If you haven’t guessed it yet, we hate heavy luggage here at Her Packing List, and we know hate is a very strong word. We’ve already given you 10 reasons why overpacking sucks, but now we’re giving you 20 benefits of doing the opposite: packing light!
1. You never have to worry at check-in.
Spend that last bit of foreign currency! You won’t be paying any unexpected overages here.
2. You are in complete control of your belongings.
So when that random nice guy offers to help you with your luggage, and you immediately have visions of them running off with said luggage, you don’t have to lie while saying, “Oh, I’m fine, thanks.”
3. Your back doesn’t hurt.
Because you don’t need any of that when you travel.
4. Your feet don’t hurt.
That’s the last thing you want when you travel!
5. It’s easier to pick out outfits since you have fewer choices.
Seriously, there is no need to waste time on clothes when you should be out experiencing a new place.
6. It’s easier to keep tabs on your belongings since you have fewer to manage.
You know exactly how much of what you actually packed.
7. You can often keep your luggage with you on trains and buses and planes.
Instead of stowing in a separate location, or checking altogether. You really have no control over the security of your belongings if you don’t have them.
8. You can weave through foot traffic at busy areas with greater ease.
There’s nothing like making your way through a crowded train station with giant luggage in tow.
9. You’re better able to lock up everything in hostel lockers.
A lot of hostels provide lockers, but many aren’t big enough for big luggage, meaning it needs to stay out in the open.
10. You don’t take out innocent bystanders with your ginormous backpack.
Have you ever turned around quickly, forgetting about the 80L pack on your back? Small children have been injured across the globe because of this issue.
11. You don’t take up excess room on packed public transport.
And you also won’t receive the glares of many passengers wanting to sit in your luggage’s seat.
12. You can walk to your hostel or hotel from the station without dying on the journey.
Cut back on taxis and get some exercise in the process.
13. You don’t have to wait for your luggage at the baggage carousel.
It will take ages when you don’t have ages to wait. Stress, stress, stress!
14. You don’t have to worry that your luggage makes it to your destination.
Because you have it with you!
15. You don’t have to worry about luggage handlers playing catch with your precious belongings.
You may have painstakingly wrapped any slightly breakable item in your suitcase, but that won’t matter when the bag gets treated like a football in transit.
16. You save money.
No excess baggage fees! No checked baggage fees! No extra cost for tipping bellhops at hotels! Share your taxi with another person instead of your extra luggage!
17. Luggage searches and scans are less dramatic and less time-consuming.
Because there is just no place for questionable items to be hiding.
18. Elevator-less hotels are not a problem.
You can easily carry your luggage up without breaking a sweat.
19. Repacking is a breeze.
Fewer items means less time putting the pieces back in order.
20. Your luggage weighs less, which means your airplane weighs less, and less fuel gets used.
Packing light is better for the environment!
Why do you, or do you want to, pack light? What are packing light benefits for you?
Back in 2008, I was flying home from O’Hare in Chicago to CRW in Charleston, WV. A direct flight wasn’t available, so I was instead stuck flying from Chicago to Charlotte, NC, then up to WV. If you’ve ever flown through O’Hare (especially on a tiny regional jet), you know you’re going to need to build some extra time into your layovers, but I was young and inexperienced and hadn’t learned that lesson yet. So I checked my suitcase. All I had with me was a laptop backpack, which I’d carried on and mostly filled with stuff to entertain me during the flight. You can guess what happened. At 10pm or so, my flight into Charlotte landed late. I took off running across the airport only to find that I got there just as they shut the door on the plane. It was still there at the gate, but no amount of begging would get them to open that door up for me. I had to watch as it took off without me on it. The airline put me up in a hotel for the night, but not until I’d broken down crying in front of all the other stranded passengers. My new flight out would leave at 6am the next morning, so I barely had time to go to the hotel and sleep for a few hours before I’d have to head right back to the airport. I had no change of clothes, no toiletries (the hotel did provide a few of those, thankfully), not even a hairbrush. All I had was my laptop. Useful for emailing friends for sympathy, but not for anything I actually needed. Plus I had no way of knowing if my luggage would be added to my new flight or if it would just be lost forever.
I have not checked a bag since that day. I refuse. My belongings stay with me or I don’t take the trip. Learn from my mistake, people. Travel lightly and protect your peace of mind.
Oh, Kaci! Been there and it’s not fun!
Here’s a little Packing Light anecdote in honor of this post (and after reading y’alls posts for years):
Recently returned from a jaunt to SE Asia. I had my 40L Osprey and the Pacsafe 300 Slingsafe, plus a thin cloth bag I’d picked up to hold a few few small souvenirs.
As I waited in line at customs, everyone around me had at least two gigantic suitcases on wheels, if not more — most of them just returning from a week in Mexico.
The customs agent asked the usual questions as he shuffled my papers, barely looking up: “Where’d you go?”
“Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore.”
“How long were you gone?”
He stopped, looked up at me, unconvinced. “Where’s your luggage?”
I had to do a fancy spin and plea that I was wearing it all, but yes — you know you’re packing light when you raise suspicions at customs. 😉
Haha, I’ve had this happen a lot! The overpackers are making it look suspicious to travel with only what you need 😉
Suzanne Fortner says
Laryssa I love it!!! I was headed to Israel with a small group. I had my carry-on and purse. I had a small bag that I was carrying for one of the guys in the group, he was also checking a 50 lb bag and had is owe carry-on too.. The agent behind the check-in couter, stopped, looked up and pointed and said “Don’t tell me SHE is backing LESS than YOU (pointing to the man)”. That put the biggest smile on my face and a laugh in my heart (and out loud). I love this packing light thing. Carry-on all the way, everytime! Suzanne
Megan E. says
I like all these tips – another one: You don’t have to haul your bag up and down subway stairs!
My convert moment was when I “quickly” stopped in Paris on the way home from India – with my 49.5 lb large rolling bag and backpack. I had to get out of CDG (this was the subway stair moment – oops), then met with my host – where we took my bag up the steps of Montmartre to visit Sacre Coeur – all 100 plus steps! Yikes! We then took the bag with for a lovely dinner in a tiny bistro – then back on the subway to her place in the village. – where it barely fit in the boot of the car.
On the way home from this trip, BA cut into the bag and broke the front pocket off! That was my last straw and I have only carried on a bag since then – including another trip to India for a wedding, Canada in the winter, and more.
Such a great list! I feel like every time I pack I manage to pack less than before but still always way too much. Going to try really hard next time to be light as possible. Also does anyone know what that backpack is in that picture? It looks really great and I’m just wondering if anyone knows where I can get something similar? Thanks 🙂
Hey Zoe, it looks like the Little America bag from Herschel. If its not then its VERY similar! Hope this helps 🙂
Another one-on day 71 of our 85-day European trip in 2013, pulling my large rolling duffel from the train station to our hotel in Paris, my elbow started to hurt (never heard of this before, but I dubbed it “luggage elbow”. It took about 6 months for my elbow to feel better.