need tips on travelling light to include in article

Travel Forums General Talk need tips on travelling light to include in article

Last Post This thread is marked as being about USA
1. Posted by Perreira (First Time Poster 1 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!


I am currently writing an article on travelling light and I would like to get some quotes from those of you who have travelled extensively or infact anyone who loves travel.

what is your best secret to travelling light?
if you had to pack five items only what would they be?
what are some of the mistakes people make when travelling?
how do u avoid overpacking?
why do you love to travel?

If you can offer any advice on these topics or if you just want to add and share your thoughts and feelings with others on the love for travelling please post your reply. I'd greatly appreciate it.

Many thanks,
New York

2. Posted by IMonaghan (Respected Member 431 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

This is a tough one to answer just because there is such a variety of stuff that you need, or at least that I need to take a trip, plus the list varies a bit if I am going to Alaska in the winter or Malaysia in the summer or whatever.

Some things I do to travel light when I am travelling independently. Simply only allow yourself one bag. Once you have gone backpacking a couple times with more than one bag you learn quickly to limit yourself to one. I also tend to limit myself on outerwear and bring an abundance of underwear which tends to be smaller and lighter... Such as extra socks and boxers and less jeans and shirts and such. Included in this I usually pack one set of "decent" clothes in plastic and not wear it at all unless I need to so I always have something that is nice and clean if the demand for such arises.

Five things that I always take with me wherever I go are
1. Duct Tape.. To help save room I roll it off of the roll and onto a pencil so you don't have the big cardboard roll in the middle eating up space.
2. Toilet Paper.. I roll it off the roll like duct tape and then put it in a ziplock bag. You just never know when you might need it.
3. A rain poncho is always a good item to have. Even in the dessert you can use it for a bit of shade(if you can find something to tie it to.
4. A moneybelt that wraps around my waist to hold my valuables such as extra cash, passport, and such.
5. a flashlight. I am growing more and more impressed with my LED flashlight
These are in addition to a couple changes of clothes and a bag and all that sort of stuff.

I think one of the biggest mistakes that I have seen people make when I have been travelling is that they did not budget very well for their trip. Sometimes people read about how cheaply others have made their trips and think that they automatically will be able to find the same deals, or they don't factor in "extras" when they figure out how much they will be spending.. such as public transpo around where they are visiting or souveniers and such. Another mistake is one I mentioned above. You see people that are travelling for the first time with a big backpack and a roll away suitcase sometimes and you just feel sorry for em when they are trying to lug both around. My girlfriend is the worst with this.. The first time she took a trip she brought all kinds of make-up, extra shoes, hair crap and all that.. In the middle of the trip she had to send half of her crap back home because she just couldn't manage moving it around every day.(this was before I met her)

Some things you can do to avoid overpacking is pick out a bag that you are sure you can manage to travel with. Most stores that I have been to will let you try out a bag before you buy it, stuff it with some stuff around the store and wear it for a few minutes, see if it is too big for you, and if it is comfortable to carry around. When you actually start to pack, put everything you are bringing in a big pile before you start to pack it and really take a look and think about if you are gonna really use everything laying in front of you, see if it all is going to fit into the bag you are taking. After that if you have too much empty your bag, and take a look again, find the things that you can buy cheaply along the way if you simply cant get everything you need/want into the bag(s) you are taking. Don't give in though. If you are going to be travelling a lot (instead of having a hotel as a "home base") don't add extra bags unless you really have to.

Lastly there are a ton of reasons I could list about why I love to travel. Different cultures, different religions, different foods, architecture, meeting new people... whatever other reasons that are not in the front of my mind right now... Quite simply though...
Travelling is in my blood, it has been a part of my life since I was born, The road is as much a part of my life as some people's husbands, wives, or careers are to them. Everyone has something(s) that drive them, that they look forward to and want to be a bigger part of their lives. For me that is travelling and discovering first hand what is really out there.

3. Posted by ToAfrica (Full Member 32 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Good job, IMonaghan, I would echo most of your thoughts.

