Bring this, not that! The Art of Packing Light


I love traveling, but one thing I don’t love is carting around a giant heavy suitcase. That gets tiring. For our trip to Norway/Iceland in August, I carried on what I would need for two weeks. Partially because we were hopping around and I didn’t want to take the chance that my bag would be lost, and also because I didn’t want to pay extra for it. Budget traveling for the win. Honestly though, it ended up being perfectly fine and I packed really well because I had to consider what I was taking carefully. It also saved time because my outfits were fairly pre-planned. So here are my tips for packing light for your next journey!

1. If possible, find an accommodation with a washer/dryer
Not the end of the world if you dont, as there’s always laundromats if needed, but if you can find an accommodation that has laundry, it will allow you to pack even lighter since you can reuse clothes. Both of our Airbnb’s in Norway had laundry (although figuring out how to use them was interesting) so I only packed 2 pairs of pants and 4-5 shirts. But we’ll go into what I packed a little later

2. Research what amenities your accommodation has
Does it have towels, soap, etc? You may not need to bring these things – which equals more space in your bag. I brought a microfiber towel that’s small for the hot springs in Iceland but all our Airbnb’s supplied towels. Never hurts to make sure!

3. You can save some money if you only carry on
Probably what will catch most people’s eyes – saving that money. Many airlines (especially smaller ones) require you to pay to check a bag, so save some money by just carrying on. Definitely check with the airline you are flying though, as some (like our flight on WOW Air home from Iceland) charge you for carry ons too, although the combined price of a flight and a carry on is still pretty cheap in terms of traveling expenses.

4. Research your carry on size!
Make sure that your carry on fits the airline’s requirements. You don’t want to be forced to check the bag at the airport. We flew on 3 different airlines during our trip, so I had to make sure that my bag fit all three of the requirements (luckily it did). In my experience, less expensive airlines tend to have requirements for smaller carry ons.

5. Capsule wardrobes are your friend
I’m sure that you noticed in my picture that most of the things I brought for my trip were black, grey, or white. This was for several reasons:
– Most of my wardrobe is in those colours
– Scandinavians tend to wear neutral colours
– So my whole wardrobe for the trip would always match
I really didn’t have to think about what I would wear (apart from which weather I needed to dress for) because everything matched, and I selected pieces I knew looked cute and put together. Although if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t bring any white. That just made me have to do a separate load of laundry. Plus I’m clumsy so I tend to drop things like food or coffee on myself.

6. Bring quick drying pieces
Since we didn’t know the best practices for using Norwegian dryers, sometimes my clothes would still be a bit damp. Also, I brought a very cute sweater which couldn’t be dried. Lesson learned – make sure you can dry everything. So make sure that the things you have will dry quickly – cotton tends to be one of the worst offenders. In addition, we hiked in Iceland for several days where it rains unpredictably and frequently, so drying quickly was a must.

7. Consider shoe choices
This was one of the hardest parts of packing because I love shoes. But kudos to me, I reined it in to *gasp* three pairs (if you count the flip flops I brought). Shoes are heavy and take up a lot of room in a carry on, so cutting down on them is one of the best ways to save space. I wore my hikers on the plane (since they were the biggest) and just packed my flats and flip flops in my carry on.

8. Keep toiletries to a minimum
This one was hard too because I love makeup – and I have several really amazing palettes that I love – but really didn’t fit well in my bag. So I took small versions of necessary makeup items and condensed toiletries- like 2 in 1 shampoo conditioner. The TSA will thank you for bringing less, and you’re less likely to have something break or spill. I also brought small disposable toiletries that I could toss before leaving, so I could worry about less at airport security

9. Compress!
Compressing what you have can help save a lot of space – I bought some compression bags that you roll up and press the air out of – which let me pack up all my bulky stuff into one side of the carry on with plenty of room. Squeeze any air out of packaging as well as this takes up space. In addition, if you’re packing wind shells or rain shells (like I did), these items will often pack down. I brought a little cinch bag and stuffed two jackets and a pair of pants in them. Leave no space unused – I usually put socks in shoes, underwear in shoes, things in my hat, and squishy things down the sides so that I can maximize the space

10. Don’t fill it to the brim!
You will probably find some cool things on your adventure that you want to bring back – so make sure you don’t overpack. Plus overpacking may cause a carry on to not fit on some airlines.

11. Wear bulkiest items on the plane
It’s a no brainer that wearing your bulkiest items on the plane helps you carry less. I wore my jeans, my heavy shoes, fleece, and large jacket on the plane to save space (and also to keep me warm, as I get cold on planes). I just wore the same heavy things on each flight.

I hope this helps you packing for your next journey! And in case you were curious, here’s a list of what clothes I brought:

On the plane
-Casual Jacket
– Fleece
– Jeans
– Tshirt
– Cardigan (tied around my neck like a scarf)
– Merrell MQM Hiking Shoes

In my bag:
-3 tshirts
-2 Blouses
-2 pairs of leggings
-1 dress
-1 pair of pants
– 1 bathing suit
– Microfiber towel
– 2 bras
– 1 pair of flats
– 1 pair of flip flops
– More than enough socks and underwear
– 1 pair of rain pants
– 1 rain shell jacket
– 1 light shell jacket


Cover Photo by Resi Kling on Unsplash

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