Packing is the essential step that always tells me a trip is right around the corner, but it can also be one of the more time-consuming things to do as you're getting ready for a trip. Lately I've been making more efforts to pack light so that there's less hassle in getting place to place with luggage. Packing light also has other benefits like less time spent packing before a trip and avoiding excess baggage fees at the airport, Here are a few tips on how to lighten it up when packing!
1. Packing Cubes
I finally got myself some packing cubes this year and I'm happy that I did! Packing cubes are basically zip-up cube-shaped bags that help you to organize the items you pack. They come in a variety of sizes, and mine have mesh covers so that I can see what's in each cube. These help to keep everything organized in your bag - I don't have to go rooting through everything to find a particular item, and I can instead pull out one packing cube to find the item I need.
Packing cubes also help you pack light by putting a limit on how much you can pack in each cube. I typically devote 1 medium and 1 small packing cube to clothes, which helps keep down the number of items I pack overall. There are also compression packing cubes, which have an extra zipper to help you compress the items inside to get some extra space.
2. Make a list
Rather than going through items and packing what you think you'll need, make a list of what you'll need before you start packing and then stick to it. It's easy to come across things as you're packing and think 'Oh, I could use that, too!' If you've already made a packing list, you know what you do and don't need, so you can avoid squirrel syndrome and packing items that you won't actually use.
3. Avoid 'just in case' items
It's easy to get caught up in packing 'just in case' items for hypothetical situations that could arise while you travel, but take a hard look at your packing list and decide if the item is something you're actually likely to use on your trip. Try to stay away from packing too many items 'just in case' you need them. I've slimmed down the items I take, and on the off chance that we do need them, we can stop to grab some on our trip if needed.
4. Do laundry
One of the easiest ways to pack less clothes, which are often the bulk of our luggage, is to not pack outfits for each day and simply do laundry. Many hotels offer laundry services or self-serve laundry, or you can do what we did on our last trip and wash a few items in the sink every few days. This takes a little extra time when traveling, but can cut down significantly on the amount of clothes you'll need to pack.
It's also best to take lightweight items made of fabrics that can dry easily, in case you don't have access to a dryer. Avoid items that can take forever to dry, like jeans and denim items. Lightweight clothes will also take up less space in your bag.
5. Consolidate your toiletries
Even if you're checking a bag, try not to bring full-size toiletry bottles. It's unlikely that you'll need that much, and they can take up a lot of extra space. You can get travel-size bottles and fill them with your favorite body wash, if it's not available in travel size. Or, consider solid versions of toiletries like shampoo. They often last longer and you don't have to worry about liquid allowances if you're packing a carry-on.
If you're traveling with someone else, see if there are any items you can split. For instance, my sister and I don't both take sunscreen with us when we travel to Florida - one of us takes some and we share. You can do this for several toiletries and save space between the two of you.