My cardinal rule for packing is that if I didn't use it on the trip, it was a waste of space. That said, if I had to pack only five items, they would be:
1 - small but powerful flashlight in case of power outages in third world countries or hotels, plus opportunities to explore any environs after dark.
2 - money, especially the currency of the country in which I'm traveling and especially small bills/coins for tips.
3 - plastic bags, both the self-sealing gallon-size and the larger trash bag size...they are invaluable for separating dirty and clean or dry and wet clothes, protecting souvenirs, etc.
4 - camera, film & extra camera batteries
5 - "irreplaceables" - those items that you cannot do without and/or that cannot be easily obtained in some countries such as medical prescriptions, prescription eyeglasses/contact lenses, "feminine hygiene products," birth control, etc.

If I could pick 10 items, I would add:
6 - lightweight all-weather breathable jacket
7 - convertible khaki pants that look ok for going out in the evening but zip off at the knees to convert to shorts
8 - the most efficient, reasonably sized suitcase on wheels I can find
9 - binoculars, for mountain, wildlife or forest-oriented trips
10 - complete change of clothes and essential toiletries in my carry-on bag, just in case my checked luggage is lost.

I think the biggest travel mistake is overscheduling. You're there to soak up the culture, climate, people, food and geography...allow yourself time to do so, so you won't feel like you're always rushing or that you need a vacation-from-the-vacation by the time you get home.

Happy trails!

4. Posted by mim (Travel Guru 1276 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Can I just say... ROLL don't Fold your clothes it saves loads of space!
also take old clothes you can wear a couple of times and throw away.

Allpurpose liquid soap is great, you can wash yourself (your hands!) your clothes anything with it and it smells quite nice.

The best tip I can give you is when your standing over your stuff ready to pack, each item ask yourself will I use this more than twice?? If the answer is no ditch it!!:)


p.s Sewing kits are really handy!

5. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hey Perriera,

My best tip for travelling light would be: Don't take anything you won't NEED. You can buy most things on the road. This changes, of course, depending on where you are travelling to.

Five things I absolutely must pack are:
1. My passport in a money belt! I can't believe this wasn't already said! You can't get out of your country without it, and post- Sept 11 they are even recommending you bring it with you within the country.
2. My debit card. In so many places in the world you get the best rates out of an ATM machine. I would also carry some traveller's cheques in US dollars just in case.
3. A camera and film.
4. My journal and a pen. I will go crazy if I can't write. On long trips once I finish my current journal I always buy another there. It is a great souvenir.
5. My brain, a smile on my face and an adventurous, positive attitude.

Mistakes people have made overpacking. . .. well, let's start with the mistakes I made:
-I took more than one backpack and somehow attached them together and connected them to my back so I had a chain of backpacks after me.
-Taking half of my wardrobe- that was why I needed two backpacks.
-Overstuffing my packs, causing the zipper to break on a cheaper one.
-Taking suitcases- never, ever again. If you are going to be in one place for a prolonged period of time then take a backpack and only one suitcase that is easy to maneuver.
-Taking things for other people I'm travelling with that I wouldn't use and then they forget that I brought it and it becomes dead weight.
-Not leaving enough room for souvenirs.

To avoid overpacking I would roll my clothes, only take essentials and things that I can't live without, and leave room for clothes and things that I might buy on the road, as well as souvenirs. At least 15% room, if not 30%. Also, I scale down toiletries and bring multi-usable things like a coat that can be worn in several seasons, a sarong (there is a list as long as a jumbo roll of toilet paper somewhere telling all the uses of a sarong and/or a bandana), duct tape (creative repair or just creative), etc.

Travelling mistakes . .. I have made some of these as well:
-not buying a Eurrail pass and expecting it to be cheaper to travel around Europe buying individual tickets.
-Travelling for a short period of time trying to cover long distances between stops.
-not budgetting money very well.
-working in a remote place without a working bank account and without a nearby branch to cash my cheques at.
-trying to fit way too many things into a trip.
-travelling with people that you have very little or nothing in common with.
-experimenting with drugs and dangerous activities because you are far away from home- the "what happens in Vegas/Amsterdam/Random Place stays in Vegas/Amsterdam/Random Place" syndrom.

