Hi, I’m Katherine (@the5kilotraveller).
I got into travelling light when I went to Croatia and Italy in 2017 for a month by myself.
After 30 years of nursing, childbirth, lounging on my couch, gardening and just good old wear and tear… my back is not as strong as it once was. And secretly, I’m a bit of a weakling.
The thought of lugging around a 20kg backpack makes me shrink in my boots. And when you’re 5 foot 1 (and a quarter!) this is a real problem. I’m also not keen on the twisting required to pull along a large suitcase and don’t even mention walking up stairs.
People ask me why I do it. My answer is FREEDOM. If you read on you’ll see why.
WHAT is light travelling?
It’s a growing movement of travellers who are trying to carry less when they travel. If you normally take a 30kg suitcase, you might want to take just 20kg. In my case, I normally travelled with about 12-15kg so I reduced that down to 5.5kg. There are actually really easy tips simply to reduce the weight you carry without reducing what you take. Toiletries, for instance, take up a lot of space and add a lot of weight to your luggage. You can still take everything you need but just take less of it!
WHY travel light?
For me, on my first light travel trip, it was about security. I was by myself and had no one watching my back or bags. I was the sole person responsible for my safety and keeping my belongings in my possession. It was pretty simple.
I started googling ‘travelling light’, and before I knew it I was addicted. There was quite a science to it and once I started travelling light, all these other benefits came to light. No pun intended.
So here’s why I travel light:
You’ve always got everything you need attached to you.
I don’t have to think about what I will need on the flight because my bag is with me.
I don’t need to put my bags in the boot of a taxi, or in an overhead locker on a bus or train as it fits by my feet.
I don’t need to leave someone guarding it when I go to the loo. Although I do laugh when I see people trying to squeeze their suitcase into a toilet cubicle… forgetting that the door still has to close after them.
👉 It saves your BACK AND KNEES.
With a well-fitted, ergonomically designed daypack your gear is balanced comfortably on your back. You are balanced.
Which brings me to my next reason…
👉 HANDS-FREE travelling!
With a light pack on your back you can focus on what’s in front of you. You can be mindful of what’s happening around you. And your hands are free to reach out, pull up, hold on, wave…
And there’s no twisting to pull a suitcase behind you.
👉 EASY TRANSFERS from trains, boats, buses and flights.
Zipping between terminals, avoiding luggage carousels, jumping into taxis or buses, getting onto ferries and trying to catch trains are all much easier when you have a light bag on your back.
My favourite “woohoo” moment is when I’m off a plane, through Customs and already on a train heading to my destination knowing that others are probably still waiting for their luggage to be offloaded.
👉 It really makes you plan a MULTI-PURPOSE, MINIMAL, MIX & MATCH WARDROBE.
It does away with the “I don’t know what to wear” issue.
Seriously, your wardrobe will be so planned and organised that everything will work well together. You’ll be surprised how 10 clothing items can give you over 20 different looks.
This also makes for very easy packing.
👉 It is LIBERATING, and here’s that word I used earlier – FREEDOM!
With a smaller, lighter bag it’s easier to get around. I’ve had so many occasions where if I’d been carrying or pushing a heavy bag I simply would have carried on to my destination and missed a memorable moment. When I arrived at my accommodation in Anacapri the room wasn’t ready, and they were going to put my bag behind Reception, which I was a little concerned about. With a light bag I walked to Axel Munthe’s stunning house and gardens, and then rode the gondola up to the viewing platform at the top of the island. Having that flexibility was very freeing.
I’ve been able to get on a crowded bus while others with large backpacks were left behind, gone to art studios up stairs where no suitcase would go, and walked quickly to board a ferry that would surely have set sail had I being lugging a suitcase along.
HOW do you travel light?
Get a bag!
Firstly, you need a bag. I opted for a ‘daypack’ as I had lots of stairs to climb and I knew this would be easier than even a light cabin bag with wheels. I aimed to carry 5 kilos of gear with the bag itself weighing just under a kilo. Now this is called ultra-light packing. But any lighter packing is good. Recently I went on a long weekend trip to friends. I was driving so I took a small cabin bag. Even though I had a whole car to fill, I was much more organised for just having one small bag.
The daypack I use is specific to what I want but here’s some ideas of what you might like to consider:
⭐Bags are measured by litres. Mine was a 24L bag that had a zip that opened extending it to 28L – handy for those souvenirs. So see how much you want to take before committing to a bag. Mine has a weight capacity up to 8kg.
⭐How much does the actual bag weigh? Mine is 1kg, but depending on the fabric the same size bag could be 600g or 2kg.
⭐Do you want to use your bag for carry-on? If so, then it needs to meet the airline requirements, and remember these differ according to the airline.
⭐Top-loading or suitcase style? My pack opens about 2/3 down like a suitcase which I like so I can see my gear at a glance.
⭐Is it lockable? My bag has zips that come together and can be locked with a small discreet padlock.
⭐Does it have a space for wet gear?
⭐Does it come with a rain cover?
⭐What colour is it?
For a cabin bag:
⭐A soft or hard case cabin bag? Hard cases are a lot heavier but also a lot more protective of your belongings.
⭐ Two wheels or four? Four wheels make for better moving around, but I find my two wheel one is fine for me.
⭐ Check it has a robust handle that’s easy to put up and down in a hurry.
So, you’ve got your bag, now for some tips on what to put in your bag.
Minimise your wardrobe.
⭐Pick clothes that mix and match well. Try 5 tops, 2 trousers, 1 skirt, a warmer top/jacket, and 1 dress.
⭐Pick clothes that are light and warm – I’m a huge fan of silk and merino (smartwool). These fabrics are also odour-repelling, so you can wear them for a couple of days without washing.
⭐Pick clothes that are easy to hand-wash. I also pack a delicates laundry bag in case I am using a washing machine – it double as my washing bag.
⭐Try to take just three pairs of shoes (including the ones you are wearing).
Reduce your toiletries.
Titrating your toiletries is the easiest way to reduce weight in your bag. I used to just go into my bathroom and throw in everything I needed – my toiletry bag was huge! I now travel with a 200g toilet bag.
So, here are my tips for reducing toiletries:
⭐Reduce your cosmetics and toiletries into small containers. Seriously if this is the only tip you take away you’ll be amazed at the difference. Instead of taking your 300ml shampoo bottle (and conditioner), your bottles of moisturisers, etc., put them into smaller bottles.
⭐Buy travel versions of toothpaste, or sample size bottles of moisturisers.
⭐Go for solids not liquids. Solids weigh less than liquids and go a lot further. You can now get bars of shampoo, conditioners, moisturisers, and laundry soap. This also means that you don’t have to pack them in your 3-1-1 liquid allowance bag if travelling with carry-on only. I only take what I need, so I chop about 30g off my shampoo bar rather than taking all 150g.
With a bit of planning and thought, travelling light is very achievable and once you give it a try, you’ll understand why I love it so much. Next time you are on a SisterStay adventure, try packing a little lighter with my easy light travelling tips.
You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more tips on reducing your packing weight. As I say in my Instagram profile, “I love to travel. I love to travel light. I’d love to show you how”. 😊
@the5kilotraveller or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/the5kilotraveller/
Thank you very much for these useful tips!! We have s family road trip ahead of us and I will implement the number for clothing and the tips for toiletries!
Cant wait to travel with a lot less than we have in the past!
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I enjoyed reading this article . I already do some of the things your mentioned here and it works great. Would never go back to old ways packing tons of full sized beauty products .
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