8 cool tips to help you pack light, like a pro

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There was a time when packing for a holiday involved removing every item of clothing I own from the cupboard and attempting to stuff it into an undersized suitcase. On top of this, I would squish, push and force countless pairs of shoes, accessories, beauty products and, of course, my beloved hair straightener into what little space remained.

I would then be required to lug the beast containing all my worldly possessions into cars, onto buses, on and off trains, through airports, streets, hotels, motels, hostels and worst of all, up and down countless flights of stairs. After busting my hump through six torturous weeks in Europe and requiring several painful visits to the chiropractor upon my return, I decided to take a stand against over-packing. I had finally had enough of living like a rogue gypsy turtle and decided it was time to downsize.

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Matt has a distinct advantage over me when it comes to light packing because his ‘list’ reads something like this: shorts, shirts, undies, toothbrush and soap (maybe). Despite this, he flat-out refuses to share even an inch of his precious packing space with me. I don’t really blame him though because I am like the plague. Once he gives me enough room for my tan pumps we both know I’ll be asking for more until finally, I will have overrun his bag with a wide array of thong underwear, singlet tops and maxi dresses.

In packing for a one week trip to Bali I decided to make the bold move of not taking a suitcase or checked luggage of any kind. Instead, I opted for a backpack big enough to take as carry-on luggage. Don’t worry, even the stewardess at the check-in counter was shocked “Checked luggage today Miss?” “Oh, erm no. Just the backpack” “….. Oh…. oh… yes of course…how silly of me… a whole week and you…. Just the backpack, not a problem Miss”.

Despite a few initial setbacks I’ve perfected the art and no longer struggle under the weight of cardigans, vests and assorted leggings. My feeble wrists rejoice at the freedom of not having to wrestle 35 kilos worth of shoes from the airport conveyor belt and most importantly, I no longer bear the shame of the bright neon ‘heavy load, bend at the knees’ tag usually affixed to my bulging suitcase. Packing light isn’t easy but you get the hang of it. You’ll find with less luggage you’re able to move between locations a lot faster, freeing up your time to see more of your holiday destination and your lower back will thank you.

The best way to pack hats

Here are my top tips to help you pack light:
  1. Be honest – This is the most important one. If you haven’t worn that beige, knitted jumper that makes you look chubby in the six months since you bought it you sure aren’t going to wear it when you know you’ll be photographed. So don’t pack it and don’t pack anything else that you think you ‘might’ like to wear. All packed items must have a proven history of good field performance.
  2. Play favourites – We both know that most of your holiday clothing should come out of the clean laundry pile because those are the clothes you wear the most often anyway. Don’t be so hard on yourself, if you love wearing the same navy shorts every day then pack them! It is your holiday after all and what’s most important is that you feel comfortable and confident.
  3. Consider your comfort – If you’re planning on moving around a lot or spending time on a bus be sure to pack at least one comfortable outfit because the last thing you need is to be stuck wearing your leather hot pants on a 14-hour bus ride. Although I would probably question why you own leather hot pants in the first place.
  4. Plan ahead – If you’re travelling for five days then plan five outfits. The chances are that you more or less know the itinerary so think of an outfit for each day plus one or two extras i.e. something for a nice dinner or beach bum day. Make sure your outfits are interchangeable too so you can mix Tuesday’s shorts with Thursday’s top.
  5. Be ruthless – Once you’ve laid everything out do a very stern audit of what you’ve got. Don’t be afraid to cut things from your packing list, you are on holidays so if you arrive there and realise that two sarongs just weren’t enough I’m sure you can buy a third one somewhere and it’ll be a nice memento.
  6. Divide and conquer – If you’re travelling with someone else do you both need to bring a hairdryer, straightener, heat-protector and hairspray? Probably not. You can save money and space by sharing some items and the extra space you have left over can be used for souvenirs. I would definitely recommend you each bring your own toothbrush.
  7. Prepare accordingly – When packing for a two-week holiday to Bali the chances are you won’t need much more than a summer dress, bikinis, shorts and tops. So don’t go overboard and start packing five pairs of jeans and a jumper ‘just in case’. In Bali, there’s no ‘just in case’ it’s always hot so curb your weird jeans obsession, do some research on the weather forecast for your destination and be realistic about what you do and do not need to take with you.
  8. Relax – why are you stressing about what you have and haven’t packed anyway? As long as you have the basics I’m sure you’ll be able to survive in your four-star beach-side luxury resort and anything you’ve forgotten you can purchase at your destination, I’m fairly certain the rest of the free world also know about toothpaste. When you look back at your holiday you won’t be thinking ‘Wow… that was a killer outfit’… you’ll be thinking ‘Wow… that sunset was incredible’.

There are a few extra things that I always like to pack and usually come in handy these are; a plastic bag, a ziplock bag, basic medicines, a bar of soap, a pack of wet ones and of course my hair straightener (don’t judge me!).

Now…here’s how I really pack for a trip 🙂

Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.


25 Comments on 8 cool tips to help you pack light, like a pro

  1. loveantoinette // July 4, 2012 at 11:05 pm // Reply

    I like to think I’ve mastered the art of packing “light” but once in awhile… I still struggle, and struggle some more… Those “what if I might want to wear” thoughts always creep up!! Shoes are usually the hardest but after traveling with backpacks these days, I’ve learned to tone down.


