5 Tips on How to Travel Light

I used to maximize the use of the available check in baggage allowance of most airlines.  Of course – if I was traveling on a budget airline which does not come with free checked in baggage allowance,  I was happy to pay for the extra bags fee.  That was all in the past and I am now a light packer.  In this post  I will teach you how to pack light.

I have five key tips to give you on how you can travel light:

1.  Plan your outfits before your travel.   Take note that if you travel with 3 tops and 3 bottoms – you can mix and match and you will end up with a total of nine outfits.   If you’re like me who likes wearing blazers or coats – you can even double that to 18 options ( 9 options without the blazer and 9 options with the blazer ).

2.  Bring clothes that are a) light b) quick-dry c) repels dirt and odors.  This goes for all pieces of clothing that you bring: Shirts, Pants, Underwear, Socks, Shorts, sweaters, coat.   There are a number of brands that I found in the internet which meet these needs.  The clothing material is also key here.  Cashmere – for example is light and does not get odorous easily.   I have also discovered the Airism line of Uniqlo which have great undershirts and underpants that easily dries.

3.  Learn how to hand-wash your clothes. From above,  you will have inferred that you may have to wash some or all of your clothes during the trip.  From my experience,  this is true for the underwear,  the tops, and the socks.  Pants can typically be worn twice before washing.

4.  Layer your clothes.   Even if you are going to a tropical country like Malaysia (my recent destination) – airconditioned rooms and even the plane can be cold.  So you must learn how to layer.   For me,  I do this by wearing/packing a cashmere sweater,  and/or a scarf.   If I’m cold inside the airplane – I put on the cashmere sweater.  I also used the blazer that I mentioned above – as another layer if I was freezing.  If I am going to a country with below freezing temperature,  I will wear a winter coat/jacket on the plane.

5.  Bring only the essentials.  Do you really need to bring your DSLR (if you’re not a photographer, just use your phone or bring a point and shoot camera)?  Do you need to pack a laptop for your vacation (Maybe the iPad or tablet will do)?   Do you need to bring an extra pair of shoes (Maybe you can just wear a versatile pair – like the black Stan Smiths that I travel with)?   If you really need something – especially something that is cheap enough and very bulky – you might as well just buy them when you get to your destination (that big bottle of Shampoo is an example).

Train Stations in Europe are big.   Sometimes you will need to take the stairs from one platform to another.  Needless to say – it’s a great way to get from point A to point B – but it will be much easier to get around the train stations when you are not lugging around a big bag with you.

Why I decided to Travel Light

Before I learned about these tips,   I traveled to Europe and  I used my Rimowa Sports Trunk – which is huge.  This trunk used to be my go-to bag for my trips.  My colleagues who traveled with  me in the past,  used to ask me if I was transporting a body inside that bag.  I didn’t care if they were having fun at my expense.  I loved having that bag – and I will happily use it for my travels.

My Rimowa Sports Trunk and my Rimowa In-cabin bag.  I love these bags – but I need to learn how to travel without them.  I need to learn how to travel light.

Then – I realized during that trip to Europe that using roller bags in Europe can be problematic.  First – they have cobble stone streets – which were beautiful but can take a toll on your bag.  In fact – at the end of my European trip,  one of the wheels were broken (minor damage and was repaired for free by the Rimowa shop at Greenbelt).   Second – when traveling by train,  there isn’t always enough space for everyone in the train for huge bags.  I actually had to store my trunk in a different cabin from where we sat on our way to Marseille from Paris.  When we reached our destination – I had to race to the cabin where our bags were ( which was actually on the second level – which means I had to drag the bag up and down those narrow stairs) – you can just imagine what kind of security nightmare that can be.  Anybody else could have grabbed my bag.

Cobblestone streets are beautiful but can be really difficult to maneuver the roller bags on these streets.

