15 Essential Tips For Packing Light

Sure, we all say we’re going to do it, pack light and smart, and then somehow we end up at our destination with three extra pairs of shoes, eight extra t-shirts, and two blazers. As we reach the height of the summer, the time is still rife with opportunities to travel. Whether you’re planning a quick getaway for a buddy’s wedding, hitting the road for work, or taking a full-fledged vacation, now’s the perfect time to streamline your packing routine. So let’s take a brutal, hard line at your packing situation and dive into our checklist of packing tips that will get you out the door, minimal bags in hand, and to your flight on time.

1. Do your research - Knowing the ins and outs of your destination will help you gain a better sense of how to pack with ruthless efficiency.

2. Use a daybag - Packing a smaller day bag into your larger bag keeps things organized while allowing you move faster through terminals.

3. Let your destination determine what you pack - Look at your plans and the weather; shorts, t-shirts, sandals and swimsuits take up considerably less room and versatile items like a blazer can do double-duty from meetings to dinner.

4. Consider all-purpose fabrics - Merino, cotton, and linen are known for being lightweight, breathable and versatile, regardless of your destination’s climate. Changing temps? Trying layering instead of bulky coats or jackets.

5. Pack vertically - Organizing by outfit and treating your bag like a file cabinet allows you to access outfits faster and saves space in small bags. Forget unpacking completely when you arrive, this allows you easy access and organization.

6. List it - Make a quick and dirty checklist of things you know you’ll need. Underwear and identification go first, then build from there. Mini liquor bottles, while important, obviously go last.

7. Double up - Don’t be afraid to mix, match and even duplicate an outfit you’ve already worn before. The best time to do this is on the way there and back. You’re least likely to run into people who’ve already seen you, so it’s technically like wearing a new outfit. No fucks given.

8. Don't forget the clothes on your back - Think of yourself as a walking suitcase in that the clothes you wear will also factor into the packing process on your way back. Not to mention, you might want to leave a bit of room for a souvenir like a bottle of local hooch or something for your significant other.

9. Easy on the shoes - Shoes are a huge space eater so limit your footwear to two pairs: a smart casual shoe, like sneakers or loafers, and something a little dressier, like a captoe or wingtip oxford. These two simple styles can take you almost everywhere.

10. Buy all your toiletries when you arrive - Consider a drugstore run when you arrive. This saves space and takes the guesswork out of having to measure out TSA-approved amounts of your favorite conditioner.

11. Rely on your tech - Instead of bringing a camera, alarm clock, or portfolio for bank cards, utilize your smartphone and handy apps to take care of those for you. You can also bring books, magazines and other e-versions of things that would otherwise take up space.

12. Digitize your tickets - Boarding passes, itineraries, even AirBnB confirmations can all be stored in your phone, allowing you to scan, swipe and tap your way through airports with ease.

13. Leave the laptop at home - Unless you absolutely need your laptop for work, a tablet can do almost everything. Plus, you’re on vacation, man, those work documents aren’t going anywhere.

14. Keep your bags small - Refrain from buying any backpack or weekender bag that’s larger than carry-on size to avoid having to check (and pay out the ass) for them.

One final tip, if you’re feeling truly adventurous...

15. Don’t bring a bag at all - Seriously. Forgoing a bag in lieu of the clothes on your back, a smartphone, your wallet and a dream could make for one memorable trip. But we’ll leave that up to you.

Learning the keys to packing lightly but smartly, will not only reduce your stress, fees, and timing but also allows you to be versatile and flexible whenever a last-minute trip arises. Honestly, though, aren’t those the best kinds of trips anyway? Remember that time you got drunk and bought a flight to Vegas at 2:43 am and then had an amazing time? Exactly.