You are leaving tomorrow, so you start packing the day before… why get ahead of yourself, you already know what you need! You grab a few t-shirts, pants, toiletries, running shoes, sandals, fancy shoes, also those, why not… Ah, why not this outfit, in case a social event is added to your schedule? And this top, oh and this book perhaps?
You see what we’re getting at: your suitcase is a mess and it won’t even close. A tale that many travelers, even the most seasoned, experience every time they’re about to leave for a vacation. Here are a few tips on packing light in the most organized and minimalist way.
Pack your suitcase in advance
A few days before departure, prepare what you would like to bring and lay out your clothes on a large surface where you can see them clearly. Sort them by category: sweaters, pants/shorts, clean clothes, underwear, shoes. Then look to see if all the pieces fit together: what’s the point of bringing a t-shirt if it doesn’t match any of the socks?
Next, calculate the number of items in front of you, remembering that you only need one sweater per day and one pair of pants/shorts per 2 or 3 days. If there is too much, it’s time to prune! If you’re going for more than two weeks, only pack clothes for those 14 days and plan to do laundry along the way. Most accommodations, hotels or apartments, offer this service.
If you are missing something, remember that you can always buy it locally, and as a bonus, it will be a nice souvenir!
The key to success in learning to love minimalist travel? Preparation beforehand. Too much at the last minute, you risk forgetting, or, conversely, panic and overload! Seeing these items spread out in front of you will force you to think about their real usefulness… or non-usefulness.
Plan your needs according to your itinerary
This seems pretty obvious, but who hasn’t brought a totally useless item on vacation “just in case”? Once you’ve gathered all the items you’d like to bring, look at your itinerary and imagine outfits based on your activities. You don’t have to decide which sweater to wear with which pair of pants, but try to match the clothes to your plans.
For example, if you’re going away for five days and plan two days of hiking, two days in the city and a night out at a fancy place, do you have two sporty outfits, two city outfits and one fancy outfit? If so, great. If not… it’s time to start over! Remember, some clothes can be worn more than once before they need to be washed.
Depending on your destination, don’t forget a bathing suit, a coat and/or raincoat, a warm sweater, a hat (cap and/or toque) and sunglasses.
Finally, remember that for packing light, you should have a maximum of three pairs of shoes: a clean pair of shoes, a pair of sandals and a pair of sport shoes.
Simplify the “technology & accessories” puzzle for truly packing light
Another category of items that is taking up more and more space in our luggage: technology. Before you pack your laptop, pro camera, tablet, e-reader, smartphone, GoPro, underwater camera and any other accessory, ask yourself: will I really use it?
If you’re leaving to get away from work, is bringing your laptop a good idea? If you know you never take pictures on hikes, is it necessary to have a heavy, cumbersome camera? If you are planning a trip to the countryside, is an underwater camera really essential?
To ask the question is to answer it. Take the time to analyze what you put in your suitcase instead of doing it automatically. Bring only the essentials and consider a few distractions for downtime (books, reading material or other entertainment devices), but leave everything else at home.
Don’t forget the power adapter!
Prioritize travel sizes
Another way to reduce the weight and size of your suitcase is to choose travel sizes rather than regular sizes for your toiletries and other drugstore products.
To avoid unnecessary expenses, you can simply buy travel-sized containers (maximum of 100 ml for liquids) and transfer your products into them. If you frequently use a hair dryer or flat iron, you should know that these products are also available in convenient travel sizes and that many hotels lend them to their guests free of charge.
Shampoo, conditioner, cream and soap are also often offered by accommodations. If you don’t use specific brands, that’s several less items to include in your suitcase! Instead, take the space available to bring all your prescription medications, deodorant, feminine hygiene products (if needed) and necessities such as glasses or contact lenses. And don’t forget the sunscreen! If you wear makeup, stick to the essentials and prioritize cream products, which are more suitable for travel.
If there are a few items that can’t be added until the last minute (your toothbrush, for example), put a note on your suitcase to remind you not to forget them before you leave.
Finished with the exercise? Now, put your clothes and accessories in your suitcase and make sure it closes before you say mission accomplished to the challenge of packing light!