Pack like a PRO 101

You all know I love to travel, but I also hate spending more money than I have to when traveling. So when I can, I try to find the most affordable no frills airlines especially for short trips between cities when I’m in Europe or the US.

While this does work out cheaper and saves me more money, I always have to watch out for additional costs as no frills airlines tend to charge things separately. In fact everything is charged separately – taxes, food and luggage. This is where you can end up with unexpected costs and not much saving.

Due to the nature of some of my travel engagements, I can do three cities in a period of 4 days. After quite a few intracountry trips I have had to concede that it really didn’t make sense to be lugging 30kg for a 4 day trip. Why check it in when you can carry it on?

Travel sized toiletries are your best friend. Don’t pack the big bottles of shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, etc. Not only do they take up a ton of space in your luggage, they’ll also get confiscated at security if you try to take them in your carry on. Instead, buy the travel sized toiletries available at many convenience stores or pharmacy. Push comes to shove (and if you’re extra cheap like me), make your own travel sized toiletry kit. Buy empty carry on approved toiletries bottles and fill them with your favourite products.

Don’t pack clothes for every day of your trip. No seriously. Don’t. When I travel on discount carriers, I not only pack outfits that can be swapped around for different looks, I also wear clothing 2-3 times before it gets tossed into my dirty laundry bag. Clearly, the only exception to this is underwear – I actually pack more than I need for a trip (because clean underwear is non-negotiable). Granted, I don’t sweat much so this works for me, but it may not be everyone’s ideal. I get some people prefer sparkling clean clothes everyday of their trip and I totally respect that. However, that does make it harder to limit yourself to a carry on. Just keep in mind that it will probably be possible to do laundry at some point during your long trip.

Roll your clothes and make use of ALL your space. A friend who was a packing whiz taught me this one. Instead of folding your clothes, try rolling them up – it actually does save quite a bit of space. And make sure to use anything hollow in your luggage as storage. For example, the shoes in my luggage are always filled with socks or pantyhose. Do you have a mug in your luggage? Stuff it with (clean) underwear – not only are you not wasting valuable space, it also helps to prevent the mug from breaking in transit.

Wear heavier and larger items. If you’re travelling in the winter, wear your winter coat and boots to the airport instead of packing them in your luggage. Yes, they’re a bitch to get off and put back on when you go through security, but they also take up a lot of space in your luggage.

Bring an e-reader or download apps for your iPad. I love to read and I love my books. But books take up a lot of space and they can be quite heavy. Rather bring an e-reader or a tablet with you. I found that save for when I’m on a plane and not sleeping, I rarely touch the books I’d planned to finish during the trip.

Take half of what you think you need. You never need as much stuff as you think you do. If you’re like me and like to have options or be prepared for every possible spontaneous eventuality (and it shows in your luggage), pack what you think you need and then go back a day later and review your packing. I once packed 8 pairs of shoes for a 4 day trip and I ended up wearing one pair of flip flops the entire time. Also, you can totally repeat outfits while traveling.

Let me know if there’s other useful tricks you use to travel light but still have everything you need.

mangwanya

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