Traveling to 22 countries all over the world in less than 10 months will teach you a thing or two about what is & what is not essential to bring with you. After experiencing this with a 50 pound backpack stuffed with clothes, I have definitely formed an opinion on the topic of overpacking.
Let's just say that I vowed to never travel that way ever again.
Instead, for my own sanity, I learned the art of packing light & converted to #TeamCarryOnOnly.
If you're a frequent flyer, a digital nomad, a backpacker, a van-lifer, or just don't want to deal with the hassle, stress, & inconvenience of extra baggage, this pack light guide is here to help you figure out what you need, what you don't, & how you can start adventuring easier from your next trip forward.
Why pack light?
Simply put, packing light makes any adventure easier.
And by easier, I mean packing light saves time & money, is more convenient, & is much less frustrating than overpacking all the 'what-ifs' & 'just-in-case-I-have-tea-with-the-Queen' items.
- It's easier on your body since you won't be lugging around an unnecessarily heavy bag
- It takes less time to pack (& unpack) and wash your clothes
- You'll save money on checked bag fees
- You can carry it on a flight & don't risk the airline losing it
- Since it doesn't need to be checked, you can skip baggage claim and get right to the adventure
- You never have to leave your bag behind since it's light enough to sight-see with
- You can spend more of your trip making memories & less time focusing on your baggage
So what do you say? Are you ready to join #TeamCarryOnOnly so you can pack light & adventure easy?
The first step would be to build your travel capsule wardrobe to keep your packed bag to a fashionable, functional, & comfortable minimum.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a capsule wardrobe is "a small collection of clothes that can be put together in different ways and includes everything you would normally need to wear."
A capsule wardrobe is the easiest way to pack tons of outfit combinations & still be able to pack light.
SPLICE clothing makes it easy to build your capsule wardrobe, by offering pre-built capsules. Packing reversible clothing means you can more than double your outfit options. You can start your capsule wardrobe with SPLICE clothing & then build on it with other items of clothing or accessories to make it your own.
Although different destinations may call for different clothing, a travel capsule wardrobe is like your starting point for what you could pack for anywhere. The items in your capsule are your go-to basics so you don't have to toil over what to pack before every trip.
To create your travel capsule wardrobe, you should choose clothing, shoes, & accessories that are all in the same color families & can easily be mixed and matched and layered to create a variety of looks.
Your travel capsule wardrobe should include things like:
- one basic tee you can dress up or down & wear with nearly anything
- one pair of pants that are comfy & cute
- something to keep you warm on the plane or if it gets chilly
- something that makes you feel pretty
Create your travel capsule wardrobe in the combination that would work best for your travel style. SPLICE clothing has combinations such as:
Your travel capsule wardrobe is basically your adventure uniform, so create one that you love & that will work for nearly all of your adventures. It will cut down on the amount of time it takes you to put together outfits & pack for your trips, so it's important that the items in your capsule are clothes you could see yourself always wearing while traveling.
There are a few more things to keep in mind when picking out your travel capsule wardrobe & other clothing you'll pack in your carry-on.
How to pick clothes for packing light?
ACTIVITIES - Take into consideration what sorts of activities you typically partake in when you travel. If you enjoy a lot of active activities, you should include more activewear or clothing that is functional for those types of activities.
FABRIC - Be mindful of fabrics when picking your travel wardrobe. Choose clothing with wrinkle-resistant, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, & lightweight fabrics if possible. Polyester, bamboo, nylon, lyocell, modal, & wool are typically good fabrics to choose in travel wear. Read the tag or the care label inside the garment to find out the content of the fabric. Definitely don't pack clothes that are dry-clean only.
POCKETS - Pockets are great for securing your most important items such as your passport, cash, credit cards, keys, documents, etc. Having clothing with hidden and/or zippered pockets is definitely beneficial, especially when traveling with all your stuff in tow.
COMFORT - Comfort is paramount when traveling, so pick clothes that don't make you uncomfortable after wearing them for a long time. Look for soft materials with no seams or stitching in weird places, items that aren't super hot or heavy, & make sure you purchase clothes in the right size that fit comfortably.
PURPOSE - Clothes that are functional & serve a definite purpose are they only clothes you should be packing. Don't pack items that you aren't sure why you're packing them. Pack items you know you'll get use out of. Because in most cases, if you didn't pack something that you absolutely need, you can probably still buy it at your destination.
Now that you know how to build the perfect travel capsule wardrobe and pick the right clothes to pack light for any adventure, it's time to get to packing!
