Every time travel somewhere far from home, you always ensure you're covered with all the items you may need. In many cases, you're likely to overpack just to make sure you're not omitting something necessary. The result? A heavy, cramped backpack on your back, a passport in one hand plus a full wheeled luggage bag in the other.
As you get more experienced in traveling, you realize that the old saying “less is more” is true. You want your luggage light and your experiences heavy, and not the other way around. If you want to travel light, then you have to bring only the bare essentials – the things you can't travel without – and ditch the ones you can bear not using.
When packing and assessing what and what not to bring, scan this list of unnecessary items you think you'd need (but you really wouldn't).
1. A huge stash of toiletries. If you're going to stay at a hotel, then raiding your bathroom closet isn't necessary. Leave everything you can easily request at your hotel or lodging house and everything you can buy on the road. Hotels, as well as airlines, give out free toiletries, including shampoo, soap, facial cleansers and moisturizers, and oral hygiene products. Hotels also lend towels.
If you're backpacking, simplify your grooming routine to bare essentials. Also, keep everything “small” and “travel-sized.” Carry some “sampler” bottles and sachets for your beauty and grooming products instead of bringing heavy bottles. As for towels, absorbent small swimmers towels or microfiber towels are great alternatives.
2. Makeup and beauty products. I speak from a female perspective. If you're attending a wedding or a corporate event, then packing some cosmetics is a must. Just make sure to trim them down to bare essentials – including BB cream (for both coverage and sun protection), pressed powder, lip and cheek tint, mascara, and multi-functional brow powder (which you can use for defining eyebrows, putting eyeshadows, and contouring noseline). Opt for small and sleek containers to occupy less space.
3. Pillows and stuffed toys. How many of us have carried a pillow and/or a stuffed animal and end up not using them more than once? Travel pillows are only used during long-haul flights and we tend to ignore them once we get into our hotel rooms. They may be lightweight but they do occupy massive space.
Concerned about catching some Zs during flights? You'll find that many airlines and trains offer pillows for free. If they don't, then you can use your jacket and some clothes to embrace and rest your head on.
4. Pile of cotton clothes. The key to packing light is the choice of clothing. Cotton clothes are comfortable but they're heavier, bulkier, and slow-drying. So instead of loading up your bag with cotton, try to have a variation with a higher percentage of clothing made of polyester, smart wool, and other synthetic materials for less space and quicker drying.
5. More than one pair of jeans. Bringing a pair of jeans is a must when you travel; they aren't just versatile but they can also last days without washing. However, you shouldn't pack more than a pair since they're heavy and they take up a lot of space.
6. More than one jacket. Like jeans, jackets are heavy and bulky. Unless you're going somewhere wintry, try to pack a single lightweight jacket to warm you up. As an alternative to packing thicker or more than one jacket, you may play with layers, like wearing handy scarves. Layering helps keep a light pack while providing necessary thermal comfort.
7. Too many undergarments. Though they are smaller, they take a lot of luggage room especially if they're made of fluffy cotton. You don't need to bring a ton – the truth is you only need three pairs (regardless of how long your travel is) because you can have them washed and dried up.
8. Extra shoes. Go bring your best dress shoes if you're going to attend a formal event. Go bring your sturdy hiking boots if you're going to trek miles up the mountain. But if you're traveling for leisure and relaxation, you might want to stick to one versatile pair of shoes you can wear for either strolling or attending a party. For instance, a pair of sneakers can be decent and fashionable enough for parties and can be comfortable enough for casual walks.
9. Heavy guidebooks. Not familiar with the country you're traveling to? Guidebooks got you covered – just make sure you don't bring the full, heavy book when you only need a single chapter or a few pages. You can copy those pages and carry only the information you know you'll need. You may also turn to Google and reputable travel guide sites for accessible and convenient search.
10. More than one book for leisure. Did I mention that books are heavy? Just bring one favorite book or a new unfinished novel which is enough to save yourself from the long travel-induced boredom (and annoyance). And thanks to the gift of technology, you can now have digital versions of your favorite books and access a library of novels via your sleek tablet or phone.
11. Extra gadgets and entertainment packs. It depends on the purpose of your travel. Generally, you only need a basic phone (for messaging), a tablet (for internet access, music, entertainment and important apps), a lightweight camera (for HD pictures and videos), a set of earphones, and an extra memory card. Sometimes, you only need a good multifunctional smartphone for all your travel needs. You may also use a universal charger and/or power bank to reduce the weight and clutter. Portable DVD players, coffee makers, bulky laptops, book lights, and extra lens should all be left at home.
12. Jewelry and other shiny stuff. Not only they are unnecessary – these shiny things also catch the fraudsters' attention, making you more vulnerable to theft. If you can't imagine yourself without your expensive, inherited necklace, your pricey branded watch, and your diamond earrings, then it's better to lock them safe at home and keep your look low-key.
In a nutshell, there are five golden rules of traveling light. Firstly, don't pack anything you're not sure you'll use. Secondly, don't pack anything you'll use only once. Thirdly, don't pack anything you can borrow or purchase at your destination. Fourthly, opt for smaller and less bulky alternatives if possible. And lastly, make sure every object inside your bag has a huge purpose in your journey. Carrying less is much more freeing, and thus make your trip more enjoyable.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for Holiday Inn Parramatta Accommodation, a modern hotel in Western Sydney known for their exceptional accommodation, service, and location, which appeals to travelers in Australia. She has always been passionate about giving in to her wanderlust and collecting mementos from different places.