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How to Keep Your Luggage Light

Most of us believe that it’s better to have things in excess rather than be caught lacking. It’s quite like the saying “It’s better to be overdressed than be underdressed”, because you can easily remove things than add them. But when it comes to travel baggage, nothing can be further from the truth. With many airlines charging passengers for each checked-in bag, we travelers have to do what we can to save a few bucks.

Why should we pack light when traveling?

Carrying just the exact things you need benefits you in several ways:

  • It helps keep your baggage weight down, saving you from excess baggage fees. If your things can fit a carry-on, you may even have to skip checking it in.
  • Light luggage doesn’t cause your body to strain from carrying it around, particularly if you are on a backpacking trip and not using a wheeled luggage.
  • Lighter luggage means less bags and things to keep track of, giving you better mobility and flexibility.

Here are some tips that you can take note of when packing your things.

1. Get to know the place you are going to

One of the key factors in knowing what to pack is being familiar with the place you are traveling to, specifically the weather and what you plan to do there. Common sense tells you that you should pack warm clothes for cold weather climates, while tropical locales would merit lightweight clothing. Of course, take into consideration the season when you’re going. It may be a tropical country, but if the weather is rainy you will need some extra clothes.

Your activities will also determine what you will bring. Are you doing a walking tour in a tropical country? Shorts and t-shirts made of lightweight material, walking shoes or sandals should be on your list.

An important note: Some countries have old-fashioned and conservative views when it comes to clothing, particularly in Asia. It is important that you dress appropriately when visiting places of worship. Women should avoid wearing revealing clothing, and everyone should make sure that their clothes are at clean. Some places even require you to take off your shoes before entering.

2. Make a list

Once you know what you can bring along, make a list. Having a list helps keep you organized, and it also gives you an idea of what you can remove or replace with easier-to-carry items.

3. Plan ahead and do a dress rehearsal

Before I travel, I try to plan out what I’ll wear for each day I’m there. This allows me to properly sort the clothes that I need. Once you’ve decided on the items that you need to bring, try them on before you pack them up so you can see which items can work together. This gives you options to mix and match clothes. Clothes and other items that can be used for more than their original purposes will prove handy. Women should consider bringing a sarong or pashmina shawl, while a bandana will always be useful.

A rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t bring clothes that will last you for more than a week if you’re staying for that long or less. If you’re staying a little longer, consider finding laundromats or wash services instead of bringing extra clothes.

4. Roll your clothes and use dividers

Rolling up your clothes makes it as small as possible, plus eliminates the creases that can be caused by long storage periods. Invest in small drawstring bags where you can put your clothes, sorting them according to kind. Put shirts in one bag, underwear in another and so on. This prevents your clothes from being put out of place during handling, and in the unforeseen event that your bag would burst open, at least your things would be all over the place.

5. Limit your gadgets

I love bringing along books or games, to keep me entertained during trips but they do add up to the weight. Thankfully, technology has given us many alternatives. My mobile phone helps keep me in touch with people, but at the same time I can go online with it, browse maps, read books and take photos. Just don’t forget the charger. For photos, consider bringing a compact camera rather than a bulky DSLR, particularly if you’re not a pro.

If in some cases you find yourself in need of clothing or any other item, chances are you can purchase those from where you are. These include toiletries, items like umbrellas or even flip-flops. However, remember that having light luggage applies not just when you are going to, but also to when you’re heading back home.

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