How To Travel Light – 6 Pro Packing Tips

Last Updated 31 July 2020

Let’s be real – We’ve all been guilty of packing too much for a trip

What if it rains? Shouldn’t you pack an umbrella?
It might be colder than you expect in the evenings, shouldn’t you bring an extra sweater?
What if you end up going to a fancy restaurant for dinner? You definitely need those killer heels, right?

Just in case?

No matter how experienced you are, it’s easy to overpack. 

But, trust me when I say that there are some real benefits to traveling light. And, with these pro packing tips, it’s easier to do than you think!

6 tips for packing light. Hand-luggage only

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Why Pack Light?

Ok great, so these packing tips will help you travel light. But, why even bother?

It’s Cheaper!

These days, it’s pretty standard practice for (low cost) airlines to charge for checked luggage. Many allow each passenger to take one carry-on bag and one personal item (like a handbag or laptop bag) for free. So, sticking to a smaller bag that meets the airline’s criteria for carry-on luggage can save you anywhere from €10 – €50 (US$15 – $60) each way, depending on the airline. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather use that money as extra cash to spend at my destination!

Although (shocker!) Ryan Air here in Europe have updated their cabin bag policy so that you’ll basically have to pay for anything you want to bring besides a handbag…

It’s Simpler!

Ok, we’ll get to what to pack in a minute, but trust me, it is simpler to pack light. You’ll have limited options (but still plenty!) of outfits to wear, so figuring out your wardrobe each day just became a hell of a lot easier. And, you don’t need to lug any heavy bags around with you. Your back will thank you!

It’s Faster!

Once you arrive at your destination, you can just head straight through passport control and get on with your holiday. No waiting around at the luggage belt, and no fear of bags not having made it at all (this has happened to me so many times over the years, and it is always a pain!)

Are you sold yet? 😁 

Follow these awesome Pro Packing Tips and travel light on your next holiday! You’ll be glad you did!

1. Pick the Right Bag To Travel Light

This is the most important pro packing tip of all. When it comes to travelling light, it is super important to check the airline’s carry-on baggage policy and make sure your bag meets their criteria.

Each airline has slightly different guidelines, and there’s nothing worse than having to pay extra at the airport because your hand luggage turns out to be too big or too heavy.

Pick a bag that is easy to travel with. You might prefer using a small backpack so it can double as a daypack for excursions at your destination. Or, you might prefer a small suitcase with wheels so you don’t have to carry it at all.

Either way, think about what kind of bag fits best with the type of trip you’re going on.

My absolute favourite bag to travel with is my small, lightweight, cabin-sized suitcase by EastPak. It is super durable, has 2 wheels for easy transport, and fits in waaayyy more stuff than you might think! I use my EastPak bag for long weekends as well as longer trips (like, for our upcoming 3 month Eastern Europe trip!) and it fits everything I need easily.

If you prefer a backpack, Anti-theft backpacks are becoming super popular. Always great to know your things are secure! And useful both at home and on the road 😁

Joannda with her Eastpak carry on suitcase by Paddington Bear statue
Paddington Bear and I are both fans of this little EastPak suitcase!


2. Be Realistic and Pack For Your Destination

Avoid packing those “just in case” items we talked about earlier.

Think about your destination and the season you’re travelling in.

Do you really need two jackets for a long weekend in Spain in May? Probably not.

Pro Packing Tip: A versatile waterproof, packable jacket is ideal, and is (for the most part) all I travel with as outerwear. 

If you’re packing a pair of sandals, a pair of flip-flops and a pair of trainers, do you really need 7 pairs of socks for the week?

And, if you travel with a friend or partner, why not share items like shampoo or sunscreen? No point doubling up and both of you bringing the same things, only to come home with half-empty bottles!

Joannda at Mount Bromo at sunrise
This waterproof jacket packs into itself so it’s great and compact for traveling light


3. Start Early, Ditch Half

Avoid last minute packing at all cost. You’re more likely to break the rule we just talked about, and take some of those “just in case” items after all.

Make a checklist, and put out everything you think you might want to bring.

Over the next couple of days, you might decide that that dress you haven’t worn this past year, probably won’t be worn on this holiday either (see, you are smart!)

Once you have your stack of clothes, ditch half (If you can!)

I know this is one of the more difficult packing tips… But let’s be real. More often than not, you won’t end up using half the stuff you bring anyway. So, just leave them at home!

This is especially true for shoes.

