How to pack light

The secret of how to pack light is simple:
travel with one carry-on and one personal item
(just one backpack is even better)

Advantages of packing light

Pack light: one carry-on and backpack

Less time at airports
No lost bags
No baggage fees
Easy to carry
Packing is fast and easy
Less stress

Buy a lightweight, durable carry-on

Which carry-on to choose? There many options in department stores and online. My favorite one is Eagle Creek lightweight Tarmac 22 carry-on. These carry-ons are very durable. They have a lifetime warranty.  Watch this video and you will understand why I chose this carry-on over all others.

Pack as little as possible

Select clothes you think you will need, spread them on the bed or table, and start eliminating at least half. Even after taking much less than you planned initially, after coming back home you will be surprised to find out that you did not wear some clothes. Do not forget to leave a little space for things you may buy during your trip.

On my trip to Myanmar (Burma), we had a couple in our group. They had two huge suitcases on wheels, two carry-ons, and two backpacks. Even with all the help at each hotel, they still got their share of dragging the luggage around. I felt sorry for them.

Heavy luggageEach day they wore a new set of clothes without ever wearing the same item again. The woman even had matching jewelry for each outfit. Of course, she looked very much put together, but I was wondering about the amount of time she spent each morning choosing what to wear.

My simple calculations showed: she brought 14 sets of clothing and 14 sets of matching jewelry for two weeks of traveling in Myanmar. We moved from city to city every two days. She must have been very busy in her hotel rooms organizing and packing her things instead of relaxing and enjoying the trip.


Smartphone to make phone calls, read emails, send text messages, or use GPS. Pack charger and adapter.

Laptop will be useful if you want to watch moves online, have some work to do, want to download photos from your camera, or read books. Pack power cord for charging a laptop battery, adapter, and USB flash drive.

Digital camera. Do not forget to take along such accessories an extra lens, battery and memory card, a charger, a monopod, a cable for downloading images to your computer.

IPad, tablet, EBook, or portable media player. Before you leave home download eBooks, and music.

Headphones/earbuds for listening to music or watching movies on your IPad or laptop. Take along a Y-jack so you can do in with a partner at the same time.

Use packing cubes

Buy Eagle Creek packing cubes and folders to keep your clothes organized inside your suitcase. Pants can go in one Eagle  Creek folder, shirts in the vacuum bag, and underwear in a smaller packing cube. Or purchase their new Specter Cube set in a thinner, water-resistant Nylon material and bright orange color.

Use travel-sized bottles; toiletries

If during the trip you run out of something, you can buy almost everything in other countries, and even cheaper. Buy a folding travel brush, take mini-floss, small tubes of toothpaste.
I travel with only a carry-on and a small backpack. That’s why I do not have to check in the luggage. If you forgot something,  each hotel has complimentary travel-size shampoo, conditioner, soap, sometimes even razors, sewing kits, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.

Layers of clothes

Do not pack a bulky sweater or coat. Put in your carry-on thinner clothes that you can often exchange when the weather is warm, or dress in layers if it’s cold. Packing carry-on

Sometimes, taking only light clothes can catch up with you. Once, in December, we had to go from Florida to Thailand  – from one tropical place to another.  To change the planes in New York,  we took the airport shuttle from the domestic terminal to the international one.

It was a short ride, but we had to spend several minutes in the freezing temperatures waiting for that shuttle. Probably, we were the only people in New York dressed in T-shirts and shorts on the cold December day. Since that trip, we make sure that we take jackets with us.

Travel in your bulkiest Items

If you need a coat, a bulky sweater or a pair of boots, bring them on the plane with you. They are hard to fit in your bag.

How many pairs of shoes to bring?

Shoes take a lot of space in the luggage. Personally, I take only three pairs:

Flip flops. I can use them in the hotel room, by the pool, or on the beach.

Sneakers. Make sure they are comfortable. Sandals: for warm weather. If it is cold, then instead of sandals I pack a pair of black sneakers which can work well for semi-formal events.

Sandals. for warm weather. If it is cold, then instead of sandals I pack a pair of black sneakers which can work well for semi-formal events.

Pack for one week only

Pack clothes only for one week. Forget about changing clothes every day. Wash and dry your light clothes in a hotel. Use hotel laundry service for heavier items.

Put things inside of things

Pack small items like socks or chargers into your shoes to save room in the suitcase.

Bring from home a nylon drawstring backpack

You do not have to pack so thoroughly when your tour bus takes you from city to city. To free some space in your carry-on, you can bring from home a nylon drawstring backpack and use it as a day backpack. Put there whatever you need for a day –  book, cosmetic bag, camera, snack,  water bottle, etc. This way you do not have to pack the same way that you do when you get ready for a flight.

Before packing, consider your medical condition

Get a letter from your physician, listing your current medications. Make sure that your prescriptions are in their original bottles. Do not pack your medication in checked luggage.

I always carry baby aspirin in my purse. If a fellow traveler has a heart attack, it is advisaTake your medicationble to give this person a couple of baby aspirin tablets to chew. This simple measure can save a life.

Some travel publications advise bringing a copy of eyeglasses prescription. However, it’s not easy to replace the glasses in a foreign country, especially if your itinerary requires you to move from city to city every couple days.

Personally, I do not bring the prescription for glasses. I pack the second pair in a hard case. If my glasses get broken or lost, I can use another pair immediately.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a potentially life-threatening medical condition, that emergency personnel should be aware of?
  • Do you have allergies?
  • Do you know your blood type?
  • Do you wear a medical alert bracelet or medallion on a chain?
  • Do you have a medical alert card in your wallet/handbag?

If you follow the above advice on how to pack light, your overseas trips will be much more enjoyable. Why (you will ask yourself) during my previous trips I had to drag along a pile of things, most of which I did not need on the road?

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