We recently came back from our last adventure – about 2 weeks in Belgium and the Netherlands. More on the trip later, but wanted to drop a note about the benefits of packing light on trips. It’s so much more convenient to travel light and you often save money as well. Not just the $50 airline luggage fee, but in taxis fares as well. It’s a lot easier to navigate public transportation and to walk from train stops to hotels etc. when you have less stuff to carry.
Mr. Dove and I each brought one backpack with us. They’re light enough that if we had to we could walk around a city for several hours. This has come in handy in all our travels where we plan stop over day trips. Like one trip where we stopped in Pisa for a few hours on our way from Florence to Lucca. We got off at one train station, walked to the Leaning Tower, then got on a train to Lucca at a different nearby station. On this trip, we took advantage of lockers in train stations to avoid carrying more than we needed during stop overs. After flying into Brussels we used lockers at central station while we explored Brussels for the day before heading to Bruges. We did this again when we spent a few hours in Antwerp traveling from Bruges to Amsterdam. It’s much easier to store a backpack than a large suitcase in the lockers – although they had some fairly large lockers (for a higher fee).
What’s the secret to packing light for longer trips? Only packing for 5-6 days regardless of how long you will be gone and washing clothes along the way. It’s not as time-consuming as it sounds. For a two-week trip, you probably can wear your outer clothes twice or more without needing to wash them. That leaves just quickly washing some underwear, socks, and undershirts in the sink or shower every few days. One of our previous trips was almost three weeks. We washed undergarments as we went, and did one load of wash at a laundromat after two weeks. It didn’t take long and we chatted with locals we wouldn’t otherwise have met.
Every trip we take we still feel like we packed too much, and we’re constantly narrowing down what we bring. I have yet to go anywhere where I thought to myself, I wish I would have packed more. Even the last long trip where we only packed backpacks, we still had some items we didn’t wear or only wore once – aka not worth the space they took! This trip we: cut out an outfit each; Mr. Dove brought less undergarments (he wasn’t completely sold on washing them last time and brought way too many as a result); focused on layering clothes rather than bringing our “what if it’s really cold clothes” (we often traveling in fall and spring); and reduced our toiletries (turns out it’s super easy to buy more travel sized toiletries in Europe – duh prior me).
Even in cooler weather it’s possible to pack light. This is what we packed as an example (including what we wore on plane):
Me – 2 long sleeve dresses, 2 cardigans, 1 short sleeve dress, 1 skirt, 2 t-shirts, 1 tank top, 1 long sleeve pj shirt, 1 pair of leggings, 1 pair of tights, 5 pair of underwear, 3 bras, 5 socks, 2 belts, 1 scarf, 1 pair of boots, 2 flats, 1 fleece jacket, 1 waterproof windbreaker.
(Packing cubes are amazing for compressing clothes and staying organized.)
Mr. Dove – 2 polo shirts, 3 long sleeve button down shirts, 2 pair chino pants, 1 t-shirt, 1 pj shorts, 3 undershirts, 5 underwear, 5 socks, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair of loafers, 2 belts, 1 sweater jacket, 1 waterproof windbreaker.
We packed for traveling with the same kinds of clothes we normally wear at home. The only difference really is that we tried to pack our more lightweight items and items that could be mixed and matched rather than choosing outfits at random.
So how did this work for us? We still packed too much! Mr. Dove didn’t wear his sneakers once. To be fair he normally wears them for long city walks here, and he used them for “hikes” (aka country walks) on our last trip. But since we were stopping here and there on our city walks and we rode bikes instead of walking in the country, his loafers were fine. I probably didn’t need three shoes, but I did wear them all and appreciated the change since they were all fairly new (due to bad timing, not buying them new for the trip). And I could have easily only packed one t-shirt not two. We still had plenty of room the few souvenirs we wanted without tossing the guidebooks. But Mr. Dove’s pack would have been lighter without the sneakers. Lesson learned for future packing!