How to pack light

It’s easier to get from A to be, you don’t need as much space in overhead compartments or under your feet, and you don’t need to worry about breaking a suitcase wheel as you haul your 32kg bag of “essentials” over European cobblestones.

After hauling your luggage from home to airport to packed bus taxi and then the hotel, sweat beading on your upper lip and dripping down your forehead, you open your suitcase and curse yourself. Why is the kitchen sink in here?

Here are some tips and tricks for how to pack light for your next trip.

1. Do you need checked luggage?

Depending on your destination, how long you’re travelling and the weather forecast, you may be able to avoid checked baggage entirely. For instance, if you’re heading to a tropical or summer destination, your clothes will be considerably lighter and those bathers, boardies and thongs may fit happily in a carry-on case or backpack. Don’t forget to keep liquids under 100ml if you’re travelling internationally with hand luggage only, and make sure you adhere to all safety rules.

If there are a few of you travelling, you could try checking one bag between you, and then let someone else carry the luggage!

Woman packing bags
You might be able to ditch the suitcase for a backpack to keep weight down. Image: Getty

2. Wear your heavy items on the plane

No, we’re not saying fill your pockets with the contents of your suitcase to beat the luggage scales. But wearing your heavy sneakers on your feet instead of putting them in your backpack will leave you with more space in your bag.

The same goes for large coats; you can hold onto one and it can double as a blanket or pillow on the plane.

3. Pack clothes that can be layered

You’ll soon wish you hadn’t packed that pair of jeans and those fancy but-not-so-comfortable shoes as the straps of your backpack dig into your shoulders or your hand strains, white-knuckled on the suitcase’s bowing handle.

Pack items that can be worn a number of different ways. A sleeveless, stretchy top can double as a singlet for when it’s colder, while a wool turtleneck could be an over jumper, an underneath thermal layer or even pyjamas.

To help limit the amount of clothes you take, and to help keep them tightknit and organised, challenge yourself to only fill packing cubes and no more.

The fun bit? You can buy more items at your destination – then you’ll have a lovely memory when you wear it at home.

Packing light
Leave space in your luggage so you can fill up on items you can’t buy anywhere else in the world. Image: Getty

4. Choose your luggage carefully

From backpacks to satchels to hard and soft-shell suitcases, there’s luggage for every occasion – including when you’re wanting to save on some kilos.

Hard case luggage is arguably more resilient, but this comes with the cost of extra weight. These days some hard-shell cases rivals their soft counterparts weighing in at around 3kg. If you’re not carrying any breakables, backpacks are another lightweight option often weighing mere grams.

The bigger the bag, the more you feel compelled to fill it, so try choosing a smaller bag than you think you need. A handheld portable travel scale will be your new best friend.

5. Lose the neck pillow

Aussies love a neck pillow, and it’s not uncommon to see them dangling off the back of carry-on or worn pre-prepared around the neck as travellers board a plane. But they’re not only unwieldy, but they are also heavy. Try inflatable options instead which are super light and take up virtually no space.

Do you know what also takes up little space? Tiny reusable containers filled with the toiletries you can’t live without and small travel size items like collapsible hairbrushes and combs. This way you don’t need to pack large bottles or a full-size hairdryer, which will help you save weight and space.

Small plastic bottles
Any toiletries you can’t live without for a few days can be transferred into small, reusable containers. Image: Getty

Finally, a pro tip is to check airline allowances for all legs of your trip.

If you’re flying with different carriers to and from your destination, or have a mix of domestic and international flights, you need to make sure you pack for the smallest weight allowance. For instance, some airlines allow 10kg hand luggage and others only 7kg. Likewise, if you’re packing for your outgoing international flight with 32kg in mind, but haven’t realised your domestic flight from Adelaide to Melbourne only allows 21kg, you may be in strife.

Lastly, remember to always take one thing out before you head out the door. We all pack a few extra pairs of undies – that’s a given. But haven’t you sat around at home for the last week in the same pair of trackies and t-shirt? You won’t need that extra pair of jeans, believe me.

Ready to start packing those bags?

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