Packing light for a vacation takes discipline and a tiny bit of ingenuity. While minimalist travelers almost make this their guiding philosophy for life, we know that the average vacationer just wants some tips on how to drop a few pounds in the luggage department.
That’s why we’ve written this guide on how to pack light for a week’s vacation, with tips and tricks from our combined travels.
1 - It all starts with your luggage
If you use a large suitcase for a week’s vacation, then guess what...you’ll probably end up packing if full of clothes, shoes and other items. And for a week’s holiday that’s definitely overkill.
Therefore, packing light begins with choosing the right sized bag or suitcase for your trip. Try and use a bag that you consider to be a little bit too small for your needs, this will force you to compromise. Scarcity (not necessity) is the mother of all inventions.
Another tip is to only take backpack luggage, rather than hardcases or wheeled suitcases. Knowing you have to carry everything on your back is another great incentive to pack light and frees up your hands to quickly and easily navigate private and public transportation.
Check out our backpack, the Pillowpak, a 55L lightweight foldable bag that’s designed to fit your pillow and other items.
2 - Hope for the best, but don’t plan for the worst
If you’re packing light for a family vacation that will last a week, you don’t need to pack for every possible scenario. All you really need to have covered is enough warmth and waterproofing using the least amount of clothing for everyone.
And while we’re not saying don’t pack emergency items such as first aid kits, choose a compact travel kit that’s suitable for your trip plans.
3 - Plan a travel capsule wardrobe
A travel capsule wardrobe is a small but versatile selection of clothes that enables you to travel super light, but still provides a few styles you can rock for any type of occasion. For guys, it looks something like this:
- 3 t-shirts
- 1 dress shirt
- 2 bottoms (pants, jeans or shorts)
- 1 sweater
- 1 jacket
- 2 pairs of shoes
And for women, it looks like the following:
- 3 tops
- 1 dress
- 2 bottoms (jeans, leggings or short)
- 1 cardigan
- 1 jacket
- 2 pairs of shoes
You can find out more by reading our articles on building a men’s minimalist travel wardrobe and our guide to minimalist packing for women.
4 - What toiletries can you buy when you get there?
Suncream is pretty essential on summer family holidays, and if you’re somewhere hot you’ll probably get through plenty. But when it comes to how to pack light for a week’s vacation, there’s no need to pack an unopened family-sized bottle. Instead, take what you have, then buy more when you get to your destination.
The same goes for shampoo, conditioner and body wash. If you buy the biggest sized bottles from the supermarket to save money, don’t take these on holiday with you. Instead, buy bottles when you arrive at your destination, or better yet, transfer the contents of your large volume containers to smaller travel-sized ones.
5 - Take no more than 3 pairs of footwear
Three is the maximum for a trip of this length, but even better if you can take just 2 pairs. Sneakers for daytime walking, something smarter for evenings, and sandals if you’re somewhere hot. Only pack specialist shoes, such as hiking boots, if you’re definitely going to do those activities.
Also, another tip, unless you have purchased an affordable, light-weight shoe tote of some sort, don’t waste money and space on an expensive shoe carrier, just put a shower cap around the soles of each of your shoes. This makes fitting them into your bag or pack a lot easier.
And one final tip when it comes to footwear, wear your bulkiest pair of shoes on the journey, to save even more space.
6 - Ditch the bulky beauty bag
Beauty and toiletry bags also take up a lot of space and can be difficult to pack around other items. Instead, use drawstring bags to pack your cosmetics and other essentials. These are much easier to pack, and the small capacity will force you to only take what you need.
7 - Don’t pack towels
Even for those staying in hotels or vacation rentals, there is often the tendency to pack towels for trips to the beach and other outings. But when it comes to packing light for vacation, towels are one of the biggest space invaders out there. Instead, consider packing a sarong. Or if that’s not really your style, there are plenty of stores in resorts that sell cheap beach towels.
8 - Check if there’s a hairdryer in your accommodation
This is another prime example of unnecessary packing for a week-long vacation. Most hotels and vacation rentals will have hairdryers. Sure, they may not be as fancy as your own hairdryer, but you can easily get by with a cheaper model for a few days. And if your accommodation doesn’t have a hairdryer, then consider buying a travel hairdryer.
And Don’t Forget
Packing light for a vacation starts with the right mindset. Don’t fall into the trap of packing for every scenario and every emergency. Unless you’re going somewhere far off the beaten track, you’ll always be able to buy any extras that you need when you’re on vacation.