Packing requires practicality. When travelling, be it a day or a month, there is a tendency to pack more than what is needed.
Some travelers are happy to check in a large case or two, and that’s okay. But if you want to lighten your load, and need some tips on how, read on…
Why Pack Light…
By packing lightly, you would not only save space for future shopping, you would also save extra baggage costs, worry less about missing luggage, and be less encumbered by heavy bags while navigating a new place.
Seasoned travelers will advise you to just pack the basic essentials. Travelling light will allow you to have more freedom to move around, to better experience your trip, and most of all, to enjoy your adventures.
1. With Great Technology Comes Great Responsibility (to save paper).
Instead of bringing physical copies of guides, maps, or informational brochures, store soft copies in your phone. That way you will save space in your bag and you will always have the information with you.
When you are out gallivanting the streets of your travel destination, refrain from taking physical copies of leaflets, etc., and opt to take a picture instead. As a safety measure, keep a copy of your important documents, such as your passport, on your phone and on your e-mail.
Also, a powerbank or a portable charger will come in handy to make sure your phone battery will last as long as you will in a day’s traveling.
2. If You Can Use It More Than One Way, It’s a Keeper
By packing multi-functional items, you can reduce the amount of items you bring with you.
Let’s reiterate the importance and the benefits of the technology at the tips of our fingers; our phone. With just our smartphone and its wide range of applications, we no longer need to pack a flashlight, an alarm clock, a compass, maps, a GPS, a camera (for basic photography), a notebook, diary, and stationery, or any other books (go app/ebook/online), etc.
If you plan on backpacking, a frisbee could be used for other purposes as well. It can serve its normal function for a fun time at the park or the beach, but it can also be used as a handheld fan, a dish, or even as a protective shell for the smaller fragile items in your bag.
3. Good Things Come in 3s
When it comes to packing clothes, the golden rule is “three is all we need”. This means that three sets of clothes is enough for your travels. The key to this is that you should be prepared to do some washing or shopping.
Most accommodation and stand-alone laundromats in China will provide an affordable laundry/dry-cleaning service. See our List of Best Laundromats in Shanghai for example. However, you can save more money if you opt to do your washing in the sink or in the tub using shampoo as your detergent.
Another possibility is to start your travels light and purchase clothes during your travels. So even if your trip is longer than a week, you can still start out with three pairs of clothes.
However, when planning how many sets, take into consideration the convenience and the timing of your washes. A good recommendation for a long trip will be five sets of clothes with a planned laundry day every three days.
4. Pack Layers, not Bulk
Consider your travel destination and the type of clothing you will need. As a general rule, pack layers, and not bulky items. Compressible puffer jackets are a great alternative to heavy coats if you’re going to Harbin in winter, for example.
The basic principle is that different layers of clothes — that are light and easy-dry — will have much more utility than one or two thick and heavy jackets.
If you’re worried about mismatching, synchronize your colors by choosing lighter shades or monochromatic colors.
5. 2-in-1 Luggage
Plan on travelling with just one luggage item, but separate your belongings into two “bags”: a rollerbag/case/backpack and a smaller “day bag”. Pack items that will be used during that day, or that are more important into the smaller bag, and the rest into the larger luggage item, while leaving some space to keep the smaller bag in the larger.
You can leave your large bag in left luggage or your hotel room, and take the smaller bag (a backpack would be ideal) out, so that you don’t have to lug around a big bag any more than necessary.
If you need to bring liquids along on your travels, be sure to only bring what is necessary. Keep the liquids (facewash, shampoo, etc.) in small plastic bottles, which are convenient and can be reused — good for the environment. (This may also save you hassle at airport and railway security checks.)
Alternatively, you can buy travel-sized versions of these liquids during your travels. It could save you some money and some extra weight at the start of your travels, as they are readily purchasable in China (though brand availability may be different).