My Packing Mantra

Keep it light. Keep it light. Keep it light.

You don’t want your luggage to weigh you down–literally. So my advice is to pack smart and take as little as possible. Ideally you should be able to fit everything you need into a carry-on sized bag.

This is something I learned the hard way. The first time I went backpacking I took a pack that was so big that it looked ridiculously disproportionate to my small frame–not to mention that its weight made me feel like a pack mule being used to transport bricks. Since then, I’ve progressively downsized my pack with each consecutive trip, and it’s definitely made getting around a lot more enjoyable and hassle-free.


My treasured 32L backpack at Frankfurt International Airport

I consider my crowning achievement fitting everything I needed for a 2-month African overland adventure–literally everything including a day pack, sleeping bag and camping pillow–into a 32L backpack, which was actually marketed as a day pack. Since then, I’ve used this highly compact and convenient backpack for numerous trips of varying lengths.

How did I do this?

My general rule of thumb is to always pack only as much as I need for one week, regardless of the length of my trip.

How can only enough things to last me a week be enough for as long as several months?

I wash my clothes once a week and buy more of any toiletries I run out of along the way. It may sound like an unnecessary hassle, but it actually doesn’t take much effort or time to pop into a store or stick your clothes in a hostel washing machine (or have them laundered)–and your back will definitely thank you!

I know this isn’t for everyone, but it’s worked for me, so maybe it’ll work for others, too.

As always, happy travels!
– Ala


4 thoughts on “My Packing Mantra

  1. I wish I had the audacity to pack like you do. 7 days away means 28 pairs of underwear, 10 pairs of pants, 8 pairs of shoes…and the list goes on :) Any tips for minimizing shoes? I feel like you would suggest 4 pairs as a max??? ahh.

    • haha Thanks for the comment! I generally only take 3 pairs: 1 pair of walking shoes (usually hiking boots), 1 pair of flip flops, and 1 pair of ‘going out shoes’ (usually leather flats). So, I’d suggest just taking 1 pair of each type of shoes you’ll need, and to choose ones in neutral colours that will match to everything. Hope that helps! :)

    • Good question! Packing light for cold destinations is definitely a lot trickier. I’d suggest taking only one warm jacket/coat and one pair of practical warm boots that are versatile enough to wear everywhere. These essential items would take up the most room in your luggage, but if you only have one of each, they’ll always be on you instead of taking up space in your bag. The same thing applies for why you should only bring one hat, scarf and pair of gloves/mittens. In addition, bring items you can layer. Thermal shirts and tights are particularly great because they are light, easy to wash, take up very little room, and they keep you toasty warm in any conditions. Also, instead of bringing bulky sweatshirts or wool sweaters, opt for microfiber fleece sweatshirts that take up a fraction of the space, are easier to wash and keep you just as warm (especially with a thermal underneath). Hope this helps!

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