Travel Tips: Packing Light

The three best rules of packing are pack light, pack light and pack light. I know we hear it a lot but putting this packing light principle into action is hard to do…especially if you have kids.
Are you one of those people who has a bag that you carry to work each day and each day an item is added to it? The bag just keeps growing and growing. It is like my diaper bag. I seem to grab an extra diaper and snacks each time we go out just in case I used everything up yesterday when we went out. Imagine carrying around that bag and my 2 year old at the same time. Yet I still wonder, why is my bag so heavy today?

Why do we feel the need to be hoarders and over packers for each trip we take? It could be running errands, a weekend trip, or an extended vacation.

Packing Light

Once I take the time to clean out my bag I find that 90% of that stuff does not need to be in there!

  • Who needs that many crayons or pieces of paper?
  • Why do I need 6 packages of fruit snacks, dry cereal, crackers that have long since been crushed, and some bribery candy?
  • Do I really need 5 pens?
  • Why do I keep putting wrappers in my bag and not in the trash can?
  • One tube of chap stick will do, not 3.  Same goes with lipstick or lip gloss.
  • Do I need huge first aid kit just in case?
  • Why do I have sunscreen in my bag in the winter? I haven’t used that for months!

Sound familiar?

Have you tried packing light and getting rid of everything but the bare essentials?

I have a friend that carries drivers license, one credit card, a phone and a single key to his car. I didn’t believe it would work because it seems I should need a lot more stuff. However, I do envy that freedom. What else really is necessary?

I took the lesson to heart and started packing less and less on our family vacations – long or short. I tried to leave behind more each time and would pick up items from the store if we needed them. Hotels have many basic items if I did need them as a last resort. I just had to ask. Somehow there is comfort in that.

Could you bring less pairs of shoes and fewer clothes?

  • Imagine just one less pair of shoes. If you are packing for a family of 4 that takes up a lot of space! What about bringing only 2 pairs of shoes, or gasp only 1 pair! Could you make it work? Maybe all the outfits wouldn’t be as cute as they would be with the shoes you bought just for that one outfit but at least you have shoes.
  • Imagine one less outfit. Can I reuse the same cardigan for 2 outfits? 3? Can my kids wear the same pair of pants twice?
  • Do we really need a different swimming suit for each day? It will dry over night.

Clothes take up so much space. Traveling light means to make do, to mix and match items to have new outfits. I have a great clothes packing tip I use for finding my kids daily outfits easily.

Have you ever tried to the laundry service or use the coin op machines at the hotels? Did you know they had machines? This is a great tip for packing light!

On our last trip I was testing out this travel light theory and only took enough clothes to get us to a destination with a laundry machine. I did wash while the kids swam in the pool and the car was getting fixed–isn’t multi tasking great! Sure we have pictures of our kids in the same clothes in different locations but does that really matter? We packed half the amount of clothes and still had a fun trip. In fact I didn’t feel like I was trying to find a place for all the dirty clothes. Best of all, I didn’t have a huge mound of clothes to wash once we got home. It truly was an eye opener!

I have a new goal of packing light. I will take fewer clothes and carry less things in my bags. My load will feel lightened. I won’t feel as cramped in the car. If there is a problem I know there are stores everywhere I go making it easy to pop in and get what is needed or maybe I’ll decide I can make do. I will be able to return home with less to unpack and less to wash! That is when each time I will say I love traveling light I’m going to do it again next time.

What is your favorite travel packing tip?
The three best rules of packing are pack light, pack light and pack light. I know we hear it a lot but putting this packing light principle into action is hard to do...especially if you have kids.


I am a mom to Five Little Chefs who love to cook and create anything with their hands. Watching over 10 additional hands keeps me busy but is so much fun! We laugh and cry everyday, but then want to do it again the next day. That is how we know we are enjoying life!

4 Replies to "Travel Tips: Packing Light"

  • comment-avatar
    Valerie January 14, 2016 (4:45 pm)

    Ok..I am NOT a light packer. I loved this post because I need and want to be! You should have seen our Suburban packed to the gills (roof included) a few years ago when we went to Disneyland. I pack way too much (just in case…). I’m going to hone in my packing skills and learn to pack light. My hubby and I are celebrating our anniversary soon and renting a car with a very small trunk. Being forced to pack light helps, lol.

  • comment-avatar
    Barbara February 29, 2016 (11:33 am)

    Ok, compared to that I am a very light packer. Whether the trip is a long weekend or 3 months, I need to be able to carry it all.

    • comment-avatar
      Kimberly February 29, 2016 (1:52 pm)

      When it is just me I am able to carry all my things, but once I get one or two kids involved the equation completely changes.

  • comment-avatar
    yayamama56 April 24, 2016 (3:44 pm)

    Love your packing tips! I’m adopting them as my own when we go to Disney/Epcot/St. Augustine this summer…thanks sooo much 😉

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