I love to travel because love to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds and I learn so much about the world and life by hearing people out about their beliefs, their interests, their values and goals. I have deffinately made my share of mistakes as you can see and I do learn from them! Whatever doesn't end up killing you usually does make you stronger. I also learn about what I can handle as a person, how much I can put on my plate, how mixed up I can get and still get out of it. (Not that I go looking for trouble!) It gives me a perspective on the world and it teaches me about myself. I also love to solve problems in every day life- you feel so exhilarated, so alive when you travel. Everything is so novel. Besides that, I have great stories to tell people!

I hope this helps your article!


6. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!


Only just seen this post so sorry for the delay in replying. Have a vague idea i may have answered a PM by you on the same thing, so this likely probably completely contradict what i said there! Hope some of this helps and is still useful for your article (or for anybody else):

what is your best secret to travelling light?
Probably, don’t take things that you think you might need, only take things which you know you can’t live without. Where possible, take things which can be used for more than one purpose. The old and often quoted “lay out all the things you are going to pack then take half the clothes and double the money” also makes allot of sense.

if you had to pack five items only what would they be?
Excluding the necessary stuff you can’t actually travel without (i.e. passport / tickets / money / visa’s / credit cards / money belt), the five things would be:
Swiss army knife (or equivalent – something with a bottle/tin opener/corkscrew/blade. This never leaves my person anyway, even at home), a complete change of clothes, my small tin of basic toiletries (tooth paste/brush/razor/ small bar of soap), small supply of loo roll or tissues and for the sort of travel I do at the moment, the Thomas Cook Rail timetable is vital.

I don’t actually take much more than that anyway. If you add a deodorant, phone+charger, 2 small water bottles (which are disposable anyway), sheep sleeping bag, pen+paper, another couple of sets of underwear, rope (which is my belt so not really packed anyway), book (a second hand paperback which can be swapped when finished), playing cards and cigarettes (even though i’ve never smoked in my life) plus sometimes a camera and a travel towel then that’s all I carry.

Some stuff which other people always carry I never do – I never wear a coat (excepting when I’m based in our Kiruna office in winter where -30 and below are normal) or pack a waterproof (it’s only a bit of water for god’s sake), duct tape (which seems to be a mainly North American phenomenon – they all swear by it, but in 10+ years of near constant travel I can’t even think of anytime it would have been useful except to play games with when bored), or a first aid kit amongst others.

what are some of the mistakes people make when travelling?
Generally, packing too much! They take stuff which they never use yet still carry it around. They take stuff which has limited use and is replicated (i.e. all of shampoo, shower gel, shaving foam and soap) instead of a multi purpose alternative. Also many travelers carry enough supplies of everything to last the whole trip, which is generally just crazy, especially in Europe – you can buy clothes/basic toiletries etc almost everywhere on the planet, so why take all the stuff with you? If you take 2 shirts and one gets torn etc., buy another one locally. The biggest mistake is trying to do/see too much in too short a timeframe.

how do u avoid overpacking?
Take a small bag!! Sounds stupid, but it works. Many people will buy, say, a 60l bag and then proceed to fill it because they have the extra space. If you only start with a 35l or smaller, you physically can’t take too much! Take only what you need and don’t be stubborn - be prepared to admit mistakes. If you take something that’s no use, get rid of it – donate to charity or swop it at a hostel for example. You need to be flexible.
Even silly things – Do you really need a whole guidebook of Europe for only 4 countries? Cut the rest out and chuck away bits as you go, or only take (shrunk and double sided) photocopies of the relevant places and trim away the excess white space. Little things like that make a big difference.

why do you love to travel?
I’m not actually sure why, but I just do. I’ve got the traveling bug and doubt I’ll ever loose it. I love seeing different places, hearing different languages, using different currency etc. Perhaps the biggest thing I get out of it is that I love the feeling of traveling and not knowing what on earth is going to happen next or even where the hell I’ll be!!!

Happy traveling

7. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4138 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

My secret? You will need less clothes than you think.

Five things? Ear plugs, music, camera, toilet paper, soap.

Mistakes? Too many clothes, letting a bad situation spoil your time in a place.

Why love to travel? Adds spice to life, broadens the mind, makes life interesting, provides memories for later in life.