Do You Really Need That? Tips to Travel Light

Pack light. Pack smart.

pocket knife essential
There are plenty of sites with lists that will help you pack for travels. Like here >>

Every traveler has an opinion about travel packing. Everyone is correct. You can google to learn how to roll your clothes for optimum space and be wrinkle free. You can google until you’re comatose from reading articles of how to pack for traveling.


All it takes is one burdensome journey

Essentially, all it takes is one trip with a shit-load of stuff that you never used, an aching back through the entire trip, or a dreaded offload of valued items in Backwoods Somewhere. Your concept of "necessities" will change and you will develop your own list of what you "need" to make your trip fun and easy.

Take a long exhale before you pack that bag

Tops and undies on this trip. I usually bring a few clothes pins.
Before I pack my bag (whether it is a backpack or suitcase), I take a long pause. I imagine my daily habits. For example, I wake up. I shower. I brush my teeth. I comb my hair. I go through my entire day of all the things that I do “without thinking about it.” I think of the objects that I use in my daily routine. Then I simplify those items into a collection that is lightweight, suitable for the length of time on a trip, and easy to handle.

There’s always SuperDuperMarket just around the corner

Trousers on this trip.
When I first started traveling in the late 1980s, through back-country and out of the touristic stream, it wasn’t always so easy to find items that I forgot to bring. These days, if I forget something, I can always find a store or supermarket that can hook me up with a needed item. Import and export has commodified the world.

Every ounce counts

Shampoos, conditioners in trial sizes
My list varies to suit a trip. Necessities vary from long treks to Alps to lounging on sandy beaches. However, my core list is always the same.

My core items list:
  • Separate pocket book with passport, drivers license, money, credit card
  • Hat with good brim to block sun from my very large nose
  • Sun block – for the face and for the body
  • Sunglasses, polarized
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo, conditioner. Small sample sizes are great.
  • I got a little lightweight travel clock after missing
    numerous bus connections because
    I slept through my Casio watch alarm. 
  • Plastic baggies to pack cosmetics and toiletries
  • Fingernail clipper, fingernail file
  • Tweezers
  • Small mirror
  • Lightweight hair brush or comb
  • Towel, a quick dry towel is the best
  • Small hand towel or wash cloth for washing or drying your face
  • Tried and true walking shoes
  • Flip flops for showers (wrap these in a plastic carrier bag)
  • Notebook, pen, pencil
  • Camera, extra battery, unipod or small tripod (pack all this stuff in a plastic baggie)
  • Watch
  • Small travel clock with alarm. This is different from the watch that I might wear. I can’t rely on hearing the watch alarm, so have small travel clock.
  • Wine opener
  • Pocket knife
  • Couple zip lock baggies
these sarongs came in handy for this trip

For this 3-month trip to Spain, I brought:
  • 4 tops and 1 nice blouse
  • 3 travel trousers, lightweight and quick dry
  • 1 nice pair of trousers
  • 1 casual dress
  • lightweight plastic vitamin bottles
    are great to transport washing powder
  • Lightweight jacket
  • Scarf, lightweight, goes with everything
  • Lightweight shawl that has doubled as a sleep blanket
  • 2 sarongs that are brilliant for hot summer days and siestas
  • Casual clothes to lounge around (see lovely blue shorts in pic)
  • Swimsuit
  • 7 pairs of underwear, including one black pair. The black pair is great because I can wear it under the sarong and it looks like swimwear.
  • Sleeping outfit, which is a basic white tank top or tee shirt
  • 2 pair light socks for my hiking shoes
  • 1 nice pair of shoes for cities and my nice outfit mentioned above. I tested the selected shoes for several days before bringing them. They had to pass walking in them for an entire day without socks.
  • my Yoga mat which has served me very well for yoga practice and cushioning hard surfaces. This mat weighs 1 kilo.
  • iPod, loaded with music and Spanish lessons
  • A small plastic vitamin bottle that I fill with laundry detergent to hand wash clothes
Yea for Sephora

Sephora is a fantastic site for cosmetics and stuff. Whenever you order, you can get little sample sizes. I have numerous perfume samples that I love to use for travels. <3 @Sephora

Now Pack that Bag
One Suitcase Wonder, under 23 kilos

I start with all my items outside my bag. I put my cosmetics and heavier toiletries at the bottom of the bag when it's standing. The bottom of the bag should hold the heaviest items in your bag so when the bag goes upright, it won't crush other items. Also, it puts the center of balance towards the bottom and it is easier to handle.

I put folded or rolled clothes down the center of the bag and slip other smaller clothes and items into the spaces around. My shoes get tucked into other openings. (My shoes tend to not be packed side by side, and they seem to be all right with that separation.)

What is your trip “must–have” item?
As you pack, ask yourself,

" Self,
Do I really need it? "
and if the answer is "Yes"

 then ponder this
   next question,

"If I really need it, how will I use it on my trip?"

To make such pondered item really work, you need to have some solid answers to justify the second question.

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