Your train is pulling out of the crowded New Delhi Station at 7:00 am and you can only watch it from a distance, dismay written on your face, as you try to lug your three huge bags and run towards it. Everyone cannot be Kareena Kapoor from Jab We Met, right? Nothing spells ‘inexperienced tourist’ more than trying to drag several overstuffed pieces of luggage as you try and make your way around a place. The good news – there are ways in which you can minimize your luggage while still having everything you need on a trip.
- Choosing the right luggage. This may not sound very important but trust me – if you haven’t changed that archaic suitcase you have been using for the past twenty years, you have some serious luggage shopping to do. Opt for lightweight spinner bags – those that have four wheels – for your checked in luggage, and duffels or backpacks for your carryon. If you can actually manage to take both as carry-ons, you’ve passed the ultimate packing test! Once you’ve chosen your bags, you know how much you can carry.
- Pick your clothes wisely. You do not need ten sundresses, thirteen pantsuits, and six pairs of jeans if you’re going backpacking in Europe. You don’t need these for most vacations, in fact. A common mistake that a lot of people make is packing for the worst case – that is “what if.” Instead, pack for the best case and, in most places, if you absolutely need extras, you can always buy inexpensive tees or shorts. One of the most effective strategies is to layer up. Instead of heavy jackets, carry light fleeces or sweaters that you can mix and match. For a sunny vacation carry light vest tops or tees.
- You don’t need all the toiletries you own. Resist the temptation to pack your perfumed body wash AND your favourite sugar soap AND the strawberry shower gel. You can always get by with the most basic toiletries and in travel size. Samples are your best friends. And most hotels provide decent bars of soap and shampoos. So take only what is absolutely essential – special creams in case you have some allergies or lens solution if you wear contacts.
- Don’t skimp on the footwear. We’ve often seen that travellers pack their bags to capacity with clothes and carry one pair of footwear that is miraculously expected to weather out any kind of terrain. Based on the kind of vacation you’re taking, whether trekking or a beach holiday or a jungle expedition, make sure you carry a couple of pairs of suitable footwear.
- Find out where the closest laundromat is. We all worry about the cost of getting laundry done at the hotel and end up packing too much. But the neighbourhood laundromat can be your best friend, and you can wash and reuse your clothes for a fraction of the cost. Of course, if you’re staying at a local homestay, you can wash your own clothes without spending anything. So you could carry a small bar of detergent.
- Go local with food. One thing we love to do is to hoard up on Haldiram namkeens and packs of Maggi noodles when we travel. The travel and tourism industry has come such a long way that, anywhere you go, you will find something that suits your palate. And no trip is complete if you don’t sample the local flavours. If you don’t eat meat, restaurants in most places will be willing to substitute meat with veggies if you tell them clearly.
- How you pack matters. Light clothes and socks can be rolled up and kept inside shoes. Instead of using a box for your toiletries, which will take up a fixed amount of space, use a pouch or flexible bag. And make sure the tubes and bottles inside are sealed well so they don’t leak.
- Wear the bulkiest items on transit. If you’re carrying hiking boots, wear those and pack your flip-flops. If you have a heavy jacket and it’s too warm, just sling it over your shoulder. Wear your jeans and pack your shorts. This strategy is a great space saver.
- Account for shopping. Even the most frugal traveller ends up buying at least a few souvenirs. So when you’re packing, make sure there’s some space left to carry these back. Or you can pack a lightweight collapsible bag that you can later fill during the trip.
- Easy substitutes. Do you really need to carry your laptop? Unless you plan on doing heavy-duty writing and editing during the trip, you can manage with your tablet for maps and browsing. Plus tablets can be good companions as e-readers too. Even better, you can use apps on your phone and leave behind even the tablet. Similarly, a light rain jacket that can be rolled up may be better than an umbrella. You get the drift.
- Invest in good quality travel accessories. The right accessories make travelling so much easier. A universal power adapter will make sure you don’t have to go running frantically looking for an adapter when you’re travelling abroad and your phone is out of charge. We’ve spoken about luggage and we cannot stress this enough – good, lightweight luggage is non-negotiable.
The next time you travel, challenge yourself to pack light. Ruthlessly remove items and repack till you’re satisfied that you’ve cut it down to the basics. Be assured, when you travel light, it’s that much easier to have a great trip!
Top visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lyza/