15 Tips On How to Pack Light, Save Money, And Travel Stress-free

Guest Post: David – The life of a world traveler can be filled with obstacles that you must learn from and overcome. There are problems on every trip that you cannot plan for, but there is a way you can make your trips run more smoothly and more enjoyable – packing wisely means less luggage trouble, allowing you to focus on creating memories instead of lugging around heavy suitcases.

This is a must-have list of the top 15 tips that every backpacker and traveler should keep in mind when preparing for globe trotting adventure.

1. Pack a Fraction of What You Think You Need

It is human nature to try to pack everything that fits in your bag instead of trying to pack only what you need.

Most people try to plan for “what-ifs” and end up bringing superfluous clothes that never end up being touched.

Bring only enough clothes for one week, and only staples that you know you will wear all the time.

2. Buy Things Along the Way

It can be intimidating to imagine trying to search local markets for necessities like shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste, but these extra items can take up a lot of space in your bag, and are actually easily purchased no matter where you go, often cheaper than in the US.

Bring only things you definitely cannot get abroad, like prescription lenses, dental care items like retainers, and any special medications.

3. Leave the Entertainment Items at Home

Items like books and laptops can be something that most people wish to have with them while traveling, but they add unnecessary bulk and are often easily replaced.

If using a travel guide, it is better to photocopy the pages that you need the most and pack them instead of lugging around a book. Laptops can be useful but heavy, and almost everywhere in the world has wi-fi and computers for public use now.

If you must bring some technology, bring an Ipod that you can load audiobooks on to and use to relax when en route to places or hanging out in the hotel room.

4. Condense Your Items

When traveling through airports, the hassle of checking luggage and claiming it at baggage claim can take hours of adventuring off of a trip.

Instead, make sure that everything you pack fits in one carry-on bag so that you can quickly make a getaway and begin your travels when you land.

5. Prepare for Security

No matter where you go, in this new security-heightened world your items will definitely be inspected, and you want to make it as quick and painless as possible.

Keep all suspicious items such as nail clippers and the like in a smaller removable bag so that you can send it through the x-ray machines separate from everything else.

This will allow officials to find these items faster and keep you moving through security.

6. Use the Snail-Mail Systems

Buying souvenirs can be a great way to remember that once-in-a-lifetime trip, but carrying them all around as you travel from country to country can be a pain on your back and slow you down on your adventure time.

Instead, mail the items home as often as you can. Mailing items is often cheaper in foreign countries, and the items will be waiting for you when you arrive home from your travels.

7. Lose the Tourist Image

Nothing will scream tourist more than wheeling around huge bags of luggage. This will make you easy to identify as someone who does not belong in the area, making it easier for them to take advantage of you.

You can be overcharged by locals who know you will pay the prices, especially for cabs and porters, and you can also become a target for robberies if they know you are foreign. Be smart, and carry only a lightweight bag.

8. Reuse So You Can Reduce

When at home you don’t want to wear most things more than one day in a row because you see the same people every day.

However, on a trip you will be surrounded by strangers, and it is ok to wear the same things for a few days in a row, or to mix and match so that you can use a few items longer than packing a change of clothes for every day.

9. Sinks Are a Traveler’s Best Friend

Many of the items that a traveler pack’s that DO get dirty are often lightweight articles that are worn closer to the body, like t-shirts, underwear, and socks.

The good thing about these items is that they dry quickly, and can be washed in a hotel sink and set out to dry, also reducing the changes of clothes you have to bring.

10. Layer Away

It is better to bring a few lighter items that can be rolled into a smaller shape instead of a bulky heavyweight coat.

This allows for space saving, and also lets you change your outfits as you travel to different climates, instead of relying on one coat for all weather conditions.

11. Ditch the Sleeping Bag

No matter how cheap the place you’re going is, chances are that there is going to be bedding there. A sleeping bag is similar to a heavy coat in that it’s bulky and won’t get much use.

Everywhere from hostels to hotels has bedding, if not free than for a very nominal price, and it is worth it to save your back from lugging around the extra weight.

12. Forget the Formal Wear

Back to the human instinct to prepare for every situation. Unless you know that you are traveling to go to black-tie events and business dinners, it isn’t necessary to pack formal clothes.

Have one outfit that could work if you choose to go to a nice restaurant or show, and make sure that it can be mixed and matched with other things.

13. Remember the Local Culture

It is important to remember that not all places dress the same as Americans do. Most religious places have modest dress codes, so it is important to remember to pack a few items that are not too skimpy or revealing.

Alternatively, you can take inspiration from the locals and purchase a few outfits from a new country, adding a little cultural flair to your wardrobe.

14. Divide and Conquer

Separate your items into sections in your backpack. Buy a few plastic bags, or recycle them from market, and keep everything divided so that you can find something quickly if you need it.

Organization is key when using such limited space to carry all of your belongings, and it is better to have everything divided up than jumbled into a mishmosh in your bag.

15. Footwear Faux Pas

Keep in mind that you do not need to bring shoes for every kind of situation in the same way that you do not need clothes for every event.

A good sturdy pair of shoes is a must for a traveler who will be trekking across countries.

Make sure that they are waterproof, comfortable, and warm.

Cheap rubber sandals can be purchased almost anywhere and disposed of when leaving for use in showers and such.

Follow these tips and you will have a much easier and smarter journey! Enjoy your travels, and remember: PACK LIGHT!

David is co-founder at www.CreditCardCompare.com.au, which is a top credit card comparison website for Australians where he writes in-depth reviews of the frequent flyer rewards credit cards that help you build airline loyalty points.

