How to Pack Light

(note: This article was updated December 2018)

You can read articles all over the web about packing light. Packing light is a life-long challenge which starts young and improves with age. It also includes washing clothes in the sink, adapting your itinerary to your clothing, and creating outfits out of yoga pants. Here are my three tips for packing light, starting with the actual bag.

Which Carry-on Should You Buy?

First thing to get rid of is any hard, rigid, or edged bag. You may or may not want wheels, but at least make sure the bag is soft-sided and light. Packing light, by definition, means that you will use a carry-on bag that stays with you throughout your trip. I’ve tried dozen of bags, and my absolute favorite is the Eagle Creek Load Warrior. With lots of pockets in all the right places, durable corners and reliable wheels, this wunderkind has taken me around the world.

What Wardrobe Should You Pack?

Whether you’re going for a week or a month, the lists below do not change. When traveling, pack for the season. If it’s summer, here is what you should pack (click on the link to see what I buy, wear, and recommend):

In the winter, the list doesn’t change much. You should pack the following:

You can find everything else in your hotel or hostel except for the extra space to pack souvenirs.

Pack One Pair of Shoes, Wear the Other

You need two pair of shoes. One pair you’ll wear, the other you’ll pack. The pair you wear the most will be your comfortable walking shoes. Regardless of where I’m going, I bring a waterproof pair of good walking shoes that can go on trail or cobblestone. The Keen Oakridge is my go-to for all conditions for around the world. If I’m traveling in the summer, I also bring the Keen Arroyo. Although it looks best with shorts or pants, I will wear it with sporty skorts. In the winter, I trade the Arroyo for a Salomon boot for hiking, snow, and wintery conditions.

What’s Else Goes in the Backpack?

In my personal item, which is always a backpack, I put my passport, credit cards, cash, camera, phone, laptop, Kindle, power cords, lip balm, and earphones.

That’s packing light. What are your tips?

~Chris