The world is an amazing and big place, and travelling is one of the best ways to learn just how amazing and big it is. Long trips help us meet new people, different cultures and breathtaking places. But the truth is that, starting with the rates that airlines often charge for overweight suitcases and finishing with the discomfort that comes with carrying around 50 lbs. in your suitcase to and from the airport, it has become almost a necessity to learn how to pack lightly for a long trip. These six useful tips are going to help you reduce the weight in your suitcase while still getting the best out of your journey:
- Start with the essentials
One of the most common mistakes that people make when packing for long trips is starting with “vanity” items that they think are going to help them look better while they travel, but by the time they get to the things they really need, their suitcase is already flooding.
The best thing to do is to start with absolute essentials: just enough pieces of basic clothes and underwear, just one versatile coat or jacket with many pockets and that fits most outfits, toothbrush and other personal hygiene items, charger for your phone or laptop, meds, passport and money.
After you have packed all of this, you can now start to think about an extra dress or a very fancy blazer in case you go to the club or dedicated items such as swimming suits in case you go to a pool or the beach –if your trip is specifically to the beach, a swimming suit could be considered as essential instead of secondary-.
- Be realistic about your needs
One problem that many people face when travelling, especially when it is the first time that they are going away for a long time, is to be very unrealistic about their needs. People tend to think that going to a different country for several months is like moving out of their homes, and they think they are going to need absolutely everything in their closet or drawers to manage to survive.
The truth is that even if you were actually moving permanently to a different country, it would not be efficient to just take your entire room with you –in that case, you should consider selling your stuff and buying new things when you arrive at your new destination-. And just going on a trip makes it even less practical to take everything you own with you, no matter how long the trip lasts.
You should realize that the way to go is just taking some different clothes and shoes and then finding a place to wash them when you arrive to your destination. Also, don’t take any food with you. In general, don’t take with you anything you can buy at your destination.
- Learn important aspects of your destination
When considering the essentials we mentioned in point one, you need to take into account an extra thing: different countries live differently, and you might need as part of your essentials a power adapter for your chargers or a very warming coat in countries where temperatures drop below zero.
By researching your destination and finding out some key aspects about it, you will be able to decide what is essential and what is superfluous.
- Remember that it is the 21st century
While you might feel like your touristic experience is not complete without a city guide or map, the truth is that technology has evolved greatly since the days when you actually needed a map to get the best out of a touristic destination.
Instead of spending money and occupying precious space in your suitcase with maps, guides and dictionaries, just spare for an external battery for your phone, since with it you can have all the maps, translation apps and guides that you could possibly need.
- Honestly answer yourself: “Am I going to use this?”
The most frequent way of thinking among people about to travel for a long time for the first time is to adopt the “better safe than sorry” mindset. They start to think that, since they are going to be alone in a foreign country, it is better to carry something and don’t use it than to need it and don’t have it.
While this could be true for specific items, such as medicines your body is used to or a coat that you don’t have the budget to buy again, most of the things in your suitcase are never even going to be taken out, they just occupy space. Ask yourself if you are really going to use something and if the answer is not a solid “I am sure I will”, just take it out.
- Don’t be afraid to improvise
The best thing about travelling to a different country is the adventure sensation. Instead of taking even your hair dryer with you to do everything as you are accustomed to, try to go with the flow and realize that solving situations is one of the best parts of travelling, and it is what you are going to remember the most when you get back home.
If you use these useful tips, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic trip without having to carry too much unnecessary weight in your suitcase.