23 Responses to 15 Tips On How to Pack Light, Save Money, And Travel Stress-free

  1. Unexpected Traveller November 23, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    Great tips – I’m going to add them to my list of tips for Airport Security: http://wp.me/ppqxP-lX

  2. Nate November 23, 2010 at 7:11 am #

    Great advice! I wish I could have read this before my first solo trip. Too much brought and not half were used. Lesson learned.

  3. Adam Mayfield November 23, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    Good stuff! When I travel I carry only a 40 litre backpack. Attached to that is a small camel back day bag with the water bladder removed. It’s easy to pack on my larger bag but is great for walking around town.

    • Sofia November 25, 2010 at 8:42 am #

      That’s a great way to solve the bag problem. We also carry 40 liter backpacks when we travel, but they don’t have those attachable day packs.
      We just found this awesome day pack which folds into its own stuff sack that is smaller than the palm of your hand, that we now use.

  4. Amy & Kieron November 23, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    Some good advice in here – I think modern technology is so important these days that a laptop could almost be classed as an essential, particularly for those of us who are freelancers, digital nomads or even bloggers. For us photography enthusiasts, a digital SLR and lenses also adds significant weight to what we pack! With those two items, it’s near impossible for us to pack light for our upcoming trip but we’ll try!

    • Sofia November 25, 2010 at 9:28 am #

      I agree, we both bring a lap top each, a DSLR camera and a monopod, and they really add a lot of weight to our backpacks, but we decided to just bring less other stuff instead to make it work ;)

  5. Poor Travel Blogger November 23, 2010 at 8:27 am #

    Thanks for all the advice! Along with saving pain on your back, don’t make the same mistake I made and get a cheap backpack! Not worth it! Spend the extra $100 and get that nice Deuter. Your shoulders and back will thank you.
    I also left my bulky DSLR at home and went with a smaller Nikon point-and-shoot camera to save space and weight.

  6. Andrew Marston November 23, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    Buying stuff along the way really saves a headache packing as well.
    This is a great post. Culmination of years of things I’ve been trying to remember as I travel around doing my photography for my photoblog(www.delbertmon.com). I travel with a camera bag/backpack that doubles also can hold a weekend’s worth of clothes and toiletries.

    • Sofia November 25, 2010 at 9:45 am #

      That’s a smart solution, our camera bag is also pretty big, I gotta see if we can put clothes in it too, thanks for the tip!

  7. traveltosun November 23, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    This is true and it really is that simple: less is more even when you travel. Once you’ll get used to packing only a half of what you intended, you’ll see that you can manage pretty well without the extra-half.

    • Sofia November 25, 2010 at 9:48 am #

      Exactly! Most people only wear their favorite outfit every day anyway, and won’t really miss half their clothes when they’re gone, it’s just about getting rid of the attachment to your things.

  8. GlobalButterfly November 23, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    Great, great tips!!!!!!! Though, I tend to bring more formal wear, because some special occasion usually presents itself while traveling.

  9. Anonymous November 23, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Great tips!

  10. Ashlea Kelly November 25, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    This is going to come in so handy for me!

  11. uniqueing November 25, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    Great tips – especially the one about a separate see through bag for stuff like nail clippers , for the xray machines . Thanks !

  12. retrotraveller November 25, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    Excellent advice here… good to see you’ve included ‘use the snail-mail’. A saviour when I was last on a long journey through multiple countries – worth saying that you sometime return home to not just your parcels – a customs bill too ;)

  13. enrolled agent cpe November 26, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    My experience for my first trip involves bringing way too many clothes and once I reached Taiwan I went ahead and shopped everywhere. Not only was I not able to wear most of the items I took with me, but I had to buy a small luggage for the new things that I got. So, there you go I learned my lesson after that.

  14. The Aussie Nomad November 27, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    I agree with everything except the entertainment section. Having a small netbook or similar takes up very little bulk these days and the benefits far out weight the small weight it requires.

    Being able to park your bum anywhere there is wifi signal to research something or book that last minute hostel saved me a couple of times, once I found myself searching for a hostel on my iphone thanks to the free wifi of a burger king.

    Not to mention who doesn’t like to have a rest day and watch a tv show or movie from back home.

  15. Sarah Wu November 28, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    These are awesome tips, and of course screaming tourist doesn’t look good. We don’t want to be overcharged at something because we’re tourists. I use NileGuide for notes and tips and it makes this pdf for you to download. I think it’s easier then carry a book where you don’t need every pages in the book.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention 15 Tips On How to Pack Light, Save Money, & Travel Stress-free – As We Travel – Around The World Travel Blog -- Topsy.com - November 23, 2010

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Unexpected Traveller, Don't Ever Look Back, YFChan, Sofia von Porat, Things To Do Sydney and others. Things To Do Sydney said: RT @AsWeTravel: 15 Tips On How to Pack Light, Save Money, & Travel Stress-free http://su.pr/1ZC8Bh #lp #rtwsoon #rtw #travel #tbex [...]

  2. 15 Tips On How to Pack Light, Save Money, & Travel Stress-free … | Time Traveler and Travel Tips Online - November 27, 2010

    [...] Visit link: 15 Tips On How to Pack Light, Save Money, & Travel Stress-free … [...]

  3. Travel Know It: Bringing Food From Europe To America | Photography - July 7, 2011

    [...] 15 Tips On How to Pack Light, Save Money, & Travel Stress-free [...]

  4. 101 Ultimate Backpacker Resources - Zero to Hero - HappyTime blog - January 26, 2012

    [...] much is Too Much (Planning)? Plus! My Itinerary 9. Six Things To Leave Off Your Packing List 10. 15 Tips On How to Pack Light, Save Money, & Travel Stress-free 11. How To Get From Your Desk To All The Places You Want To Travel 12. How being boring can help [...]