How to pack light for a week, a month or a year

The other day I was scrolling through my facebook feed. In one of the many groups about travel that I am in, a woman was asking how to pack light. She was coming back from Venice and for two weeks, she packed three big suitcases. Then I realized that some people don’t really have a clue on how to bring less stuff along, so here’s my take! I have divided this post in different types of weeks so you can choose your style!

A week of travel during summer

This is of course the easiest of the trips. You go out there with light clothes and nothing heavy or bulky. If the weather is very good, the easiest way to pack light is to carry one top per day (so about 7) and then half the bottoms. The bottoms can range from a skirt to some shorts. Or those loose pants that are so extremely comfortable. In any case, they will not occupy much space. If you are a woman, well, good for you! You can even wear a dress and you will only bring one piece for the day. And if you want to up your game, you can even buy a multiway dress. That way you will have different looks with only one piece of clothes. Some people will say that those are way too many tops. Well they are not. You WILL sweat!

How to pack light for a week, a month or a year - The Solivagant Soul

Also, a personal recommendation here, bring clothes that won’t need much ironing. If there’s a piece that you REALLY want to bring, hang it in the bathroom while you shower and let the steam work for you. Also, summer tip; always bring a hat and a foulard!

Regarding shoes, a pair of closed shoes, sandals and beachy flip flips should cover most of your necessities.

A week of travel during winter

So this can be a bit tricky if you care about looking the same way most of the time and still want to pack light. Last winter I took a week long trip to Canada. In February. Average temperature there -20ºC. Yep. So basically I was wearing a long coat and boots all the time. Plus a massive scarf and and a very warm hat. My trick to pack light that time was to bring two very big wool sweaters, three polar leggins and then an extra pair of pants. And again, seven polar shirts. Those were changing every day and I was wearing the leggins underneath the normal pants, so I was quite warm and the number of clothes I was carrying was not too high. Basically, the trick to pack light during winter is layering. In order to look a bit different for the travel pics you want, bring a couple of different scarfs and or hats. It will be what you will be wearing most of the time with your coat.

How to pack light for a week, a month or a year - The Solivagant Soul

About shoes, if you are going to a place extremely cold, then snow boots, indoor shoes and the eternal flip flops. On a non-extreme winter, you can play with some nice boots and sneakers.

A week of travel during changing seasons

Just imagine you are going on holidays in a place that is 27ºC most of the time. And then you are moving to the mountains and average temperatures are to decrease to 5ºC. Well, that is exactly what happened to me in Croatia a couple of weeks ago. My solution was to go to the closest Sports store (Decathlon in my case), and then buy there a couple of cheap polar shirt for less than 10 euros both. Layer them up and you will be good to go. Depending on where you are you can decide if you keep them on you or just leave them in the country when you head home.

A week of travel for photography lovers

My problem all the time is the same: I love photography and I always carry my DSLR around. My minimum photography gear for any trip consists in a DSLR, a GoPro, few different lenses and plenty of spare batteries. The result is that I usually carry more weight in equipment than in anything else. In my case, I consider it is worth it, but maybe it is not for you. In any case, I have managed to fit everything in a LowePro camera bag that I fold with everything inside and fit inside my backpack. It is heavy but still quite compact. If you do not need anything else than your phone, well you will have less problems. Extra tip for camera lovers: do not carry a tripod! They are bulky, they need to be heavy and most of the time is a pain to carry them around!

How to pack light for a week, a month or a year - The Solivagant Soul

About toiletries and how to pack light

So I am the type of woman that while home always wears a full face, and not a drop of makeup sees my face when I am on the road. Basically it is because I tan very fast and it is complicated to find the foundation I can use all the time. The few times I have carried make up along I have reduced it to the minimum: a BB cream that will hydrate and tint equally, some eyeliner and mascara and a bold lipstick. If your lips are asking for attention no one will look at anything else.