  2. kaysfairytale // July 2, 2012 at 3:37 am // Reply

    I really liked “packed items must have a proven history of good field performance”. Fantastic advice, although that doesn’t apply to shoes, right? Even if they do give you blisters every time you wear them, it’s still worth it if they’re cute…right?


  3. Paprika Furstenburg // June 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm // Reply

    Great advice!


  4. Marcos Gonzales // June 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm // Reply

    This blogs sounds familair. Personally, I am also not the type of person who stresses over packing for a holiday. I stuff the basics and all that I forget, well, that’s for sell elswhere as well, right? Usually, I start packing only hours before I leave and even then I can’t stress about it, at all. The rest of my family on the other hand….


  5. crazywritermsc // June 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm // Reply

    Great advice, that’s what I always do when I’m packing (and that’s at least two times a year!)
    I loved Bali, it was really beautiful 😉 When we went there we left most of our luggage in Denpasar, rented a small car and just drove around from guest house to guest house (yes because if you really want to appreciate a place like Bali, don’t go to the tourist’s hotels, it has nothing to do with the real thing)
    Did you see Batur Tengah, near Kintamani? It’s like 3 small volcanoes inside a really large, old volcano.


  6. lillianccc // June 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm // Reply

    I’ve really enjoyed your blog and have nominated you for a couple awards! If you’re interested, please visit: http://ltclifeonhigh.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/more-love-to-be-passed-around/


  7. adiaryofanewife // June 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm // Reply

    I so identify with this post!! Really in need of your tips and will try them out next week! My biggest thing for me is shoes..can`t resist throwing in at least 5 pairs for a week and I also need my bags-comfy during the day one, evening etc 🙂


  8. Great post!

    I extended some of these rules recently to my wardrobe in general. Ie.
    1. Having not worn something in so long, I don’t need it, it can go!
    2. Comfort…sometimes things don’t fit anymore or get worn out. Why are you keeping them?! 😛

    Etc. It’s a useful way of looking at things 🙂


  9. Nominated you for an award here.


  10. ladylighttravel // June 15, 2012 at 7:13 am // Reply

    I like to take a capsule wardrobe to give myself lots of outfits. I also try to make sure everything can be layered for temperature control (and more variation in looks).
    I also like to take solid products such as solid shampoo, crystal deoderant sticks, and solid conditioner.
    I make sure my electronics are USB based. The cords are lighter, interchangable (I only need to take one) and are dual voltage.


  11. Allirra marmo // June 13, 2012 at 1:01 am // Reply

    I love it! I just wrote you a huge long replayed in my infected wisdom toothy state managed to delete it somehow :(.

    My basic comments were- Kaelia and I have previously talked about our trip in November and packing. She wanted to take a straightener (and I’m not going to lie, me a bit too, even though our hair is naturally straight lol) and I said only one shall be packed!

    Also I’ve had the embarrassing ‘heavy load- lift with knees’ and I also totally over-packed when I went to Vanuatu and had what felt like the whole looking at me re-adjusting my packing- embarrassing!

    Very good tips for anyone there- male or female.

    Thanks for your glorious writing again girl 🙂


  12. Mix and match separates are the best way to create more outfits. I used to pack everything I might ever need, but am slowly learning that if I forget something, I can buy it at the destination. Perhaps it’s a throwback to travelling when young and impoverished?

    I too consider the hair straightener one of God’s gifts to the curly-haired, and will certainly not travel without it.

    When travelling to tropical destinations or on a cruise I take a couple of bolero type cardigans, to cope with occasional too-cool airconditioning.


  13. thelondonnewgirl // June 13, 2012 at 10:08 am // Reply

    Some good tips there….Being honest is definitely the most important & necessary. I’m about to pack every single thing that I own in my life into one 23kg suitcase 😦 If I can survive this, then hopefully I’ll be set for a life of light packing! But I get the feeling there will be many nervous breakdowns along the way, just like fragmentary mentioned in the comment above!


  14. fragmentarybiography // June 13, 2012 at 7:46 am // Reply

    i too have learnt to master the fine art of packing near perfection:

    step 1: place everything you very much want to bring on trip in neat piles on flat, even surface, preferably bed. then realize you have exceeded weight limit by far. have a nervous breakdown. pause.
    step 2: place every item you think you might possibly survive without for 2 weeks in a new pile. name this pile “the maybe pile”. take a minute to reflect on how the loss of the maybe pile would affect you and your trip. have a nervous breakdown. stop for the day and turn to alcoholic beverage of your own choice for comfort.
    step 3: wake up with slight headache. panic when realizing you have forgotten to put at least 4 key items in piles. have a nervous breakdown.
    step 4: put all piles except the maybe pile in suitcase. put on scales and rejoice when not exceeding weight limit. REFRAIN from adding the maybe pile (and this is important!), instead visualize upcoming purchase that will need to fit in said suitcase on return flight. try not to have a nervous breakdown.

    works like a charm.


  15. I am a great traveler, but a horrible packer; need some creature comforts. Thanks for sharing & Have a Great Day!


  16. Awesome tips, thank you! 😀



  17. Phoebe, I LOVED this… because this is me:

    Serena xx.


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