Reply

    Pam

    09/08/2021

    I am super impressed. I thought I was a pretty good packer, but you are amazing! I can usually get a week’s worth of clothing in one small bag, but then I do like to take my diffuser, portable yoga mat and extra sweatshirts for when I get cold!

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/09/2021

      Hi Pam, I hear you on the sweatshirt thing!! I don’t like to be cold either, so I often wear sweats on the plane- or at least a sweater around my shoulders. πŸ™‚ It sounds like you put a good bit of thought and intention into your packing choices- which is the most critical piece to packing lighter! Nice work.

  3. Reply

    Jessica S

    09/08/2021

    With 2 kids I am not good at packing light. I’m gonna have to try some of these tips out. Wish me luck!

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/09/2021

      All we can do is try our best!! Traveling with kids definitely requires additional planning- especially when they’re young! πŸ™‚ Good luck!

  4. Reply

    Donna

    09/08/2021

    Abi,

    Thank you for your video, packing list and wonderful tips. I especially liked the idea of a shampoo bar.

    Most importantly you mentioned using things that serve double duty, and coordinating clothing pieces so they mix and match.

    As a fellow traveler, I too have also embraced packing light. Your article nailed it!
    What I loved the most was your video, which really shows just how little you really need, and how perfectly you packed your backpack.
    Happy travels
    Donna

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/09/2021

      Aww, thank you Donna! I have found so much more enjoyment in traveling lighter in recent years. It’s amazing to me how much unnecessary “stuff” I used to lug around in my suitcases and how little I really need… happy travels to you as well!!

  5. Reply

    Michelle

    09/08/2021

    I hadn’t thought about using shampoo soap bars before reading your post. Such a good idea when trying to pack light!

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/09/2021

      Yes! Shampoo bars were game-changers for me!! πŸ™‚

  6. Reply

    Ceci Rey

    09/08/2021

    Great post! I like the tip of how to keep your clothes fresh…I will remember that one! πŸ‘“πŸ•πŸ¨

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/09/2021

      Thanks, Ceci!! Good luck and happy travels!

  7. Reply

    Molly

    09/08/2021

    Thank you, thank you. As someone who travel mostly solo, I have found traveling light is very important. Multi purpose products save so much room. There is just no way I will ever go back to multiple suitcases. Great tips.

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/09/2021

      Hi, Molly! I totally agree- it’s hard to imagine ever going back to how I used to pack. There’s so much more freedom in packing light! πŸ™‚ Best wishes and happy travels!

  8. Reply

    H

    09/08/2021

    I love the idea of the shampoo soap bar. I will have to buy one of those for my next trip

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/09/2021

      It’s definitely one of my favorite travel-hacks! πŸ™‚

  9. Reply

    Kileigh Knott

    09/08/2021

    This list is great!! I too am all about packing light. Less is more. Less mess, fewer options , fewer things to forget. Thank you

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/09/2021

      Yes!! So true- less IS more. Happy travels to you!

  10. Reply

    Holly

    09/09/2021

    LOL! I had a huge smile on my face chuckling to myself when reading this post. I, too, was the one back in the day with the humonguous (sp)suitcase lugging it around. I, too, was the one that when we got back home to unpack I realized I hadn’t taken most of the clothes out of the case! My husband though, The Big Guy, has always had that “i’ve got what i need in my pack -underwear, socks, tshirt”. I learned a valuable lesson in our Thai trip that converted me to minimal packing. Great post!

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/14/2021

      That’s fantastic, Holly!! Good for you! I love that story. πŸ™‚

  11. Reply

    Lori

    09/09/2021

    I agree whole-heartedly with traveling light. We recently took a two-week trip to Maine, flying to Boston from Michigan, then road-tripping up the coast. Our friends could not believe that all we had for luggage was a carry-on each. The cottage we rented had a washer and dryer, so we figured we could make it through a week with a carry-on.

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/14/2021

      Good for you all, Lori!! That sounds like a lovely trip. It’s amazing how little we actually need- and access to a washer and dryer is a huge bonus!

  12. Reply

    Marianne

    09/13/2021

    We just got back from a 3 week road trip with 2 kids, and we DEFINITELY overpacked! Even though we didn’t have to worry about flying, the suitcase still had to be lugged from hotel to hotel! I think I am getting worse not better! LOL. Will keep your tips in mind for our next flight! Goal is carry-on bags only!

    • Reply

      Abigail

      09/14/2021

      Oh my goodness, what a fun trip! It is SO easy to over-pack, but lugging all the luggage is no fun… especially with kids! I’m always trying to find ways to improve as well. You’ve got this!! πŸ˜‰

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