How to pack light for a week, a month or a year - The Solivagant Soul

Regarding soap and shampoo, if you can, only carry the latter. Shampoo is still soap and you can wash your body with it without problems. And an even better option is to carry your soap on a solid form. I have some bar soaps that I always bring in my trips. Moreover, some of them can even include body cream, so they are the perfect option!

Deodorants, there’s also the possibility of deodorant bars, though I don’t find them very hygienic. I usually always go for the travel size spray ones, they last long, and if finished, you can always buy some wherever you are.

Pack light for a week, a month or a year

So ar the beginning of this post I was talking about how to pack light for longer periods of time than a week. The answer is simple. Do laundry! You can carry clothes for a week and then spend a couple of hours one day every 7 or 8 days cleaning and drying them all. It will cost you some bucks, maybe five euros, maybe ten, but you will be happy not carrying all that extra weight around. On the same line, do not bring clothes along that you cannot wash together: less money and less problems to mix and match!

I hope you enjoyed this small guide on how to pack light! If you did, pin it and save it for later!

How to pack light for a week, a month or a year - The Solivagant Soul

18 Comments

  1. I’m a digital nomad and my whole belongings fit into my backpack, more or less 14kg. I don’t travel to very cold places as I don’t own any real winter clothes and only buy something new when I need (or want) to replace something. AirBnB’s often have washers but a laundry service is also an option, of course. I use shampoo, a conditioner, a cream for my face and also have some powder and an eyeliner but that’s it as far as toiletries are concerned. Well, and whenever I see someone with two or three suitcases, I’m surprised and am wondering what the heck these people are carrying with them. And I’m sure many of them just go on a vacation for two weeks.

    • thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

      I think that the problem there is that they carry many things “just in case”, and the just in case can translate into carrying 3 times more things that you can actually wear. I am happy to see that a professional digital nomad like you abrogates too for the light packing!

  2. i am the queen of overpacking, this post was definitely a necessary read for me!

  3. This is so helpful! Especially if I want to look nice while traveling. Love your tips because it’s broken down to exactly what to pack for the duration. We will be in Switzerland, Hungry and Austria in the winter so this will come in handy!

    • thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

      I am glad you enjoyed the post! I have never been to Austria, but I have visited the other two (Hungary in February), you will love them!

  4. I am never good with packing just for a week because I always end up packing “what if I like this instead – emergency extra tops”. But then I pack for “everyday summer” places. Nice post 🙂

    • thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

      I use to do like that too, then I started traveling with a backpack and I realized I did not want to carry so much weight on me =)

  5. Can totally relate to the equipment issue! 🙂 I managed to live for 4 months in a foreign country with just the stuff that fit in my small carry-on and about 1/3 of it was just camera + lenses + laptop. :))

    • thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

      Once you are back and check all the pictures is worth it, but every time I am actually carrying them I regret my decision hahaha

  6. I have been stressing lately about what to pack for a year in Oz. But yes. Laundry is the answer haa! I need to just remember not to panic and bring too much!

    • thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

      I always keep in mind that if by any chance you need something that you dont have, you can always buy it whenever you are…. So yes! keep it light!

  7. My husband talked me into only taking a backpack on a trip to San Francisco about 5 years ago. I must admit that I was addicted after that. We spent 3 weeks in Europe and I only took a backpack. My friends were amazed. I use some of these same tips, especially the make up tip! Thanks for sharing!

    • thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

      Once you try how comfortable it is not having to drag around a carry on and realized that you can do laundry… a whole new world of possibilities opens! I am glad we share the same idees!

  8. Exactly what I need right now…am always confused with the packing

  9. This past summer we made a conscious effort to book apartments that had a washing machine and it made SUCH a big difference! Being able to do laundry is a game changer when you’re trying to pack light – you’re so right!

  10. I am all about packing light. Therefore, I enjoy reading about how others achieve this goal. For two weeks in Europe (this year), my husband and I took one carry on suitcase and two backpacks. It felt so good to carry so little luggage. We get lighter and lighter every year. To me, this simplifies travel a lot.

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