How to Pack Light

by josie

Post image for How to Pack Light

Packing light doesn’t come easily to most people. However, it’s a skill you can hone with a little planning and organization. Here’s some of my best tips for evolving into a light packer.

1.  Choose versatile clothing and footwear that fit into your travel activities. Versatile clothing means you pack fewer items, especially if they can do double duty.

2. Stick to simple color schemes and patterns so that all clothing mixes and matches.  Separates give you lots of outfit possibilities.  Add colorful accents if desired.

3. A packing list can help you organize the items you’re bringing. Critically look at the packing list and see where items can be eliminated or replaced with lightweight or double duty items.

4.  Do what I call a “shakedown” a week or so before departure.  Lay everything out that’s on your packing list and make sure all clothing coordinates.  Try things on if necessary because you may not have access to a full-length mirror during your trip and you want to ensure all your outfits fit well.  Edit out any unnecessary items.  Note any thing you might be missing.

5. Bring enough outfits to last a few days and plan on laundering clothing. That can mean doing laundry in hotel/hostel sinks, laundromats, or using a laundry service.

6. Lightweight materials dry quicker and take up less space than bulky knits. Look for clothing made from modal, viscose, rayon, tencel, cotton blends or lightweight cotton. Avoid 100% bulky cotton clothing, it takes too long to air dry and takes up too much precious space.

7.  Wear bulky items on travel days. Items such as jeans, sweaters, boots, and coats worn on travel days keep your luggage light.

8.  Choose clothes that help you layer appropriately for the weather conditions of your destination.

9. Accessories increase your outfit options and keep your looks from being boring. A belt changes a look instantly, so can a scarf. Introduce color and pattern in you accessories if you like.

10. Pack double duty toiletry items. If you are carrying on luggage make sure all toiletry items meet TSA standards.

11. Keep your secondary carry on bag light as well. There’s nothing worse than lugging around a heavy carry-on in addition to your luggage (I’ve been there).

12. Constantly edit and evaluate what you plan on bringing. Look at your packing list after a trip and note any unused items.  This will help you pack for your next trip and become a light traveler.

What are your favorite packing light tips?

The visuals above show a suggested wardrobe for a visit to any cosmopolitan city with a typical tourist agenda of sightseeing and dining out.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Jewel at Eat.Drink.Shop.Love November 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Thanks for posting this! I’m headed to New York tomorrow and I still haven’t packed.

jen November 3, 2011 at 1:00 pm

That first black dress is something I would die for! Source?


Abigail November 4, 2011 at 3:06 am

love this! (discovered it via pinterest) great tips you share here. I have to fly more than I would like and for traveling on the plane I always wear loose layers, nothing too tight, so that I’ll be comfortable in the plane. Also, I don’t wear any jewelry (less to worry about going through security or losing!). Instead, I accessorize with light scarves.

Anyway, I’m off to check out the rest of your site but I just love those boots you picture. Where could I find them?


josie November 4, 2011 at 8:11 am

Hi Jen,
The dress is from The Outnet -Halston Heritage Split Sleeve Jersey Dress.
I chose it for the overall shape and for it’s versatility. Hope this helps!

josie November 4, 2011 at 8:17 am

Hi Abigail,
The boots are by Steve Madden, the style is Intyce (Cognac color). They are $149 on Piperlime.
I love the slight wedge in the heel. A little height but still comfortable. Good luck!

Kate November 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I’d love to know where the black ballet flats and the oversized black shirt in the second row are from? Thanks!

Sarah November 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Need from the list above:
-blk scarf
-leopard shirt
-Tan shirt

Where might I find? :)

Annette November 17, 2011 at 1:23 am

I’m off on a 4 week trip to the US & Canada with my family in 2 weeks. I have been keeping this in mind while I’ve been accumulating clothes for this trip. My packing is complicated by the fact that it is going to be very cold while we are away & where I’m from it never gets that cold. I’m thinking of just buying clothes for the weather when we get to NYC and buying an extra suitcase. It’s a challenge packing for kids. Packing for me is easy.

