Packing light - tips, techniques & what to chop!

Travel Forums General Talk Packing light - tips, techniques & what to chop!

1. Posted by Peter (Admin 6854 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Here's my suggestions for a light journey. Feel free to add to the list

- Take only half a tube of toothpaste all rolled up nice and tight
- Store shampoo in a reeeeally small old motel container
- Fill up a pillow case with soft clothes (undies, etc..). That should save on any of those blow-up pillows
- Take a half-roll of toilet paper, crushed so the middle is folded.
- Keep clothing to a minimum - plan on washing on the road.

Well, I'm sure there's lots to add

2. Posted by ksvarhely (Budding Member 10 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

My Peter- you sure have a lot of knowledge to share- Thanks for all your input. Being a first time "round-the-worlder" i am a novise and appreciate all I can get.


3. Posted by Rach-a (Respected Member 368 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Yep thanks Peter for those tips - will come in handy for the near future. Tips I've been told are:-

Only half fill the backpack because you will come back with twice as much as you had to begin with.

Sort out items to pack into three categories - 1) definitely take (i.e. passport, first aid kit, insect repellent etc), 2) would like to take (i.e. jumper, socks, etc) and 3) would come in handy (i.e. cd player/headphone set) hopefully after looking at everything you should gather in your head what you don't need (i.e that dressing gown or slippers or whatever) I would say things you aren't going to use all the time that would take up a lot of room are the things to leave behind!!

Roll T-shirts - fold in sleeves then fold in half and half again the other way so rectangle shaped and roll.

Pack to the corners - Rolled t-shirts can be squeezed into the corners as to make room for other clothes, gadgets etc.

And last but not least - if you are going to use something alot of the time (i.e. sleeping bag - if you pack one) then put it at the top so that you don't go taking everythin' outta the bag to get it.

Hope this helps guys and gals!!

Rach :)

4. Posted by Peter (Admin 6854 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Good point about the half backpack! I have found this to be largely true. Another big space saver is some of the 'travel towels' you can get from camping shops or the likes. The smallest I've seen was the size of a tennis ball when folded up (and supposedly enough to dry your whole body!). I know it's not the same as a nice fluffy towel, but boy do those fluffy towels take up a lot of space ;)

5. Posted by iloveflyin (Full Member 159 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

I travel alot to Asia, onething I would not do is to bring a sleeping bag, if I wanted to travel light. In most of the Asian countries cheap hotels or inns are plenty. Sleeping bag are mostly for outdoor use, and I would not suggest any foreigner to sleep out door in Thailand, Laos or Vietnam, so he or she does not have to spend 5 bucks for a hotel room. Only beggars and homeless orphans sleep outdoor. And if you are taking a camping tour, the tour organizer will provide sleeping quarters or whatever needed. If if you really need a sleeping bag, you can always purchage a planket cheaply in those countries, and leave it for the local when you depart.
Packing light, also means don't over load your bags with 3 or 4 different kinds of shoes. I wear black walking shoes (Propée) which are as comfortable as tennis shoes, but has a look of dress shoes for some semi-formal situations if needed. Eventhough, many of countries in Asia are quite poor, but they tend to frown on foreigners who wear cut-off shorts, sandles, dirty T-shirt, etc... (a sign of disrespect for their countries).

For the trip around the world, each of my family member (My wife, our 2 teenagers, and me) had one 20" rollaboard and a totebag. No checkin luggage ( no change for lost luggage).

6. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

One time when I was travelling in Europe, I took my good quality daypack-sized backpack from a luggage store and my friend's Wal-Mart (i.e. discount department store) backpack (both of which I overstuffed) and, using the straps, connected the bags together and put one bag on my back. This, by the way, was the first time I really went backpacking. One of the zippers on my friend's bag broke (good thing it had 2 zippers), and oooh the pain Never, never again! I have never experienced backpain so intensely! Thus, I have to say, I know from firsthand experience that the lighter your pack, the happier you will be (not like I didn't enjoy myself, anyway, though less when commuting) !!!
The advice that I have recieved as far as packing light goes- don't take anything you MIGHT need. Take only what you will deffinately use. Also, always remember that you can buy most things on the road. My dentist told me you can't find soft toothbrushes in Europe (when I was there I never came across any, but then again I didn't go to every store that sells toothbrushes there, either), so I would take one of those because I have sensitive teeth, and instead of the half-tube of toothpaste I would get these new containers with toothpaste that they sell here in Canada-easier to pack. My friend works at a store in Banff called Lush that sells solid shampoo, so I would pick that up (you can order it online), too, to save room. And yes, I roll my clothes, too, only I don't just roll t-shirts, I roll everything that is rollable. My shoes of choice are my birkenstocks- shoes I think everyone should have. :)
Essentails that take up very little room: a sarong and a bandana- they can be used for a wide variety of uses, also, the Great Canadian Staple- duct tape! Of course! And wrapped around a pencil to save room. It's all about saving room . . . and weight, I sappose . . .

