Packing light : Information You Need

Packing light is worth the planning!

This post contains affiliate links which means that clicking on these items costs you ZERO but give me a small fee which helps me keep this blog going!

This photo is of every single piece of luggage we brought on our 14 day Italian adventure including purses and daypacks for our family of 5 – 3 adults and 2 kids. Packing light is a goal for every trip!

Packing light: luggage for a long trip,

Packing Light : the Pros

Packing light * Less to pay for!

The airlines charge for bags and so do taxis. Also, tipping for hotels or baggage handlers on the trains is a per bag charge. So the less you pack…the more money you save!

Packing light * Less to keep up with!  

You are in a new country – marveling at the new sights and sounds AND keeping track of little ones. Who wants to keep track of excessive luggage? Packing light is the answer.

Packing light *Less to lug around!

Europe is not as handicapped friendly as we are. This means – no ramps to get from the street to the sidewalk. You have to actually pick up each piece and put it on the sidewalk – over and over again. No ramps for the subway – lots of stairs there. Buildings are old! They don’t all have elevators and that means you will be lugging this suitcase up those stairs.  Cobblestones – packing light will keep you from dragging heavy suitcases over them.

On my very first international trip, I packed like I was going to a foreign planet where they had NOTHING that I might need. I even brought snacks?? What was I thinking!! LOL! Well, about 1/2 way through the trip I can tell you I was tired of lugging all that stuff up flights of stairs and I started tossing stuff. I went so crazy that I remember even squeezing out some toothpaste (Why didn’t I pack travel sizes??) to make the tube lighter! LOL! I never made that mistake again!

Packing light *More room to bring stuff back! 

You’ll have plenty of room in the suitcase for all those neat souvenirs you want to bring back.

Packing light : The Cons

*You can not have a different pair of shoes for each outfit. First world problem!

*You will have to wash clothes.

One of my favorite quotes about traveling light is from Rick Steves, my favorite travel guru for adults. He says, “No one ever brags, each year I pack more!”  Ha! Ha! SO true!

Packing list for the packing light family!

1) Outfits – Every person gets 3 outfits – one they wear and 2 they pack.

2) Shoes – 2 pair of shoes each – 1 to wear and 1 to pack. If your itinerary includes swimming or communal showering, include a very thin and light weight pair of flip flops. Flip flops also serve as ‘house shoes’ to let your feet breath in the evenings!

3) Socks – 3 pair of good ones – even for the kids.  1 pair to wear and 2 to pack.  Happy feet = happy travelers! I love wool hiking socks like Smart Wool and buy them for the kids also. Hubby likes a 2 layer sock like the ones made by Wright. Try Dicks, REI, Sun and Ski Sports for fantastic socks and for last year’s color at a better price – try REI outlet and Sierra Trading Post.

Smart Wool are my personal favorites and I love the new bright colors.

These two layer Wright socks are my husband’s favorite. The two layers rub against each other which keeps the friction from rubbing on your feet – no blisters!! It might sound hot, but it isn’t…the material really breathes.

4) Jacket – 1 each

There are SO many types of jackets and you’ll need to look at the average weather for the time you’ll be traveling to choose the type you need. Will it rain? Will it be cold? Will it be only cool?

This very lightweight rain jacket from ZSHOW folds up into a tiny bag for easy carrying. You can just toss it ( or all of them for your group) in your day pack and go!

I love to buy bright colors and our rain jackets are all colorful. This made for a happy accident when we took photos in Spain on a chilly day while wearing rain jackets as wind breakers. Look how colorful we are! It really brightens up a grey rainy day and makes your kids easy to find in a crowd, too!

The Educational Tourist and group in Spain

5) Rain Poncho buy the little cheap ones in small bags. Umbrellas are a pain!!

During my first trip to Europe…where I learned SOO much, I took an umbrella. What a pain! I am a petite lady so I’m walking down the street whacking everyone around me as I pass by because I can’t really see up higher. Also, you can’t walk closely to your traveling companions when holding an umbrella AND you have one hand occupied. This is a deal breaker when you travel with the kids. Every parent knows you need to have extra hands for the kids no matter how old they get!

Buy a GOOD poncho. Do not be tempted to buy the super duper thin cheapy ones. Firstly, they rip and before you know it you are WET. Then, they only last once – if you are lucky, and then what are you going to do? Also – consider a color! Maybe one color for the whole daily? Be easy to find!

6) First Aid Kit – You’ll need just enough to get you through a day or night until you can get proper medical care or get to the local dr or pharmacy. Read here tips on what to pack in the first aid kit.

6) Toiletries – Consolidate as much as possible. For example, have everyone use the same shampoo. Buy travel sizes of toothpaste, etc. Makeup – try to go with one color palate and leave all the other possibilities at home. Make do with one lotion for hands, body, etc. Pare down! It is only 10 days/2 weeks. Your skin will survive and your back and pocketbook will thank you for the lighter weight suitcase!


7) Hat – The Educational Tourist is the only one in the party who always, always wears a hat. Why? Well, truly, I simply love a fantastic hat!  Also, staying out of the sun protects the skin from burns…especially on very long days of sightseeing when you are out longer than usual. Another benefit though – hair. No worries! No curling irons, hairdryers, flat irons, hairspray, mouse, gel, etc. Wash, go, and look fabulous!  You’ll be amazed at how much time you save, too. I never travel without one.

Want more information on choosing the right hat? Read here.

