Packing Light cannot be underestimated, especially on an itinerary where you will be moving and changing locations a good bit. In fact, it can be the difference between an enjoyable vacation and a miserable one! You will never meet anyone who says, “I wish I had packed heavier” when they return from a journey.
Rick Steves, the Public TV European travel guru, only allows the members of his escorted tours to bring 1 carry-on size piece of luggage per person — even when the tour is three weeks long! Can it be done? Yes it can, and my clients usually return thanking me for encouraging them to limit their luggage to a carry-on and a backpack or crossbody bag.
Start thinking of the clothing you pack as your “travel uniform.” Choose a color scheme that enables you to mix all items of clothing. Doing a little laundry along the way won’t kill anyone – in fact, it can be a real adventure!
Consider some of the benefits of packing light:
1. You can move quickly from place to place — No worries about large suitcases and where to fit luggage on the train or bus or taxi. A lot of European hotels have no elevator, so lugging heavy bags up and down stairs can be a real challenge.
2. Having too much luggage “marks” you as a typical tourist. Con artists figure you’re helpless, and you become a serious pickpocket or scam target.
3. You can save time by not having to wait around at luggage carousels in strange airports — you can be off and starting your adventure instead of standing around waiting for your bags to arrive. Plus, you’ll never have to experience the horror of “lost luggage!”
Photo courtesy of Away Travel
Here are my suggestions for cutting back on the amount of “stuff” you think you need on your next trip:
–Spread out everything you think you might need. Pick up each item one at a time, and ask yourself, “Will I really use this enough to justify carrying it over the Swiss Alps?” (or wherever you are heading) When in doubt, leave it out!
–Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario — Pack for the best-case, and buy yourself out of any jams along the way. Risk shivering for a day rather than taking a heavy jacket. Buy a cheap umbrella from one of the many street vendors who “miraculously” appear when the drops start to fall. If you think it “might come inhandy, it should stay home.”
–Pack exactly the same whether you’re traveling for three weeks or three months. Rather than take a whole trip’s supply of toiletries, take enough to get started and replace them along the way. It’s fun to go into a general store and stock up on local brands on the fly!
–Invest in a good quality piece of luggage that fits your needs. My favorite luggage is the Away luggage which can be found at www.awaytravel.com. They offer 2 carry-ons, one for domestic and one for international. If you are not flying the smaller, regional planes of Europe, you can get away with using the larger carry-on from Away.
So weed out the unnecessary, pack your bag, and go walk around the block a few times to get a good idea of what you will be dealing with. You will thank me later! Remember, in your travels, you’ll meet two kinds of tourists – those who pack light, and those who wish they had!