Why should you be packing light?
As I am writing this, I am preparing for my 6am flight tomorrow for Victoria, BC, Canada. My friend came over today to get some instructions for taking care of the zoo while we’re gone for the week and she asked me “is that all you’re bringing?” I kind of just laughed and shrugged because yeah, one backpack doesn’t seem like much for a week long vacation. But I like packing light, so whatevs.
However, I’ve actually found that I get that question a lot. Some people make jokes about how I won’t have enough underwear, others look at me as though I’ve grown a second head. I really didn’t think that packing could be so controversial, honestly! But I love pack light for trips. Everyone should like packing less. And as I’m sitting here overthinking about this one simple thing, I’ve come up with # reasons you should pack light. Hopefully, these inspire you for your next trip or at least will give you a new appreciation for the art.
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Let’s just start off with an obvious fact. If you’re not checking a bag, you’re going to have fewer fees. There’s no stress about the cost of your bag being over 50 pounds at the airport.
Packing light is just so much less stress
No unexpectedly long baggage lines, meaning you’ll have more time to get to your gate (at least if you leave on time). You won’t have to worry about your bag being to heavy to check or waiting FOREVER at baggage claim. You won’t have to lug a bunch of stuff around after landing. Skip the airport drama and just skip the extra stuff. You’ll spend less time packing and unpacking and much, much less time doing laundry. Nothing gets lost because it’s with you the whole time.
You can just land and go
When you land, you may have to go through customs but once through that, you’re ready to go. No need to go to the hotel (unless you want to) and drop off your stuff. You can immediately go do some sight seeing, begin to see the place you’re at, or my personal favorite – get some well deserved food. Packing light (especially if you can fit it all in a backpack), means that you have fewer restrictions on what you can do as soon as you get there.
Your what ifs probably won’t happen
When we’re packing for a trip we pack as though something is going to go wrong. We pack as if we’re going to wet our pants every day and slosh through a pig pen. We worry about “what if it rains”, “what if I end up go to a nice restaurant”, or my personal favorite “what if I get invited to a ball by a prince from a far distant land”.
While I’m rooting for you to get invited to that ball, planning for every possibility isn’t sensible. You know what you wear every day. You know (or you should know) your budget for your vacation. Dress accordingly. If this trip is already a stretch, you’re probably not going to any 5-star restaurants. You’ve been potty trained for a long-ass time now. You really think your bladder is going to fail you now? Probably not.
What ifs will drive you crazy because you can not plan for all of them. What you end up with is a bunch of extra stuff you didn’t use, didn’t need, and now have to wash when you get home anyways. Packing less resolves that. Most of the time, our what ifs can’t even be solved with the stuff we bring. For instance, I used to be concerned about having this or that – until one fateful trip where the airline lost my bag. Oops. Not much I can do. And I lived.
By over-packing you give yourself no credit for your problem solving skills, adventurous spirit, or ability to figure shit out. And frankly, what a disservice to do to yourself. Packing light means putting a little extra trust in yourself and working with what you’ve got. That’s pretty bad ass if I do say so myself.
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Public transportation is better
Traveling with a backpack? Easy. Traveling with a rolling suitcase, a duffel bag, and a backpack? Horrible. Also, if you’re in a city using public transportation, no one likes a tourist with too much stuff. It is such a hassle for everyone involved. Make it easier on yourself by packing light and save yourself time, headaches, and annoyed looks from the locals.
Related: Travel comfortably with a travel comfort kit
Save time on your last day
No one wants to spend their last day on vacation packing for their flight the next day. When you pack lighter, you just need about 30 minutes max to put everything in your bag. Why is that such a great thing? Because you can spend more time exploring the place you’re at, duh! Less stuff equals less time repacking your stuff.
Easy to unpack
When you get home, you have one load of laundry. That’s it. You put away your toiletries and technology and voila! you’re done. No empty suitcase hanging out in the corner of your room for 2 months, you get home and it’s done quickly. If that isn’t a perfect reason for you to start packing light, I don’t know what else I could say to convince you.
So how do you do it?
It starts with a bag
I found that the easiest way to start packing light, is to start with the bag that’s going to hold everything. Since I chose my backpack first, I knew that I had to keep things reasonable because it all needed to fit in there. Choose your bag first and the rest will be so much easier.
Be reasonable about your clothing
I’ll be honest, I pack extras all the time still. In particular, socks. I know myself and I know my ability to get my socks wet. And nothing is worse than walking around with squishy wet socks all day. But! I never bring pants for everyday. Why would I? At home I re-wear the same pants 3 times before washing them, I can do the same on when I’m traveling.
By being realistic with what you wear, I bet you can cut your packing down by half. After all, we need much less than we think we do and packing light just allows you to be a little more free.
Rolled, not folded.
Roll your clothes into little bundles to save a ton of extra space in your bag. This is a great video tutorial that’ll teach you to maximize a backpack’s space like a pro.
Remember why you want to pack light
At the end of the day, you’re not going to do something unless you want to do it. You need to ask yourself why you want to pack light. Is it for the savings? Is it to be able to be truly on the go?
Packing light makes your trip run so much smoother. It saves you time, money, and stress while you travel. We all deserve to see the world as adventure exists to feed our souls, and how awesome is it to be able to see it without being weighed down with excess nonsense.
Tell me what you think below! Will you start packing lighter now or are you a determined planner for life?