How to Pack Light and Still Have Everything You Need

pack lightPacking light is an amazing accomplishment if you are going on a long vacation and something you should definitely consider. Travelers need to bring a small part of their life with them, but life is cumbersome and often heavy. It can ruin a travel experience, yet light travel requires hard decisions. It doesn’t need to be too hard, however. There are strategies you can use to make things easier on yourself.

Here are a few tips that you might find useful:

See What You Can Buy There

Being economical on a trip does not mean taking everything yourself. Sometimes it means supporting the local economy and buying an umbrella when you get there. If you are going to a well-traveled location you will most certainly be able to get whatever you might need (including heavy items).

If you think about it, waiting to get what you need makes the most sense. Everything you need to survive and thrive is also needed by the locals, and they need to shop as well. It is an opportunity to immerse yourself more in the place you are traveling. You don’t need those snacks from home, they will be waiting for you when you get back. Similarly, you can get basic gadgets and large items when you arrive. You don’t want anything to happen to them in transit, and carrying around half your body weight isn’t fun.

Smartphones Are Your Friend

Smartphones are great for travel. You can use them in the place of a GPS, computer, guidebook, some documents and quite surprisingly a cellular phone. You can even watch Netflix if you’re stuck waiting with no one around (just use a VPN if you’re out of the country so you can look as though you’re browsing in your home country). Take a look at what you might bring and ask yourself if your smartphone can fill the same need through an app or program.

You will just want to make sure you have an emergency backup plan in case your phone is damaged or stolen. You don’t need anything too complex, but it might be best to bring a laptop or other device that can access the internet with you. A friend with another smartphone helps as well. Try to find protection in the form of a case and something to strap your phone to your body.

Have Cash

If you’re packing light, there is no way you can be prepared for every eventuality. This means that you will need to know how to accommodate yourself wherever you are traveling. Most of the time (nearly all the time) this will require money, but credit cards are extremely popular. This isn’t enough for everything, though, as you may run into problems with your credits cards or the merchants in less well-known destinations will not be able to process them. All businesses take cash. Try to get some of the local currency to carry around so that you’ll have it when you need it.

It is also a safer option. Criminals love to target tourists and travelers because it is difficult for them to both notice identity theft right off the bat. It is also difficult to track down the criminals once their card information has been swiped.

Tools with Multiple Functions

Just like you can use a smartphone to watch Netflix on the train while you are texting your friends about how amazing your trip is, you can find other tools with additional functions. A Swiss Army Knife, bookmarks that function as rulers and other devices certainly exist and if you ask friends who travel they will certainly be able to share some of their favorite items with you (or at the very least steer you clear of the ones that don’t work).

You need to take into consideration the tools that you will most certainly need and the tools that you may not. Try to consolidate the functions of tools that are of secondary importance, so that you will be able to get by with perhaps secondary quality but much less weight on your back.

Packing light is a skill that takes practice and patience, but with the right advice and tools, you’ll be able to travel burden-free soon enough. Do you have any other tips that might be useful for packing light? Are there any items that you find particularly useful or helpful when trying to pack? Any items that you just can’t live without? We’d love to hear what you think!


  • Jaime Nicole

    You have some great tips here! I’ve really tried to lighten my tech load, even when I’m only traveling domestically for business. It makes life easier for sure.

  • Alli

    Packing light does require practice. It took me years to learn how to pack light. At one time I would pack way too many shoes and clothes.

  • Savannah Miller

    I am so guilty of over packing all the time! Mostly clothing!
    The one item I can’t travel without is my laptop, my hubby and I watch movies on there when we are away, I check emails, upload photos that we took and so much more 🙂

    • Jess S
      Savannah Miller

      I am the same, I love to travel with my tech! I’d feel lost without my laptop, camera and smartphone.

  • Ashley

    What great tips. I really need help with packing light. I usually go way overboard. I like the idea of buying things locally.

  • Heather lawrence

    I find I tend to overpack and it’s even worse when I am packing for the kids.
    I try and leave some extra room in our suitcase so we can pick up some clothing while we are there.
    Never thought to use my iphone to watch netflix..we always are too busy looking around 🙂

  • Jenn @ EngineerMommy

    These are great tips to pack light but still have all the essentials on hand. I always bring my smartphone with me. I also love multi-tasking tools that save space!

  • Erica Brooks

    That is an amazing view! Smart tips. Traveling light is the only way I travel. I always pack light and never go anywhere with out my smartphone.

  • Vera Sweeney

    These are great ways to pack light! I am sure that having a smartphone saves packing a lot of extra equipment.

  • Adrienne

    I am always overpacking. Buying products when I get to my destination would actually be a great idea if I wasn’t so afraid that I might not be able to find what I need. lol

    • Jess S

      That’s very true actually, there is nothing worse than not being able to find what you need and being without it!

  • Miles L.

    I always make it a point to travel light. Life is much better that way.

  • Marielle Altenor

    Very good tips! LOL packing light has never be in my vocab. I’ve always been a bag lady. Not too proud of that though.

  • Maureen

    I need to print this out and put it inside my wallet 😀
    I used to be able to travel light but since I’ve became a mother it was more challenging to travel light but these are all really great tips.

  • Miranda (Myrabev)

    So is so true, I love tools with multiple functions, it saves me a lot of trouble and room in my carry on. I am always on my phone so for me I can not go anywhere without having a portal charger to keep charging my phone.

  • lisa @bitesforbabies

    These are great tips! I consider myself to be an expert packer since I’ve traveled so much! I manage to efficiently pack 4 suitcases (far below the weight max) for 2 adults, and 2 adults, for 3 months of holiday every summer 😉

  • Ave

    These are really great tips! Sadly I’m not traveling as much as before, but these tips come in handy for my next trips. My husband always says that if you have a passport and cash, you don’t need any extras for traveling.