I absolutely hate packing! I hate it because of one simple reason: I always forget something! No exceptions!
Thus, I found the ultimate solution. Packing only the essentials, as little as possible! This way I have less chance of forgetting something.
I used to travel with big suitcases filled with everything I thought I might need during the trip, but in the end, I barely used 50% of what I packed.
Later on, I discovered how useful it is to fit everything in my hand baggage. It is so much faster and cheaper. I quickly mastered the art of cramming as much as possible in that little suitcase.
But I still kept packing a lot of unnecessary stuff!
Only recently I learned to travel WITHOUT any suitcases! Nothing at all! Just a little backpack… that’s it!
In this post, I’ll explain to you my strategies for packing only the essentials and travelling as light as possible, with nothing more than a little backpack! Are you ready to travel without baggage?
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Tip #1: know your essentials
The biggest mistake you can make is to open your closet and just pick anything you think will be useful on your trip. Don’t do this! This is a guarantee for too much baggage!
Travelling light means packing only the essentials. But what if you don’t know what your essentials are? What if you forget something? I have one simple trick for that: work from head to toes.
Think about what you are wearing by scanning your whole body. Start with your head. Do you wear glasses? Do you need sunglasses on your trip? A hat? Go lower and think about shirts, maybe a scarf if it’s cold. Go down like this and end with your feet (socks? Shoes?).
This method will make sure you have covered all the clothes you wear on your whole body so you don’t forget anything essential. Anything you are not wearing at this moment will probably not be necessary on your trip either.
Another tip to make sure you have all your essential non-clothing stuff packed is to go through your daily morning/evening routine. What are you doing in the bathroom? Go through every tool you use. This way you are making sure you are not forgetting anything important like your toothbrush!
Get to know my 17 absolute essential items for a long haul flight!
Tip #2: you only need 1 of everything
You really don’t need two pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of shoes and hundreds of jackets on your trip.
In fact, you only need 1 pair of everything! (Except for underwear, socks… you know.)
This will require some discipline from you! I only take with me one pair of jeans, one pair of shoes, one jacket and one sweater (which I wear the day I leave on the trip).
Everything else fits in my backpack: toothbrush, socks, underwear, a pyjama (which isn’t always necessary) and eventually a pretty dress or shirt in case I go out.
Limiting myself to these items makes it possible for me to travel without baggage.
Tip #3: take multifunctional clothes with you
Yes, I advise you to just take with you the clothes that you are wearing (plus eventually an extra shirt) but this means that your clothes should be multifunctional! You should be able to use them for whatever you plan to visit.
For example, don’t just take a jacket with you that cannot bear rain. You want to pack a jacket that is useful in all kinds of situations. It should have a cap, be waterproof, not too light (so you don’t get cold at night) but not to warm either.
Try to really think about what you’re going to pack, this way you can leave with way less luggage than you otherwise would. And, in the best case, you can travel without baggage.
Tip #4: buy travel size packages
While travelling you need more than clothes alone. Think about a toothbrush, toothpaste, a hairbrush, make-up, soap etc.
Luckily, most of these products are also offered in mini-format. So my advice is to take those mini versions with you instead of the big ones. You will save a lot of space!
You can get most of these mini-packages in a supermarket/drug store/dollar store. And they are usually quite cheap.
If you prefer your favourite brand of shampoo, look on their website or in their store if they have travel-size packages, often they do!
I usually always get mini-toothpaste when I visit my dentist, yours might have those too!
Tip #5: check what is available at your destination
Don’t pack things your hotel will provide!
Consider whether you need all the products you’re packing. Soap, for example, is often provided at all kinds of accommodations. Thus, it might not even be necessary to take it with you!
Usually, if you’ve booked an Airbnb or hotel, there will be shampoo, body wash, towels etc. already available. Make sure to check this beforehand.
Tip #6: plan your trip
It is very simple. If you plan your trip thoroughly, you’ll know exactly what to do during those days. Thus, you’ll also know exactly what to pack! The better prepared you are for your trip, the more specific you can pack!
It will be way easier to leave all your unnecessary stuff at home and only take with you clothes/stuff you will actually use. It’s incredible how much stuff I used to pack without even using it!