Naina @ STYLE'N November 19, 2011 at 9:21 am

This is such a great collage and list of items :)

Emily November 22, 2011 at 8:50 am

Thanks for posting! I’m studying abroad in London next summer, and these are great tips!

Kristin December 4, 2011 at 9:22 am

Great tips and great pieces, I need to know where to find them. The khaki jacket, the jeans, the black tee, striped tee, black flats , hat and glasses. It’s all my style and so perfect for alot of my travel. Thanks

the gracious gaze December 4, 2011 at 9:52 am

Brilliant! What a terrific collection you curated here. I am always looking for “simple packing” resources!


Heidi January 9, 2012 at 7:15 am

I just posted this idea on my blog. So great!!

Marisafaye1 January 20, 2012 at 8:42 am

I love all these clothes :) )

Chrissy January 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I love the black shorts above. Can you please tell me where to find them? Thanks!

Fashion Fatale January 21, 2012 at 1:31 am

I love all the items pictured above, would you be kind enough to tell me where I can find the blue scarf and black wallet?

Chloe January 21, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Love love the black shorts! Can you please let me know where they’re from or any others that you’ve seen similar?

On second thought, are you able to post a list of where all the items are from??


Kate February 2, 2012 at 11:11 am

LOVE your style!!! Is there ANY chance you could give a list of what you have above!? And can you please dress me every morning?

I’m specifically obsessed with the plain t and the striped top you have above!!

Emily February 4, 2012 at 10:49 pm

LOVE everything listed above! could you please tell me where i can find these items, or something similar?! thanks!!

kayla February 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Just wondering the source of the tan leather bag?

Tracy February 22, 2012 at 2:40 am

Would you please include where these items are from? Thanks!

modchen February 29, 2012 at 1:20 am


laura March 16, 2012 at 8:08 am

chiming in to request sources on these items! i want them all! thanks.

josie March 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm

@modchen ha! There’s no spellcheck in GIMP, I’ll have to fix that.

josie March 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Ok, here’s a list of all the sources by row:
Black Dress- The dress is from The Outnet -Halston Heritage Split Sleeve Jersey Dress.
Black Blazer- From TopShop
Short Trench- From Uniqlo
Leopard Print Blouse- Equipment
2nd row:
High Rise Skinny Jean- Rag & Bone
Black Long Sweater-I have to confess I’ve lost track of this one, I believe it’s made by IRO & I found it on The Outnet
Striped Boatneck-LL Bean Signature (no longer available)
Black Jean Leggings-I’ve also lost track of the source but generally I go w/the high rise from Urban Outfitters
3rd Row:
Black Tee- James Perse
Black Tank-
Tan Top-Splendid (no longer available) similar:
Black Shorts-
4th row:
Steve Madden boots-
Sneakers- Bensimon
Sandals-Steve Madden
Black Flats- Cole Haan
5th Row:
Tote- Nordstrom Brass Plum (no longer available) similar:
Square Scarf- similar:
Black Scarf-
Tan Belt-
Skinny Brown Belt-,default,pd.html?cgid=WOMENS_BELTS
Sorry I’ve lost track of where the necklaces and black purse came from
Bracelet- Chan Luu mix wrap bracelet
Straw Hat-no longer available originally listed on StyleBop
Sunglasses-Ray Ban tortoise shell Wayfarer
Thanks for your interest! This is one of the few graphics I’ve put together and I didn’t expect it to get so much attention. I’ve learned from this one and will make sure to identify and link all products in the future. Check back for more packing tips!

Claudia April 9, 2012 at 3:37 am

Hi I’m going to do business travel and need to know what clothing suggestions you can make according to fabric care for a smart casual lifestyle?

Keryn @ walkingon travels August 9, 2012 at 10:16 pm

So glad I found this. I have the most terrible time packing and I’m headed to Europe for 5 weeks this fall. The kicker is I have to pack myself AND my two little boys into one medium sized suitcase for the entire trip. And of course I want to look fabulous while over there. Thanks for the tips!

