How to pack light is a constant struggle and I know the pain too well. After decades of traveling, long trips and short, across the state or the world, I’m still refining my travel techniques and here are the best ways I’ve found to pack light wherever I go. Disclaimer: I was given a Coresport shirt to test but no other compensation. All opinions are based on my own experience.
1. Pack light wherever you go with this one tip
Pay attention to fabrics. Gone are the days when a winter trip demanded that you pack thick woolens. Now fleece garments and microfiber pieces can be worn easily as undergarments. For cold climes, I pack light with a white or a purple long-sleeved top to layer under dresses, vests, and shirts. They roll up and tuck into small pockets of space in my luggage. Hotter climates require lightweight and breathable fabrics but I often take the white microfiber shirt for chilly hotel rooms or nights.
The Coresport advantage to pack light
I’ve been investigating wicking fibers for exercise and hot destinations. I love Coresport t-shirt that I’ve been traveling with. The fabric is moisture activated with a specific yarn to absorb perspiration which then evaporates quickly. It also reflects a ‘significant’ amount of UV light. Infused with minerals, the shirt is odor-resistant and antibacterial too. It’s a different experience, unlike cheap fabrics which can be cloying and don’t breathe. I like the way the fabric feels and the unique texture too. The shirt hangs well especially when I want to wear it over casual skirts and pants.
2. Pack light to wash and wear
Often I’ll count out the number of days I’ll be gone and pack underwear for half the days. Gross? Not! If you make sure that the fabrics are quick drying, by midway in your trip you start washing out underwear at night, then wearing it the next day. Heavy cotton fabrics won’t dry as quickly so I look for breathable laces with cotton inserts. I do the same with the microfiber, not microfleece, shirts. Make sure to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. They usually dry quickly.
Pack light travel hack:
Wash your pieces and squeeze out as much water as possible. Then, before hanging, roll them in a towel and twist as hard as possible. Most of the moisture will remain in the towel. Hang things up and they’ll be dry soon.
I was curious about washing and drying times for the Coresport shirt since it wicks sweat but found it washes out easily and using the above towel technique was dry within hours. Definitely a plus when you work out daily or are in a tropical destination.
5. Consider your destination first
Know the norms of the country or event you’ll be visiting. In Jordan, I knew that staying covered would be respectful and help me blend in. The mid-length, lightweight travel skirt I brought got quite a workout on that trip. It was in a muted color too – easy to brush dust off and I didn’t stand out like a tourist. One of my travel buddies wore flowing feminine outfits without a lot of skin showing and never received so much attention from men! Does that work for you? It certainly boosted her morale!
6. Pack light for the activities.
Think about what you’ll be doing most of on the trip and pack accordingly. I’ve carried a tailored jacket on a dive trip where 99% of the time I was in the water. It never left my suitcase and took up way too much room. Pack light pieces that won’t need ironing. I certainly wasn’t going to spend time ironing in the tropics! Did I need to bring hiking boots on a long, swift cross-country road trip? Not unless I planned to tackle multi-day, intensive trails and we didn’t have time for that.
7. Limit your shoes to 3 pairs at most
Shoes can be heavy unless you’re living in flip-flops. They take up space as well. While traveling solo across Switzerland in winter I was hardly out of my thermal boots which were carefully chosen for comfort and warmth without leaving me looking like a lumberjack (no harm intended. I managed to pack light by wearing them between locations and on urban treks. Away from the dangers of ice or snow, I wore knee-high, lightweight boots with thick, wool socks engineered for wicking and warmth. I packed the larger boot with socks tucked inside to save space. The socks also doubled as slippers in my dorm or hotel rooms. Two pairs of shoes for a two-week trip worked well for this tenderfoot.
8. Pack early
I admit to being a bit self-conscious, especially if I’m traveling solo but I’m happiest when dressing to see and not be seen. I want to be respectful and not broadcasting that I’m a tourist. Gone are the days where I forgot to pack a dress that can be accessorized with a scarf and some inexpensive, lightweight jewelry for evening activities or a pair of shoes that will work in a fine restaurant. However, with that comes the need to start planning what to wear well before I leave. I’ve also learned to resist the impulse to just grab another shirt or pair of pants at the last minute. It seldom works well with the rest of what I’ve packed. Conversely, don’t start taking things out of the case unless you have to. I’ve left key pieces behind and had to shop on the road.
I love shopping for clothes but not while I’m traveling. I’d rather be out and about exploring than rifling through racks and budget-busting on impulse. That said, going to a mall with several Brazilian girlfriends near Sao Paolo was a cultural experience and a cherished memory for this minimally-feminine boomer!
9. Three color rule
Mixing and matching is a big part of how to pack light. Choose three predominantly solid colors then add a scarf or lightweight shirt with prints to spice things up. Before you start packing, lay out everything that you want to bring. I spread things over my bed and remove hangers only after I’ve decided which are going in the suitcase. It saves time. See what works or doesn’t, don’t just assume they will and then pack them. See how many outfits you can get out of as few pieces as possible.
10. Try things on before packing
It’s heartbreaking to get on the road and discover a torn shirt with missing buttons or one that no longer fits when another item left at home would have worked better. Sometimes things that you imagine work together don’t at all. If it’s not a short weekend getaway especially, take the time to try things on.
Bonus tip: Stay true to you and don’t take any expert’s advice, me included! Knowing what you feel best wearing is half of the journey when you want to pack light. Here’s a post about that.
That’s it for now. I still make mistakes, like inheriting a soft bag and overpacking for a trip to the Bahamas. I looked great but hated schlepping that bulky thing across the islands. Most of the items never saw the light of day! I hope these tips help you to pack light wherever you go.
Thank you again to Coresport for the chance to test their innovative shirt and fabric. All opinions, as always remain my own.