Packing is a pain, and packing light often feels like the pinnacle none of us can actually achieve. But traveling light doesn’t have to be that hard, and there’s a few easy-to-follow rules that can reduce stress and the amount of weight you lug around your next airport run. Here are seven tips for packing less and getting more out of your next trip.

1. Plan and prioritize

Before you start packing make a list of the pure essentials you’ll need for your trip (yes, toothbrush included). Consider the weather, activities and cultural expectations and norms of your destination. Breathe and be realistic. A little bit of thought beforehand will prevent overpacking and make for a much more comfortable journey.

2. Roll, don’t fold

Maximize space in your suitcase or carry-on by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. It’s not just a space thing, it also prevents wrinkles and works around those hard-to-reach places in your bag. For more delicate clothing, think about investing in some packing cubes. Seriously, these things can change the game.

3. Limit footwear choices

Shoes are often the heaviest and bulkiest items on your packing list, so optimize your kick game by finding footwear that can be used in a variety of scenarios. Think sandals with a little extra tread for beach excursions and going out, rather than two separate pairs of shoes. After you’ve pared things down, wear your bulkiest pair while traveling to save space.

4. Mix and match

Instead of packing a different outfit for each day, opt for versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched. Choose a majority of neutral colors and simple patterns that can easily be coordinated into multiple outfits. Or, hey, embrace the clash, but aim to wear things more than once.

5. Pack travel-size toiletries

This may seem like a no-brainer, but seriously toiletries quickly add weight (and TSA headache) to your luggage. Find travel-sized versions of your products or consider purchasing toiletries at your destination. If you’re staying at a hotel, it’s likely they can hook you up with basics as well. For those that can’t go without that one special product, pharmacies sell empty travel-sized bottles for storing your favorite creams, lotions and salves.

6. Embrace technology

In place of carrying physical books or maps, utilize your smartphone, tablet, or e-reader for entertainment and navigation purposes. They don’t call them smart devices for nothing, and honestly your back and shoulders will thank you for the extra weight saved. Additionally, travel apps can go a long way to access and organize important information like flight details and hotel reservations (but more on that later).

7. Take a piece, leave a piece

Packing is usually not a one-way adventure and return trips can get a little complicated, especially for those of us that like to bring back souvenirs or gifts. Anticipate this space crunch and consider packing items (clothes, toiletries, etc) that can be gifted or donated to local communities, freeing up a little extra packing space for your trip home. This is not a perfect science, but a good (and often appreciated) practice. Who knows, it might end up being the best story of your trip.

 

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