How to pack light for any any trip:
The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to pack light. Here is what I would suggest:
Do your research
This includes researching:
- the airline requirements & policies for carry-on luggage if you're flying
- the weather of your destination(s)
- the culture(s) of your destination(s)
- what activities you plan to do while traveling
Knowing all of this will help you decide what you can leave behind & what are non-negotiables.
Gather your packing equipment
It's important to have your bag ready before you start getting your clothes together, because it gives you parameters. Make a point to only pack what can fit into that bag or suitcase.
What type of luggage you use is totally your preference. Some people love using a backpack so they can sling it on their back and be hands-free. Some people would rather go easy on their back & use a rolling suitcase. Choose your preferred carrying vessel wisely.
No matter what big bag you pack in, I always recommend using packing cubes as they are a great way to keep your things organized. You can organize by clothing type (tops in one cube, bottoms in another, & undergarments and socks in another) or by outfits (which is a great way to pack a travel capsule wardrobe).
If you'd like, bring a small bag to keep dirty clothes separate from clean clothes. I always did this so when it came time to wash those dirty clothes, especially if I was bringing it to a laundromat, it was easy to just grab and go & keep them all together in one place.
If you don't want to carry all your things with you day to day, bring a small daypack or purse you can use for daily outings or excursions when you leave the bulk of your belongings behind. Throw your wallet, your keys, sunglasses, phone, jacket, etc. into it while you explore. If you're flying and the airline allows you to have a personal item, your daypack or purse can be that. It's also useful for carrying-on large electronics such as laptops or tablets.
Lastly, bring a bag or something to store your toiletries in such as your toothpaste, soaps, make-up, etc. I like to keep these separate so they are easy to remove when going through airport security if they're liquids & so I can just grab it out of my bag after arriving in a destination & keep it in the bathroom the whole time for easy access to whatever I need.
Gather what you plan to pack
This includes your travel capsule wardrobe, any other clothing items you have deemed necessary for this trip, your accessories like shoes, glasses, hats, scarves, jewelry (limit all of these things!), your toiletries, your electronics, any medications, airplane entertainment, & whatever else you plan to pack.
Remember that some things, if needed, can probably be purchased where you are traveling to if you aren't able to fit it in your bag or if you forget it.
Some things you don't need to bring are:
- physical books (I know page turning in real life is different than electronically, but they're just too bulky)
- more than 3 pairs of shoes (try to limit it to 3 pairs that all have a definite purpose and will match with your wardrobe items)
- full-sized toiletries (buy small travel sizes or transfer some from your big bottles to travel-sized containers - most liquids can not be carried on a plane if they are more than 3 oz.)
So if you have any of that laid out, put it back right now & leave it at home. And remember this famous quote:
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money” – Susan Heller
Packing Methods & Tips
Give yourself plenty of time to pack before take off. If you decide to pack last minute, chances are you won't have enough time to cut back on what you don't really need & will end up taking 'what-if' and 'just-in-case' items and then lugging them around your whole trip, maybe not even using them. But if you give yourself ample time to prepare a well-packed bag, it'll be easy to pack light.
Here are a few different pack light methodologies & how to do them.
Army Roll Method
Bundle Packing Method
Washing Your Clothes
One caveat to packing light is that depending on the length of your trip, you might need to wash your clothes as you go. This is probably the worst part of traveling long-term. Whether you have to wash on the road or you come back from a trip with a mountain of dirty clothes to get through, it always sucks. By packing light, you may have to wash a little more often, but its less you need to wash each time. It would take me over an over to hand wash all the clothes I packed when I traveled around the world, & that is way too much time spent not adventuring.
In many places, you can find laundromats who will wash your clothes for you or maybe the hotel you're staying at has a laundry facility. If neither of these are the case, you can always hand wash in the bathroom sink. This is why it is important to choose quick-drying fabrics in case you need to hang dry your clothing after washing. So make sure to choose clothing that is easy to wash and care for. For more information on how to wash your clothes while traveling, check out this post. Packing lighter travel-friendly clothing makes washing them a much smaller load to bear.
So did I convince you that packing lighter will make any adventure easier?
Take it from me, you don't need to spend months on end with 50 pounds of luggage to find out for yourself. Join #TeamCarryOnOnly and start implementing this advice and using the tools to pack light, so you never waste your time and energy overpacking again.
At SPLICE clothing, our goal is to make adventures easier for women travelers and one way we do that is by designing reversible clothing to help them pack light. If you're ready to start building your perfect travel capsule wardrobe, check out our capsules or if you just need to add one or two new versatile pieces to your closet or suitcase, check out our whole collection!
If there is anything else we can do to help you pack light, or if there is any questions we can answer, please contact us! Feel free to send us your feedback and suggestions as well!