We just got back home from visiting my father-in-law and brother-in-law in Philadelphia. Even though it was only a two-hour flight from Philly to Bermuda, I was so tired and felt like utter crap (I got sick in the middle of our trip). I just wanted to get home, take a long hot shower and get in bed. I am grateful that we only had a carry-on, because we didn’t have to wait for luggage and walked straight out of the airport. For the past four years I have been mastering/perfecting my packing game. Two of the four, I was travelling every two to three months for business. I figured if a carry-on has enough space for three nights, it will have enough for 10. Thus my journey to packing perfection began.
Reasons why I pack light:
During my trips my wallet feels a little heavier. There is no checked luggage fee, no fee if my suitcase is overweight, or the “extra” fee some taxi drivers charge when you have a suitcase. Also, doing an excessive amount of shopping is impossible, because I didn’t have the space to accommodate anything extra.
I will never have to worry about losing my luggage. A few summers back I went on vacation with my family and we waited about 20 minutes before realizing my sister’s luggage was not on the flight. There was another flight coming in from Miami that evening and her luggage was put on that flight by mistake. They provided cash vouchers for the food court so we could sit and eat, while we waited for her luggage. Luckily, she only had to wait a couple of hours versus a few days to get her stuff.
I save time. I love my time, especially when I am returning home. There is no long line to wait in when I check in. I just use the kiosk and make my way to security. After I get off the plane and get through customs, I stroll straight to the exit and passed all the people who were waiting on their bags. On a day that is jam packed with travelling the last thing I want to do is stand around waiting to check in or for a bag. I just want to get home and relax.
I know that there are hundreds of tricks and hacks out there when it comes to travelling with just a carry-on but here are the ones I found most helpful when I am travelling:
Choose the right personal item.
This is the perfect opportunity to get a little extra space. I like to carry a larger purse that can accommodate my laptop and notebook (just in case I want to blog or work while away) but it is also small enough to slide under the seat. If there is no need for a laptop, at least there will be space for other items (like souvenirs).
Don’t pack every product you own.
People like to pack everything they have just in case they need it. But depending on the purpose of my trip I try to stick to the basics. (bodywash, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste and face scrub). It doesn’t make sense to pack body lotion, face moisturizer, hand & foot cream, and night cream. By packing a multipurpose product you have made space for something else. And if you get to your destination and realize you really need something, you can always purchase a travel size.
Pack clothes that are versatile.
If you are going for a 10 day vacation, don’t pack four pairs of shoes and a different outfit for each day. Instead choose versatile items that can be paired together. By packing versatile clothing, you will create more outfits that take up a lot less space. When packing for our trip to Philadelphia, I chose two pairs of pants, two sundresses, three tops and a pair of flip flops. I was able to create a different outfit for each day and it took up less than half of the carry-on.
Roll your clothing.
I swear by this packing technique. I have tried others but this one has NEVER failed me. If I need some extra room, rolling my clothing helps me create the space I needed. Also, when I unpack, my clothing is wrinkle and crease free and ready to be worn. If you want to learn how to roll your clothes, there are a ton of videos on youtube like this one.
Double your money.
This has nothing to do with packing smart, but it is a tip for travelling smart. Double the money you intend to bring (or at least have a little buffer) because there may be an activity or outing that wasn’t planned for. It is always better to have extra, than miss out because the trip was under funded. I budgeted $500 for our trip, took $800 and ended up bringing home $350.
**Original post was published on April 18, 2015 and updated for my current packing strategy**