Why should you pack light? Let me give you a short list:

  • Save time!
  • Avoid extra baggage fees at the airport
  • Get to your destination quicker
  • Less stuff to organize
  • Find what you need fast
  • If you are road tripping or staying multiple places- less to move
  • Less of a chance of losing items
  • Less stress!
  • More room for souvenirs
  • Let’s face it…it just feels good!

When I travel, I want to enjoy my time and be as stress-free as possible. I have learned the hard way that planning your trip is crucial for being able to pack your bags as light as possible. I am guilty of being the person who wants to bring 12 outfits on a 3-day trip “just in case” or “to have options,” only to end up overwhelmed sorting through everything, lugging everything around and not even using half of what I bring.

Please note that some of the links throughout the article are affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission on any purchase made – at no additional cost to you. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. Thank you for coming along on my journeys & for your support!

Through my growing pains, I have learned how to plan the best I can so I can pack as little as needed. Read on for packing tips to maximize your experience as much as possible.

I will be posting a version of this for packing to travel with younger kids in the future- because that can be an entirely different experience!

Make sure to check out the packing lists I have put together for you to use as it is or edit to fit your needs. Links to printable pdfs are in this article!

  1. Plan your activities
Hiking by Lake Superior

A trick to packing light can be to plan your activities (really, plan your trip as much as you can!). Not only can this help you figure out what to wear, but it may be useful to see if you can rent any gear from the area you are traveling to. If you are hoping to go biking or kayaking at your destination, check out any rental options instead.

Check this out: Two of my favorite planning apps are Trip Advisor and Culture Trip. They are both free and I can find places to eat, activities and neat things to see on both of them. You can download both through your Google Play Apps store.

2. Be mindful about the weather

Lake Superior in the summer can be hot during the daytime but cold at night.

I ALWAYS check out the weather about 2-3 days before we leave (since weather is always changing) and plan my outfits accordingly. I actually plan my outfits out, set them all out on my bed & choose my favorite ones to take with that I will be most comfortable in. Be mindful that in some areas, it is very hot during the day but super cold at night. I have never went wrong packing some cozy socks and a cozy sweater as staple items in my bag- every trip I have gone to (even in Ramona, California’s desert), I have used them.

Check this out: My favorite cozy sweater is from Back Country and Wondery. Check both out below!

WWondery (click): Not a paid partnership, I just love the sweater!

Photo credit: Click image to purchase.

Shop Backcountry’s Massive Selection of Gear, Clothing, and Outerwear on Sale!

3. Plan your outfits

Brand Affiliate pictured: Just Strong Women’s Clothing (leggings, sports bra and hoodie). Visit Just Strong’s website and use discount code JANJAN110 at check out for any items you are interested in!

I touched briefly on this before, but when planning your outfits, pick colors that can go with anything or color schemes you can mix and match. Also, if you have any clothing material that can be used for dual purposes, it can help lighten your load for your luggage! The same goes for shoes too. Not bringing your entire closet is less overwhelming and easier to organize.

Check this out: I love Back Country’s boots. I have worn them hiking and in trips for the cities because they are comfortable. Check them out here! Homepage

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4. Purchase at your destination

Are their items you are thinking about packing that you can purchase at your destination? (Snacks, outfits, drinks, etc). If so, plan this ahead of time so you can have more space in your luggage for souvenirs or new outfits. Also- if you are out of space in your car or suitcase flying home, it doesn’t hurt to think about mailing your items home if affordable.

5. Make a list

Plan, plan, plan! Make a packing list and stick to it! This not only helps with over packing, but it can help with making sure you are not forgetting important items. When you make your list, also think about items you and your partner, family or friend can share with each other (if you are not solo traveling).

Check this out: I use my own packing list & it changes depending on where I am going and when. Click here for one of my basic packing lists. Subscribe here for my page for packing list for different kinds of traveling during different times of the year! Also- my guided journal, The Traveling Wildflower, features trave itineraries you can use to plan your trip. You can purchase a copy at my Etsy shop here!


