10 Hacks for travelling lighter

Richard Mellor

Buy Merino wool clothes, launder as you go, finalise your footwear game and channel your inner Jack Reacher

Use smaller luggage

Limit the capacity of your bag, and you limit how much stuff you can take. So consider buying or taking a smaller version in order to force yourself to travel lighter.

Holdalls made from thermoplastics such as polypropylene weigh very little. Alternatively, using a rucksack allows you to be more mobile, and scoot through airports with extra speed.

 

Quiz yourself

Lay out your planned inventory on the bed or floor. With each item, ask yourself how certain it is you’ll need it? Be honest. If the answer is “not at all”, then you know what to do.

Another tack with regard to clothes is to go through your trip, day by day, and pre-settle on outfits. You’ll very likely find you need less than you first thought.

 

Pack travel wash

Bring a tube of travel wash or sealed bag of laundry detergent, and you can do basic washes on the go in sinks or bathtubs. As long as you’ve time and means for drying, this means you need only take half as many clothes.

Should more laundering space be needed, take an extra-large zip-lock bag, too. Mix some warm water and detergent, put your clothes in, shake around for a bit, and voila!

 

Shoe strategy

Footwear is often a bag’s heaviest item. So aim to just take two versatile pairs of shoes

Flip-flops are adequate for many occasions in sunny climes; similarly, smart trainers or ballet shoes work for all but the most formal occasions. Hikers are advised to consider wearing their boots throughout to lessen the load. 

 

Merino, Merino, Merino

It’s expensive, but for good reason: Merino wool is a lightweight traveller’s best friend. 

Not only is it ultra-lightweight and warming, but items can be worn for many successive days without smelling. Dream.

 

Be sympathetic to synthetic

Rivalling Merino for BFF status are synthetic items. As well as also barely troubling the scales, these – be it underwear, cotton-substituting t-shirts or smart-wool sweaters – have another perk: they dry in a flash. 

 

Champion double-duty objects

From scarves than can serve as pillows to swimming shorts able to duplicate pyjamas or shower gel-and-shampoo combos, look out for objects and items capable of performing dual roles.

Hall-of-famers in this category are pashminas, shawls and sarongs.

 

Buy local

When it comes to toiletries, however, do you really need to take these at all? Most hotels and Airbnb have basic—or better—shower gel and hair products waiting.

If not, most urban locales have them for sale locally in small containers which you won’t need to take home. Ditto sun cream, bug repellent, deodorant, toothpaste and so on.

 

Go all-electronic

This is hardly news, but Kindles and smartphones have rendered lots of travel objects discardable, if not obsolete. 

In danger of extinction—and often unnecessary to pack—are cameras, maps, travel guides, books and even laptops.

 

Hone your inner Reacher

Jack Reacher, the roaming hero of Lee Child’s action novels, is the pin-up boy of travel light: due to buying new, cheap clothes every few days, he doesn’t even have a bag—only a fold-up toothbrush.

If that’s too extreme, consider employing another of his hacks rather than packing a travel iron. Reacher lays his trousers under his motel mattress before going to bed, naturally de-wrinkling them as he sleeps. Genius.

Read more: How to book a bargain holiday

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