If you long to feel light while traveling, the last thing you need is a massive suitcase cramping your style. Babysitting bags can sap the spontaneity from your explorations—making it hard to savor those feelings of freedom and connection that are so important to travel. But have no fear: here’s a gameplan for lightening your luggage, so you can enjoy every step of the journey.
Tip #1: Use Packing Cubes
Your Mission: Fit everything you need into a carry-on bag and personal item.
Your Strategy: Packing cubes let you stuff more than you ever imagined into a tight space—and keep it all nicely folded. Planning to hike on your trip? Wear your boots on the plane. Hoping to bike at your destination? Book a self-guided tour, where your bike and gear are included.
Tip #2: Go Carry-On Only
Your Mission: Waltz right past the baggage carousel.
Your Strategy: Go carry-on only at all costs. If you’re concerned about getting something into the overhead bin, simply ask a flight attendant to gate check it. Nothing tops strolling right out of the airport (and into your destination) at the flight’s end.
Tip #3: Consider Self-Guided Travel
Your Mission: Keep your focus on the destination, not lugging bags from hotel to hotel.
Your Strategy: Book a self-guided trip with local support. While you’re out exploring, your bags will be shuttled to your next inn, where you will meet them like an old friend at day’s end.
Tip #4: Donate Your Old Biking Apparel
Your Mission: Make room for mementos.
Your Strategy: Pack old (but presentable) clothes to bike and explore in. Then, at your trip’s end, ask your innkeeper where you can donate them. This frees up your bag for souvenirs to take home.
Tips #5-8: Give Your Packing List a Makeover
With recent changes to the industry, you’ll want to be in-the-know about what the most tried-and-true wanderers have started putting in their carry-ons.
- “I find packing two pairs of shoes, and wearing one on the plane, is enough for any length of trip, and smarter than just having two pairs with you, in case one pair becomes uncomfortable.”—Pauline Frommer, Co-President Frommer Guidebooks
- “When I travel, I like to pick up things like tea,pre-serves, and spices in local grocery stores. To carry them, I pack a lightweight reusable shopping bag; it’s also helpful as an extra carry-on when flying home.”—Chris Skilling, Vice President of Worldwide Travel, VBT Bicycling Vacations
- “Airlines may not return to serving snacks on board for a while. And since many shops in airports are now closed, I make sure to bring extra snacks. I also bring powdered Gatorade and a water bottle. Most airports have potable water fountains, so I can mix my drink before and after a flight.”—Jamen Yeaton-Masi, Vice President of Operations, Country Walkers
- “To wash my face masks in the sink of my hotel room, I pack tiny containers of laundry detergent. It’s also handy for cleaning my bike jersey, shorts, socks, and other clothes after a long ride.”—Ashlea Sullivan, Brand Manager, VBT Bicycling