Whether you are going to the grocery store for bread and milk or to Antarctica for three months, traveling light will make the trip easier. When you pack for a vacation or business trip, however, it’s hard to know how to pack for traveling light. You want to make sure you have the things you need when you get to your destination, and it’s difficult to decide what to leave behind. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide what you really need to take with you.
What do you need no matter what? Toothpaste, deodorant, clean undies, your medications—these are things that you need no matter where you are, no matter what happens. You may want to pack these essentials in your carry-on luggage (or computer case) so that they are certain to arrive at your destination with you.
What will you be doing? Consider each activity and the clothing, shoes, accessories and equipment you need for it. If you are going on a four day business trip and don’t plan any other activities, all you need are work clothes and pajamas. If you are backpacking across Europe, you need good walking shoes, jeans, t-shirts and sweaters. If you are going to a Presidential inauguration party, you need fancy dress clothes. Don’t pack for things that aren’t on your itinerary. If something unexpected comes up, the worst thing that can happen is that you’ll have to buy a new outfit.
How often can you wash things? If you’re spending a month at your mom’s, you can probably do laundry a few times so that you don’t have to pack as much. Many hotels have laundry facilities, too. You can nearly always wash out your undies and socks somewhere. The minimum that most people need when traveling light is three sets of clean undies (one to wear, one to wash and a spare). In an emergency, you can even get by without that.
What can you buy? Sometimes it’s easier to leave your toothpaste at home and buy a new tube when you get to your destination. It also takes some of the stress off of you to know that if you discover you need something and didn’t bring it, you can always buy it. Some things—such as prescription medications—are harder to buy away from home.
By asking yourself these questions, you can pack the least possible amount of stuff. You can travel light and with as little hassle as possible. Maybe you’ll even be able to enjoy yourself because you aren’t worrying about dealing with all that luggage.