Skip to main content


 Ask Granny’s 5 Tips on  How to Travel Light.

If you’re travel-savvy, you know that packing light is the way to go. But, it’s not easy. You want to be prepared for all sorts of weather, look nice along the way and enjoy comfort too. What do you really need to take along and what can you leave behind? What will you wish you’d remembered to bring? Here are some tips to help you travel smart and travel light.


Avoid Overpacking


This one is key. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Before you pack your bags, place everything in one location. Once you identify the luggage you’re able to take, you’ll find you can do without many items. There are good reasons to travel with a minimum of luggage. First of all, you’ll save money. Airlines often have fees for each checked bag and you’ll hand out fewer tips. Second you’ll have less to deal with when going through security checkpoints, and less chance of leaving items behind or having them stolen. Third, and very important, you’ll enjoy more mobility when you travel light. Simplicity is a beautiful thing when you’re in the middle of a long day of security lines, layovers and finding places to stash carry- ons during flights.


Identify Essentials


Take some time to think through the things you really need on a trip. You need your essential documents: passport, identification, credit card, possibly travel insurance paperwork and copies of your passport and id in case of loss. You need your medications. You need basic hygiene products although you may wish to purchase these upon arrival in your destination airport or city. You need basic clothing and shoes. You may decide that rain gear, cameras, books, etc. are essential for you. Make a list. Pile it all together and then begin the process of cutting back to fit your luggage choice.


Best Luggage for You


If you’re making the decision to check a bag, you may want to find a large one.

Remember, though, that you’ll have to use baggage carts at your destination and that can be tiresome after a long flight. Do your research before the trip to know the exact maximum dimensions allowed for carry-on bags. You can usually carry one other bag in addition to your carry-on. Be sure to have essentials such as daily medications, valuables, paperwork within easy reach during your travel. You may find that a laptop bag, a duffel or a collapsible totebag work for you. How many compartments do you need to safely store your camera, chargers, hygiene articles, paperwork? Many find that a backpack is their carry-on of choice as your hands will be free when going through security and when boarding. Small bags with rollers are also popular. You can find more packing tips at


Clothing and Accessories


Depending on where you’re traveling and what you’ll do when you arrive, you will pack accordingly. But no matter the destination and purpose of the trip, going lighter than you first imagine, will be in your favor. Some tips for light travel include choosing synthetics that don’t wrinkle and dry easily, and those that “wick” which means they pull moisture from the body in hot climates. Take several neutral or solid colors that you can mix and match, find a clothing article that can double as a poncho, towel or bedsheet, and include light raingear.

Take a hat for rain and sun protection and include only one or two pairs of shoes.

If taking two pairs, be sure to wear the heavier, bulkier pair during travel. If you need more formal clothing, black is usually a good choice. Remember, you can purchase clothing at your destination and often that is the best choice as it will fit the needs of the area.


This and That

As you travel, you’ll probably realize you don’t need some of the things you brought along on your trip. Or, you’ll purchase new clothing, souvenirs, and gifts, adding bulk to your bags. You have the option of sending things home along the way. Many travelers decide to take along old clothing and dispose of it as they go, or donate items locally. Another way to save space in your bags is to make copies of sections of travel guides, or other books rather than taking the whole bulky book. If you’ll be doing some handwashing of clothing, be sure to find a soap product such as Dr. Bronner’s travel bar soap. Baby wipes and zip- locks come in handy for keeping clean and for storage. As your trip unfolds, take note of what worked for you and what didn’t. You’ll be better prepared for your next travel adventure.

Find excellent travel planning and packing advice at Rick Steves’ site.