It’s so easy isn’t it? To add those just-in-case items into your suitcase. A posh dress just in case you’re invited out to an expensive restaurant, your expensive jewellery just in case your house is burgled while you’re away, your white noise machine in case you can’t sleep … the list goes on and on.
It’s also easy to forget that unless we are travelling to the back of beyond (or Mars) then there will be places to buy things. Yes, if we’re in another country we might not be able to find the exact brands we are used to, but that’s part of the fun of travel. You might actually love the local shampoo or moisturiser.
And travelling light give you a carefree kind of smugness – when you march past all those queues of people waiting in line to check in their baggage and – more than likely today – paying for the privilege.
The most useful item you can have with you when you travel can easily fit into your jeans pocket and that’s your iPhone. This takes the place of:
- Your laptop
- Books to read
- Phrase books
- Radio or iPod
- Clock / alarm clock / stopwatch
- Notepad / address book
And more. And as we all know, there are apps for just about every conceivable eventuality – currency converters, white noise machines, compass, translations – even a spirit level if setting up your RV on a flat patch of land is one of your priorities.
Then the chances are that there will be apps specific to your own trip such as Airbnb or your chosen airline’s app.
So we have already eliminated many of the items we used to travel with in the bad old days. But for many people, the problem is clothes. Again, one solution to this is to make sure that you keep an eye on the current weather at your destination before you decide which clothes to take. Most weather apps and websites will show long-term forecasts.
Have you ever returned from a trip and found that you simply haven’t worn most of the clothes in your suitcase? I most certainly have. Think back …what were those items? Don’t make that mistake again.
Take clothes that are in neutral colours so that everything will match with everything else. That green sweater is not going to be used often if it only matches one other item in your suitcase. And only take items that are washable. This sounds like a no-brainer but I’m sure that I’m not the only person who has travelled with a dry-clean-only item which has only been worn once.
The chances are that your accommodation will be able to offer you some form of laundry facility (even if it is a sparkling stream in the Altas Mountains – a fond memory!) So be sure to pack clothes that can be washed and dried easily. You can wash small items like underwear, socks and t-shirts every two or three evenings and leave them to dry overnight.
And now … shoes! I absolutely promise that you don’t need as many pairs as you think you do. Of course, a lot will depend on where you’re going and what activities you’ll enjoy. Most of us will need something sensible to walk in (and usually it’s a good idea to wear these on the plane). Remember that you can buy folding flip-flops and ballet flats that will take up only the tiniest amount of room in your luggage.
Of course, we all have our different priorities when travelling. But packing light has so many advantages. The world has the most wonderful communication systems today and it’s easy to check to see if your accommodation has a hairdrier or whatever else you think you can’t live without. Although if you’re going somewhere warm the sun will do the job beautifully and your hair might even get that sun-kissed look.
I don’t need a hairdrier when I travel. I don’t need many things. My only must-pack-at-all-costs item is a corkscrew!