Packing Light(er)

The year I turned 30 in 2016, I decided to take a year off traveling.

Not flying for a year was difficult. I thrive on new experiences and I’m good at making spur of the moment decisions, two key characteristics of travelers. I also love to plan trips and pack. That’s right: I. Love. To. Pack. Not many people know this about me, but packing is one of the things I’m especially good at. I have a system in place that helps me determine what I should pack and what should stay in Canada.

Here, I’ll share seven tips so you can pack light(er).

Research the Weather

Before heading off on your trip, research weather patterns and forecasts so you can better prepare yourself for the climate. Being better prepared helps you determine how many long sleeved shirts to take, which shoes are better suited for your adventures, and whether or not you’ll need sun protection. (Spoiler alert: You always need sun protection. Al. Ways.)

Choose a Colour Palette

I would be remiss not to mention this point. Once you’ve determined what the weather is like, pick a solid colour palette. This helps with better outfit coordination. First, pick a base neutral like navy, black, or grey. Then, choose a few colourful pieces that mix well together. Doing this helps you mix and match your clothes without having to worry whether or not they complement one another. Talk about outfit coordination in a pinch!

Take Versatile Pieces

When choosing which clothes to pack, I ask myself, “How many different ways can I wear this item?” If I can come up with at least three answers, it goes with me. An example of a versatile piece in my closet is my grey jersey maxi dress. This dress is versatile in that I can wear it on its own, wear it with a blazer or a leather jacket, or can style it as a shirt or skirt, depending on what I layer over top.

(Pro tip: Makeup you can apply and use in more than one way is loads better than makeup that works as only one thing. Think a lipstick that you can wear as blush, too.)

Pack Layering Pieces

Layering pieces, like a chambray or a plaid shirt, also make it easy to mix and match. These items are lifesavers because they also give you options. For instance, say you leave your hotel when the sun is shining and the temperature is at +30°C. But, as the day progresses, the sun goes down, clouds roll in, and temperatures drop to +17°C; not exactly freezing temperatures, but definitely cooler than it was earlier that day. By packing layering pieces, you give yourself more options for how to combat the cold and look stylish while doing it. My suggestions for layering pieces you should pack are a long-sleeved shirt (like a henley), a neutral coloured t-shirt (white, grey, or black), leggings (that you can wear under a dress when it’s cooler), and a maxi dress.

Roll Clothes

Roll your clothes when you put them inside your bag. This trick not only helps you conserve space by making ordinarily larger clothing pieces more compact, but it actually makes your stuff lighter and wrinkle-resistant. That’s right: Rolling your clothes actually makes it so they won’t wrinkle. You’re welcome.

Another tip is to pack the heavier items (jeans, shoes, sweaters, jackets) at the bottom so they frame your suitcase, then gradually pack the lighter stuff on top. This prevents wrinkling your clothes.

Use ALL the Space

Even if you’re travelling with only a carry-on, you still have permission from most airlines to take a personal item such as a duffel or backpack. What I usually take is a larger handbag where I place my laptop and other writing stuff, my makeup and toiletries, as well as a smaller crossbody purse that carries my wallet and passport. This frees up a lot space in my larger carry-on suitcase. I also have the habit of wearing my heavier layer items (sweaters or winter jackets) on the plane, which not only keeps me warm, but helps me save room. And, because I put my passport and wallet are inside the crossbody purse, locating essentials is quick and easy.

Follow the Rule of Three

The rule of three basically means you should pack three pairs of shoes, three tops, three bottoms, three layering pieces, three… well, you get the point. Three of each item gives you enough selection without overstuffing your suitcase. And you can change the number to this rule according to the duration of your trip. If you’re going for a short, two-day stint, then follow the rule of two; if you’re going for over a month, then use your discretion and decide if you’re going to follow the rule of three or more.


And there you have it. Seven tried and tested tips that I use when I pack. Now the next time you travel, you won’t feel overwhelmed at the prospect of putting your clothes together for a trip. Things should be easy-peasy for you!

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