There's been so much in the news lately about lost luggage, and massive delays at airports. It's no wonder people who said they'd NEVER travel with carry on, are changing their minds.
So, I've put this blog together to help those people for whom travelling light was never on their radar.
My most recent carry-on trip to the Yasawa Islands, Fiji.
I can't travel light because...
I've heard all the excuses of why people don't want to travel light....
- I won't have enough.
- I've got a wedding/funeral/meeting/conference to go to.
- I like to look stylish.
- My toiletries and cosmetics take up their own bag.
- I must travel with ten pairs of shoes.
I would by lying if I said I hadn't had some of those fears myself. But let's tackle some of these fears and find some solutions instead.
The carry-on coach in Tekapo, New Zealand.
Prepare to travel light.
Preparation is key to travelling light. And you need time to prepare.
This is not the time for last minute packing, throwing it all in your case, and hoping for the best.
Travelling light is about 3 key things.
- Packing a well put-together travel capsule wardrobe.
- Reducing the sizes and amounts of the items you pack.
It's actually as simple as that.
Everything I need!
1. Planning to travel with carry-on only.
I cannot stress enough, how important planning is to having a successful, stress-free carry-on experience.
First you need to ask yourself...
Where are you going?
A city? The beach? That wedding? A hike? A cruise?
You need to pack for the places you are going. Are there cultural or religious things you need to consider for your wardrobe? Do you have an event you're dressing up for? These questions will get you thinking about what you need to cover the places you plan to visit.
What will the weather be like?
Winter, spring, summer or fall?
If you visit New Zealand, you'll get them all!
You can also check out weather history for where you are going? What is the likelihood of rain? And how much? Is it warm during the day, but chilly at night?
Will it be freezing cold? Actually, one thing you can consider is hiring or borrowing gear when you get to your destination. Some of my family live in the tropics and we are always happy to share our jackets and jerseys when they visit us here in NZ.
If it's a tropical place you're set to visit, then you can likely leave the heavy layers at home.
What activities are you doing?
Thinking about what you are going to be doing while away is really important to making sure you have everything you need. These might be things like hiking, dancing, shopping, swimming.
We recently went to Fiji and did loads of snorkelling. We used the gear they had on board the boat rather than carry it ourselves. We got to keep it for the whole cruise, so there were no issues about sharing masks and snorkels.
I always travel with hiking gear.
2. Carry on with a well put-together travel capsule wardrobe.
So you've thought about your holiday location, the weather, and the activities you plan to do.
Now the fun begins by picking clothes that will cover all of this.
First though, I believe we all have enough in our wardrobes. We don't need to go shopping for a new travel wardrobe. Plus, the clothes you already wear, you know exactly how they fit and feel. And your clothes are also your style! Why risk trying something new when you're not sure how it will perform on the road.
This is extremely important when it comes to shoes. A holiday is never a good time to break shoes in.
So, here's 5 easy steps to create your own travel capsule wardrobe...
1. Pick a base colour to set the tone for your travel wardrobe.
Blue, black, brown, red, grey. The choice is yours. Pick the colour you wear or have a lot of and let's build your wardrobe from there.
2. Pick items that go with your base colour.
This will allow you to create your very own, life-changing, mix and match wardrobe.
This will also help with layering your clothes for warmth and changing the looks. Try adding a couple of scarves and some jewellery in to change the look.
3. Follow the rule of 3's
Aim for 3 tops (tee-shirts/blouses), 3 pants (shorts/jeans/leggings), a skirt or dress, 3 outer layers (cardigan/ sweater/jacket), and 3 pairs of shoes (sandals/sneakers/dressy shoe). Make sure they all work well with your base colour.
You'll have over 20 outfit combinations with all this clothing!
4. Observe your wardrobe over the next week.
Find a space in your wardrobe, a spare room, or take a photo of the items you've selected.
LOOK at them.
Over the next week, think about where and what you'll be doing. Refer back to your items and think about whether your outfits will work for every occasion.
5. Swap items out.
If you have a lighter or smaller option. Swap it out.
If you have an item that works better. Swap it out.
If you have two of the same things. Take one out.
No prizes as to what my favourite base colour is!
3. Plan for handwashing.
With a small wardrobe you will need to do some handwashing. Carrying a small laundry bar and doing only two or three items at a time makes this an easy job.
To make the most of handwashing clothes, pack clothes that are fast drying. Most of my clothes, except jeans, dry overnight.
4. Pack merino or wool in your carry-on luggage.
Natural fibres like merino are great for warmth. Merino is also particularly good for being able to wear many times before it needs washing.
Merino is great for keeping you cool as well, with it's natural thermo-regulating properties.
It is a more expensive product but I find it lasts for years. My two favourite merino companies are Merino Country in Australia and Glowing Sky in New Zealand. Their products are made locally with locally sourced wool. I'm not an affiliate of these companies - I just love sharing good products run by good people.
My Merino Country striped tunic top with my Glowing Sky batwing cardigan.
5. Carry-on is easy when you reduce your toiletries and cosmetics.
I have a saying, "Don't go without - Go with less."
There's nothing worse than being told you can't take, have or pack something. We don't do well when we feel deprived.
The same goes with packing. Don't leave your favourite moisturisers or creams or lipstick behind...just take it in small amounts.
Here are my 3 tips to reduce the amount of toiletries you take.
1. Will any products be at your accommodation?
Soap? Shampoo and conditioner? Laundry powder? Toothpaste? Body moisturiser?
Ask your accommodation or check on the website what they provide. This includes hairdryers, irons (yes, people do pack travel irons).
2. Reduce the amounts.
A word I use a lot is TITRATE!
If you are going away for a week, and you use a teaspoon of shampoo for every hair wash, and you plan to wash your hair three times...then you can take THREE TEASPOONS of shampoo. You don't need to take that 300ml bottle!
Now do that for every toiletry and cosmetic item you plan to take.
3. Pack solids not liquids.
You can now buy so much stuff that is in solid form instead of liquid...Toothpaste, shampoo, moisturisers, soap etc.
Solids take up less space and weight than liquids. They don't leak. They generally last longer. And best, they don't need to go in your liquids bag.
I use solid shampoo bars, moisturisers, cleansers from Ethique (I am not an affiliate - just a huge fan!) I cut off the amount I need for a trip. Or I use my products until they become travel-size and then they live in my travel toiletries bag.
I travel with a small palate of makeup, an eyeliner, mascara, and one or two lipsticks. My lip colour is also my cheek colour!
A basic makeup kit for travelling light.
Packing the smallest amounts possible.
Carry-on travel is stress-free travel.
It's not just me. I know so many people for whom carry-on travel is their only way to travel.
It's easier to get around, to change trains, planes, buses, or to hail a taxi. There are less decisions to make. Carry on travellers use words like freedom, liberating, easy, bliss, care-free.
If you want to give it a go...get planning.
And here's a few other articles I've written to help you more.
- How to pick travel shoes for your carry-on luggage.
- More in-depth detail on how to pack a travel capsule wardrobe.
- Starting out with packing light? Read this.
I've got a free packing checklist on my website, that's also a helpful starting point too.
Let me know how you get on.
Happy travel planning,