Packing light: Lost Maples, Tx

8) Carry-on each person has a carry-on for the plane which then functions as a daypack. Comfort and ease is key here. Read how to choose the perfect suitcase for kids.

The kids have rolling bags because they can pull but not lug them around. They pack the bag 1/2 full with of things they love and can’t live without. One kiddo loves stuffed animals and for a while the other kiddo always brought a doll or Barbie. The empty 1/2 of the bag is for mom to pack. I add the Travel Guide for kids, snacks and destination specific goodies. 

Grown ups split the must haves to share the weight: Hubby carry the laptop, movies, and camera stuff along with his reading material. I carry a jacket, camera, water bottle and travel journal.

Once we arrive at our destination we empty the carry ons to use them as day packs. When used as a day pack- the carry-ons are mostly empty. That way we can carry snacks and souvenirs we pick up during the day as well as everyone’s jacket when the weather warms up and we start to peel off layers.

How to do laundry on vacation and be happy about it.

Step 1Realize that you are on vacation

You are on vacation in an exotic local – a once in a lifetime trip. How bad could it be? If you lugged around enough clothes to not have to do laundry while on vacation, you would only have a mountain to do when you got home. It isn’t like you are going to escape it!! So, focus on your wonderful adventure and think about laundry as little as possible!

When I do laundry in the sink at the end of the day, we talk about the day and then chat about the next day. I love listening to the kids unwind and discuss their impressions of their experience. It is a quiet and surprisingly relaxing part of the day. Who knew laundry can be relaxing?

Read more travel laundry tips here!

Step 2Pack washable stuff.

Polyester and wicking materials like made for workout, yoga, running, travel, and hiking are made to wash in the sink, hang up, and be dry and ready to wear in the morning. You can find tops, underwear, socks, and even pants and skirts in these fabrics. Take a look at these brands: Travel Smith, Eddie Bauer, Magellans, Mountain Hardware, REI, Tilly. For cheaper options like last year’s color or closeouts try: Sierra Trading Post and Campmor.

Step 3 – When planning your trip, consider laundry options.

Will the hotel do laundry? Are you renting an apartment that has a washer? (FYI – in other parts of the world like Europe, dryers are rare. Be careful that you aren’t happily washing your jeans and then have to hang them on the line – which will take ages to dry.) Seek out a laundromat only as a last resort unless you can drop off the laundry and have it done while you explore elsewhere. While a laundromat is probably a more interesting experience than one at home, you can do much, much better with your time!! Don’t waste time at the laundromat. Packing light is the answer!

Packing light: How to do Laundry While Traveling

1) SoapCastille Soap by Dr. Bronner is an example of a do all soap – hair, body,  clothes.  Paper soap is lightweight – good for a lot of things and no worries about spilling! I like to use face soap for laundry, but shampoo or body wash will work well, too!

2) Clothes Line – Try the clothes line type that is braided so you don’t need clothes pins. I recommend trying it out at home first so you get the hang of it.  If it is more of a pain than help – leave it at home!

This is a photo of laundry night during a lovely trip to Italy. The body of water out of that window is Lake Como!

Laundry hanging to dry in a window in Varenna,Italy, Packing Light,

Varenna, Italy – on Lake Como

3) Plug the sink.   Sometimes there is no ‘plug’ so you can bring your own or just put a washcloth in the hole. These are easily found at the grocery store or Walgreens. I can’t tell you how many times I have needed to use this! It is small and lightweight and we ALWAYS travel with one!

4) The actual washing – Add tiny squirt of soap. Swish. Dip clothes and squeeze a few times. Rinse and squeeze really, really well.

5) Drying –  If you have already showered, use the damp towel to roll your clothes in and squeeze to get all the drips. Hang. Do not panic because clothing is SUPER wrinkled. Just put on a hanger and swing lightly back and forth a few times to shake out the wrinkles. Hang and head to bed. I like to use a towel after we’ve used it for showers, but you might consider bringing your own towel. If so, bring one that dries quickly or you’ll have smelly damp towel to contend with – yech!!

Pack light, pack light, pack light! Be footloose and fancy free!

The Educational Tourist and husband on a raft in Jamaica, packing Light,

Happy Travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

The Educational Tourist logo

You may also like...

6 Responses

  1. Melinda L Clayville says:

    I loved this post! You really have this mastered! I thought that I packed light but you have me beat. I appreciate your section on laundry too. A while back, my washer went out and instead of going right out to buy a new one, I did all of our laundry in the bath. It got old really fast but I kept telling myself that this experience would make me more ready to travel 🙂 Thanks for the continued great info!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I love how you link laundry in the bathtub to travel. I do the same! I swear I could tie anything in to a travel experience. LOL! I guess it is just that I totally have travel on the brain. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate your comment.

  1. April 20, 2017

    […] Packing tips all the all the rage. They are all over facebook and pinterest….should you roll your clothes? Fold them? Put them in packing cubes? The royals have staff pack their clothes with white tissue paper between all the clothes. How do real people pack? Get all the tips on packing for REAL people here! […]

  2. April 20, 2017

    […] Pack light – leave the kitchen sink at home […]

  3. May 18, 2017

    […] Get more packing tips!  […]

  4. August 16, 2017

    […] proudly pack light and wear things that I can wash in the sink. (Learn all my secrets here!)  However; I don’t wash socks and underthings in the sink because they will NOT dry overnight. […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: