how to pack light

Tips & Tricks: How to Pack Light!

This week’s tip is on how to pack light. But this one is not a tip I can offer from firsthand experience LOL. I am not an expert nor even qualified to speak to you on this subject. So I called in the experts. Meet Roni Faida of The Travel Guru, who is a baggage handler at a major airline and knows a thing or two about packing light, and Kenna Williams, who travels to multiple countries on weeklong or 10-day trips with only a backpack. These are their recommendations.

Roni Faida

Roni Packing how to pack light 

  1. What is your philosophy on packing light? 

I think as Americans we have way too much stuff and we always seem to think we need things “just in case.” As long as you have clothes that match and you can wear again and again you are fine, no one is going to care if you wear the same shirt or pants. There is absolutely no reason to overpack and you should never plan a different outfit for each day. Pick a few key pieces and find ways to make them work again and again. 1 pair of pants, 1 skirt, 2 dresses and 5 shirts is plenty for a week. Trust me.


  1. You have the unique perspective of being an airline baggage handler. Has that influenced your decisions to carry on? Give us some insight into reasons to carry on and pack light?

Absolutely! After seeing how checked bags are treated and how easy it is for them to get lost I completely changed my view on checking bags. When you carry on a bag you don’t have to wait around for your luggage. You have all of your belongings with you so you have no worries or someone stealing your things. As baggage handlers we have access to bags during our whole shift and I’ve also seen how easily bags break when they are overstuffed. And when there are major delays or flight plans change and you have to be rerouted your checked bag doesn’t always end up following you and what do you do when you get to your destination and you have no clothes? Also, when you learn the art of packing lightly you can prepare so much easier for your trip. It’s just a win all the way around.


  1. What type of bag do you carry for most of your trips? How do you manage to pack so light?

Roni Packing 2 how to pack light

My carry on bag isn’t the most important thing although I do have an Eagle Creek Lync System bag that I was sent from Eagle Creek. It’s awesome and I love it. However, the most important variable for me are packing cubes.

I have learned that I can be super cute and stylish with just a few pieces that I can mix and match. I no longer pack for each day but by how many times I can wear a piece of clothing with something else. Packing cubes help me to stay organized and being organized is so important when traveling.


  1. How do you pack light for a long trip of a week or longer?

I start by using a big chair I have in my room to place my clothes on and I start packing a good week before I’m getting ready to leave. I don’t like to be stressed and I find if I wait until the last minute it is harder to pack lightly. I don’t use my bed to pack because I will end up having way too many clothing options so by putting my clothes on my chair it reduces the number of items I can layout. I love long flowy dresses and skirts so I usually choose skirts that are darker in color then pair them with brights shirts. For my 2-week trip to Vietnam, I packed 2 skirts, 3 dresses, 1 pair of pants, 5 shirts, and 3 or 4 tank shirts. And guess what? I still had too many clothes.


  1. Do you ever check bags?

When I returned from India, Spain, and Vietnam I had to check bags because I went a bit nuts with my shopping. However, I didn’t have any valuables in my checked bags. Anything that was expensive I kept in my carryon bag. I will also check a bag if I’m going to visit someone and they have asked me to bring them things they can’t get in the country they are living in. It is NEVER okay to come to someone’s home in a different country empty handed. I also brought bubble wrap with me because I knew I would be shopping and it’s hard to find bubble wrap and tape in a foreign country.


  1. What is your packing technique for keeping the bags to a minimum?

Buy packing cubes. They will help you more than you know. Make sure every piece of clothing can be matched with several things. Nothing in your bag should only go with 1 item, if that’s the case it should be left behind.


  1. Tips you have for someone trying to lighten the load.

My biggest tip is always buy packing cubes. It is truly amazing how they help you pack better. Even if you want to take several pieces of clothing you can pack them easier with packing cubes. You are going to feel like you don’t have enough clothes but after you go on your trip and realize how cute you were with minimal clothing you will become a believer!


Kenna Williams

Kenna Backpack 2 how to pack light


  1. What is your philosophy on packing light?

I don’t really have a philosophy per say on packing light but in my many years of traveling, I’ve learned that you only use about 30%-35% of the items you pack so why carry around extra weight? Unless this is part of your gym routine, don’t do it!


  1. How and why did you start packing light?

Believe it or not, I wasn’t always a packing light type of person. I used to carry a huge suitcase plus another bag full of shoes. One funny story which is probably the main reason I quit overpacking was I went on a trip to India with a huge suitcase and smaller bag. I flew through London on my way home and decided to stay a few days. I ended up staying in a hostel and when I arrived, I found out my room was on the 4th floor with no elevator. After dragging my heavy luggage up four “European” style stairs, I decided NEVER AGAIN!!! I haven’t used that bag since…perhaps I should use it as a planter in my front yard.


