"I wish I packed more!" - no one ever
Ahhh, travel: when you suddenly think you need 10 pairs of underwear for a 3 day trip. Your luggage is basically your home for as long as you’re on the road, but unlike our home we stuff our suitcases full to the point where we sometimes need to sit on it just to zip it. If we’ve learned anything from Marie Kondo, it’s that taking a more minimalist approach in your home makes you more organized and at ease, and it only makes sense to carry that philosophy over to your luggage. If those extra 7 pairs on underwear don’t spark joy, why bring them? Here are a number of tangible reasons you should pack light, and a couple of super simple solutions to cut weight (without hacking your toothbrush in half).
Why we should pack light:
1. Say goodbye to lost luggage.
This one is pretty simple: if you pack light, you won’t need to check a bag, and if you don’t check your bag, it’s not going to get lost. The last time I unnecessarily checked by bag I was on a flight from Boston to Florida in the winter. I boarded the plane in my warm winter clothes necessary for the commute to Logan, and I got off the plane to palm trees and sunshine, ready to grab my bathing suit and get to the beach. Unfortunately, my bag had other plans and decided to hop on a different plane, and I spent the next 2 days in a sweater and jeans in the 80 degree Florida heat.
2. Save on baggage fees.
In the war against airline fees, we’re not only battling the cost of checking a bag, we’re also battling weight limits for both checked bags and carry-ons. Maybe you have some tricks up your sleeve to get around this like the fella below (disclaimer: we are not condoning this), but the slightly more reliable solution is to pack lighter.
3. Stay mobile
Even if you’re the most punctual person in the world, if you travel often enough you’re eventually going to have to do the airport sprint of shame. Whether it’s a last minute gate change, a delayed flight cutting it close for your connection, or losing track of time at the airport bar, we’ve all been there. When the situation arises, you certainly don’t want to be hauling a heavy, bulky bag through the crowds. Heck, you should probably make sure to get a good stretch in and wear sneakers, too, just in case.
4. Go with the flow
This summer my husband and I went to Southern France for a two week climbing trip, and between the two of us we had 120 lbs of luggage. This was partially due to me thinking I was going to wear 3 different outfits every day (spoiler: I didn’t), partially due to the nature of climbing gear, and partially due to very poor planning (pro tip: if you’re going on a sport climbing trip you don’t need to bring 2 trad racks). When the trip was over, the last leg of our odyssey back to the Paris airport included a train from Marseille, which upon arrival we find out has been delayed 5 hours. We had a whole afternoon to kill in a city we’d never been (with stellar beaches!), but the mere thought of lugging around our 120lbs kept us anchored to the train station. Lesson learned, packing light allows you to embrace the unexpected.
5. Better for your back
Most duffle backpacks aren’t built with the structure of one meant for backpacking. If you’re pushing that 50lb luggage limit, your back is going to be pretty taxed just trying to find the bus out of the airport. Unless you’re training for the PCT, there’s no need to do that to yourself.
Tips to travel light:
1. It’s all about materials.
Don’t mistake lightweight gear for being low quality. The material of your bag alone can add several pounds to your load, which is not necessary thanks to fabrics like Robic and ripstop Cordura. You can get the same durability for ¼ of the weight, sturdy enough to make it through getting strapped to tuk-tuks, dragged on floors, and tossed in the overhead bin. That ethos goes for what’s inside your bag, too. Taking along a towel? Our NanoDry towel
packs down to the size of a deck of cards, yet still absorbs 2.3x its weight in water, thanks to the lightweight Nanofiber material.
2. Limit your liquids.
If you’ve ever tried carrying a gallon of milk and a carton of orange juice home from the grocery store at the same time, you can attest: liquids are heavy. Look for solid swaps for your toiletries when you can. With the rise of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion bars, you can carry 30 days worth of shower essentials in just a few bars. Check out our ultralight Soap Bar Cases
to help keep them clean and organized in your bag.
3. Do laundry on the road.
Especially if you’re traveling for a week or more, you don’t need to bring an entirely different set of clothes for each day. It’s pretty easy to find a laundromat or hand-wash your clothes no matter where in the world you are, and that means you get to wear your favorite, most comfortable t-shirt more often. Our FlatPak Toiletry Bottle
is a good way to bring a small amount of liquid detergent with you so you can wash on the road.
4. Give yourself the option to come home with more than you left with.
It’s always tempting to pick up a few souvenirs on your trip, but there’s no need to bring an extra large suitcase for that purpose alone. I travel with a packed up Transit30 Duffle
, just in case. It packs down to the size of a baseball so I barely notice I have it, but opens up to 30 liters of additional space if I need it for the way home.