The magic of travel does not lie in carrying, but in leaving behind. It’s not about recreating the same world we live in at home, piece by piece, but in exploring a different world altogether.
I have always been a traveller. I have always been a dreamer. I dream about faraway places and the people living there and I always imagine what life would be like if those surroundings became my everyday life. I love nothing more than traveling to those distant places with nothing but a deep wanderlust and a suffering back account.
I have travelled through my pregnancies, I have travelled through those newborn months, and those experiences have somewhat prepared me for all kinds of ups and downs that travel throws at us. For example, I know now that tugging along unnecessary, redundant stuff that MIGHT get used is a waste of precious luggage space (which can be filled with a keepsake or souvenir on your way back) and hinders down your practicality during the trip. So I have become a light traveler : I pack minimum things and if need arises I buy the particular item during the trip.
Packing light means throwing a little bit of caution to the wind. You have to be in that frame of mind and then just go for it. Do your best but accept that you might need to use a scarf as a shawl; you might not have a waterproof jacket if it rains; you might have to wear your boots when the day calls for sandals, and you might not have the perfect formal attire should you be invited by The Queen. Alas.
For instance, if you are packing just for a weekend trip, wear your trusty jeans with a favorite comfy top, put on a pair of sturdy shoes, and you shouldn’t have to pack more than another favorite top, a casual dress, a jacket or sweater and pjs. I won’t judge if you throw in another pair of shoes too. But thats about it. Pack stuff that all goes together so it should be easy to mix and match and repeat.
Some thoughts below on packing light and smart.
Choose a color palette and pack basics:
Choose a color palette for the trip and then pick clothes accordingly. Having the whole bag, more or less, from the same color family means that everything can be worn together.
Choose your hardworking stuff, not your fussy stuff. Stick to basics — everyday jeans, comfy tees, a casual dress that can be dressed up in the evening, a favorite sweater that works both over jeans or dress. And of course comfy pjs. There is not much you would need after that.
Choose quality over quantity, and timelessness over trendiness.
Choose a small bag:
Keeping the size of the bag small is restricting in a good way, and it doesn’t let you fill it with extra pairs of shoes or your stylish new blazer that you don’t necessarily need on your trip.
If going for a longer time (a fortnight, a month), pack just enough clothes for a week:
Whether you are going away for a couple of weeks or a month, you don’t need to pack stuff for more than a week away. Plan to do laundry while away and save the hassle of tugging along a big part of your wardrobe.
Overpacking almost always comes from wanting be prepared. What if it rains? What if it hails? What if its sweltering? Pack for the probable weather and leave the rest of ‘what ifs’ to fate and wing in!
Bring the stuff you actually like:
Don’t be overwhelmed by the million travel essential lists online. YOU are the one who has to wear that stuff, so if you aren’t comfortable in it, chances are you won’t take it out of your bag, and definitely not wear it again and again. Bring the stuff that makes you feel your best!
Wear your bulkiest stuff:
I have written about it before here. Always try to wear your bulkiest or heaviest things. Pack the sandals, wear the boots. Throw the chunky sweater or oversized coat over your shoulder, pack the tees. It does mean that you can get extra warm in plane or car but you can always remove the outer layer once seated. Its better than lugging the extra weight anyhow.
Roll them up:
This isn’t what I practiced a few of months ago, but now I am a convert for life! Rolling your clothes makes them easy to spot in the bag, saves them from much wrinkling, and makes them easy to access. Just fold a piece into a neat rectangle and then roll it up from there.
Go minimalist, I say, and let travel transform you. Because isn’t that the point?