Use this Acronym to Help You Pack Lighter for Travel

The lighter you pack, the easier your travels. It’s that simple. You'll spend less on luggage fees and will be able to navigate transit, cities and airports with ease. The more often you travel, the more you realize this.  

But I didn’t always pack light.

My first international trip studying abroad, I packed luggage so large it could fit a human inside. 

Turns out, you don’t need your entire wardrobe no matter how long your stay.

Over the years, I’ve learned that packing light and right is important to having a successful trip. My trick? Four easy letters (and a little alliteration): L I T E

L - Layer & Launder

Coordinate clothing to layer and launder your clothes as you wear them

Layering and laundering is probably one of the easiest ways to reduce the volume of clothing you bring in your luggage. Layering allows you to adapt to changing weather conditions without having to pack for every possible scenario. Layering also allows you to change up your outfits when wearing the same pieces repeatedly.

Washing your clothes ensures you have something fresh to wear every day of your trip, and it's typically easy to do since you have fewer clothes to wash. Before putting on your last pair of underwear, do a quick sink full of laundry or use the laundry services in your hotel. If your clothing is made of quick-dry material (discussed in the next tip), laundry started in the morning should dry by evening or by the next morning.

I - Invest & Incorporate

Invest in quality items made for travel and incorporate local style

We have a saying in our household to "buy nice or buy twice." And that means buying fewer things of higher quality, and the same goes for travel gear.

If you invest in high quality clothes and gear made for travel) you’re likely to fall in love with it and get more enjoyment from it. Some items may become your favorite pieces because of the quality and versatility of them. 

Seek materials that dry quickly (wool, cotton blends and natural fabrics like linen) and coordinate colors, patterns and styles across your entire travel wardrobe. Look for ways to mix all pieces following the layering rule.

Save room for acquiring items when you travel and/or pack a few items that incorporate local style to help you blend in rather than stand out as a tourist—look at the people in the background of other travelers’ photos and observe what they are wearing for ideas. I always end up purchasing earrings, a scarf or other items to help accessorize my clothing while traveling and to change up my outfits.

T - Two X Two

Pack two (or less) of everything, apart from what you wear on your back

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Just as all the animals went into Noah’s Ark two by two (yes, that's a biblical song reference), fill your luggage the same way. Wear one entire outfit and pack two of the rest: two bottoms (a skirt or capri length pants or shorts and a pair of pants), two tops (a combination of short sleeved and long), two pairs of shoes (typically a combination of opened and closed toe depending on your destination weather), two pairs of socks (a variety of no show, ankle or calf) and two pairs of underwear.

The “or less” part of this is tip is to pack fewer select items. This includes wearing one and packing one of the following items: layering pieces (wear a scarf and pack light sweater, or wear a cardigan and pack a vest for a total of two layering items), and bras (one to wear and one to pack).

And finally, packing one of everything else: a swimsuit (also wearable as extra underwear as needed), a set of pajamas, one base layer plain neutral colored t-shirt or tank (white, tan, black or gray), and a rainproof jacket. Occasionally, I also pack a lightweight travel dress, a pair of leggings (to wear with a skirt or the dress) and a hat.

Get my full packing list by following the link below and some of my favorite travel items on my Travel Gear page.

E - Evaluate & Eliminate

Evaluate and eliminate redundant and “not likely to use” items

Before you put everything into your luggage, lay out your clothes and toiletry items into tidy piles on your bed. Organize clothing by type (shirts, pants, etc.) first and take note of the colors—do they coordinate? Next make outfits by arranging piles into days of the week, mixing and matching bottoms with tops. Try on each outfit and photograph it (if that helps). With the first pass, you’ll likely eliminate something that didn’t work.

Next, go through each item and ask yourself “Will I really use this?” If you respond “possibility” or “not likely,” leave it at home.

Take only what you need, not what you think you’ll need. You can always buy toiletries if you run out or purchase something you need on the road. First-aid supplies and toiletries are easy to come by.

Also think about items that serve more than one purpose. Pack those items. I love to wear scarves when I travel and most other days. I can use it to layer for warmth, as a coverlet for the beach, wearing to cover my head for sacred sites, or to use as a towel or blanket in a pinch. I highly recommend the Lululemon vinyasa scarf on my Travel Gear page because it is so versatile.

I hope these tips help Get you on your way to packing LITE.

If you have questions, leave them here. I’d  also love to hear your packing tips and stories. Leave them in the comments.

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