There are a lot of reasons why people don't want to travel light. When I first came across the idea - hey I can put my hand up -I went through all the excuses and reasons why it wouldn't work.
But I had to make it work. I was travelling by myself for four weeks in Europe. I had no one to carry my bags. I had to be completely INDEPENDANT. And I had to be SAFE!
Since then, I've managed to travel to the Australian Outback, China, Rarotonga, and Chicago and New York in winter - yes, all with just 5 kilos (11 lbs)!!!
Keeping warm and toasty was of the utmost importance in Chicago in winter.
"I won't have enough to wear".
Worried about not having enough to wear, I think, would have to be top of the list for people's fears about traveling with a really small wardrobe.
A well put-together mix and match wardrobe will fix this! But I think you can't just pack your gear and hope for the best.
I really do believe that you have to plan your travel wardrobe carefully and thoroughly and then play around with the different combinations.
You've got to feel comfortable that the clothing and shoe combinations will give you lots of different looks. And as much as I can say, "You'll be fine" - you actually need to practice at home and believe it yourself.
Other reasons that run with this theme are,
- I need more clothes than most people.
- I'll run out of clothes,
- I have a conference, wedding and a 50th to go to.
- I go out to top restaurants so need to look fabulous
- I like to look stylish.
What a travel capsule wardrobe can look like.
"I'll be wearing the same things everyday".
Well... um...you're sort of right!!
However, your mix and match wardrobe will have you looking slightly different everyday. Changing to a different top with the same pants, adding a scarf, a necklace, or a cardigan can completely change a look.
The other thing that I realised though was that when you're travelling with a small capsule wardrobe no one actually notices (or even cares). And if you're on the move - you're not seeing the same people anyway.
From the Amalfi Coast to Outback Australia - my purple tee has seen the world!
"I'll be washing my clothes every day."
I'm not going to lie - but you will only be handwashing every second or third day. But it won't be much.
On my first traveling light trip in Italy and Croatia - I didn't realise back then that merino could be worn for several days in a row without washing. So I completely missed the wonderful benefits of this clever wool.
I washed a tee shirt and some underwear every second night. It took five minutes! I then hung my clothing out on the clothesline from my window - just like the locals did.
Every fourth night I would also wash a pair or trousers or shorts if needed, and my socks. All of which would be dry by the morning.
Having travelled with my husband and kids who are learning to travel lighter - I know what laundry day looks like and I would rather do a bit of handwashing every second night than the major chore of laundering loads of washing.
When we were in Yosemite National Park for three nights at the start of the season - we spent a whole morning in the laundry washing a mountain of clothes. And then drying the mountain of clothes.
The laundry was only open set hours and was also quite a way from our cabin, so we had to bus there in the local park bus. Yes, we wrote emails, and walked to the stream outside - but I'm sorry - spending a morning in a laundry when you could be out exploring one of the most magnificent National Parks is to me just a complete waste of time.
The thought of losing half a day in Dubrovnik, Florence, Santorini or New York to me is just madness.
Hard to spot, but I delighted in hanging my handwashing out my window just like the locals in Hvar, Croatia.
"I don't have the right gear for traveling light".
Well, as you will have read from the last bit - even though I had the right traveling gear I didn't reap the benefits of the reduced washing required! So, I can say from experience, that if you have only cotton tee shirts, then you will be washing them regularly - but it was no problem. Doing a little bit at a time keeps it very manageable.
You also don't need to have "outdoor" travel gear - there are lots of light and quick drying options in many shops.
Not having the right gear is not going to make it difficult to travel light - but taking lots of it will.
None of this is specially designed light clothing.
"You won't catch me wearing a backpack".
I carried a 28L daypack for very specific reasons.
- I was hiking between some accommodation.
- I had some accommodation way up a hill from the train station.
- I needed to have everything compact and secure on my back - remember, I was travelling by myself for four weeks.
- I had no one to carry my bags when I got tired or to lug my bags up stairs.
- Security of my gear was my sole responsibility.
My daypack had an extremely well designed harness system to support my back and made carrying the bag very easy and a lot of the weight went through my hips. I've had back issues in the past and traveling with this size bag hasn't aggravated my back at all.
There are plenty of prettier daybag options out there but they don't tend to have a really good harness system. But if you're only walking short distances, then these would be a great option.
A fellow traveller in China said to me that she couldn't carry a heavy bag. But there she was pulling a 20 kilo suitcase behind her - twisting, pulling, lifting...
What's more, she also had a lovely leather daypack that she carried in front of her. Her bag and mine weighed the same! We had such a fun conversation after that with me pulling my bag contents out to show her what exactly I was carrying.
All set for China!
" I can't afford the special light gear."
As I said above, you don't need the special light gear.
But if you choose to, because your travel wardrobe is small - you don't need that much of it.
The special light gear I currently travel with is:
- A long sleeve merino
- Merino leggings
- 2 x merino socks
- A silk scarf
- 2 merino tee shirts
- A puffer jacket
- Hiking/travel pants
I didn't buy these all at once, but I do plan...
- I buy them on special.
- I borrow some things.
- I pick them up at second-hand stores.
- I tell my husband what I want for my birthday or Christmas.
When I buy specialist travel gear, I buy good quality that lasts a long time.
On my first light trip I took a pair of sneakers that weighed 500g. I barely wore them. I also took a pair of jeans - OMG, they take up so much room, were so heavy and take forever to dry when they need washing.
But jeans are one of those items that are just so easy to dress up or down, they're super comfortable, and they are fashionable in every corner of the world. I've not found any light jean versions that look like real jeans - and by crikey - I've looked!!!
My specialist light gear that I've acquired over the last few years. Not a lot of it, but worth every dollar spent!
I believe everyone can travel light.
I really do believe that everyone can travel light - but that we put barriers up that we can't do it.
If you go to your wardrobe and pick out any clothes (we're not looking at lightness here)..
- 3 bottoms - jeans, skirt or dress, leggings, shorts, capri pants etc
- 3 tee shirts
- 3 over tops - like a blouse/shirt, jersey, cardigan
- and 3 pairs of shoes...
and then see how many different combinations you can create with just these items - I think you might start to realise too that maybe it is achievable.
If you want more tips on how to really get your travel capsule wardrobe sorted - I go into a lot more detail in my blog, "Plan, test and practice your travel wardrobe while in lockdown".
Happy travel planning!