Traveling Light

In November I packed up my Brooklyn life and headed off to Nicaragua with a couple of backpacks and my pup in tow. Since my cargo often contains things like dog food, toys and peanut butter to keep the pup occupied on long bus trips, I’ve gotten good at condensing what I need for myself to the most bare and versatile essentials. Everything I need can be whittled down to one daypack worth of stuff and it can last me for two weeks or more.

If you’re looking to travel light on your next getaway, here’s what you gotta do:

1. Bring laundry detergent.

You never know when something will get spilled on or super sweaty after a hike and if you’re packing light you can’t afford to lose part of your arsenal to something so solvable. In most places you can find individual packets of laundry detergent which are perfect for travel. Washing also allows you to bring less repetitive, daily-use things like underwear or socks which will save you precious bag space.

2. Invest in quick-dry pieces.

If you’re going to be doing laundry or unexpectedly get caught in the rain (lucky you!) and you’ve only packed the essentials, you can’t wait around for a day or two until your stuff dries completely. Yoga-wear fits the bill perfectly — it’s cute, comfy, and made from moisture-wicking textile combos.

3. Compression sacks are key.

While they’re designed for compressing things like sleeping bags, I’ve taken to filling mine with clothes since more often than not (read: always) I skip over the tedious step rolling everything into compact shapes in favor of tossing things in as quickly as possible. Compression sacks let you take the lazy route and still save space because all you have to do is toss your clothes in, pull the straps tight, and off you go. You can even strap it to the outside of your pack and really maximize space.

4. Wear your bulkiest items.

Sometimes the weather holds you back here (you can’t always wear a sweater even if it’s your bulkiest), but if you’re like me and travel everywhere you go with a pair of flip flops and a pair of converse, wearing the chucks while you’re traveling and stashing the flops in your bag is the way to go to get smart on space. Same goes for jeans — they take up tons of space in a pack but none when they’re on your body.

5. Get multi-purpose with everything.

If you travel enough with limited space you’ll soon learn which of your products have extra applications that you never thought of before. For me, I’ve got an awesome face moisturizer from Trader Joe’s that I can’t live without and also isn’t really expensive so when I’m short on space my face moisturizer can be used for all over lotion which is one less thing I have to worry about bringing and spilling. Keep your eyes peels for things like this and you’ll be traveling with less and less before you know it.

The best part about packing light is the satisfaction you’ll get afterwards from the realization that you really don’t need as much as you thought you did. When any product you can dream of is just a click away, it’s easy to feel like all of it is super necessary or that it actually enhances your life in some way, but challenging yourself to travel light can show you how untrue that is.