Are you envious of those people who cruise through customs with one small bag? Have you always wanted to travel lighter, but don’t know how? Help is at hand! We’ve got guest blogger Slobodanka (Bobby) Graham from Planepack providing tips and advice on how to travel light – essentially with carry on only. But why travel light, you might ask, if the airline lets you take 20 or 30 kgs in the hold? Bobby will tell you why…
Why carry on travel is easier
- Life is easier with one bag only: less chance of losing the one bag or having it stolen.
- You won’t have to wait in line to check in your bags.
- It’s easier to travel and carry your bag into boats, trains, planes and buses.
- Packing and unpacking are SO easy: fewer clothes make for a simpler life.
- Lighter bags are so much easier to carry
- There’s less chance the airline might lose your bag.
- Best of all, you no longer have to wait at the baggage carousel for a bag that might never appear: stride out of customs like a rock star!
Become a minimalist
But I wasn’t born a light traveller and nor were you, most probably. Moving towards light travel was a gradual process for me. As I’ve grown older, I realise I don’t need as much ‘stuff’. I’ve had a few flashbulb moments. The first was when my suitcase was lost by the airline for six weeks. The second one happened when I discovered how easy it is to pack the right clothes if you know the colours that suit you. Paring down your wardrobe to just the clothes that work, is a great relief: less washing, less ironing, and less time making decisions about what to wear.
(Added note from Virginia: Fiona Keary from Style Liberation gives some extra tips regarding colours and capsule wardrobes. If you were to pack clothes that go with everything else in your suitcase (capsule wardrobe), and understood what suited you (knowing your colours), then packing lighter becomes much easier.). Check her posts and website out too:
And over to Bobby again:
My journey to light travel began in 1977 when I flew to Europe for the first time. I packed 14 t-shirts – I thought that way I would only need to wash every two weeks. By the time I got to Athens, our first destination, I was already carrying a full suitcase and couldn’t pack in any new purchases. So I decided to post back home a selection of things I could tell I wasn’t going to need.
After having learnt that first lesson, my subsequent travels were lighter. I’ve always preferred a small suitcase, and I became quite good at packing lightly. But it was a succession of lost suitcases that determined my decision to travel with hand-held luggage only.
But what to take? In 2010, for my next trip to Europe, I thought carefully about what I was going to be doing while away. What did I need to wear – as opposed to what I thought would be nice to have with me. Of course limiting my wardrobe to just a few kilos really sharpened my decision making! That first trip was easy: I was staying with my aunt – so could borrow anything I’d left at home – and we went on a beach holiday together, so I really only needed beachwear. But I got a taste and understanding of the benefits of travelling light. I used the same principles for my next trip: plan carefully; prepare exactly what I needed to take; pack carefully to fit only the essentials in my small bag, weighing things to make sure I was within the baggage allowance, and then enjoy my trip with a light, curated wardrobe and bag.
Travelling light and decluttering go hand in hand: I have to be organised if I want to travel with the essentials only. And that means in my everyday life I practise discipline, neatness and order (I know that might sound a little extreme, but it works for me). This is how I declutter my handbag. Virginia has also written a how to, on decluttering your handbag here.
A few more tips for light travel
- Remember to weigh your bag to ensure it falls within the allowable onboard restriction
- Keep your liquids together in a ziplock bag, ready for customs.
- Wear all your heaviest gear to fly – especially boots and coats.
- Remember: do not carry any sharp objects with you – even tweezers will get confiscated at customs.
- Don’t pack in a bottle of wine as a parting gift: it will get confiscated.
- If you need packing guides, I’ve got a few available here.
What can you do this holidays to travel lighter? I’d love to hear more. Let’s have a conversation!
About the author
Slobodanka (Bobby) Graham is a digital publisher, content entrepreneur, sketcher and extreme light traveller. Since 2010, she has journeyed with carry-on luggage only. Her website, Planepack provides tips, advice and stories on travelling light. Slobodanka’s mission is to help women abandon heavy luggage and travel with style and enjoyment.