plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

February 4, 2008

going somewhere nice? packing light rules

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — plonkee @ 12:00 pm

packing up for the roadI am the queen of packing light. On my last trip – to Washington DC – I took one 25 litre bag. That’s a single small carry on. And that’s all.

There are many advantages to packing light. It means that you can use public transport, rather than taking a cab. Almost by default you can’t buy too much stuff whilst you’re away as you have only got so much room to pack it in. You won’t cause yourself permanent damage by hefting suitcases about. It’s a lot easier to be a budget traveller if you’re travelling light.

Of all the people I know, I am by far the lightest packer. I’ve pretty much got it down to a fine art. Stuff that I need to take travelling falls into several groups.


Not the most important, but certainly taking up the most room, clothes are the things I start off thinking about. Naturally, what you take depends on the destination that you’re travelling to.

In general, I take enough clothes to not need to wash anything for at least 5 days. If I’m going away for a week, I take 7 days worth clothes. Much longer than that, and I anticipate doing laundry.

I don’t have any special fancy clothes for travelling, just regular jeans, t-shirts, 1 or 2 fleeces, socks and underwear. Since I usually stay in hostels, I add in decent pyjamas and flip flops (for the showers). If it’s going to be hot, I usually take a skirt. For shoes, in winter it’ll be Dr Martens, in summer, it’ll be trainers. Other things that come in handy are hats, sarongs, sunglasses and scarfs – depends on your destination.

For a business trip, I take the bare minimum. I’m usually only away for a couple of nights, so need one or two changes of clothes, and maybe a pair of jeans for the evening. I only need the shoes/boots that I travelled in.

toiletries etc

Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, shaving oil, toothpaste, all in flight friendly containers and then in a zip-up bag. Plus a razor, toothbrush, spare hairband and hairbrush. I have a medium sized trek towel if I’m going to be in hostels. Business trip, identical. All of this lives permanently together, so I’m not hunting round if I need to travel at short notice.

If I want to take make-up it’ll go in the zip-up bag. If needed I’d add in sunscreen and insect repellent, although that would probably stop me just having carry on luggage – the inconvenience is better than skin cancer. The only medicine I take with me is generic ibuprofen, but I also have plasters, and the special blister plasters.


  • A tiny maglite torch – off the beaten track, it can get awfully dark
  • bottle opener keyring – handy for drinking cheap beers
  • silk sleepsheet – for hostels, bought in New Zealand and well worth the money
  • additional drawstring bag that folds up very small – great for a daysack
  • a notebook and pen – I keep a journal sometimes, note down any relevant embassy numbers, and it just comes in handy
  • mp3 player – flights / coach / train journeys get boring, mine can also be used as a memory stick
  • book(s) – usually a guidebook and at least one reading book, also for boredom purposes
  • small combination lock – for locking things in hostels
  • alarm clock or mobile phone – generally, I don’t want to wake up late and miss the plane/train/whatever


Passport, travel insurance, EHIC card (EU only), cash, credit card, debit card, driving licence as required. If I’m going abroad I’ll take all of the above. In the UK, probably just cash, driving licence and cards.

And that’s all folks. You can find more resources on packing light at this great site. Anything you think that I should take that I’ve missed off the list?

Image by billaday

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