- I’ve been traveling and working abroad for two years with nothing more than a carry-on backpack.
- Through trial and error, I’ve perfected a system that leaves me with as little luggage as possible whenever I move to a new destination.
- Here are 11 of my best tips for packing light that you can use on your next trip.
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In January 2017, I left America for Switzerland with a 65-liter backpack that was so big, it could almost double as a sleeping bag.
I packed the night before with not much forethought, adding clothes left and right because I thought they were warm, or cute, or whatever. I filled every inch of space.
I knew nothing about travel backpacks and didn’t consider the fact that I’d have to lug it around Europe with me — through train stations, on and off buses, and down random cobblestone streets.
The bag was so heavy, in fact, I’d drag it behind me as though it had wheels. (It didn’t.) After too many frustrating tear-filled moments, I knew we had to part ways. (Plus, I was only wearing about half the clothes inside.)
Through trial and error, I eventually learned to travel with just a 45-liter backpack that was just small enough to be a carry-on bag on most airlines. For my digital nomad lifestyle, it’s perfect. And now that I’ve been traveling and working abroad for two years, hopping from country to country, there’s no way I could go back to using a bigger bag or suitcase.
But how do I pack light? Here are 11 of my best tips if you’re trying to limit your luggage on your next trip.
Read on to see how you can start saving space in your bag.
Lay out what I want to take, then remove half of the items
The more I’ve traveled, the more I’ve learned that there’s a big difference between what I want to take with me versus what I need to take with me.
I once heard that Anna Paniagua, founder of LaTravelista.com, lays everything she wants to bring onto the bed and then removes half of the items. I started using her system — and it works.
Use a smaller bag to begin with
Flickr/Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen
By using a bag smaller than the bag I’d really like to use, it gives me a limit — otherwise, I could just keep stuffing more and more inside (like I learned the hard way with my 65-liter bag).
Plus, if you only travel with a carry-on, you get to avoid the cost of having to check a bag.
Bring mostly solid-colored clothing
An easy way to eliminate many clothing items from your suitcase is by choosing a few favorite solid-colored items — such as a pair of black pants and a pair of beige ones. (Personally, I travel with a pair of pink ones and a pair of red ones.)
Then, your chances will be higher that the non-solid tops you bring will match.
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