Getting caught with excess baggage is one of the most stressful things that can happen to a traveller. The last thing you need just before boarding a flight is to be faced with the decision of having to purchase extra luggage allowance or choose which of your belongings will get left behind.
Learning how to pack and travel light will help you steer clear from this nasty surprise. It will also give you the freedom of extra room for souvenir shopping while you’re away! A little careful consideration before you pack your bags will help cut a lot of excess weight. Learn all you need to know about keeping your luggage underweight with these tactics.
1. Pack Clothes With a Purpose
Basics such as T-shirts, undergarments and hosiery are the only items that you should pack duplicates of. All other pieces of clothing should be the only one of their type. That means a single pair of jeans, one outfit for fancy dinners, and one rain jacket etc. Unless you are travelling for a particular event such as a wedding or function that requires a special outfit, your clothes should be functional and flexible enough to be worn more than once.
This rule definitely applies to footwear, particularly because it can be bulky. Stick to shoes that are comfortable and can be worn in multiple situations: think strappy, yet comfortable sandals that you can tour in all day and can do double duty as fashionable footwear at night.
2. Pack in a Palette
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Space in your luggage is precious real estate. You're usually paying for luggage allowance, so you should make sure that anything you bring gets used. To increase the wearability of your clothing, be mindful of how all your items look together. Don't worry, you don't need to be a fashion aficionado to make it work - paying a little attention to colour is all you need.
Packing in a colour palette is easiest when your items are fairly neutral, for example, if most of your items are cream or brown, then try to pick items that are also cream, brown, tan or other similar shades. If your items are colourful, think about whether the colours are warm (with yellow undertones) or cool (with blue undertones). If you pack colours of the same tone, they are more likely to go together. If you're unsure of where to start, take a look at your essentials. These are the items that you are sure you'll bring, so anything in addition should match. When in doubt, remember black goes with almost everything.
Pro tip: Lay all your items out on the floor together before you pack them in your bag. If you glance at your items and only a few jump out at you, then your wardrobe palette is harmonious. But, if almost every item pops, then you may need to re-assess.
3. Carry On Extra Weight
Many airlines impose weight restrictions on checked luggage, however, carry-on bags are usually only restricted by size. This is why it is a good idea to carry on heavy items such as books, permissible electronics, and footwear to allow for more weight in your checked luggage.
4. Don’t Forget the Fine Print
Each airline has its own baggage allowance rules, so it's important to read the fine print for every ticket that you purchase. Sometimes a weight restriction is applied per bag and other times the weight restriction is for each passenger. Smaller regional flight operators can also be strict when it comes to the number of carry-on and personal items allowed. It's a good idea to check on the luggage fine print to avoid the stress of having to consolidate at the check-in line.
Getting familiar with general aviation packing rules will also make for a smoother check-in experience. The last thing you want is to have to swap items from bag to bag because you packed prohibited items in your carry-on.
5. Wear Heavy Items
One place that weight is never restricted is on your person. So, if you're planning to pack any heavy clothing or shoes wear them on the flight instead. This will save some space and weight in your checked luggage.
6. Start Light
If you can, pack light from the get-go by using good quality, lightweight luggage and accessories. If you constantly struggle with culling what you pack, choose a lightweight hard-sided suitcase. Flexible luggage bags leave extra room for 'last-minute' items that you usually don't need. Packing into a hard-sided suitcase will somewhat restrict items meaning that you will have to be more decisive about what you pack.
7. Give Your Toiletries a Break
A holiday is a great time to live carefree and let go of any complicated skincare or makeup routines. Liquids and creams are dense and heavy, so cutting back on products will help you to reduce your luggage weight. If you can, bring small travel-size toiletries, or buy them at your destination.
On the way back home, buy small souvenirs such as magnets, knick-knacks and local treats at the airport duty-free. This will keep items out of your luggage and give you more space to shop while you are on holiday.
9. Pack for the Best Case Scenario
We all like to be ready for anything when we travel, but when it comes to luggage this attitude towards packing can be more of a hindrance than a help. Medicinal items and practical items such as a small umbrella or travel towel are always a good idea. But for most other items resist the urge to pack 'just in case'. This is especially true for clothing.
Pack for the best case, or at least the most likely weather and activity scenarios. There's nothing worse than bringing items that don't get used and clothes that don’t get worn. Unless your destination is particularly remote, you should be able to buy anything that you really need when you get there.
10. Digital Guides
If you plan on reading during a long flight or while you relax by the hotel pool, we don't blame you. There are few opportunities in life that allow you time to spend hours with a good book. However, books are heavy.
Rather than travelling with your entire physical library, consider bringing your books along on an e-reader. An e-reader is particularly handy if you are going to multiple destinations and require several guidebooks. If you don't have an e-reader and want to bring tips from handbooks along, take photos of interesting pages and save them to your phone or tablet.