Travelling Light: Tips for Carrying Hand Luggage Only

Travelling light when travelling for longer than a week might seem difficult. Without check-in luggage how do you make sure you’ll have clothing for every eventuality and have room for shopping?  I used to embrace this, however now I’m a huge fan of travelling light without check-in luggage for five reasons. 

5 Reasons to Travel Light

  1. Traveling light gives me the option to use buses or trains that may be cheaper and faster when traveling.
  2. I can’t lose luggage if I’m carrying it onto the plane with me
  3. Traveling light prevents me from carrying items that I know I will not use
  4. No more heavy lifting when going up narrow staircases or collecting luggage from airport carousels
  5. Traveling light makes it easier to store your luggage temporarily in train station lockers when necessary.

So how to carry three weeks’ worth of clothes, toiletries, and entertainment in one backpack and a rolling cabin bag? 

Top 10 packing tips for traveling light

  1. Is what you’re bringing essential, usable in multiple situations, layerable and washable? I would recommend at most four tops and two bottoms that can be worn in multiple combinations. I’ve never needed fancy clothing once when I traveled, so I don’t bring any with me. It saves space in my bag as I probably won’t use it. If I really need it, I could just go shopping. The same applies for footwear. Bring what you’ll actually wear because that extra pair of shoes takes me valuable space.
  2. Don’t bring toiletries you won’t use! There’s essential toiletries and nice to have toiletries. I would recommend packing travel-size toiletries that essential only. These are beneficial because they will finish and be disposed of during your trip. As they finish you get extra space in your bag. I also recommend using a squishable bag, like a ziplock bag, since it folds or rolls up. Don’t bring a large bag of expensive make-up that you aren’t actually going to use.
  3. Don’t carry unnecessary electronic devices. The more electronic devices you carry the more cords you need to carry. In my experience with a good smartphone and a small lightweight computer, I have everything I need. My current choice is a Surface Pro computer because they are lightweight and compact. You’ll be carrying fewer cords, and still be able to get directions, communicate, and research your destinations.
  4. Don’t carry a lot of books. If you’re a bookworm, invest in an ebook reader program on your phone or small travel computer. There are also services such as Audible, which you could use to have multiple books accessible.
  5. Remember to plan for security and emergencies. Over the course of a trip certain things will need to be kept secure or emergencies might occur. Things that will need secure storage include camera gear, phone, money, wallet, and passports. Travel essentials include a water bottle, maps, flashlight, basic first aid, and wireless external usb chargers. Carry a few padlocks just in case.  I would also suggest carrying a small foldable backpack to keep your valuables with you. That small backpack can double as a day trip back too.
  6. Pack ahead of time. Pack a couple of days at least ahead of your trip. Then you have time to remove or repack items more efficiently. 

Important Things To Remember

It may seem like you have plenty of space. However, remember that belongings tend to expand into the available space by the end of a trip. You’ll probably find yourself wondering how it all fit before and how to get your bag to shut now.  Traveling light at the start means that you have space to fill up your carry-on bag during the trip.   

Related Articles

Need tips on how to choose your luggage?  Read “Best Luggage for Traveling Light”.

Need more tips on traveling without excess electronics and cables? Read “Traveling Light with Electronics”.

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