How To Travel Light

How To Travel Light

Picture this: you’re going on a trip soon, but instead of being excited you’re feeling anxious. One question keeps playing on your mind: “What do I need to pack!?” Weeks before your journey, you find yourself laying out all your possessions in various configurations, pondering what you should take. You decide the answer is: everything. Sound familiar?

Deciding what to pack when going on an adventure is something many people struggle with. Most opt for caution, and end up carrying a crazy amount of baggage around. A lot of this gear will be totally redundant, and is bound to put a crimp on what’s supposed to be your downtime. Here at This Tiny Life, we firmly believe that to travel light is to travel right. But where to start, if you’re the type who always takes the kitchen sink with you? We’ll get to that, but first let’s look at some of the reasons you may want to keep to a single carry-on for your next excursion.

Why Travel Light?

One of the biggest advantages of using only a carry-on is the ability to keep all of your stuff with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re flying, getting a train or hopping on a bus – once a checked bag is out of your sight, it’s anyone’s guess whether it will be waiting for you at your destination. By carrying everything with you, you retain control. Say goodbye to lost luggage and hello to breezing straight to your hotel.

Another great reason to use only a carry on is the sheer amount of time and stress it saves. With less packing space available, you will have to make quick, ruthless decisions about what you really need on this trip. No more agonising over whether you need a whole extra case just for your portable taxidermy kit. And the stress-busting doesn’t stop there: if you’re flying to your destination, then you can smugly glide past everyone queueing at baggage check (and baggage claim on the other side). If your airline offers mobile check-in, you can also arrive at the airport a little later. No pre-dawn coffee needed.

“Sounds great”, I hear you say. “But what about that thing I will end up needing but don’t have in my carry on?” Well, it’s true that it’s difficult to pack for every eventuality using only a carry-on. But in some ways, you could also consider this an advantage. If you find you need something when you get to your destination, why not ask some locals where you can find it? Mix into the area by exploring, going shopping and actually talking to people. If the alternative is being encased in a protective cocoon with your kitchen sink, I know which option I’d prefer.

So, think you’re ready for the carry-on challenge? Read on to find out how you can achieve some serious travel light goals.

Mentality

While there are products you can buy that will help you travel light (we’ll get to that), the single biggest thing that will help your quest is to change your mentality. It’s easy to see travelling as a worrying experience – when far from home, the temptation is to keep lots of creature comforts around. If you’re travelling to an unfamiliar culture, it can get even more stressful. While being wary is useful (it helped humankind survive and evolve, after all) it has its limits.

Try to view travelling as an opportunity to go outside of your comfort zone. Accept the fact that you can’t possibly plan for every eventuality, because no-one can. Once you adopt this mentality, it’s actually quite liberating. You don’t need to stress out over every possible scenario – it’s ludicrous to even try. Instead think about the basics you need to be survive, knowing that you can always ‘make do’ on a short trip. On longer journeys, you can always buy stuff along the way if you need to.

Planning

With a bit of forward planning, you can easily cut some smaller items out of your pack list. For example, most hotels will typically include soap, shampoo and conditioner – easy ones to scratch off. But have you considered if they might provide any other basics, such as shaving cream or razors too? Why not call ahead and check what will actually be in your room, to save you carrying duplicate items. If the hotel doesn’t stock the rooms with what you’re after, ask if they will consider doing so. Most hotel staff are happy to oblige any reasonable request, especially if you make it clear there would be some extra gratuity in it for them.

When thinking about where to stay for your trip, try to be near lots of amenities like shops and laundromats. Part of travelling light (unfortunately) involves loving your laundry. Rather than taking your entire wardrobe, take enough clothes for a few days and plan regular trips to do the washing. Although it’s boring and can take a few hours out of your vacation, there are plenty of things you can do to pass the time. I use my otherwise ‘dead’ laundry time to catch up with friends and family online, update my Instagram feed, and – sometimes – even write blog articles such as this. If you don’t fancy any screen time, try to find a laundromat that has a nice café or restaurant nearby so you can leave your clothes and come back when they’re ready.

When it comes to what kind of clothes to take, forward thinking again pays dividends. Try to take a few basic, classic items from your wardrobe that you can wear with anything. Anything that only goes with a specific outfit is anathema to the light traveller. Multi-functional items are also a great go-to. If you’re likely to get some temperature swings on your trip then remember that layering is the key to warmth. Take plenty of thin socks so you can double up when it’s cold and have spare pairs when it’s warm. I personally pack zip off pants, a few good t-shirts or shirts, one thermal layer, one sweater and jacket (waterproof). I’ve always found this to be ample enough clothing, even on trips lasting a few weeks.

Products

Here are some products that will help you in your quest to travel light. We’ve included example links of the kind of stuff we tend to buy when it comes to clothes.

Clothes

Convertible pants – why carry pants and shorts when you can get two for the price of one? Go for a classic, ‘chino’ style that is equally at home on the beach or in a restaurant, and you’ve eliminated one item from your packing list.

A Buff – Is it a hat, a bandana, a scarf? It’s all of that and more. The Buff is the OG of multi-functional headwear, and takes up barely any pack space.

Rain shell – A coat should be your means of staying dry, not warm (this is best done with layering). A simple rain shell has a small footprint but will ensure you don’t get a cold if the heavens open.

Swim shorts that can pass as regular shorts – Time to ditch those speedos I’m afraid. If you want to swim on your trip, then we recommend swim shorts that can pass as regular shorts. Another 2-in-1 that saves some pack space.

Some all-purpose shoes – No sense carrying around more than one pair of shoes on any trip, friend. Look for a pair that is at home on a country trail as it is inside a restaurant.

Gadgets

Kindle – Okay, maybe an obvious one but it’s worth stating for the uninitiated. Let’s not carry around an actual bookcase when something the size of a pamphlet achieves the same goal.

Scrubba Wash Bag – If you’re dead set against going to the laundromat, or are heading into the wild, then this little bag will save your bacon. It fits right in your palm, and has a washboard inside that will let you scrub your clothes clean anywhere – no juice required.

Sea to Summit Lite Line – The perfect companion to the Scrubba, this teeny tiny washing line lets you dry your clothes just about anywhere.

Ultrasil Day Pack – If you don’t want to take your carry on with you for excursions, an ultrasil day pack is the answer. A tiny pack size that unfurls to a full-fledged backpack in seconds.

Mu International Charger – This amazing little charger is designed from the ground up to be as compact as possible. The heads are interchangeable, covering you for around 200 countries worldwide. They also fold flat, meaning this thing really does fit in the palm of your hand.

Money belt – Money belts are usually the safest way to carry your dough when travelling, so why not ditch your wallet entirely and use the pocket space for something else? Every little bit helps if you want to hit that carry-on goal.

Wraps Headphones and Charge Cables – Why pack headphones and USB chargers when you can wear them? Again, fine margins add up to big space savings!

Well, Time To Get Packing!

We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to travel light. Now all you have to think about on your next trip is whether to hit the pool or go on an excursion! Got an awesome tip in your arsenal that we missed out? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog to learn how to maximise your life while minimising stress.

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