MAZ August 10, 2012 at 3:35 am

The advice is great!! But I am just rubbish at packing light! I think to myself ‘Okkay Mazie, I am going to pack light this year’ and it doesn’t work. For example I have just packed for a holiday to France with my 2 children and they seemed to have packed the bare minimum but there is me with my 7 pairs of shoes and 13 t-shirts. It is ridiculous. These instructions are great but I just don’t manage!

Bethaney - Flashpacker Family August 10, 2012 at 3:37 am

This is exactly what I needed to see!

Personally I’d probably ditch the trench coat and sub in a big black cardi. I’d also add in some yoga pants and/or leggings because I need something I can chase a toddler in.

Sasha Lopez August 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm

LOVE this post!! I’ve found all these items on the Forever 21 website :) super affordable!

Sarah August 31, 2012 at 10:37 am

I take photographs on my phone of my outfits ahead of time so that when I’m on a trip I remember how I was planning to style something. It makes getting dressed on the trip easier!

dolores October 23, 2012 at 6:16 am

I went to Switzerland for 3 months – Sept to Dec. Packed one suitcase that I could manage by myself and a light carry on. I’m also a photographer and wanted to bring my camera. Packed very light because I had no winter clothes. When I got there I went shopping – at thrift stores. Bought a coat for $30 that was perfect, made in Germany and also a couple of tops. Also note that bright colors are not fashionable in Europe. Go for the neutrals, accessorize with scarves. Buy those in Europe too. When time to come home I donated the clothing I didn’t want. Some of the clothes were those that I had brought from Florida. So that left room for my NEW clothing!
Remember that there are STAIRS in Europe that you have to negotiate and you will have to carry your suitcase, carryon, etc. You will also have to put your stuff in an overhead bin by yourself. Many times a gentleman will help you, but there are times when it is just you. Plan accordingly.

IsabellesTravel November 12, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Great list, will come in handy for my next city break.

Ben Johnson November 23, 2012 at 8:12 am

great tips, going to start taking photos myself before I travel.

Corey December 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm

You can pack lighter by doing laundry on the road. However drying the clothes was a problem, until now.

There is a new invention called the Vapper Dryer which can (really) dry a shirt in under 10 minutes and folds to the size of a newspaper when not in use. More information including a video is available at

Guillaume February 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Pack light sites getting out of date. I am running into carry-on restrictions limiting weight to 12 lbs — not 20 lbs. The case alone can weigh from 5-8 lbs.

Kristy Lyn March 10, 2013 at 2:35 am

I love this idea…..looking forward to packing for my San Diego trip I’m getting ready to leave on in a few days. As a flight attendant you get really good at packing light but myself it always seems to help finding these wonderful ideas! Curious if you would have the # of possible outfits for this collection? Check out my blog….My Sky View thoughts from the jumpseat ;) <3 kristy

Mona March 14, 2013 at 5:29 am

Great tips, thank you! I will keep them in mind for my next trip.

Jess- March 14, 2013 at 9:28 am

Great list! I’m glad I found it on Pinterest! I’m your newest follower. I saw that you are in Fort Worth – me too :)

James @ The Savvy Backpacker April 20, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Wow, this is a great article about packing light!

vc February 6, 2014 at 4:53 pm

I definitely like the idea of the shakedown and to think about laundering clothes. I’ve been looking around at different websites of how people travel. I’d probably cut out shoes, but guys tend to have it easier there…flip flops, athletic shoes, and nice, nice pair of dress shoes cover just about everything.

gold id bracelets April 13, 2014 at 8:20 am

Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post.
Many thanks for providing this information.

Melissa May 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Love this. But can we talk about the hat?! I really want to take a similar one to Paris, but not sure how to pack it! And wearing it on an overnight international flight isn’t very practical either. Any tips?!

josie August 13, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Yes, rather than explaining my method, I found this post that is similar to what I would do.
Just be cautious, and make sure it is packed tightly to keep the integrity of the shape of your hat. Good luck!

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