7. Posted by ToAfrica (Full Member 32 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

I echo Blue - I consider trip-packing a huge success when I use everything I have packed at least once. Still, there are some items that you MIGHT need and regret not having them, especially for very remote destinations where they might be unavailable or very expensive. Top items would include camera batteries/film/supplies, medicine/toiletries, and tampons/pads for women.
At the top of my must-have list are my favorite breathable waterproof jacket, a small but powerful flashlight as handy for power outages in urban hotels as it is for camping, and lots of Zip-loc bags...these come in handy for a wealth of uses. Store leftover food...fill them with pebbles or dirt to make a makeshift camera tripod...keep the dirty clothes separate from the clean. Also wet-wipes, with brand names in the US like Wash & Dry and Wet Ones...nice for quick wash-ups when you're plane or road-weary, less-than-sanitary toilet stops, etc.
Bottled water and snacks are also great to have in your carry-on for long flights - you never know when the next meal or next flight delay will come. :)

8. Posted by ToAfrica (Full Member 32 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

And how could I forget - my Swiss army knife...just be sure to pack this in your checked baggage, NOT your carry-on. The wine-opener alone is worth its weight in gold...

9. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

With the possible exception of a small first aid kit and copies of documents/insurance etc (or specialised batteries/film in less developed countries - you can get normal batteries/film anywhere), you should only ever take what you know you will need, not what you think you might need.

Although my requirements do change (mainly if i need to carry a laptop/other stuff for work or it's winter when i need more clothes, even if just the very first/last stretch to/from home), i normally travel with just a daypack (either a 25l or 30l). Sometimes both, but rarely anything bigger.

Having said that, you have to learn. I started by using a 65l plus a foldable daysack and it took me a couple of yeras and many trips before my stuborness accepted my stupidity. Years and experiences teach what you need/don't and your pack gets smaller. As i don't fly i don't have to worry about what is and isn't allowed as carry on, but if I do ever fly, even if only carrying a 25l i'll have to check my stuff in, so loosing much of the advantage of traveling light.

From my point of view, i always carry:
- 1 complete change of clothes, with extra underwear and socks
- Swiss army knife (which never leaves my person even when not travelling - if you can't at least open beer/wine, there's no point going)
- 2 small-ish disposable (i.e fit outside pockets of rucksack) water bottles which are normally replaced at various stages on route.
- a couple of ziplock bags and a couple of empty carrier bags
- phone charger
- something to write with &/on and a Thomas Cook TT
- Currency wallet (normally the heaviest thing i carry, as i routinely carry bits of 8-10 currencies or more and coins are surprisingly heavy)
- sometimes a camera and sometimes reduced sized photocopies of relevant guide book pages
- travel towel
- some toilet paper or packs of tissues
- Very basic toilettries - tooth brush/paste, razor (no foam) and soap (Generally a couple of small hotel freebie type soaps, which double up as shampoo and shaving foam) and sometimes a deoderant
- A book (bought cheap second hand which can be swapped with other travellers/in 2nd hand bookstores)

In addition anything i need for work and sometimes a torch. Occassionally a second pair of footwear, normally canvas trainers. I also want to replace my travel towel with a more multi purpose sarong.
I never take a first aid kit or coat/jacket except in height of winter when i have to wear a thick coat anyway so i don't freeze to death (literally. It hit -22 last week, and when i go further north can be much colder still) for the start/end of my trip from home.

All that fits into a 25l with enough space to spare for anything some cans of beer/food


The duct tape issue is an interesting one, and i'm extremely interested to know what uses people have for it (except when traveling in a car/on a bike). Numerous people i know, both occassional and constant tarvellers swear by it, and never leave home without it. Personally however, i've never carried it in my life and in over 10 years of frequent traveling, i can't even think of an occassion that i might have even wanted to use some, let alone needed to.

10. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Some uses for duct tape .. . . hmmmm, I see another thread coming on . .. . check it out!