Packing Light

What does packing light mean? For some it means having only one 50 pound/22k checked bag and only 2 small bags. For me it means NO checked bag and only 1 carryon bag, along with my shoulder bag.

I've been traveling as a nomad for over 10 years, which means that all of my possessions go with me. Everything...clothes, important papers, treasures, electronics, everything I own. Nothing is left behind because there is no "behind." I have no base, not even a storage unit. I have been packing light for a long time and have some strategies that help me do that.

in the beginning of my travel years I did take a checked bag along with the carryon. But when I booked a flight that charged $200 USD for that checked bag, I rethought this strategy.

My first thought when I saw the cost for the checked bag was that I could buy an entire new wardrobe for that amount of money! So that's what I decided to do. Did I mention I am also the bargain queen?

By the way, only half of the carryon suitcase contains clothes. The other half contains the papers, treasures, electronics, etc.

Having very little space for clothes, I determine what I will need in order to get started in my next destination. Once I get there, I will find a second hand shop and discount stores to fill out my wardrobe if needed. I pride myself on never paying full price for anything.

Below is the basic list of items I travel with:

  • 2 pairs of pants, one casual like jeans or stretch pants and one dressier pair, both in neutral colors. One will be worn on travel day.

  • 4 or 5 tops appropriate for the climate I'm going to. Most will be plain colored because they can be worn with multi-colored scarves to make up different outfits.

  • several scarves of different patterns and colors, very easy to travel with as they have no weight or size in the suitcase.

  • one pair of closed toed shoes and one pair of open toed. Both are comfortable but nice looking enough to wear with both pants and dresses. One will be worn on travel day.

  • 1 dress or skirt.

  • Enough underclothes and socks for a few days. These are easy to wash out at night & wear the next day.

  • travel size toiletries. Full size can be bought on arrival.

  • I do like jewelry so I have a small container. Jewelry also helps to create more outfits out of fewer items.

  • sweater for layering. I also wear this on travel day over a top.

  • If the climate is cold, I carry a coat on my arm and use it as a cushion while traveling.

To make the most out of the space in my suitcase, I roll my clothes tightly. I have seen all the packing cubes and vacuum bags, etc but in my experience they just take away space and add weight. If I have a plastic bag from a clothing purchase I might put my tops in that and sit on it to squeeze the air out, but I find that I can squeeze a lot of rolls into small spaces. I can organize by placing pants in the back, tops in front, etc.

My shoulder bag holds things I might need while in transit. For instance, the all important emergency chocolate and nuts. My small laptop and cord as well as my purse all slide into the bag. This fits under the seat. I have a Biaggi, which I love. It can be carried on my shoulder with a long strap, held at my side by short handles, or wheeled along with the long strap. It also expands to become a carryon suitcase. A back strap fits over the suitcase handle for stacking as I walk along with both.

One other thing I fit into the carryon is my kitchen bag, a flat zipped bag that contains coffee grounds and my filter, an instant soup packet, and a few other sundries in case I arrive very late at my next destination. I can have a little soup before bed and will have my all-important cup of coffee in the morning.

This strategy has been serving me well for a long time and has saved me money. I do enjoy shopping, so with the money I save on checked baggage, I can spend on a fun, new local wardrobe.

When I leave a place to move on to my next home, I leave behind any clothes I will not need going forward. Shopping in second hand shops, this is no great loss. Typically, I let the landlord know I am leaving a few things behind and they are welcome to share them with whomever might want them. Landlords always express gratitude.

Happy light traveling!p