  1. You carry a backpack for most of your trips. Why just a backpack? Why so light. 

Kenna Backpack 1 how to pack light

A backpack is generally more than enough. I actually have two backpacks. One I can do on very quick trips less than 5 days or so. I have another bag a bit larger that I use. It actually isn’t that much bigger but it has some cool compartments. I can easily put the backpack on and go. I don’t have lug anything around.


  1. How do you pack light for a long trip of a week or longer? What do you carry then? What is your packing technique for keeping the bags to a minimum?

Great question! For a trip a week or longer, you have to get it in your head that IT IS OK TO WEAR THE SAME OUTFIT TWICE OR THRICE…..pick bottoms that you can rotate tops with such as a classic pair of dark denim jeans and perhaps some black pants or a nice skirt. Don’t worry about wearing the same thing in your photos. Who cares! For those of you that are product junkies, break down your stash…do you really need the whole bottle of xyz product? Probably not. Break those products down into three-ounce containers. I have traveled with other women before and when I see what they pack, I am rather shocked. I look and ask myself, “Do I really need 10 pairs of heels on a 7 day trip? Do I really need 15 outfits? Do I need my entire arsenal of hair products? Am I going to die if I don’t bring the hair glosser or whatever people use? Do I need all of the gym shoes in my closet or all of my wing tips?” Probably not unless you are trying to trap a special someone and even then, YOU ARE DOING THE ABSOLUTE MOST.


  1. Tips you have for someone trying to lighten the load. 

Tips for going light: Look at the last trip you took, look at your pictures. Did you wear everything you packed? If not, that’s a starting point to see what can be pulled out. Pick some generic pieces. Knits are like my favorites and you can often see me in yoga pants on trips. They aren’t heavy and they can roll down easily in your bag. I typically wear tennis shoes primarily on trips and will bring flip flops and perhaps either one pair of nice sandals or decent heels. Pick a color that goes with everything you have or go multicolored to match everything.

Electronics….do you never every piece of techie stuff available? Figure out if you can get by with your camera phone or if this is the trip to bring your professional camera. A lot of people forget you can easily do laundry on your trip. You can do it yourself at a laundromat or pay a low cost service and most countries will have a service for laundry that will fit your budget.

The only thing I don’t skimp on is UNDERWEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I might be a little excessive but I will always have clean underwear on deck!


  1. You bring alcohol back from various destinations. How do you handle that, along with souvenirs?

Your blog readers are going to HATE me but I rarely bring back souvenirs and if I do, it’s extremely small items such jewelry I can put in my purse. I am not really a souvenir type of person but that’s another topic! My souvenirs are my pictures I take and my stories I have.

Regarding alcohol, I am KNOWN to always bring back a stash of the local spirits. Most airports have duty free stores so I will stock up there. Duty free delivers your alcohol to the gate so I typically have a box or boxes of good stuff!  On a trip I took in September, I left the airport with 6 bottles of rum. I put 3 bottles in my backpack and the other three in a Duty Free Box!


How To Pack Light

Pack Light Bundle new how to pack light

Well there you have it! Tips from the experts on how to pack light. And in the spirit of “packing light,” we are offering 15% off of the Pack Light collection of products, including the passport holder, luggage tags, and the newly created tote bag. Visit bit.ly/BTTravelStore and use code PACKLIGHT for 15% off of that collection until the end of February!


I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

16 comments on “Tips & Tricks: How to Pack Light!”

  1. I have to check out these cubes l keep hearing about. When we left the U.S, we had 9 suitcases!!! and 2 dogs..what a nightmare :-). I realize it was way too much stuff. We could have used the baggage fees on so much more. Now, l try to fit everything into hand luggage if it’s less than a week. I’m learning. Great tips from both ladies.

  2. Wow! This is such a good list. I am the absolute worst packer. I over think it, I want to have something for every what if situation! I’m bookmarking this post, so I can reread when I am about to travel!

  3. As mentioned to you on Twitter, I was planning to read this post. I travel for work and always over pack so I definitely need to implement some better techniques. I do pack for the what ifs. I’ve been on a few trips where the weather has changed and I’ve been caught without proper clothing.

  4. Great tips. Now that I have gotten the travel bug, I always try to pack as less as possible. I don’t want to pay to check a bag. I usually carry a small carryon or a bookbag. I dont want to have to worry about my bags getting lost or arriving late. Thanks for sharing .

  5. Love this post! These are some really great tips. With three kids, I don’t see this being possible, but I will never say never 😉 This is my 2nd time hearing about packing cubes…you should do a post about that LOL *running to Amazon to do some research*

  6. I will definitely use these tips when I travel to my home state this spring. Very useful with the cost of carryons! Usually when I go on vacation for more than 5 days I ship my luggage to the place I’m staying. I’ve found that it’s actually cheaper then paying the price of carrying on on the plane.

  7. Hi Barristourista,

    This is a really nice post! Special thanks to RoniFaida. When go on a tour, you always went to be noticed. But filling your bag with all kind of stuff is not a good idea. You can bag your bag light with some unique stuff that suits you.

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