The Art of Traveling Light

October 31, 2013
Jess

Once you’ve laid everything out that you’re planning to take, we suggest taking half the stuff and twice the money.

But seriously, travel light! There’s so many benefits to a smaller bag, pack or suitcase that many of us forget.

When I travel, I take a big, chunky dSLR, a laptop as well as an iPhone, so that’s already a bit of clutter. To make up for my electronics, I tend to pack as lightly as possible. Here are some of my tips for traveling light.

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Take the Bare Essentials:
The truth is, if you probably need it you’ll probably be able to find it at your destination. The only stuff I’d say you really need to urgently take are medications, shoes or clothes if you’re a lot larger than the people of the destination you’re visiting and… your passport. Other things you can usually pick up on the road. On my first trip my bag was packed to the brim with bits and pieces I didn’t wind up using. I spent a lot of money on things like bug spray, antibiotics etc which would have all been cheaper in my destination. Do a little research and figure out whether it’s better to buy in advance or sort it out when you get there.

Be Realistic:
I carried around a pair of dress pairs for my entire 2 months trip and probably used them twice. Was it worth it? Not really. It depends on your destination, as well. The shoes added quite a bit of extra weight to my pack and took up valuable space and I barely used them. If you can, find shoes that serve many purposes. For example, women could use a nice pair of sandals for every day wear, or when they’re going out to a nice restaurant. Men could achieve the same with some tidy sports shoes. Try to find things that have multiple uses, so you can pack even less!

Buy a Small Bag:
This might seem like a silly suggestion, but I swear there’s a part of our brains that subconsciously tries to fill up any size bag we have. The larger the bag, the more you’ll fit in it. If you limit yourself with a smaller bag, then you’re on the right track from the get-go. Another thing to bare in mind is if you’re doing a lot of travel it might be quite nice to have a backpack that can fit under the seat in front of you or come on as carry-on during your flights. This means you’ll always know where your bag is and don’t have to worry about it being lost by the airline or stolen by someone else.

Know Before You Go:
In other words, do your research ahead of time. This can help you get a feel for what you might encounter while your traveling, which in turn can help you with your packing decisions. A lot of folks will use a site like latinamericaforless.com to help plan out their journey, as well as inform about climate, culture, traditions, etc. For example, you may be packing a heavy winter jacket without realizing that the country your visiting never experiences temperatures below 75 degrees.

Realise it’s Only Stuff:
Many people find themselves easily attached to stuff – but that’s not really what’s important. You’re traveling for a host of reasons but one of them is probably to enjoy new experiences and to meet new people. Having a lot of stuff isn’t really going to enrich any of that, so keep it minimal, light and comfortable and focus on what’s really important! It can be quite cleansing traveling with just a few bits and pieces that you really need.

Do you have any tips for traveling light? Share them in the comments below.

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