Posted in Travel, Travel Writing

Tips for packing light for travel — tried and proven

What makes travel packing easier?

I have found a few things that I can recommend from years of traveling. Recently on a trip from Isla Mujeres, Mexico, to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, girlfriends and I carried backpacks for a three-day trip. That requires paring things down to only the essentials.

The first thing to consider is finding the lightest weight backpack that will hold your belongings adequately. I have one mesh backpack that carries a couple days’ of clothes, a small cosmetic bag, meds, a pair of shoes and my woven fabric purse. The draw-string holds things secure and the flap that buckles will hold my skinny feather pillow rolled (with which I travel everywhere) between the top of the backpack and the flap.

Another thing I have come to utilize in very recent years is the reversible skirt, dress, and/or jacket. I love the warmth of fleece, so I take a fleece jacket anytime I travel. I had several colors, but not one that goes with everything. I found a beige and gray reversible fleece jacket with wonderfully deep pockets on both sides with a zipper (always a plus when traveling). The trim was beige and had some stains that did not come out in the wash. So I took it to my seamstress and had her install black trim that looks good on both sides and will won’t show dirt and grim the way beige does.

I love, love, love white shirts. But they yellow with the use of sunscreen mixed with sweat around the neck and sleeves, so I have given up on white shirts for the most part. I take colored tops that don’t yellow so obviously. I still take one white blouse to wear as an over shirt or a stand-alone top that I wear at night after a shower with no sunscreen.

I learned new tricks from different friends in Mexico this year that can save me money and space in my bags. I left home without my translucent face powder. I doubted my friend, but baby powder works on wonders on my face and I already had it in my bags.

Another friend told me she wears only one pair of earrings when she travels. She brings an exact matching pair, so if she loses one earring, she has a replacement. Because I lose earrings when I travel, I decided this ingenious idea would be a new standard for my travel. When I returned home, I bought double pairs of earrings with my favorite clasp in both silver and gold tones. I’ll be traveling out of state to high school graduation parties in a couple of weeks and will take either the silver or gold, depending on what I take to wear.

My husband learned somewhere along the way to use mineral oil for shaving. He carries a tiny bottle. He needs three drops works for a facial shave. I require six drops for each leg I shave. It take ups little to no space and leaves your skin soft. It beats big shaving cream cans and can be carried through security.

Shoes are the bane of every woman traveling. I wear my athletic shoes with jeans on the plane, because they both take up space and add weight. I pack and get by with a pair of walking sandals or flats, and a pair of slip-on sandals or house shoes for in the room. I rarely dress up when I’m traveling, so this works for me.  You might need another pair, but think hard before you add another pair.

And of course, the age-old-wisdom: take mix and match clothes that layer. Everything must go with everything else you take. I don’t know where I read this or who said it, but one woman wrote that she can travel with three days of clothes for a month. Scarves, belts, and jewelry make this more doable.

Finally, I decided years ago (finally) to have a complete second set of cosmetics and hair dryer and roller to pack. I can then pack my bags and have them in the car the night before we leave. This makes my husband so happy and content, and relieves the stress of last minute packing.

I have not achieved this level of parsimonious packing all the time, but I’m always working toward it. If I cannot carry my luggage myself, I repack until I can.

What are some of your travel packing tips?