Why is it that we’ll wear the same shirt three days in a row at home, but when we’re packing for a trip we feel the need to bring everything in our closets just in case? In theory, this doesn’t sound like a bad idea — it means you’re prepared for whatever weather you might encounter on your trip, or for spontaneous excursions and nights out. But packing too much stuff takes a toll in more ways than one.
Not only does it make traveling more difficult and expensive (most major airlines now charge passengers for checked luggage), but it also has a huge impact on the environment: emissions are higher when planes, trains, and cars carry excess weight. With that in mind, here are some lessons about how to pack light and embrace minimalist travel, so you can get from point A to point B with less stress and a smaller carbon footprint.
Even if you’re going away for multiple weeks, pack only enough clothes for one. Making a conscious effort to recycle through pieces and trying to get as much use out of each item as possible is one of the simplest ways to keep your suitcase light. Before piling everything into your luggage, take a few minutes to create outfits with the items you’ve laid out. This will ensure that everything has a greater chance of being worn on your trip — instead of just taking up precious space.
When you’re thinking of traveling light, keep in mind that you’ll likely be able to do a quick load of laundry wherever you’re going. It might not be ideal to spend time washing clothes while you’re on vacation, but we think it’s better than lugging a hefty, over-packed bag through the airport.
Putting an outfit together is easier with staples rather than statement pieces. Think neutral colors, cotton shirts, and classic denim. Bold patterns and lavish materials are great, but not if they can only be worn with one pair of pants (especially if you weren’t already planning on packing those). Save wearing your more adventurous items for when you’re back at home.
If you find yourself hovering over an item, wondering if you should or shouldn’t bring it with you, we’ll make the decision easy: don’t. It’s pretty unlikely that an item you’re unsure about will be the one thing you end up wishing you’d packed.
Packing cubes and pouches are a great way to not only keep smaller items of clothing (socks and underwear, t-shirts and tanks) neat and compact, but also help to compartmentalize loose electronics and toiletries — nothing ruins a trip more than thinking you may have forgotten something. If you put items into a specific packing cube or pouch, you can quickly check to see if it’s there.
Plus, opting for reusable packing cubes over plastic bags can help you be a more eco-conscious traveler. Ours are made with recycled PET plastic, which helps to minimize the number of plastic bottles entering landfills and oceans.
Heavy, oddly shaped, and oh-so-tempting, footwear is often a packer’s undoing. Look back at the outfits you put together, and make sure the shoes you’re bringing can be worn with them — and then do a little extra recon. What will the weather be like? What activities will you be doing? Choose shoes that are practical, comfortable, and that you’ll actually want to wear. If you do need a bulky pair, wear them on your travel day to keep your suitcase as light as possible. The same goes for coats, sweaters, scarves, and jeans.
Try packing only the most versatile of your heavy garments to save space in your luggage and reduce your carbon footprint. Aircrafts consume a lot of fuel, especially when they’re carrying extra weight, so packing less stuff could greatly reduce a plane’s emissions.
Once you’ve ticked off the last thing on your packing list, take a step back and remove an item or two from your suitcase. What’s the one thing you think you can survive without? Put it back in your closet, zip up your bag, and head out the door.
Our travel collection is full of light, compact, sustainable pieces that will help you master how to pack light and still travel in style. Find the piece that’s perfect for you.
Photos: Brandless, Sara Brown / Unsplash, Brandless