Packing — what to leave in: what to leave out

by Donald G. McGahan

What to pack is something that even experienced travelers ask themselves.

One rule I have is that my computer, tablet, and/or smartphone stays with me.

Same with the passport.

My pants and shirts? I can buy another pair of pants, and a shirt or two. In fact, that could be fun!

Consider that if your going to make a purchase for the trip, maybe you don’t want to do it before the trip, but instead, buy it in-country. You still have to consider if you want to schlep it home, but you will at least have the experience of getting there light and mobile.

I am a bit of a pack rat, so I get it. It is hard to not pack for every eventuality. I have to consciously guard against adding stuff. I’ve even made the mistake of adding things twice.

You will carry your luggage up and down stairs, on and off planes, trains, trams, buses, and taxies (ok, so yea, the taxi driver will put it in the trunk – if it will fit!)

I can wash my clothes. Heck, I can wash every night if I need, or want. Having said that I tend to favor synthetics in my  bag. Those that dry fast after a wash in the lodgings bathroom sink. If I can afford Morino Wool it is a favorite, but it is typically more expensive than a dry wick undershirt from the discount store.

We are headed to, or through, a city. No need to pack the big bottle of shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant. You can buy it there.

Here is a big one. If you don’t wear it here, why bring it? Be comfortable.

Do bring earplugs and a sleep mask. They do not take much room and can really make the plane ride more restful.

What do you care if they see you in the same shirt every other day?  Want to look different, wear a different tie or scarf. Layering is a way to add warmth and what is put on over the top is what others see, so, I can reverse the order.

Do you find yourself wearing the same thing several times before washing? Then do it!

If you are going to purchase travel clothing, be a mix and match master. Favor flexibility and be aggressive about removing items from your bag if they are not absolutely necessary.

You don’t have to be the fictional character Jack Reacher in the Lee Child novels, but freedom is light weight. (The character Jack Reacher carries only the clothes on his back, a debit card, and a folding toothbrush. That is ultra lightweight.)


Here are a couple of web sites I found interesting:


Rick Steves’ Europe – Packing Smart and Traveling Light

If you only look at one resource, the following is it! This guy makes a living out of advising travel destinations and his advice is sound and very practical.


TripAdvisor from the United Kingdom

Travellers’ Top Tips to Pack Smart

I really liked the idea of wearing an old shirt, pants, underwear, and tossing them away during the trip to make room for new items purchased on the trip. Totally using that one when I have appropriate apparel to do so.


Some others are:

Boots ‘n All – Ultralight Weight Travel and No Baggage Fees

[on the extreme side] The No Baggage Challenge 

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