Want to pack light but don't know where to start? Let's find the perfect size bag using this quiz!

How I Impressed My Friends (and you can, too)

how to impress your friends with packing skills

The table was set with soft cheese, caramel-like medjool dates, chips and crackers, my boyfriend’s homemade hummus, bits of fabric… a hot glue gun… chocolate and wine. Lots of wine.

Yes, it was Saturday crafts night at my place last weekend. A handful of girlfriends I know here in Sydney gathered to create something from nothing, and partake in a healthy dose of gossip and girl gab. Some were there more for the latter; I, on the other hand, am a crafter at heart.

While I wish it were my ability to turn a single t-shirt into one continuous ball of yarn, and transform that into the beginnings of a new floor rug, that turned their heads at crafts night, it was actually a little something different.

>> Feeling crafty? Make your own hooded sleep sack with this diy post.

rag rug craft
My awesome rag rug, coming along slowly but surely.

In between sips of a spicy 2007 Shiraz, Teresa (for the sake of this post) mentioned how the 3 weeks spent in Europe last summer was the first time we had spent real time together.

Teresa: “Oh, you should have seen this girl’s luggage.”

With intrigue the other two at the table wanted to hear Teresa’s punchline.

Teresa: “Brooke rocked up… for 3 weeks in Europe… with a tiny little suitcase!”

Crafty Friend 2: “How tiny are we talking about?”

Teresa: Still in disbelief to this day: “A tiny little carry-on bag!”

my tiny suitcase

And that, dear readers, is how I impressed my friends at crafts night – the size of my luggage when painting the world red. (Sadly, it wasn’t from my crafting skills.)

“Ok, ok. Look,” I chimed in. “I do run a packing website, so you know… no big deal.”

But to other people, it is a big deal. When I was rocking up in Germany with my little 25L Antler rolling suitcase, my friends were toting around suitcases that could harbor not one or two, but multiple, people inside (no joke). There’s a fear for many of being without everything they might need that results in traveling with giant suitcases and backpacks. Others just don’t know the possibilities that lie with packing smaller and lighter.

Teresa: “You know, I was actually quite impressed at how much fit in there. It seemed like you had plenty of options in that tiny little bag.”

True story. I explained to the group that I had dozens of outfit choices, and I even had room to buy an extra tank top, t-shirt and shorts when the weather decided to be above average heat-wise.

Me: “I highly recommend challenging yourself by downsizing your luggage. You’ll be surprised at how much you still manage to bring.”

suitcase contents

Crafty Friend 2: “So I take it there was a lot of mixing and matching involved?”

Me: “Yes, definitely. Everything has to pretty much work with everything else. The same base color palette, as well.”

Teresa: “It also probably helped that it was summer.”

Me: “Yes and no. Even if it were winter, I wouldn’t have packed another pair of jeans, and I wouldn’t pack bulky sweaters. I’d bring my pair of jeans, maybe another pair of pants, and a pair of leggings – that can then be worn under my jeans/skirt/dress if cold. Everything has to be layerable, so if I’m freezing my butt off, I can put everything on, but if it’s a warmer day, I can wear the layers on their own.”

By this time we had moved on to a sixfootsix Pinot Noir – very tasty. Crafty friend number 3 was busy cutting an old cloth napkin into strips for her project. Crafty friend number 2 was there for the wine. We don’t judge.

Teresa: “My toiletries bag alone would be the size of your suitcase. Seriously.”

I nearly choked on a chip before remembering that she did bring a massive, I’m-moving-overseas-forever type of suitcase to Germany last summer.

For Teresa, the idea of traveling with only a carry-on bag alone seems like a fantasy. It is probably unattainable, at least for quite some time, for someone like herself. But, I started explaining that if she were to cut back on half the size of her toiletries, cut out a quarter of her clothes, drop 2-3 pairs of shoes and then some, she would have a much (much!) more manageable load.

And that would also be impressive.

how you want to pack
The goal of our site and our new packing ebook.

At Her Packing List, we are all about packing better, whether that be going smaller and/or lighter. It doesn’t mean that you have to go as little as my carry-on bag. If you can go from a suitcase that holds 3 people down to 1, that is just as much an achievement as any.

The key is to look at every aspect of packing – the clothes, the toiletries, the shoes, the electronics – and make each of them better. By doing so your entire packing list will improve, the bags will get lighter, and you will travel happier.

Plus, you just might impress your friends with your own packing prowess.

P.S. You might enjoy these other posts: Ultralight Packing List: I Traveled for 3 Weeks with a 12L Handbag + My Versatile 16L Minimalist Packing List

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

Add your voice & leave a comment!

Gear We Use

speakeasy hidden pocket travel scarf ad
Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


Splice Jaisalmer Reversible Tunic
Splice Reversible Jaisalmer Tunic


Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


tom bihn 3d organizer toiletry bag
Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack - Fits in the palm of your hand!
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

HPL Packing Method – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing course by HPL founder, Brooke.

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe.

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Gene says

    Hi Brooke- Is the eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible waterproof? I read a review that was critical of this fault. I would like to know your experience with rain and this backpack. Did you use a spray on the material for better waterproofing? Thank you- Gene

    • Brooke says

      Hi Gene, As with any backpack, I always carry a small backpack rain cover I picked up years ago in case it starts raining exceptionally bad when outside. Most backpacks are not waterproof. I didn’t have to deal with it while standing in the rain much, but your belongings can definitely get damp inside if exposed. A spray might help of course 🙂

    • Melissa says

      Yes, please!! This sounds amazing!!! My trip to Darwin in 2 weeks will require only carry on luggage & being 5 months pregnant means all my items will be that little bit bigger!!


Leave A Reply