I’m a notorious minimalist when it comes to travelling. I made the change after a disastrous trip to my first ever festival – Green Man – in 2012, where I lugged a suitcase on public transport from Birmingham to Wales. By public transport, I mean: two trains, a bus, and a half-mile hike across a muddy field before swearing that I will never, ever do that again.
A Lesson Learned
Since then, I’ve travelled light on most of my trips. Last weekend was no different; a true exercise in packing in the most efficient way possible, to match the three days I spent in the depths of the Devonshire countryside, staying in an eco-cabin run by the wonderful Devon Dens. I’ll be sharing my holiday snaps and stories in the next few days, but to briefly explain the concept: these dens are solar-powered, with little electricity, hot water, gas, and no real connection to the outside world.
The concept made it easy to eliminate my electrical items, beauty products, and lighter clothing, but still: how do you stay cosy and warm without stuffing your bag full of jumpers?
The Art of Packing Light
While each trip is different, I’ve found that my travels often have similar characteristics. As I don’t have a car, more often than not I travel on public transport and trains, meaning I want something I can wear on my back to easily navigate steps, in-between walks, and keep my things close at all times.
I also usually take short trips – long weekends or four day stints – so I can do without certain luxuries in that time. It does make clothing harder though, as the places usually don’t have washing facilities so it’s all about layering!
Here are my top tips for packing light for any trip:
1. Make a list. As you may well know, I love a good list. Packing is one of those activities where a list is totally necessary, and not just a moment to enjoy trying out some new stationery (which I wish I could do all the time). Use the details of your trip to dictate essentials, and couple it with the things you use during the day. I run through my daily routine and write down everything I use to help.
2. Cross off shared items. Now it’s time to rule out certain items. My rule of thumb for eliminating things is: what can I live without + what will everyone else bring? If you’re traveling as a pair, or as a group, only one person needs to bring toothpaste, shampoo, or sun cream. Sharing can save money and precious space – you’ll never need 500ml of conditioner each, I promise.
3. Choose to reuse. Reusables save space over time – and they’re great in terms of environmental impact too. Charge and take an electric shaver over a disposable razor; try out a menstrual cup and see if it can replace your period products. A shampoo bar or soap bar can also save weight and space.
4. Visualise one outfit. And then edit and re-edit it. I like a base of a t-shirt, jeans, and flat shoes, and then I can layer up sweaters, tops, and perhaps even a skirt and tights. But if all your items match, you can dress appropriate for the weather without carrying too many items.
5. Roll up, roll up! Now it’s time for a run-through. Collect all the items on your list, and put them on your bed to see how much space they take up collectively. How does it look? See if you can reduce the space everything takes up by rolling your clothes and stuffing your shoes with socks.
6. Select your bag wisely. Now find a bag that fits everything in snugly, but make sure there’s a little extra room for last-minute items or any souvenirs you may want to bring back!
7. Take a tote bag. Or two. Or even three. While you may want to reduce the amount you’re carrying, it’s a great idea to take a tote bag to create extra carry space in a time of need. They’re great for picking up lunch, or storing dirty laundry (just not at the same time…) They can also be worn under a backpack and then secured under the backpack’s strap, making it less of a burden to carry.
+ Finally, if you’re heading on a trip, I hope my tips help, and that you have a wonderful time!