Say Goodbye To Overstuffed Suitcases And Hello To Traveling Lighter
Less is more when it comes to packing (and organizing) your travel wardrobe
If you have to sit on your suitcase to close it, you’ve probably packed too much.
Packing for a trip is always a challenge, but when you’re packing for a trip longer than a few days, the task can feel impossible. The temptation to bring your entire wardrobe is strong (because you might just need that shirt you haven’t worn in three months), but there’s only so much space in your suitcase. Besides, the more you bring, the more you have to keep track of. What’s a traveler to do? We talked to travel experts to get their tips on how to cut the clutter and be a more organized traveler.
For true nomads, you can essentially outsource packing with travel concierge service apps like DUFL. “They took photos of all my gear and uploaded it to an app on my iPhone,” says Kashlee Kucheran, who travels full-time. DUFL stores the items on-site, packs, then ships what you need—and even handles cleaning. “I simply open the app and tap on the items I want to wear, and BAM, a few days later they are waiting for me in my hotel room. It’s literally my favorite travel hack out there!” When your trip is done, a couple taps in the app and your items will be scheduled for pickup by DUFL.
It’s easier to pack lightly if you realize you’ll be picking up more clothes at your destination. “Since I find better quality shoes [on the road], I am not afraid to wear a pair that I’ll discard after buying something new. I also do that with some clothing as well,” says Andy Abramson, the CEO of Comunicano, who has traveled 200 days on average per year since 2005. “By leaving room in your suitcase, you can likely buy better where you are, fit in like a local and have something newer than what you left with.”
Abramson also cuts down on luggage overload by shipping heavy or bulky items to and from his destination using Luggage Forward. “This approach allows me to bring my needed tech gear along and not have to check bags.”
While we’re on the topic of bulky items, streamline the pairs of shoes you’ll bring on your trip to two—and wear the pair that takes up more luggage space. To make sure no room goes unused, fill the shoes you’ve packed with other items—such as socks or wrapped accessories—to maximize packing space.
Instead of planning for every possible weather or event scenario, simplify your wardrobe by creating outfits for the basic things you’ll be doing on your trip. This might mean designating an outfit for a nice dinner out or a business meeting. In the process, you’ll notice that certain outfits can be repeated or used for a few situations. You’ll never pack three identical pairs of black pants again.
If your travel is less event-based (for instance, working out of a remote office for a month) lay out all the clothes you want to bring on a bed, table or the floor. Pair like items together and then remove half the options in each category. Still having trouble? Choose two colors to focus on, and take away anything that doesn’t fit that scheme.
Don’t panic if you end up with very few options. “The biggest issue preventing people from packing lighter is an aversion to doing laundry on the road,” says Trevor Davis, a former investment banker who would regularly log over 200,000 flyer miles a year and is now a travel blogger. “When planning a long trip, determine where you will be able to wash clothes (even if by hand), and pack accordingly.”
After you’ve streamlined your wardrobe, create an inventory that will ensure you don’t leave anything behind after your trip. If you’re a visually oriented person, take a photo of each item you’ve packed (simplify by grouping like items together) and save to a folder on your phone.
If you work better with a list, create a rundown of the items you packed and print multiple copies. Date each copy with the day you’ll be checking in or out of the hotel. As you unpack, check off each item from the list. When it’s time to pack again, check off each item as it goes in your bag. This method is particularly helpful as a basic road trip organizer, where you might be dealing with multiple bags.
Ernest Shahbazian, founder and owner of YouTube travel channel Trip Astute, doesn’t go on a trip without this travel organizer. “Packing cubes allow you to compartmentalize your packing, which organizes your clothes and maximizes the space in your suitcase or backpack by compressing the contents,” he says. You can optimize these further by labeling each with the specific outfit or clothing item found inside.
Now that you've taken care of your luggage, find the right hotels for your journey.