5 Tried and True Tips for Traveling Light

November 19, 2013


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Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of flying and traveling for work. First, it was the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest in Las Vegas for five days. Then, five days later it was back on the plane for a quick 28 hour trip to New York for a satellite media tour with Pillsbury. Next week, we’ll be off again, this time for Thanksgiving with family in Idaho. Truth be told, travel isn’t my favorite thing in the world. Sure, I love seeing new places and visiting family, but the whole travel process wears me out.

One thing I think I have mastered along the way is the art of packing light. For many years I was a horrible over-packer. I would take a giant suitcase and stuff it with everything I liked in my closet. Then, in 2007, my mom, cousin and I took a trip to Spain for 10 days. My mom mandated that I only take a carry-on suitcase for ease and to avoid our luggage getting lost. After that trip, I was a changed woman! Now, it’s very rare that I’ll ever take anything more than a small carry-on suitcase. Or, in the case of our trip to Italy, a large backpack.

Here are a few of my favorite trips for traveling light on the road:

1. Keep a Stash of Mini Toiletries Handy
I used to always have to run to Target before a trip to get all the mini 3-oz or less toiletries I needed for my carry-on. Sometimes I would be short on time and end up having to check my bag because I didn’t have smaller versions of my favorite products on hand. Now, I keep a basket in our linen closet filled with small containers of my favorite shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, mousse, eye cream, etc. It’s a little more expensive, but totally worth it to have smaller versions of the items I already use at home. Also, keep those small samples of products you receive when buying make-up. They come in handy for short trips!

2. Wear Your Bulkiest Items
Right now I’m writing this as I fly home from New York. I’ve got on my coat and tall brown boots. For this short trip, I packed super light, only carrying-on a large purse, which meant no room for a coat or boots. Wearing these items will help keep you warm on the plane and save space.

3. Stick with a Color Palette 
I’m sure that the brown flats you have and the black heels you  just bought are super cute, but it makes a lot more sense to stick with a single color scheme when packing light. Usually I try to either go with brown OR black to keep coordination easy. That way, I don’t need a black belt and a brown belt, or a black cardigan and a tan cardigan, etc.

4. Limit Your Shoes
Shoes are the biggest space hog, so try to pack shoes that will get multiple wears. I always bring a pair of super comfortable flats, shoes for working out and either a pair of tall boots for the winter or sandals in the summer. Keep the heels at home unless you know you’ll need them for a very specific purpose. If I’m really crunched on space, I’ll leave my workout shoes at home and do a yoga workout or something similar in my hotel room instead.

5. Learn to Live Without
Once upon a time I thought I needed to be perfectly dressed for every vacation. Okay, sometimes I still do, but I’m working on letting that go! When we were in Italy, there were a bunch of times when I had to wear something that was less than 100% clean, was stretched out or wasn’t perfectly suited for the occasion. In the past that would have totally bothered me. Now days, I try to just roll with it. Sure, it would be great to have endless options to choose from, but at what price? For me, the trade-off of being able to fly light, not have to pay for a bag and not have to worry about my luggage getting lost is totally worth having to wear something twice.

Do you have any tips to share for packing and traveling light? Share them below! 

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  • Reply Bknowsitall November 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    These tips are great! I see traveling the same way – There are places around the world I’d love to see but travel in general just exhausts me. Part of that exhaustion does have to do with the stress of packing. I’m the worst! We are traveling for Thanksgiving and I’m definetely going to keep your tips in mind (esp the one about sticking to one color pallete!) Thanks Madison!

  • Reply Lauren Santay November 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Tide makes small detergent packs that are great for traveling. They are just enough to wash one or two things in the sink when you are desperate for freshening things up.

  • Reply Marissa November 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    I bought empty mini containers (or you could wash and keep ones as you use them up) so I can just refill them from the larger product. Saves a bit of cash on buying new mini products. Plus if you change a product, you dont need to go out and buy a new mini container.

  • Reply Ellen Hatfield November 20, 2013 at 1:09 am

    Great tips! I always try to plan out my outfits for each day I’m traveling so I’m only taking the clothes I need. I also pack for ease of access to get through security efficiently and to have what I’ll need/want on the plane.

    • Reply Madison Mayberry November 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm

      What a great strategy, Ellen! I’m not that organized yet, but I hope to be someday. 🙂

  • Reply Katie November 22, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Any suggestions/tips on how you keep your carry-on/purse light?

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