Here’s our packing list. We are light travelers, so we only bring our carry-on.
Let’s start with the things we are most likely to forget.
- Cash (local currency)
- Power converters (remember to check the size of the wall sockets too!)
- Small backpack for daily use
- Playing cards
- Music / Podcasts / Movies (on your smartphone / iPod)
- Pen / Paper
- A good book
If you remember these things you’ll be good to go, and you will have some entertainment (playing cards) and the opportunity to get a little privacy (headphones) and sleep (earplugs).
Clothes and toilet stuff – for men
- Warm shirt (for chilly nights / cold airplanes
- Shorts / Swim-wear
- A nice shirt
- Walking shoes
- Hair vax
- Deodorant / Perfume
- (liquids and container for contact lenses)
Tips for super light traveling
Traveling with a minimum of items makes the whole experience more enjoyable.
We have never been heavy packers, I traveled in Mexico 12 years ago (for 7 weeks) with only one pair of pants, 2 T-shirts and a hoodie.
It is easier to get around, you don’t have to worry. Here is my best tips on how to travel light.
1) Bring a little bag of washing powder
It only takes a few minutes to hand-wash a little underwear and socks in a sink and this way you don’t have to bring to much. You only need a handful if you are going for a months time.
If you bring thin underwear and socks they will dry much quicker. In a warm country, you can normally hand them outside to dry during the night, unless the humidity is too high.
2) Bring some worn out clothes and underwear
It’s good to be able to lose some stuff during the trip. This way you can fit some souvenirs in your suitcase (carry-on) on the way home.
3) Get items designed for travel
E.g. the power adaptor, which will allow you to plugin to every power socket can be super chunky. Find a sleek design like this for instance:
Image credits: Wattoo.dk.
4) Choose microfiber towels
Towels of microfiber are excellent for traveling. They will fit in a pocket, and they are designed to absorb water really well despite their low weight and thin fabric.
5) One carry-on per person
Choosing to only bring the carry-on’s has a lot of benefits. It is cheaper because you only pay for the luggage you check in. It is better for the environment when the planes are lighter.
It makes travel time a lot more enjoyable when you don’t have to haul and drag all those pounds around through traffic, narrow streets and upstairs. You can move faster and even fit in a normal cab.
A big bonus: You minimize the time you spend choosing what to wear. When you only bring a few items, there is not a lot to choose from. You get out the door a lot faster, and after all, traveling is about touring and seeing places – not wasting time deciding what to wear.
Most people spend 80% of their time, wearing 20% of their clothes, so leave the 80% at home and you will be fine.
Here’s a video I did about how I pack my carry-on:
In 2007 we went to New York City for 3 weeks.
We went through Heathrow and British Airways lost our luggage in the transfer. We didn’t have any clothes, shoes etc. and we had to spend time shopping for essentials and calling the airline instead of focusing on seeing the city.
After 2 weeks the luggage arrived, with only one week left, and we didn’t really miss all that stuff! After that experience, we have only been traveling with carry-ons.
6) Wash on the destination
Here’s a good tip that will help you travel light. Bring a little laundry soap in a travel-size bottle. This way you can wash your clothes in the sink as you need to.
I typically don’t bring a lot of underwear and just wash every other night. Bring items that dry quickly.
7) What/how much clothes to bring
Here is a list of what I typically bring to a warm destination. Men can typically get away bringing even less.
- 2 pairs of shoes: one for walking and a pair of sandals, that can be used both on the beach and be going into town at night.
- 3 shirts: one tank top, one decorative for dinners and one long sleeve. Preferably one I can fit over the other two.
- 1 pair of jeans. If I don’t bring jeans I bring a pair of tights or leggins and two dresses.
- 1 skirt that goes with everything, and 1 or 2 dresses. If I bring two I will bring a thin and a thicker one(mostly if Im not sure about the weather)
- 1 or 2 pairs of socks and underwear.
Always wear the heaviest items, like jeans, on the plane. They take up too much space and it helps to keep the weight of the carry-on down. And it’s nice if it gets chilly on the plane.
8) Travel Size liquids
Sometimes people use big shampoo bottles as a reason to check in a bag when they fly, they bring enough lotion to last a month.
In most supermarkets, you can buy small travel versions of shampoo and sun lotion. Bring a small sun lotion for the first day or two, so you don’t get burned, and then buy one in a supermarket.
Salespeople at home will try to convince you that the sun lotions you can buy in other countries have less SPF, because it’s not stored in direct sunlight. The SPF does go down when a bottle is kept in direct sunlight, but buy sun lotion in a supermarket, and you will be just fine.
We always buy everything small, because we travel a lot. So we don’t have to think about bottle sizes when packing, and the small perfume bottles are also super cute:)
9) Souvenirs with use-value
We like having memories of the places we visit. We don’t always buy something, but when we do we try to find something with high use-value.
You can make your kitchenware a collage of travel memories. Small bowls, spoons, a plate, a knife, maybe something for the bathroom, towels, clothes, shoes, jewelry and bags are great.
Make a wish list on your phone, with the things you want or need within the next year. Then you know what to look for when you travel.
I have had a leather jacket and a new purse on my list for a long time. I finally found a nice red leather purse in Berlin in December. Right now we are in Crete, Greece, and I just bought a nice short tight leather jacket last night for a fraction of the price I would have to pay at home! These are my souvenirs, and I am reminded of these great places when I use them.
Remember to check your “wishlist” before you buy something, so you don’t get too carried away.
10) iPhone instead of the camera
The camera in my iPhone 4s is so good, that I don’t need my old digital camera anymore. If you are a photographer you might have a hard time with this, but if you just have a normal small digital camera anyway, my guess is you could do without – If you have a new smartphone.
Hope you find these tips helpful. Please let me know (comment) if you have more tips, that would be helpful to others:) I would love to hear your experiences on this.
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.