Nothing spoils the freedom of travel more than being weighed down by too much luggage. It’s impossible to stow on public transport, completely painful to drag across town, inconvenient in small hotel rooms and those excessive baggage charges are more than a little hefty.
For years I was a notorious overpacker. Packing was easy – I never had to choose, I just packed everything I could fit. But as soon as I arrived at my destination, I wouldn’t even look at half of what I packed let alone use or wear all of it. It didn’t take me long to realise that less is more when it comes to packing but it did take me a while to translate this into actually packing lighter.
The turning point came on an evening that will forever be referred to as the Paris incident. During a solo trip to France from Australia that saw me having to haul an overweight suitcase down a huge flight of stairs in the middle of the night, my extremely heavy and cumbersome suitcase broke as I was pushing/pulling/lifting it down the stairs. So instead of an extremely heavy suitcase, I was left with an extremely heavy suitcase that no longer had wheels.
That was all the motivation I needed. During all my world travels since then, I’ve made it my mission to pack as light as possible. What I’ve learnt is that it’s not just what you pack, it’s what you don’t pack that matters. If you are preparing for your next trip, these 9 things are what I definitely recommend leaving behind.
1. Full-sized toiletries
I get it. I’m particular about my toiletries too. But it’s easy to take your favourites and save space by decanting into reusable 100mL bottles or sticking to a few travel-sized items.
2. Travel towel
Most hotels and even hostels these days provide towels, so it’s very unlikely you’ll get much use out of a travel towel. Not only are they too small and don’t really dry you, they also take up precious space and never seem to be quite dry when it’s time to pack up.
I used to always pack my hairdryer when travelling, and I’d always, 100% of the time, never use it. Most hotels, hostels and AirBnBs provide hairdryers so you can leave yours at home.
4. Sleep sheet or sleeping bag
During my six months of full-time travel, I left Australia with a sleeping bag and a sleep sheet and I didn’t use either one once. Linens are provided in all hotels and hostels these days and if a bed is so gross you don’t want to sleep it in, you should probably just find somewhere else to stay.
5. More than one pair of heels
Heels – they seem like a good idea, but they take up an annoying amount of room and chances are you won’t wear them. If you think you definitely will, only pack your most versatile pair to cover any ocassion.
6. Electric toothbrush
They are only slightly larger than an ordinary toothbrush, but when you factor in the charging pack they come with, an ordinary toothbrush is much less hassle for your travels.
7. Half your clothes
Having options is fun but it’s easy to get carried away and pack too many clothes. I say keep it simple, lay out everything you want to pack, and then pack only half of it. You’ll never miss the other half when you’re busy having fun on your travels!
8. Jewellery and valuables
A great piece of statement jewellery can easily transit an outfit from day to night and help extend your travel wardrobe, but for anything valuable or sentimental, it’s best left at home.
Books take up space and add weight to your luggage, but if you’re like me and you love to read, try purchasing ebooks or Kindle books to read on your travels instead.