Thorough preparation can avoid this. Your baggage will be so much lighter and you will be able to travel without baggage!
Tip #7: use vacuum bags
I would never be able to travel with just a little backpack without my vacuum bags! They almost literally saved my life when I flew back from Canada. Suddenly, I had space in my suitcases!
On a city trip, I usually take one or two small vacuum bags with me that perfectly fit in my backpack. They reduce the space that I need by almost 50%! So I only need half the volume I used to use.
I bought my vacuum bags on Amazon. Some bags require a vacuum cleaner, but there are others you can just roll up and the air escapes. Very easy!
Be careful! There is one mistake you should never make! It’s not because you reduce the volume of your bag that you’ll reduce the weight too. Watch your weight! Airlines often have stringent regulations about this, so be sure to check it beforehand.
Anyway, if you want to save space and travel without luggage you definitely need a travel vacuum bag!
Tip #8: digitize as much as possible
Of course, you’ll need something to keep you busy on the plane, but do you really need to pack a book of 300 pages? Definitely not!
In this digital age, you can just take everything with you on your phone. For books, you have apps, for boarding passes you have a digital wallet. Games? Idem ditto.
However, I perfectly understand that you would rather read a book on paper (I prefer this as well). Thus, if you really can’t miss your paper book, try to find a pocket version of it.
Of course, you need a lot of papers like your boarding pass, booking confirmations, travel insurance papers etc. I try to take everything with me on my phone. Most of the time I have it just in my mailbox (or with a screenshot) and the boarding pass in my digital wallet.
This way I never need to search for papers and I can again save valuable space in order to travel without baggage!
Tip #9: send your souvenirs by post
I completely understand. When you visit a place, why not take a souvenir with you? You can give it a nice place back home and it will remember you eternally of that lovely trip you took to Paris, Londen or whatever city you went to.
But sometimes these souvenirs are stones or something even heavier. If you’re on a longer trip or carrying all your luggage along the way, it might be a horrible burden to take that souvenir all the way with you!
However, there’s a solution to this… and it’s called mail.
I know, quite prehistoric.
Instead of dragging this incredibly beautiful (but at that moment probably incredibly stupid) big rock home, you can just send it home! It will cost you something, but so will extra baggage. Moreover, your back will be thankful for this later on!
Tip #10: make memories, don’t collect souvenirs
Of course, you don’t have to take souvenirs with you.
When I was a little kid I used to take a souvenir home from every place I visited. I have quite a collection when you look at it now!
But as I grew up, I realized that cheap mini versions of buildings are not really that special. Instead, I started to value the memories I made along the way!
These days, I collect pictures on my phone instead of physical souvenirs and as soon as I’m home, I print them and put them on my wall!
I now believe that these pictures are more valuable since they capture moments. Moreover, it can be essential to not take souvenirs home in your luggage when you want to travel without baggage!
Tip #11: make a reusable packing list
Never forget anything!
When you travel on a regular basis, a fixed packing list is an absolute must! Of course, you have to adapt to different countries and climates, but a basic list will make sure you won’t forget anything and you won’t pack anything you don’t need!
Try to make a list of your travel essentials and try to add stuff to the list if you notice you’ve forgotten something. After a few trips, you’ll have your own ultimate travel packing list!
Tip #12: let your luggage be delivered at your destination
It’s very simple. Just like you can send souvenirs by mail, you can send your suitcase! There exist several services around the world that pick your bag up at home and deliver it to your hotel when you arrive at your destination!
How amazing is that?!
So, if you absolutely can’t miss any baggage, ship it!
I discovered this valuable tip on the blog Maroc Mama where Amanda shares her experience with the luggage delivery service Luggage Free.
I’ve never tried it, so it’s up to you to decide whether you love it or hate it! Anyway, this might be the perfect solution for someone who doesn’t want to leave anything home AND still want to travel without baggage!
I hope I made it clear that it is perfectly possible to travel without baggage. The only thing you need is a small backpack (or a luggage delivery service ;))and you’re all set for a city trip or holiday!
However, if you decided you want to use a suitcase anyway, take a look at my favourite suitcase!
Do you have other valuable tips to share or questions? Don’t hesitate to place them in the comments below!