Shoes take up a tonne of space and add a lot of weight. Make sure you choose a couple of simple, diverse options. For example, a pair of sandals can be perfect for the beach as well as for dinner in the evenings.

For example, I really love my sandals by Merrell! They are super comfortable, so I can wear them for hours on end when we’re out exploring. I wore them throughout our 9 month Southeast Asia trip, including at Angkor Wat in Cambodia (below). And, I can also wear them to dinner or to the beach. Perfect!

Joannda looking at one of the faces at Bayon temple
Comfy in my Merrell sandals at Angkor Wat

4. Mix & Match Your Travel Outfits

To help you narrow down what clothes to bring, make sure you think about what items go together and are versatile. Creating numerous outfits with just a few simple items is a smart way to go when you need to pack light.

Also think about multi-purpose items like a pair of leggings that you can wear under a skirt on a cooler evening, or pair with a cute top for a casual dinner.

Go light on accessories too – pick jewellery and a shawl that can work with multiple outfits.

I always travel with a sarong (unless I forget, like that one time in Venice 😖 Note to self – remember your packing tips!), which is super versatile! You can use it as a shawl, beach towel, cover-up, dress, you name it!

The dress code at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is strict and you should cover shoulders and knees with a sarong or similar
My sarong comes in handy at religious sites as well as on the beach or in colder weather


5. Roll Your Clothes (And/Or Use Packing Cubes!)

When you get to packing your clothes in a small bag, roll them. I first learned this awesome packing tip from a Japanese student we hosted when I was still in school, and I still use this trick! 😊

Not only will they take up less space, but they’ll also come out less wrinkly than when you fold them!

Another good trick is to store smaller items like socks or underwear in a pair of shoes so you don’t waste any space.

I do also love my PRO packing cubes, which my husband and I both use when we travel for longer and with a slightly bigger bag. They really compress your clothes down to a manageable size and keeps everything neat and tidy on the road.

Read More: 12 Must-Have Travel Essentials That I Never Travel Without

6. Go Travel-Sized

Wherever possible when packing light, avoid taking full-sized toiletries and cosmetics.

There are so many travel-sized options to buy these days that there really is no need to bring bulky toiletries.

Besides, most airports will have limitations on the amount of liquids you can take in your carry-on, so avoid having any items confiscated by limiting your shampoos and lotions to below 100ml each.

Depending on where you’re staying, your accommodation may also provide complimentary shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion and sometimes even a shaving kit! In fact, many hotels can help you out if you forgot any other personal items like toothpaste or deodorant – a quick call down to reception might get you out of a pickle!

Pro Packing Tip: Switch some of your travel toiletries to plastic-free alternatives! For example, use bar shampoo instead of liquid. It saves space and weight as well as the environment!

pack light travel size toiletries
Choose travel-sized toiletries when packing light


At the end of the day, as long as you have your passport and a wallet (preferably with some cash and cards!) you will get by just fine.

Even if you forget some essentials, you can always buy what you need at your destination.

What better excuse to buy some souvenirs from your trip?

What are your packing tips for traveling light?

Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below! I’d love to hear what your pro packing tips are!


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8 thoughts on “How To Travel Light – 6 Pro Packing Tips”

  1. Thank you for the great tips , I always some how manage to pack more than five pairs of shoes !! But I will learn eventually . 🙂

    • It is hard, for sure! Shoes I think are especially hard to cut down on – I’m always tempted to bring more than I really need… We’re busy packing for our full-time travel adventure right now and shoes and bikinis are my top 2 items I’m finding difficult to cut down on…!

  2. I think the key is to realize that if you forget something that you need later on a trip, you might be able to buy it later. My mom and I once had a day road trip that turned into a 3-day trip. Our car broke down and all we could find in the nearby stores was men’s joe boxers underwear and shirts. We wore those at night and washed our day outfit and hung it up in the hotel bathroom .

    • Hi Cynthia! I love that!! And I completely agree with you 🙂 As long as you have some money in one form or another, and a passport (if needed), you’re all set. In a way, it becomes more of an adventure that way too 🙂

  3. Love this list. I have one of my own but have no idea why I love reading other blogger’s take on packing light. Such simple tips but they make a HUGE difference. (And it’s also nice to hear people’s reactions when they see how light you’ve packed!)

    Nicole | Bad with Directions

    • I know, right?! I still always feel like I overpack, but people’s reactions are pretty priceless. I remember traveling to the States one year with only a small suitcase (hand-luggage). It was for work, and I was only going for a week. The customs guy at the airport was like “Is that ALL your luggage??!!” Less is more!


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