Traveling? How to Pack Light

I used to have a hard time packing. I would inevitably pack twice as many clothes as I could wear and three times as many shoes. I was one of those people who has three suitcases plus a carry on for a week long trip. Dealing with that much luggage was no fun. In fact it was a giant hassle! I hated to travel because I had so much stuff to drag around.

Well, I finally got smart and learned how to simplify. I now travel with a small soft sided bag that is small enough to be carried on a plane. As a small soft sided bag, it can be carried like a regular bag or converted to a backpack which makes life so much easier when you have to carry your luggage through a large airport or half a dozen blocks to your hotel. I happen to have a Patagonia MLC BAG but there are other similar bags out there by companies like Eagle Creek and JanSport.

Since my bag is small enough to carry on, I rarely check my luggage. Not having to check luggage is a great time saver at the airport. Also by carrying on my luggage, I do not have to worry about it getting lost.

I also learned how to simplify what wear. I have done this by simplifying my wardrobe. Every piece of clothing that I buy must work with the pieces that I already have in my wardrobe. By having a wardrobe that works together, packing is much simpler. For example, this is what I packed for a 1 week fall trip to the wine country:

Comfortable walking shoes
Black Pants
2 pairs of jeans
Black cashmere cardigan
4 long sleeve tee shirts
2 short sleeve tee shirt
White button up shirt
Tweed blazer
Leather Jacket
Socks & underwear
Pajamas & travel slippers
Toiletry/makeup case

Everything I packed mixed and matched and could be dressed up or down depending on where I was going. I always keep my toiletry kit packed and ready to go. It helps when I need to pack on a moments notice. I restock my toiletry case after each trip so I am ready to go.

I have also perfected my way of packing so that everything fits in one case and arrives with few wrinkles. If I am taking bulky items I will wear them on the plane rather than packing them. For example on the Napa trip, I wore the boots, a pair of jeans, white button up shirt and leather jacket on the plane. Since the boots and leather jacket were a little bulky this left more room in my case. I start packing with my shoes, I pack my socks inside of my shoes and then I always pack my shoes in fabric shoe bags to help protect my clothes. My shoes then go in the bottom of the suit case. Next I pack my toiletry case*, all the heavy stuff goes in first so the clothes do not get squashed. Then I will pack my pajamas, slippers, belt and under garments. Finally I will pack my pants, then my jackets/sweaters and then my shirts go in last. To help prevent wrinkles I neatly fold or roll (depending on the fabric and the garment) each piece of clothing before placing it in the bag. Clothes tend to wrinkle if your bag is too full and everything is squished or if your bag is not full enough and everything is rolling around inside. Now that I have simplified my routine, I am able to pack in less than 10 minutes.

Being able to pack quickly and not having to lug around a lot of luggage has helped me enjoy traveling. These days, I love to travel!

* If you are flying, you will have to check for the current rules regarding carry on luggage at . As of this writing, all liquids like shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, liquid make up, etc. can be carried on as long as each container does not exceed 3 ounces and the containers of liquids all have to be placed in a single clear plastic quart sized zip lock bag. You will want to pack this plastic bag at the top of your suitcase so that it is easily accessible at the airport security check.

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