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How to Pack Light for Your Next Trip

by Bethany
how to pack light

Packing light will be one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Packing light does not mean reducing your items to a small sack and foregoing the shoes. There is a middle ground. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to pack light for your next trip.

How To Pack Light – Simply and Coordinate Your Items

What You Decide to Bring is Everything. The best tip I can give you is to simplify what you take in the bag with you. Here are some easy ways to do this. 

Bring ONE pair of jeans

Jeans are versatile and easy to dress up and down. Yet they are also very heavy and can be bulky. Only bring one pair of jeans (if you must) and instead see about bringing some light and breezy pants or slacks.

Choose a color palette

I know this may seem boring, but it really is not! Having pieces that ALL go together or can be interchangeable means you need to bring less with you. Look at capsule wardrobes for ideas of what to bring. You could also YouTube the 10×10 challenge which is a great way to see how ten items can easily make 10 outfits even for travel.

Only pack for one week

Never bring more than one week’s worth of clothes. If you are gone for a longer period of time, be willing to handwash things or send them out with a laundry service for washing. We handwash in the sink all the time with a little bit of Dr. Bronner’s soap and warm water. Less is more when it comes to how to pack light.

Pack the right fabrics

If you can, bring clothes that are breathable and “stink resistant” like Merino Wool or a tech fabric. Building up a wardrobe that has travel-friendly clothes as regular clothes too is what we have done. Looking for a new item for travel? Here is what to look for as you shop.

Use accessories to keep it interesting

You know how I suggested one color palette (like all neutrals)? Use your accessories to keep things interesting. Bring a bright scarf, a few bangles, or a hat to bring an outfit to life. Let the accessories be what diversifies your travel outfits.

Layer up, Not bulk up

Pack items you can layer for those cold nights. Only bring one jacket if you have to, otherwise, rely on having a laying system in order to stay warm and reduce the bulk in your bag.

Pack solids over liquids

If you can reduce the number of small liquid filled bottles this will reduce the chances of spilling and reduce the weight of your bag. If you can opt for the solid soap or toiletries instead of liquids.

Be selective with your shoes

Pack the lightest pair of shoes you own. Typically a pair of sandals or flats. Wear your heavy pair like sneakers or nice work shoes. If you can, only bring two pairs of shoes, max three pairs.

Pack wisely and utilize all space

Packing your actual bag is a bit of an art form. You not only need to fold and roll, but you will also need the right tools to get the job done. Here are some tips to use every once of space well. 

Toiletries bag

A good toiletries bag is everything. I also prefer to only have one bag instead of 12 small bags as I have done in the past. Here is one that has separate compartments and is easy to organize. It is the cutest? No, but that really doesn’t matter.

Wear your heavy items on the plane

When you start to pack, always keep the plane outfit over on the side. Make sure your heavier items like a sweater or scarf, are included in this outfit combo for the plane. This will make your life so much easier.

Use packing cubes or packing bags

I swear by packing cubes and packing bags. Not only can you organize, but you can also compress items. It makes opening your bag in the hotel room easy too, nothing spills open everywhere.

Have a backpack that actually keeps you organized

While not everyone is going to need a new bag, having one you like and that works as a carry on is essential. We prefer backpacks for travel since we typically have layovers where we need to walk across airports.

Ditch the “things to do”

When traveling there is some serious downtime on the plane or the airport and we all need something to do, but don’t make it books or heavy items. Instead, opt for a Kindle or better yet just your phone. While I still bring a camera with me, I only bring my phone unless it is a work trip. I can get everything done from one hub, even reading.

Roll your clothes or at least be careful about how you pack them up

The folding methods for clothes are endless and include the Konmari method. We prefer rolling our clothes nice and tight inside the packing cubes. Whatever works for you, just be sure to fold to utilize the space.


We regularly travel for work and for fun. I am a hardcore convert of traveling with only a carry-on bag. This makes an international flight especially pleasant. I never have to worry about losing my luggage and not having what I need with me during a long layover. 

I also never feel in need or like I missed out when I pack one carry-on. You may be surprised what you think you need on a trip, versus what you actually need. Try packing light the next time you travel and let me know how it goes! 

Any travelers have tips to add to this list? Do you have any hacks on how to pack light that work for you?

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Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early May 8, 2019 - 6:12 am

Always wear my one pair of jeans on the plane! And ebooks have been a total game changer for me because it isn’t a vacation without multiple books to read.

Bethany May 12, 2019 - 7:08 pm

I need to still get into the e-book game. I just love a paperback book. It “feels” right to me you know? But when I travel I end up leaving books behind and just listening to podcasts, music, or watching shows instead of reading. A
And I totally agree! Wear the jeans on the plane if it is a short flight. I can’t wear jeans for long-haul flights. 🙂


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