As a frequent visitor of airports, it never ceases to amaze me how much stuff people bring when they go on a journey. Huge suitcases are stacked on top of each other on baggage carts as if there is no limit to the baggage you can bring. Two or three suitcases per person is not an exception. I always wonder what the hell is in there. Their entire wardrobe? A month’s food supply? Seriously, you really don’t have to bring so much stuff when you travel. Travel packing is the art of brining as less as possible.
1. Ground rule: Don’t bring too much
Based on the title of this post, maybe you think I’m about to tell you what to bring on your travels. I’m not. Some travel blogs provide packing lists, but I don’t think that makes sense. What to bring totally depends on your destination, your gender and your personal preference. Before packing you’ll have to calculate for yourself how much you think you will be wearing and what things you will be needing during your trip.
Just one heartfelt tip: don’t bring too much! Now you might wonder: how much is too much? Traveling Dutchie has one simple packing rule: everything you need for a trip – whether it be one, or two or three weeks – fits in one suitcase or backpack plus one daypack or carry-on. If it doesn’t, you’re bringing too much. I’m serious.
2. You don’t need a 100 liter suitcase
When going on a two week trip, I usually take my daypack plus a medium size, 48 liters suitcase. For longer journeys I use a suitcase that can hold 82 liters. With the major airlines, the former can even be taken on board as carry-on luggage (which saves you time at the baggage belt upon arrival). I’ve actually done a two-week trip to Iceland with that one. I only bring the bigger one when going on a three or four week trip.
Now, if that’s not enough for you: some big suitcases can hold more than 100 liters, so if you want to bring a lot of stuff, you can. But you really don’t need more than that. On the contrary: it’s surprising how little stuff you actually need. Packing too much means you’re bound to return home with a lot of things you never used, but dragged along all the time anyway. Doesn’t make sense, does it? So stop dragging all those needless kilos around.
3. Don’t bring things ‘just in case’
Don’t bring too many things ‘just in case’. If you really need something you didn’t bring, most times you can buy it at your destination. A rain jacket, an extra shirt, shampoo, even pain killers, stuff like that is widely available wherever you go (well, except maybe if you’re traveling to Antarctica or some hidden place in the jungle on a deserted island…).
4. Pay attention to the baggage allowance on planes
When flying to your destination, be aware that the amount of baggage you can bring differs per airline company. Usually you are allowed to bring one piece of checked baggage with a maximum weight of between 25 and 35 kilos and one piece of hand or carry-on baggage that has to fit certain dimensions (maximum 55 x 35 x 25 centimeters) and weight. If you want to bring more, you have to pay extra.
Let these baggage allowances be an extra stimulus to bring as little as possible. Make sure to check with your airliner what the baggage allowance for your trip is to avoid nasty surprises at the airport.
5. Consider doing laundry
To limit what you pack, you may consider doing laundry during the trip. It’s easy to handwash socks or underwear. Some hotels offer laundry service. Personally, I don’t do this often, although a do pack a mini bottle of laundry detergent in case I would like to handwash something.
6. Don’t bring food
Whatever you plan on taking with you on your trip, don’t bring food. Seriously, why would you? First of all, there will be supermarkets and restaurants at your destination. Believe me. Secondly: in many countries you’re not allowed to bring food across the border. It may be confiscated and you may be fined. And last but not least: trying local cuisine is one of the perks of traveling! Delicious food will be waiting at your destination, so again: don’t bring any food.
7. Do bring these essentials
As I mentioned, I don’t think providing complete packing lists makes sense. There are however a few travel essentials you should always bring on every trip:
- a copy of your passport (and put the copy somewhere seperate from your passport)
- a first aid kit (small accidents may occur and you’ll be glad you have a band aid)
- a plug adapter (no you cannot put your familiar plug into every socket around the globe)
- a flashlight (power supply may be reliable where you live, but it may not be at your destination)
There’s also a few other essentials you need to think about before you go; check out this post for more on that.
I’m sure I don’t have to remind you to bring your phone (how else would you be able to put your pictures on Instagram?). But as a seasoned traveler I’d like to recommend installing the Maps.me app. This highly accurate (and free) navigation app uses GPS so you don’t need an internet connection. Just download the map of your destination and it will be impossible for you to get lost.