Those who like to bring everything on travel ‘just in case’ would know the all-too-familiar pain of having to lug bulky suitcases and bags around. Not to mention that sense of feeling flush of nervousness as you wait for your baggage to be weighed at the airport if getting to your destination entails air travel. If you are anything like me, you’d have tried and failed miserably at your attempts to travel light several times in the past.
Here are a few tips that have really helped me size down and shed the weight of my baggage effectively:

Make a List

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Before you so much as bring out the bags and head to your closet to pick out what you need, make a list of items that you REALLY need on the trip. Sleep on it, and revisit the list to see if there is anything on it that you can do without.

Invest in a Smaller Luggage

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The thing about over-sized bags and suitcases is that there is always room to pack things you don’t need. As a thumb rule, try sticking to bags that are roughly the size of carry-on baggage if you are serious about being able to travel light. It is not possible to overpack if there is limited room in your bag or suitcase.

Wear the Bulk to Travel Light

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Bulky jackets, woollens and boots take up a lot of space, forcing you to add an extra bag or suitcase, which means you have more room to add stuff that you don’t need and increase your travel load. Wearing these bulky items instead can help you cut back on luggage weight considerably and travel light.

Pack for a Week

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This one is the holy grail of tips to travel light. Irrespective of the duration of your trip, always pack a week’s supply of clothes and other essentials. You can always find a laundry service to get a clean set of clothes at the end of the week.

Cross-match Your Outfits

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In this era of social media, a lot of us don’t want to be seen in the same set of clothes repeatedly on a holiday. A smart way to add variety to your clothing without compromising on your resolve to travel light is to pack clothes that can be cross-matched. For instance, you can bring a pair of shorts that can go well with three different tops, a shrug or stole that can be used to jazz up different dresses.

Footwear in Neutral Colours

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Those of you who have a penchant for shoes would identify with the need to bring matching shoes for every dress you pack for a trip. As a result, you have a separate bag of shoes to carry along and your plan to travel light swirls right down the drain. It has taken some discipline but I have finally come around to carrying two or three pairs of footwear in universal colours. A black, a brown and maybe a pair of walking shoes normally suffices.

Pack Vertically

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Place of your clothes and other items vertically, instead of stacking them in horizontal layers. Not only does it help in saving space, allowing you to fit in more items in a single bag, but also makes gives you a better view of your belongings. If you have to live out of a suitcase on a particular trip, this can be a life-saver. Once you are done packing, take a final look at the colour combinations in your bag to see if there is anything you can replace to help with the cross-matching.

Rubber Bands Are Great Space Savers

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These stretchy bands are really effective when you are looking to fit in more stuff into a small bag, which is just what you need to travel light. Just tie up each piece of clothing to make the packing more compact and free up some space in your bag. It is also a great way of keeping your belongings neatly organized.

Ball It Up

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Your socks are can double up as packing accessories. Roll up your underwear, bras and lingerie and stuff them inside your socks, then ball them up to fit these inside your shoes. This saves up a lot of space, allowing you to stuff in a few extra clothes ‘just in case’.

Ditch the Toiletries

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Instead of bringing toiletries of your own, why not use the ones available in your hotel room. They are complimentary anyway! If you are too particular about a particular product or brand, you can always buy them at your destination. In case you are not sure about finding them where you are headed to, it is a good idea to bring miniatures instead of big bottles.

All Set to Travel Light?

Each one of these tips has worked wonders in helping me travel light. I hope these work for you too. Just get over that unshakable feeling of ‘what if I need it’ or ‘just in case’, and you’ll be fine.

Do let us know if these tips helped you transition to smaller, lighter bags in the comments below.


A journalist by profession, a freelance writer by choice. When not writing, she likes to spend her time in company of books and food or hitting the road to explore new places, besides juggling roles as an army wife and mommy.

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