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A low shot of an open teal suitcase on a shaggy cream rug. There's items starting to be packed, including a red jumper. Travel documents including a passport and small model of a plane are in front

How to Pack Light on a Long Holiday

Travelling can be a very tiring experience - this can be especially true when you haven’t packed right. Packing light can seem like a back-breaking challenge if you’re the type of person who frequently has to pay the excess baggage fees.

Whether you’re packing for a backpacking solo trip of a lifetime, a long business trip or an unforgettable adventure with family or friends, it’s always important to pack correctly in order to take with you as much of the essential things you need and remove any clutter. It is easy to get so excited about your holiday and pack things you may not even need. We’ll help you to stay organised and stress-free when it comes to packing light on your next holiday!

What are the benefits of packing light

  • You don’t have to worry about paying baggage fees anymore
  • Say no to trolley fees
  • Less time used when packing
  • No more back or shoulder pains
  • High level of smugness - knowing you can throw your airport luggage on to the airport scales with confidence
a shot looking down at an open suitcase and carry-on bag with items packed including sandals, sunglasses and swimwear

Top 7 Tips to Pack Light on a Long Trip

1. Make sure to always use packing cubes

Compression cubes can be an efficient way to pack your suitcase. Packing cubes put a natural limit on the amount of clothes you can take and the compression can really half the amount of space your clothes may normally take up.

Tatum, a traveller blogger who has travelled to over 26 countries and 40 US States, says that, “I know a lot of people say to roll your clothes, but honestly, that's not enough when you’re going on a long trip (plus it makes for a very messy bag). By using packing cubes and rolling your clothes will help create an easy to use system of finding outfits and toiletries. Packing cubes are a life (and space) saver!”

Packing tip: If you prefer your clothes to be crease free when you arrive at your holiday destination, then ensure to travel out with the cubes not compressed so your clothes don’t crease too much. You can save space when you travel back on your way home by using the cubes to compress your clothes.

a shot looking down at an open suitcase and carry-on bag with items packed including jeans, trainers and a laptop bag and charger

2. Pack lightweight clothing and wear your heaviest items through check-in

Another top tip to packing light for a long trip is to avoid taking too many clothes. Jackets and trousers can take up a lot of space in your luggage so you'll want to reduce these items to the bare necessities, even if this means doing the washing more often whilst traveling.

Adrienne, a solo traveller since the late 80s and a Japanese tour provider, told us that: “My first recommendation is to wear the heaviest clothing items on the plane. For me, that means my sneakers, jeans and some sort of jacket or coat and layers come in handy as it’s often very cold in the air.” Nanet, an adventurous traveller blogger, adds: “I love hiking, and my hiking boots are a standard item on my packing list. But, they are also the heaviest pair of shoes I bring. So, to avoid them taking too much of my luggage (both kilos and space), I wear them when I am traveling.” Note, if you do choose to pack extra shoes ensure to pack within the sole to make use of the space.

Packing tip: Don’t pack your heavy jackets, jeans and boots and wear them instead. You may have half an hour sweat during your transfer on arrival but you’ll have saved so much space. Another tip would be to pack clothing that matches in color and style. That way, you can easily interchange pieces.

A smiling man walking through a station while carrying two backpacks

3. Never pack full-sized toiletries and invest in them when you arrive

This depends on where you’ll be travelling to of course. If you’ll be checking in at a hotel that supplies decent shampoo, conditioner and soaps, then you don’t need to pack these as they take up a lot of space. You should never pack a full size toiletry, fragrance or cosmetic products, always look to buy smaller versions. Also, check if your hotel has a hairdryer or you may want to invest in a small travel one. You also may not need to take towel with you as most hotels provide this as a basic necessity.

Packing tip: You can buy most toiletry products when you’re there – sun lotion, deodorant, shower gel, shampoo, mosquito repellent – even the most remote destinations have shops and usually sell many of the brands you are familiar with. This may sound so obvious but only take the items you’ll need the most!

4. Invest in a lightweight suitcase

Don’t use your big bulky suitcase and instead start with a smaller suitcase. You’ll fill whatever bag you have so starting smaller will help you in the long run. If you have got an overflowing suitcase on your bed, then this tip might be a game changer of a tip for your next holiday. Who wants half of their baggage allowance being taken up before they’ve even packed a thing or two.

Packing tip: When you’re shopping for your new suitcase ensure to compare its weight and size.

man chilling in an airport departure seating area while watching a plane depart through the window

5. Follow a packing list

Don’t pack by going through your things, instead use a packing list and follow that. Pack the essentials only by using a packing list – if it’s not on the list, it’s not going in.

Tatum also recommends using a free tool called Trello to organize your packing list. “You can use it via desktop or phone to access it simply by creating a free account. Once in the app, make lists for each category (i.e. toiletries/tech/first aid). Then when you go on any other trip, you have a master list and will never forget anything!” She further adds another useful tip “to put everything on a word document and print it out and then get it laminated so you can successfully check off things for each trip!”

close up of a pink highlighter adding ticks to a checklist

6. Always weigh your luggage after you’ve packed

You should never guess the weight of your luggage, instead buy a travel scale for accuracy. How would you ever know if you’ve packed light and don’t know the actual weight of your luggage. This tip can save your pocket and keep you stress free by knowing you’re not over the baggage limit. You can buy a cheap set of travel scales at convenience stores and even chemists.

7. Swap paperbacks for a tablet or an e-reader

Paperback books are heavy and easily add up the weight of your luggage. Instead of taking paperbacks, you should invest in a tablet or an e-reader and download some e-books. By following this tip you’ll save yourself luggage space.

Emily, a freelance writer on travel, told us that “I am a big fan of using technology to save packing space. Instead of paper books, maps, and magazines, I always download electronic versions onto my phone or tablet.”

woman relaxing in a garden on a sunny day while reading from an e-reader

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