Packing lightly is an art. There is nothing worse than overpacking for a trip and having to drag around excess baggage that slows down your trip. To me, traveling is best done with a small over-the-shoulder purse and backpack, with nothing extra that makes me sweat unnecessarily or cause me discomfort. Here are a few tricks of the trade that I have picked up during my travels:
These metal key rings are so small that they take up no space whatsoever. They also come in extremely handy for bringing along items that refuse to fit into your bag. I always use Carabiner key rings to hook sneakers or flip flops on the outside of my backpack when I have picked up too many souvenirs to force the zipper close. Just make sure not to use them for anything valuable!
Unfortunately, our travels don’t always take us to warm climates. Winter clothing is tricky to pack as the pieces are thicker and often very bulky despite repeated attempts to fold them into submission. Sweaters, sweatshirts, long pants and winter jackets certainly take up more space than t-shirts and bikinis.
To keep yourself warm and still have room in your bag, buy a super convenient ultra-light down jacket that easily rolls up into a manageable size. Uniqlo has a great ultra light down jacket that comes in a small drawstring pouch. LL Bean carries a selection of down jackets that fit into your pocket when rolled up.
A cloth bag is compact, durable and can be used when you don’t feel like bringing all your luggage out exploring with you. Perfect for carrying essentials on a day trip or just wandering around town, they are small enough to keep a close eye on valuables like your passport and money, but large enough to fit necessities like a water bottle, towel or umbrella.
Contact cases are a little travel trick of mine. They are tiny and fit anywhere, and happen to be the perfect size for a day’s worth of toiletries. I bring along a few and fill them with anything from shampoo and conditioner to body lotion and toothpaste. Very handy considering toiletries are very heavy and take up a ton of space.
Microfiber towels are a traveler’s best friend. They roll up to the size of a small puppy and dry in half the time of a regular tower. Bring them along for hiking trips, camping or if you simply want to avoid suspicious hotel towels.
Weather can be incredibly unpredictable, as we all know very well. I am going to the Philippines during typhoon season and definitely do not want to be carrying around a full size umbrella. Luckily, micro umbrellas that range from 6 to 8 inches exist, and can easily be thrown into your bag and forgotten about until you get caught in a downpour.
Books are a partner of long travel times, essential to keeping yourself entertained on the road. Thus, they have always been a necessary inconvenience; a big clunky burden occupying too much space in your bag.
There is really nothing quite like relaxing and cracking open a new book. Initially, making the transition from traditional books to their new digital form was a difficult decision for me. However, if you are constantly on the go and trying to fit your life into a backpack, a Kindle is absolutely essential. Free up space in your bag and lighten up your load even with your entire library on you! Another plus is the Kindle’s incredible battery life. One charge on my Kindle can keep me reading for almost one whole month.