Make a list, and check it twice: How to travel light?

I’m going on a short trip. 4 days to be exact. That normally would have ment I would have brought along 2, or maybe even 3, bags with stuff I would consider an absolute necessity. And as is always the case with “absolut necessities” I never use them. Along with those bags I would bring a day bag for short trips. So this time I’m going for some ultra light packing. I do have to say in advance that I am a bit cheating, because I will travel along with my parents who have a camper van, so my tent, sleeping bag and (beach)towels will be in there.

In my travel bag:

  • 3 pairs of underwear
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 long sleeve shirts
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 pair of slippers
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 hat (perfect for cold nights)
  • 1 bottle with baking soda
  • 1 bottle with apple cider vinegar
  • 1 package of facial cleaning wipes
  • 1 bar of soap
  • 1 eyeliner
  • 1 mascara
  • 1 small container with face cream
  • 1 pair of PJ’s
  • 1 bikini
  • 1 toothbrush
  • 1 tube of toothpaste
  • 1 container of floss
  • 1 book
  • Phone charger

On my body:

  • Underwear
  • Hair elastic around my wrist
  • Socks
  • Jeans
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Hoodie with zipper
  • Light jacket
  • All Stars
  • Earrings (you will be surprised with what kind of outfits you’ll get away with when wearing pearl earrings)

In my day bag:

  • 1 book
  • 1 notebook + pen
  • 1 iPod
  • 1 camera + lens
  • 1 phone
  • 1 water bottle
  • 1 lip balm
  • Wallet
  • Pocketknife
  • Small umbrella
  • Sunglasses
  • Flash light
  • Small bottle of deodorant
  • Pack of chewing gum
  • Small hairbrush

Would I call this an ultra minimalistic list? No. I could leave the make-up, and therefore the facial cleaning wipes, at home. Do I have to bring an umbrella, camera and iPod with me to survive? No. But it makes the trip just a bit more fun, so I’m taking it with me anyway.

I have the habit of wearing a shirt with spaghetti straps underneath all my long sleeve and t-shirts. So if all of a sudden the sun starts shining, I will just take off my shirt and continue wearing my spaghetti strapped shirt.

So, how to prepare for traveling light?

Put everything you want to bring on a list. By putting everything on a list you get a clearer view of what you are packing. Some things you just have to take with you, like medication. Some things you don’t. At first my laptop was also on the list, but I decided I don’t really need it. I charged my iPod and camera in advance so I could leave the chargers at home. Instead of bringing cotton pads and facial cleaning oil with me, I went with facial cleaning wipes.

Edit your list. Edit it down, way down. Believe me, you don’t need 6 shirts, 3 sweaters and a back-up phone if you’re going on a simple camping trip. Just remember, in most countries you can buy most of the stuff you might find yourself end up needing at the local stores.

Choose the right bag. If you have severe back problems, carrying around a backpack might not be such a good idea. Go to your local outdoors shop to ask for some advice. It’s always a good thing to go for a bag with a bit more quality to it. It will protect your luggage from damage and weather circumstances.

Wash your clothes. You don’t need to bring 14 pairs of underwear with you if you go on a trip for 2 weeks. Just take enough with you for a few days and wash them by hand during your trip. It will take you about 10 minutes and saves you a lot of space in your bag.

Take some wrinkle-free clothes with you. Pick clothes that have an easy-going fabric. You don’t want to bring silk, because the moment you’ll put it in your bag it got wrinkles in it.

Make everything match. You might love your neon green pants and Big Bird-styled shirt, but I’m pretty sure they won’t match everything. Try to go with some more neutral colors like brown, black, blue, grey or white (although I do not recommend white when going out camping. You will see every little stain on it).

Wear multiple layers. Don’t bring multiple heavy sweaters along with you, but become a fan of the layered look. When it gets cold, just put some extra shirts on. The layers will trap air and conserve your body heat.

Pack clothing that you can repurpose. If you’re on a trip where you know you will have to show up in some more formal clothing sooner or later, try to take clothing with you that you can dress up and down. Instead of bringing a heavy blazer, a pair of heels, a nice shirt and an extra pair of pants, you can also go with some dark jeans, a nice shirt and comfortable flats. When you want to dress down, you just replace the nice shirt with a simple t-shirt and maybe replace the flats with some other kind of footwear.

Leave your shoes at home. Of course not all, just put on one pair you can wear with everything else you’ve packed. If you know you’re going to need some more formal footwear, just bring one extra pair of shoes. You don’t need 3 pairs of high heels, really you don’t. You’ll survive, believe me.

Pack efficient. Just dumping everything into your bag might be easy, but it will stab you in the back later. It will take forever for you to find something, your clothing will get all wrinkly and you might even end up with a broken pair of sunglasses. Put the heavy stuff on the bottom of your bag, the light stuff on top of that and the stuff you will be using a lot (water bottle, passport, wallet etc.) at the top of the bag or in some side pockets. Make sure your wallet and passport are in a safe place (consider wearing it on your body).

Go minimalistic on your products. When going on a trip for just a few days, I’m pretty sure you don’t need a big bottle of shampoo, body lotion and other kind of stuff. Try to get some miniature containers of the stuff you want to bring. It saves space and weight.

Enjoy your trip!

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One thought on “Make a list, and check it twice: How to travel light?

  1. Growing up my family never went on vacations, so by the time I hit 18 and went on a few vacations I had no clue how much I would realistically need to pack for trips! I always overpacked on clothing, finding myself annoyed when I came home that it could have been avoided. On the upside I always was a huge stickler about packing neatly and getting my clothes into the smallest bag possible. Making a list has always helped me, now I just always need to cut it down to size by figuring out how to wear my clothes multiple ways!

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