How to Travel Lightly

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By and large, I do not travel lightly.  I am the tiny girl you see juggling the big suitcase, the carry on bag and the, admittedly oversized, personal item.  I am the person you see biting their lip as they place their bag on the scale hoping it doesn’t weigh more than 23 kilos.  You may very well see me crying as I throw out a pair of shoes that pinched my feet because the check in person is mean and doesn’t understand that 24.5 kilos is still within the acceptable range.  At least, it is to me.

Yet, I’m learning how to lighten my travel load both literally and metaphorically.  I’m learning how to make do with the luggage restrictions on easy jet flights and I’m learning how to pack just my Longchamp to explore Italy at a long weekend.  It’s not easy to lighten my load, but it’s a relief not to worry about how I will manage to close my bag.

Here are the top five tips that I’ve learnt about traveling light.  They can be used from your weekend trip to grandmother’s in Delaware or your month-long jaunt around Scandanavia.  Just be sure to pack your underwear and toothbrush!

1. Edit down your clothing to the most essential essentials.  Look, I love to wear something different every day too, but if you’re going on a trip that’s less than a week you probably only need one pair of jeans/pants/trousers.  Perhaps two if you have a fancier engagement.  Looking a little messier is part of the joy of going on vacation.

2. Always travel with a notebook.  Unless you are going on a long backpacking trip or really had no time to plan, ditch the guidebook!  We’re never far from internet, so you don’t have to worry about looking up that address you forgot.  Write down your must-see sights in your notebook to carry with you.  Much lighter and won’t mark you out as a tourist!

3.  Get creative with toiletres.  Travel-sizes aren’t always the most economic or lightest way to make sure you stay fresh-smelling while on the road.  I’ve found that hand-cream can double for body lotion, that small toothpaste usually is worth the investment and that travel-sized mouthwash is a rip off.  It’s also helpful to think about what your hotel (usually not a hostel, sorry) might offer you.  Will they have free body wash in the room?  If so, you can most certainly skip bringing your own!

4.  Think about logistics. Perhaps traveling light for your weekend trip means a single weekend bag, but means a large carry-on for your trip over seas.  Each journey will lead to traveling light in a different way.  Choosing your bag before what you want to put in it will help limit what you want to the essentials.

5. Bring more money and less stuff If you’ve ever read a Let’s Go guidebook, you know that they recommend talking twice the money and half the stuff.  They’ve got a good, if sometimes impractical, idea.  It’s tempting to bring the magazine you want to read, but it might be even more fun to get a new magazine at your destination.  Think of the things you may want to bring back with you in order to think of what you want to take with you.

Do you travel light?  What’s the best light-travel advice you’ve ever received?

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