So this year – I decided that I will stop traveling with checked in bags.  Especially if I’m going on vacation.  This was a daunting task for me because I don’t know how to do it.  What does a Pinoy glam traveler do when he is faced with a situation that is difficult?  I usually look for inspiration.  That inspiration needs to be someone that I look up to.  Inspriation also typically comes from someone who is glamorous and beautiful (just like how I want to see myself).

Where Did I get Inspiration to Change?

My inspiration came in the form of our CIO (my boss’ boss).  She travels to the Philippines and many other countries regularly.   During those trips,  I notice that her hair always looked beautiful.  She is always fully made up and she wore fantastic outfits.  Take note – in our department – if you travel with her and the directors reporting to her – you must learn how to travel without checked in luggage.

So I asked her in one of our one on one meetings – how she is able to travel light.  I also asked her if she travels light even on vacations.  She confirmed that the way she packs for business trips is the same way that she packs for vacations.  I was astounded and inspired.  I used to think that wearing nice outfits during trips has a price – and that is the price of the fees I pay for checked in bags.   So – after talking to our CIO,  and recognizing that she can travel light,  I was inspired.  I was inspired to travel light for my next trip and I spent the whole month of December looking for tips around blogosphere to figure out how I can do this.

The result of all that research can be seen in this picture.

My carry-on bag content.  That’s all I brought to my trip to Malaysia for one week.

This is the bag that I used for my recent trip to Malaysia.  This is everything that I packed for a one week trip to Malaysia.

I posted it on Facebook where I said that I’m actually doing an experiment for this travel.  I wanted to see if I can actually travel for a week to Malaysia with just a carry on bag.  A lot of my friends thought that I was brave for trying on this experiment.  A number of them also acknowledged that they themselves won’t be able to do this.  So they wished me good luck.

Packing light doesn’t mean not dressing up well. These are the clothes I wore on the plane.


Liberation from Experimentation

What did I learn from this experiment?  How can a traveler (Pinoy or not) who is so used to traveling with one or two checked in bags can travel and survive with just an in-cabin bag?  I learned that everything that I used to think was impossible – are actually very doable.  I learned that I can wash my clothes.  I learned that I can use the Hotel Shampoo as a laundry detergent.   I learned that I don’t need to bring all of those bottles of toiletries and creams.   This experience was liberating.

The PacSafe Venturesafe 45L is my bag of choice.  It fits most in-cabin guidelines as seen in this picture which is the bag-gauge for Malaysian Airlines.

The experiment yielded very good results.  I felt really comfortable with just the things I packed in my bag and I still think that I came to all my meetings – as well dressed as I did in my previous trips.

To be honest,  I was most concerned about the hand-washing of the clothes because I never washed clothes before.  I was wondering if I will be wasting precious time by washing clothes.  Here’s the thing – at most – I spent 10 minutes every evening doing this.  Oh – one quick tip – if you’re Pinoy – you know what a laundry bar detergent is (bareta) – take 1/4 of a bar with you.   I don’t like bringing laundry powder because that can be bulky and I was wondering if the powdered material may be mistaken for illegal drugs during X-ray inspection.   If you don’t like the scent of the bareta – use the shampoo that your hotel gives you to wash your clothes (with my stay at the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur – they provide shampoo with an Ylang Ylang scent – it smells really good).

I hope y’all learned and got inspired with this post.  Traveling is a wonderful experience.  Developing the skill of packing light will set you apart from novice travelers.  Take note that I’m not doing this just for street cred – it’s got a practical reason.  Traveling with just a carry-on bag saves money (no additional baggage fees for low-cost airlines),  saves time (you can skip the wait on the luggage carousel),  and of course gives you peace of mind ( just ask how many of your friends have experienced traveling with their bags missing their connection and getting to their destination without seeing their bags – it’s a nightmare that you wouldn’t want to experience).  I hope you found this tip helpful.

Do yo have any tips of your own on how to travel light?    I’d be happy to hear from you.  Just leave your comments below.

Happy Traveling everyone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s