6. Roll your clothing & use compression cubes or drawstring bags

Not only has this saved me space but it is SO easy to pack and unpack! I feel way more organized and my clothes are not as wrinkly. I like to use compression cube, mesh bags or drawstring bags to give myself more space as well. A money saving hack I learned is t save compression bags when I purchase from online stores like Shein, Pink Lady, Petal Lush, etc. They were so great for clothes to be in and vacuum seal shut.

Check this out: Check out Target to see some of my favorite compression cubes (not a paid partnership).

7. Use negative space

Are you packing a make up bag, drawstring bag or any other container by chance? Check and see what you can fit into all these compartments to make the best use of your space possibly! I always bring a duffel bag or backpack with me because at some point, I have a lot of walking I like to do on my trips to explore where I am. During travel, this becomes my “snack bag”.

Check it out: I have been using Just Strong’s new duffel bag when traveling. I like that I can wear it like a messenger back or carry it by the handles. Even the smaller outside pockets zip up too. You can use the discount code JANJAN110 at check out and get a discount at The Just Strong Clothing store.

8. Wear your bulkiest items

When I fly or even drive, I like to wear my bulkiest items to save the most space. For me, it’s my hiking boots I like to have on along with a jacket and a hat.

Photo credit:

Check this out: My favorite Back Country jacket for my hiking trips is the Insulated Women’s Jacket (of course, I have it in yellow!) because it’s lightweight yet warm and waterproof. Homepage

9. Find a place to stay where you can do laundry

Once I started traveling with kids, I have found it crucial to make sure I have access to doing laundry to pack lighter.

There are times I traveled and I did pack way more clothes than I needed because I knew I would not have access to a washer/dryer. Lately, access to a washer/dryer is something I look for when I book our home away from home- especially when I travel with my kids! This has allowed me to be able to pack way less than we need. I also like to have all of our laundry done so we can go home with clean clothes!

10. Know your amenities

Make sure to know exactly what amenities your lodging provides- especially if you are going to an Airbnb! Chances are, blankets, pillows, cooking ware, firewood, grilling items, bath towels, hair dryer and MUCH more is provided for you, meaning you can leave your own items at home!

Interested in finding lodging? Check out my post to see options from Airbnb and many others!

11. Pack your pills and vitamins in a pill bar

I have a lot of vitamins and a couple medications I take daily, but they come in very bulky bottles. I set up my medications and vitamins in a pill bar and this has helped so much because everything is set up and it only takes me 30 second to take them, saving me time.

12. Pack travel-sized items

Avoid packing full size of ANYTHING (which you will want to do if you are flying anyway). Instead, opt for travel-sized items. If you REALLY need space, possibly purchase these items at your destination. Another tip I have for you is to always keep your toiletries bag stocked and packed so you can just grab and go! Separate what you use for travel (yes- even a toothbrush!) from what you use at home.

13. Try using a smaller bag first

This is a trick I use and it’s helped me cut down what I bring a lot. I find myself being more mindful and asking myself, “Will I really use this? When and how?” I usually bring a duffel bag or backpack as well for when I want to go out and about at my destination & I pack items in either one to make use of the negative space.

14. Avoid bringing important items

Anything you can do to prevent stress on your travels- do it! More time for you to relax once you are in your personal paradise!

If there are any items you absolutely do not need- try not to bring them! I also use this rule of thumb for when I am out of my hotel/Airbnb/rental place. I try to take cash with me instead of my card, sometimes my ID if we are going out for drinks. Otherwise, most of my items stay where they are.

15. Wrap shoes and liquid items in plastic

This may not necessarily save space, but it’s a good idea to wrap shoes (my sandals or flip flops are usually the ones I pack in the suitcase-I wear my sneakers or boots) in plastic to prevent contamination. Also, I make sure I have a toiletry bag that I can zip up and that can seal my toiletry items so it does not get all over my other items in my bag.

I hope my lessons learned the hard ways helps you to have a smooth packing and traveling experience. Subscribe to my e mail list for notifications of when my packing list page under “Resources” goes live, and my post featuring “Traveling With Kids” (we all know that’s quite the journey!).

Check out some of my recent posts below that may interest you or help you to plan your own trip! Thank you for following along with my journeys!

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