Summer Suitcase: Tips for Packing Lightly

Whether you're trying to avoid checked bag fees or heavy lifting, packing lightly doesn't have to be difficult. Especially in summer, a few tips can help you limit your luggage.

I really enjoy packing, which I guess is due to a combination of trip anticipation and inner organizational neat freak. In packing to travel abroad and domestically, I have learned how to cut back on what I include. Here are some guidelines I find helpful.

Start early: For a trip that's a week or longer, I typically get my suitcase out two or three days before I'm leaving. It helps me get into travel mode early, which means I'll have time to think of things like laundry and outfits.

Make a list: My mom recently brought up that when my brother and I were little, she made a point of teaching us how to pack our own bags. List-making was always the first step to doing it efficiently.

Stick to a few versatile pieces of clothing and pairs of shoes: Choose colors and patterns that will mix and match easily so that you'll be able to wear each piece more than once. This forethought reduces how much you'll pack and can make getting dressed easier. For women, dresses are pretty foolproof. Include things that can transition from casual to dressier; for shoes, think loafers for men or ballet flats for women. (And I never pack more than three pairs.)

Think about outfits: Similarly, you'll end up bringing less stuff if you spend a few minutes planning outfits. By having incorporated versatile tops and bottoms, you'll still have options to choose from depending on your mood when you're traveling. Women can include a few staple pieces of jewelry, which won't take up much space but can change a look.

Dress your heaviest onboard: I travel wearing my bulkier items, which for airplanes in the summer includes pants and the only cardigan I'm bringing.

Learn what you don't have to pack: To save suitcase space you can easily forgo many items, particularly hair dryers and most toiletries. Hotels and hosts typically will oblige, and, if need be, you can pick up toiletries at a drugstore. And in general remember that when it comes down to it, very few things (e.g. prescriptions and contacts) are essential.

Go for light reading: I love to read while traveling and try to stick to paperbacks under 300 pages or else magazines. At those times, I avoid tomes (I'm looking at you, The Brothers Karamazov.)

MORE PACKING TIPS ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
Secret to Successfully Packing Light: Pick a Palette
Well Designed Travel: How to Pack Lightly
Tips: Making a Packing List
The Top 10 Things To Carry With You When You Fly

Image: Flickr member geishaboy500 licensed for use under Creative Commons

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Kim has been sharing creative projects and ideas as a Contributor to Apartment Therapy since 2010. Her writing highlights stylish, budget-friendly solutions to common household problems. Kim is a fluent French speaker and a houseplant enthusiast.