As a musician, I’m regularly asked how I pack for long stints on the road. I now consider myself a bit of a pro when it comes to packing my bags lightly when traveling.
Whether it be that I’m traveling on a plane somewhere , jumping on a train or traveling in my van, it’s never convenient to have a lot of luggage. I love souvenirs so it’s important to me to still have enough room to pop those in too without having to throw things out or pay extra.
Packing for gigs and travel is a little tricker but this time, I’m only packing for travel so I’ll have to do another post on how to pack light when needing special occasion clothes. I remember my first trip to Canada… Let’s just say that I was lucky I had my Mum and my Dad to help me with my bags! Let me tell you how I’ve gone from lots of bags to traveling light while still have everything I need.
The trick is to eliminate our initial thoughts of needing all that stuff- the irony is that you figure that out when you get back home. I’m going to run you through a few strategies I have when packing – I’m actually heading out in a couple of days to South East Asia for a week so I’ll show you what I’d pack for that, which will be lighter than 7 kilos– perfect for overhead luggage and not having to have that big wait after your flight for your bags.
1. Suitcase or backpack.
You’ll need a light and sturdy backpack or suitcase. I purchased this suitcase back in 2014 from Big W. It came as a pair (One large and this small one) and was around $90. The reason I picked it is due to it weighing under 2 kilos. I wish I could tell you what the brand is but it’s bad marketing on the suitcase company’s side- there is not even a tag on or in it saying their brand.
The main thing you should look for when buying a suitcase is the weight when empty. You don’t want one that weighs 5 kilos as then you can only fit 2 kilos in. If you’re worried about soft case ones (which are generally lighter) than try to hunt down a hard case like mine. Be sure to check your specific airline’s carry-on size specifications before your trip.
You’ll also need to consider where you’re traveling to as if you’re going mainly rural, there may be areas where a wheely suitcase just wont work and a backpack would.
2. Gathering up your essentials.
I prefer to always have my important things on my body
so I bought this little backpack for $8 in Kmart which I use for my money, passport, tickets and things I want with me. You don’t have to have one but I like to use it rather than taking a handbag with me. It fits more in it too and is very light. Your essentials may vary but these are mine:
I always take my ear phones with me to listen to music or
watch a movie on the flight. Sun glasses are a must. I had a flight the other day in the morning and the sun was shining through the window the whole way. If I didn’t have my sunnies, I would have had very sore eyes. I love to have a pair of socks just incase it cools off. Eye drops are necessary for bright white eyes after long, red-eye flights and my lips get dry so having lip balm is nice. My phone charger- wall plug in and pre charged back up power. Passport of course and my waterproof camera. A small roll on deodorant. I also always buy a water bottle or two before I board. Oh and can’t forget mints- they go a long way after a big flight!
3. Packing the suitcase.
Frame out the bottom of your suitcase with your shoes, then create two neatly folded stacks with heavy-weight jeans and jumpers on the bottom, more delicate items on top. Since I’m going to a tropical place, I’ll pack my thongs in the suitcase and wear a real lightweight pair of slip on shoes. Now I haven’t been to this part of the world yet but everyone keeps saying ‘Pack less, buy more’ due to the huge decrease in price for clothes over there. Personally, without thinking about purchasing clothes, I would usually pack five shirts, two shorts, a pair of jeans, usually a skirt, a couple of dresses and a jumper for a week. With this in mind, I’m going to pack four light weight shirts, a pair of jeans, two shorts and a jumper. If I want anything else, I’ll just pick something up over there.
Any clothes that are left, like socks and undies, can be rolled and tucked around the edges. If you need even more room, rolling some of your essentials like dresses and tees helps save some space, and keeps your stuff (mostly) wrinkle-free.
Of course going to a tropical place, I have to bring a pair of swimmers, sunscreen, a beach shirt and a hat. I have also got a small and lightweight towel that I usually use for the gym. This will be perfect for when I need a towel.
Here’s a funky rule I just found when researching what other people do- You can follow the ‘Rule of 3’ if you want to pack suuuper light – 1 set of clothes to wear x 1 set of clothes to wash x 1 set of clothes for an emergency. Wear, wash, repeat. I’ve never used this method before, but it’s an option if you’d like to try it.
If you can’t bring yourself to packing thattt light and you want to pack more clothes, go right ahead! Just remember to sit down and plan how many clothes you’ll actually need for your trip. I usually just bring a few colour coordinated clothes that I can mix and match for a weeks worth of outfits. My bottoms are usually black or blue which I can match with pretty much any colour on top so I have white, blue, flowery and red tops which I can move around.
These to me are the hardest to keep light because I love cream. To have it allowed in your carry on, each container of liquids, aerosols or gels must be 100 milliliters or less- So don’t make my mistake of bringing a nice big bottle of moisturizer and having it thrown out. Here’s the thing. If you want to pack light, then things like hand lotion and scrub have to go. They add unnecessary weight to your load. After learning the hard way, I now have a super light toiletry bag!
If you’re feeling minimalistic, then just bring your tooth brush, toothpaste and face wash. You can buy travel-sized versions of the rest of the things you need at your destination. Most places offer basic amenities like soaps and towels so save your money and space.
Tips on toiletries:
1. Use small 50 ml – 100 ml refillable bottles to store your liquids like face wash
2. Buy travel sized everything!
3. Use a contact lens case to store items like makeup or small vitamins so you don’t have to carry full sized containers
4. If you’re bringing make-up, pack less miscellaneous items
5. On the plane.
The smart thing to do is wear all your heaviest clothes on the plane. So since I’ve packed pretty darn light, on the plane I’ll wear my jeans, have my jumper (even if I don’t need it), wear my slip on shoes and one of my thickest tops. On the way home, I’d probably wear the same outfit.
So let’s quickly run through a dot point list of THINGS TO PACK:
These are not compulsory; only my advice. You choose what relates to you and what doesn’t.
*Printed off Flight tickets and Travel itinerary
*Cards (identification, credit, business, insurance, etc.)
*Wet wipes to use for face/hands
*Pen (You never know when you’ll need one)
*Shorts, Shirts, Jumper, Jeans
*Shoes (I forgot shoes once)
First picture- mesh part for dirty clothes. Inside is one jumper, underwear, four shirts and two shorts.
Second picture- tiny black toiletry bag (You can do it) and even smaller poca-dot makeup bag (yes you can!!). Face wipes, toothbrush/toothpaste (in pink bag), hat, swimmers and a small gift.
And there you have it. How to pack 7kg or less for a 7-day trip. Think you can do it? Go ahead and pack light for your next trip! I hope this helps you a lot. I always go ahead and weigh my bag on a scale just to double check- it usually comes out around 5-6 kilos which is great. As I said earlier- the trick with having a small bag is that if you get stuck, you can put some of your other stuff in the bag too.
I hope you all have a great adventure. Let me know how it goes and let me know in the comments if this helped you.
Bye for now,