How to Pack Effectively and Travel Light

Written on 10/10/2008 by Monika Mundell. Monika Mundell is a passionate freelance writer and pro-blogger. Her blog Freelance Writing helps new freelance writers to get started in this exciting industry.
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Photo Credit: Mash Down Babylon

Travel is fun, but only if you don’t end up lugging a ton of stuff around the world. The problem is that most people have no idea how to pack effectively. They end up carrying way more than they ever need, and this often leads to frustration, arguments between travel buddies and unnecessary stress.

I’m a self confessed travel junkie and have been fortunate enough to have traveled the world many times over. Travel is addictive and many seasoned travelers agree that once you start, it is hard to stay in the one place for too long. For some reasons, the travel bug is very contagious and hard to cure. Not that I ever want to do this anyway. I love traveling and over the years I have learned a thing or two about traveling light.

Hopefully my tips will help you to travel light the next time you pack your bags.

  • Holdall vs. Suitcase on Wheels
    This one is easy to decide. Holdalls (or large gym bags) are cumbersome and complicated to carry. They become a huge annoyance if you travel long distance because of their shape and design.

    You are much better off with a suitcase on wheels, preferably small and compact. We tend to carry large suitcases by design because we always fear that we will run out of clothes and stuff while on the road. In fact, you are much better of taking as little as possible. At the most you only want to have enough clothes for 7 days as there are washing machines where most people go. If on the odd occasion you end up off the beat track, nobody really cares if your shirt is dirty or even smells a bit.

  • Backpack for Word Travelers
    If you decide to travel around the world you want to take a well fitted backpack. Unless you travel 5-star all the way of course. In that case, a sturdy suitcase on wheels will do the job just nicely. These days backpacks are designed to be comfortable and many do come with in built wheels for the odd inner city transfer.

    The problem with a backpack is that the more stuff you take, the heavier they will get as we tend to buy things that are often unnecessary. If I was to travel the world again on a backpacking trip I would only ever take a max of 40 l rucksack. I believe you can buy clothes at your destination and they are often cheaper than buying them at home and having to log them around with us.

  • Roll Your Clothes
    Did you know that by rolling your clothes into a tight roll you can actually fit them into a much smaller suitcase or backpack? I use cubes I buy at the camping store to store my clothes according to needs. I can quite easily travel with a small suitcase on wheels for two weeks without ever running out of clothing.
  • Pack Half
    Get into the habit of packing a day early for your trip and then take out half the stuff and leave it at home. Do you really need a pair of trousers for every day of the week? Or how about taking 10 books (you might be bored), your iPod, your phone charger, batteries, and half of your office desk with you. You will hardly need all the stuff you THINK you need while away. Unless your destination has no shops of any kind, forget about all the extras.

  • Buy at Your Destination
    Not only is it cheaper to do that (unless you live in a third world country or your currency is otherwise in the tank), but you will be so much more relaxed while other people around you stress over carrying far to much luggage on them. If you fancy to travel in true spirit, do so with as little clutter as possible.

  • Travel Size Bottles
    Forget your usual bathroom necessities. If your trip only lasts a week there is no reason to take that whole bottle of shampoo and shower gel. Instead, go to your drug store and buy little refillable travel sized bottles. Then fill them with your shower essentials. It is also advisable to take a bathroom utility bag that can be hung up as often there is little room to place things in hotel bathrooms or hostels. Plus, it will keep your gear clean.

  • Pack Multi Purposes Clothes
    Multi purpose clothes are cool. Today they come in many different styles and fashion. Gone are the days when you looked like a dog in a rag if your wore your cargo pants while dining at a decent restaurant. Today you can wear the same pant for this purpose while hiking a mountain the next day.

    I also love the wide range of breathable shirts available from camping stores these days. Best of all, many of them don’t even have to be ironed anymore.

What is your travel tip? Feel free to share with us please.

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