Can you really pack light for a holiday and yet still take everything you need? Yes, it can be done and I know because I’ve done it. It does take a little planning but the secret to success is being small minded.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been obsessed with tiny things. From dolls house furniture to postage stamp sized books to the miniscule charms on a bracelet, I love them all. At 18 after a spinal fusion for scoliosis, I was told never to carry anything heavy. As a result, my love of miniatures evolved from the purely whimsical to the practical. In buying anything from a laptop to an umbrella, weight and size always factored in my decision making – will this help me travel light or weigh me down?
If you pack thoughtfully, travelling light isn’t about doing without, quite the contrary. On a hen weekend a few years ago, my friends were aghast at how small my bag was. Yet I was the only one who could conjure up a plaster, some Alka Seltzer and a torch when needed.
Everyone knows that scaling down your toiletries is an easy way to travel light. Until I became aware of just how much plastic is polluting our oceans, I’m ashamed to admit that I used to buy miniature versions of my favourite toiletries. These days I decant my favourite products into small, unbreakable travel bottles and jars. Although these are plastic I reuse them again and again so it makes sense. If I want to go even smaller than this, I use the sachets of free products such as moisturiser or shampoo that are often given away at makeup counters or in magazines. I have squirreled so many of these away over the years and they provide just enough product for a weekend away.
When it comes to electronics, I take the bare minimum for a long weekend; just my phone, mini speaker, cables and USB adaptor. This means I can listen to music, audible or even read with just my phone. If I’m going on a longer trip I will usually take either my kindle or my iPad too.
Having streamlined my toiletries and electronics, the other potentially heavy items are clothes and shoes. A capsule wardrobe is the solution here. Choose plain coloured, light weight, mix and match outfits wherever possible. You can then ring the changes with interesting accessories and jewellery. I have two silk pashminas that weigh almost nothing. One is lilac, the other is turquoise and they create two entirely different looks worn with the outfit on different nights out.
For me, shoes present the biggest challenge in travelling light. Whilst I like the idea of going out to dinner in delicate heals, they are no fun when trying to navigate cobbled streets or facing a steep climb. I try to strike the perfect balance between comfort and elegance. This usually means a simple ballet flat or a pretty flatter sandal for evenings out and comfortable but stylish shoes for walking in the day. I usually throw in a pair of flip flops for a hot climate too as they weigh so little and can always double as slippers on a cold tile floor. I resist taking more than 4 pairs of shoes and always wear the heaviest pair whilst travelling.
When wanting to travel light, the weight of your suitcase in also a consideration. With exorbitant prices for excess baggage these days, there are many companies manufacturing strong but lightweight luggage. If you really want to save on baggage fees, consider taking only a carry-on bag and pack accordingly wearing any heavy items.
If you have a family, it’s less easy to travel in miniature but you can still use some of the ideas here. Look to use products that do double or triple duty, such as a shampoo that doubles as a body wash and soap. Also find out what your accommodation offers in terms of toys, books, high chairs, and cots etc. before you travel, so you only take what you need.
So far, I think we have covered most of the practical ideas for travelling light. However I want a touch of luxury and magic on my holiday too. To this end, I always try to pack a few pretty things simply because they make me happy but they will always be lightweight. I have created a YouTube video giving examples of the sorts of tiny things that I take that really add to my holiday joy. These things are entirely personal to me but it may get you thinking about the light weight extras that you can take too.
I believe that good things can come in small packages and that there can be genuine delight in travelling light.
I’d love to hear from you about other ideas for travelling light. You can leave a message for me and I promise to share your great ideas next time.