I learnt to pack light when I visited Stockholm because checked baggage for a city break is doing the most and wastes a lot of time. Historically, I’m a (high-maintenance) chronic over-packer. I always pack at least three swimsuits per day for a beach trip and use a weekend bag for overnight stays. I’ve also cried at JFK airport to get my excess baggage fees dropped (didn’t work) and frantically repacked my case at the check-in on another occasion. Now that I’ve mastered the art of travelling light, I want to share my top tips. This is post goes out to my high-maintenance over-packers!
Find the right luggage
Start by buying lightweight, durable cabin luggage. I swear by Antler’s Juno Cabin Suitcase because it’s cute, lightweight and glides like a dream. The weight of your suitcase matters because it eats into your overall allowance; there’s definitely some leeway when you check-in online and head to security, but the aim is to travel light.
Another top tip of mine is to pack a spare duffle bag. If you end up shopping or carrying a lot of souvenirs, you can check the case and use the bag as a carry-on. I swear by Longchamp bags because they’re lightweight and fold flat.
Clothing and footwear
The key is to pack versatile pieces, whatever that means to you. For me, in summer this means dresses because they’re a complete outfit and gold/neutral sandals. In winter climates it means packing all black everything and HEAT TECH. You only need two outfits for each day with maybe a few wildcard options. My experience has taught me that you’ll always wear the most comfortable pair of shoes throughout the entire trip. I think 2-3 pairs are sufficient including the pair you travel in.
*Disclaimer: I’ve packed the same heels in two different colours because options…my motto is if there’s room, pack it!
Toiletries, hair and beauty products
Samples, samples, samples. This is the time to try all those freebies you’ve been collecting! Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, you may prefer to decant your usual products but I don’t mind swapping out cleansers and body products for the sake of a lighter bag. I’m a product junkie so I tend to buy travel sizes of most things; to save on liquids try to pack as many solid things as possible. I also like to decant my fragrances into roller ball bottles so I can have a variety to choose from, fragrance samples work well too.
Sometimes you can forgo packing body products if the hotel you’re staying provides decent toiletries. I never overlook the hotel supplies, even if just means collecting a new toothbrush for my edges…
For black girls who need a little more when it comes to hair…
Try to cut down on products and tools where possible. If you’re wearing weave, opt for a low maintenance texture that you can spray with leave-in, brush and go. For my naturalistas, this isn’t the time for the LOC method etc – keep it simple hun! This is where doubling up comes in handy because you can use the same oil on your hair and body. For example, I would pack a mini hair lotion, Eco Styler gel and Gorilla Snot to get me through the weekend. But whatever you do, do not forget your headscarf/satin bonnet!
Medicine and first aid
Take this with a grain of salt, but if you’re travelling for a short space of time and going somewhere relatively ‘similar’ to your home country, you can skimp in this area. I would suggest packing painkillers and even diarrhoea medicine (you never want to be caught out like that) but anything else you can buy locally if you need it. Plasters and antiseptic might be all you need for first aid if at all;
you’re unlikely to be getting involved in anything that would require more precaution in a city.
(disclaimer – writing with UK, Europe and US in mind. Also with the intention of there being little no language barrier hence similar to your home country).
Towels and misc.
I used to pack several towels for my trips: bath towels, beach towels, face towels etc because I’m a slight germaphobe, but I use the towels at the gym every week so using hotel towels will not kill me! This is obviously a personal preference, but towels are heavy and cumbersome; I’d rather free up space for something more valuable like beauty products. This also applies to slippers, robes and anything else that hotel may supply. My rule of thumb is if they have it, don’t pack it!
I’m working a more detailed packing post with my best tips for saving space and organising your suitcase. In the meantime, I’d love to hear some of your best tips for travelling light!