I have always been that person who packs entirely too much for a short weekend trip. For awhile it was cute, but the older I got and the more frustrating airline travel got, I became less thrilled with how I was packing. I started consciously trying to pack less – now I am at the point where I very rarely check a bag. When I was planning for a ten day trip to Europe to run the Berlin marathon, I wanted to carry on and not have to worry about a roller bag or checked luggage. So I set out to pack for ten days with just a carry on – and I succeeded. I got a lot of questions about how I packed for two countries, three cities and a marathon in one pack. Here’s how I did it. Note: this post contains affiliate links.
- Find the right pack. I did a LOT of research before choosing the pack. I wanted something that would be easy to walk with, would meet the carry on requirements on all my flights and that was well made. The Osprey Farpoint 40L met all those criteria. I absolutely LOVED this pack. It had plenty of room and multiple pockets for different items. The pack also is built so that the shoulder straps are easily adjustable and don’t make you hot. After getting used to the pack, I had no trouble walking around airports and train stations with this bad boy.
- Pack smart. I used packing cubes (these Eagle Creek ones are my favorite) and swear by them. You can do whatever method works for you, but for me the packing cubes help keep me organized from the start.
- Pack early. I am typically terrible at doing this, but I knew I could not pack properly if I was rushing. So I started packing four days before I was leaving and was able to reconsider items and organize everything with very little stress.
Here is what I packed with me for my trip:
- One pair of jeans
- Three pairs of pants (leggings, track pants and the Oiselle Friday pants – kind of like sweatpants but cuter)
- Three pairs of running bottoms (two shorts and one running skirt)
- Two racing singlets
- Four long sleeved tops
- Five short sleeve tops
- One wrap cardigan
- One mid-weight jacket
- One very light, hooded rain jacket that folds up into a tiny ball
- Four pairs of shoes (two sneakers – one pair I wore while traveling, flats and Oofos flip flops)
- ~ten pairs of underwear
- Seven pairs of socks
- Three sports bras
- Two regular bras
- Small bag of toiletries
- Chargers, adapter, etc.
I was pretty pleased with my choices and what I brought with me. I found that I only wore jeans two days out of ten and I didn’t use my rain jacket. I purchased the Berlin finisher’s jacket and that had a hood, so I used it on rainy days. I was so happy to not have a big giant, rolling suitcase as I traveled throughout Europe. The key to my packing was rolling my items up so that everything fit nicely in my packing cubes. This also helped me stay organized while traveling and moving from city to city. It was never really a pain to pack back up because I kept everything in my packing cubes. Easy, peasy. I’m telling you – if you put in some planning and thought you can really edit down what you need to have a great trip. Honestly, outside of my race items, I was not too worried about forgetting something – and there was nothing I forgot. My view was – as long as I had the essentials, I could buy anything else that I needed. It was a good attitude to have and like I mentioned, there was nothing I forgot that I felt compelled to purchase.
The other bonus of traveling light is of course not having to check a bag. Traveling on a long haul flight does mean that you probably can check for free. But isn’t it nice to just land and head off to start your trip – instead of having to wait and wait for your bag. Also – this trip was my first experience using Global Entry. Global Entry is the expedited pre-security check that can allow you to breeze through customs coming back into the U.S. It was fantastic! I highly recommend it. Also if you get Global Entry you can use TSA Precheck in the U.S. – which is the only way to travel in my opinion.
I highly encourage you to think about packing lighter on your next trip. I never found myself wishing that I had a bigger suitcase or more stuff. In fact, the exact opposite happened. I was so happy that I chose to travel the way I did and I can not foresee traveling any other way. There are some times when you need to check a bag. Sometimes when I have a longer work trip, I just need more items – work clothes, running clothes and shoes. But for personal trips, it really is pretty easy to travel smart and light.
Do you travel light? Or do you take your whole closet with you? 🙂