6 Secrets to Packing Light: Backpacker Style

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Picture yourself dragging your suitcase around on a trip, or simply strapping on a backpack, hopping off the airplane and exploring the city. I bet the second picture seems a lot more convenient. The benefits of packing light cannot be overstated, so leave the extra kilograms at home and embrace travel that is convenient, cheaper and of course lighter.

Ready to learn how to pack light? Here are six secrets:


Choose the Right Bag

It all begins with the right bag.

Ready to Explore Nairobi

Make the switch from suitcases to carry-on sized backpacks today (I’ll be expecting my thank you note in the mail soon, *wink*). Choosing a backpack forced me to pack lighter and more efficiently. It has helped me avoid luggage fees and the hassle of check-ins, waiting and fighting airlines for forgotten or lost luggage!

You can opt for packing cubes to help organize your backpack. Also take along a daypack to carry your personal item on the plane, and to carry your daily necessities at your destination.


Pack only essentials, no “Just in Case”

Whether you are going away for 4 weeks or 4 lifetimes, the essentials are pretty much the same. I’ve learnt the hard way that doing laundry is cheaper than checking in extra luggage.

Ladies, feel free to use the checklist below as a guide:

Packing Checklist

When picking dresses consider versatility, one you can wear casually in the day & dress up at night. For bottoms, comfy light weight trousers or jeans are the gospel – the darker the better. Throw in Skirts 2, one long and one short (the long skirts will come in handy if you’re going to be visiting conservative places).

For a month I was able to rotate 4 bras and 10 pairs of panties conveniently. Run from cotton socks – they soak up moisture & stink!

Oh, don’t forget the activity based extras: swimsuits & sarongs if you’re going to beach bum; or a pair of running gear if like me you plan on running a marathon. Before you throw these pieces into your backpack be sure to ask yourself “is it really worth the extra KG?” Answer sincerely, no “just in case”.


Be Aware of your Colour Palette

Think more outfits, less clothing.

By picking a simple colour combination every piece of clothing would work well together & can be used interchangeably.

On my Kenya Adventure I packed 4 bottoms (2 pairs of jeans, 1 skirt & 1 short) and 8 tops in the same colour palette. I was able to mix & match to produce about 32 outfits.
Still confused? Here is a picture to guide your combination.

Image Credit: theviviennefiles.com


Is it Bulky? Then Wear it

At least for check in. 😉😉

I use this trick all the time for the bulkier items like my shoes & jackets. I wear my sneakers to the airport & pack the pumps or sandals, then wear my jackets in preparation for the temp drop.


Cut the Toiletries

Use mini refillable bottles that are PSA compliant for your liquids, gels, etc. and limit yourself to the very basics. My travel makeup bag isn’t left out of ‘just the very basics’ movement and I carry my favourite scent in a perfume atomizer spray bottle.

Mini Toiletry Bottles. Image Credit: Wonderful Wandering

Ever heard of the quick-drying travel towel? You should invest in that too; they are light, absorb a ton of liquid & dry quickly. No more damp or stinky backpacks.


Roll, Don’t Fold

Yep! I saved the best for last, the Lionel Messi of all secrets!

Rolling clothes for packing saves you space and you arrive with wrinkle free clothes. I’ve gone a step further to make a how to video just for you.


I’d really love to hear your own secrets to packing light, please go ahead and share in the comment section.

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