Lighten the Load

Lighten the Load

Baggage can weigh a traveler down, so here some techniques on how to travel wisely, efficiently, and lightly.

When I was a young and unseasoned traveler, I was a habitual over-packer. I would bring things like extra outfits, extra shoes, travel trinkets and nicknacks I never use from L.L Bean, and things to entertain myself if I were to get bored on my travels.

If you’re a chronic over-packer and have no clue how to differentiate between what is needed on a voyage and what is not, then here’s some things that I’ve learned after many excursions.

1.) Think about the things that you packed on your last trip. Now think of the things that you didn’t use. Once you figure this out, remind yourself not to pack it again! If you didn’t use it on your last trip, you’re most likely not going to use it on your next trip. Leave it home. It’ll probably be there when you get back.

2.) Don’t be afraid to wear your clothes more than once (not including underwear!!!!). I used to be a victim of packing too many extra outfits because I thought it would be nice to have “a choice”. I suggest packing just a few articles of clothing that are easily interchangeable. I’ve found that one pair of jeans is good for about two to three days of travel and shirts can be worn as both day clothes and pajamas. Also, layer your clothing. It’s a fashion statement, and it helps you adapt to the changing weather; loose layers when it’s warm, and add layers when it gets cool.

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3.) When determining what type of outfits to bring, make sure you check the weather before you venture out there into the world. It’ll help you decided what types of clothing you need to pack. Even if the weather forecast is for warm weather, I still like to bring a sweater no matter what, because the evenings might be cool or I might just want to snuggle up. Nevertheless, a good sweater helps you be prepared. And speaking of prepared, a rain poncho doesn’t take up too much space in your backpack either.

4.) The Double Backpacking Method. One bag is your travel bag, and the other is your day bag. It’s great for trekking from the train to your hostel. Once you get to your temporary residence, drop off the travel bag and use just the day bag. I like to put things like my wallet, my camera, a sweater, maps, a small first aid kit, and a water bottle in my day bag. Those are basically all the essentials for day trips and venturing around new cities.

5.) Shoes; it’s a popular topic amongst the female population. If you know something swanky is going to go down, pack a pair of classy flats. They’re comfy, easy to walk in, light in weight and they take up practically no space in the backpack. Also consider the shoes you are wearing. Be sure to wear comfy walking shoes for all the sights you will be seeing.

If you know you’re going to a hostel where there is a high possibility of sharing a shower then I suggest wearing some flip flops in the showers. Your feet will thank you.

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6.) Lots of people like buying travel size toiletries for when they travel. Yes, the size is practical, but the price can punch your wallet in the chest causing it to hemorrhage cash. Even though that cute, tiny bottle of Garnier Fructis gets you hyped for your upcoming adventures it’s not cash efficient. You might get two or possibly three uses (if you put water in the bottle and shake it around before lathering up) out of one travel size bottle. Sure, it might be only 50 cents, but if you think of a normal size bottle, priced at about $3.50, it’s not worth it! I think the only thing that is worth buying in a travel size is toothpaste, because it goes a long way, and so many things can go wrong when you pack a whole tube.

In the same travel size section of the store should be an area where there are travel sized empty bottles. Just grab them and use the shower essentials that you have at home to fill them. These are extremely practical because you can use what you already have and the bottles can be used for many trips to come.

7.) Don’t pack nicknacks that you don’t use on a daily basis. That Pathfinder Self-Inflating Multisport Seat from L.L. Bean is nifty but think of the space it’s gonna take up! Besides, it’s not something that you use on a daily basis, therefore, you can live without it. Be a real trailblazer and use the things around you to make accommodations for yourself. Benches, fountains, statue bases, monument steps, and, in past cases for myself, Roman ruins, makes for great places to rest, reflect, and then talk about when you share your travels with others.

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8.) As for nicknacks, don’t pack things that you think will be “entertainment”. If you need to bring entertainment on a vacation, then that’s not a good vacation! Look around you! There should be tons of things to occupy your mind when you’re in a new place. Don’t waste space bringing tons of magazines, books, games, etc. Not to say that you can’t bring these things. Try to keep it down to one piece of reading material for the down time, time spent on the train, or time used flying. Believe me, you’re not going to finish reading all five classics you packed.

9.) To sum it up; travel with only the bare essentials. Be a survivor and live off of the things that you can carry with relative ease. You’ll be surprised how creative you become when you are left with only necessities. Become the McGyver of traveling! Your trip should be centered around enjoying the sights, not around struggling to carry the stuff you didn’t want to leave at home.