Whether you’re packing for a cross country move, an epic road trip or a flight, there comes a time when you’re forced to contemplate the idea of packing light. If travel writers are to be believed, packing light means jetting off to southeast Asia with nothing but a backpack, a passport and a fresh pair of socks.
If you’re not a true minimalist and your current packing strategy involves bringing ten outfits for a two-day trip because you need options, you might think that packing light is a fairytale that will never come true for you.
But don’t worry; there’s a way to master the art of packing light without completely altering your travel plans or your personality. Here are five foolproof ways to get the job done.
Pack lighter next time by only bringing one nice dress or suit instead of a bunch of choices. It’ll make your suitcase lighter and it’ll make deciding what to wear much easier.
Those bright green zebra patterned pants are a pretty good conversation starter, but they don’t go with very much. Pack your bag with clothes that are versatile. This means avoiding prints in favor of solid colors, especially versatile colors like black and beige.
You should also choose items that can be dressed up or down. For example, instead of packing your faded, ripped jeans, pack black denim pants that look good with a t-shirt and sneakers during the day and a silk top and high heels at night.
Don’t go into packing without a plan. It’s going to make it even harder to resist the urge to dump everything from your dresser into your suitcase.
Make an actual list before you pack. Even better if you know what you’re going to be doing each day that you’re traveling. Putting it in writing will give you the opportunity to visualize what you’re actually going to need, plus it’ll allow you to identify opportunities where you can rewear an item of clothing or cross out something superfluous.
This is especially sage advice for traveling by airplane. Airlines can hit you with nasty fees for overweight bags, but they can’t tax you for wearing a big coat or a heavy pair of boots.
Wear the shoes that weigh the most and/or take up the most amount of space in your bag along with any other space draining items, like your bulky sweater or favorite scarf. And don’t forget to fill your pockets.
Hollow items, like shoes or a Nalgene bottle are just wasted space—but they don’t have to be. When packing your bag, look for unused storage space in items that you’ve already packed. You can stuff socks and underwear into your shoes, fill a Nalgene bottle with travel sized toiletries and so on.
Anywhere you’ve got a pocket of space, you’ve got an opportunity to be a lighter—and smarter—packer.