The Art of Packing Lite in 15mins

Packing tips – which always attract attention no matter what.  And here is another article on it.  Hope you will find it relevant and practical as I write basis my own experience and iterations.

As Bill Gates once said, I will prefer to have a lazy guy on the job rather than the smart guy as lazy guy will find the least effort solution.  And I am the lazy guy here for packing.  I don’t like packing, and my stuff is usually spread out at home.  Everywhere except in almirah.

I have been traveling and shifting cities quite often during last ten years.  Early it was all work related; now it is pleasure related.  When you are traveling the utopia is to reach your destination in morning fresh and charged up with full day at your disposal.  To achieve utopia, there are several factors at play and important factor is your luggage.

No one wants to carry bags which have to be labored.  I have done several last minute planned short (3 – 6 days) trips and also 2 – 3 months long trips and have been able to arrive at the secret of traveling light and comfortable.  There are few ingredients to it and I will detail them as follows:

1) Bag / Luggage piece:  Yes, very important but not best understood and easily ignored factor.  While looking to buy a bag, there are few aspects or things which you need to pay attention to.  First, which has been widely incorporated by good brands – light weight and sturdy.  Once you have shortlisted them, check how comfortable you will be in carrying them around.  I have explained the factors which you should consider when buying a bag / backpack in a separate blogpost.  Click here to read.

2) List:  Yes, I am talking about creating a list of what to take.  As they come, keep jotting down items on piece of paper or in notes in iphone, whichever suits you best.  First list will be obvious but pay attention to the quantity.  This practice is valid and important if you do not pack often, or are forgetful.  I was both.  Now I am one – forgetful.

Making list of what to take and how much is extremely beneficial.  When you are travelling for important occasion or long term, you do not want to miss out on any item.  And they will not simple pop into your head when you will open your backpack to pack.  But one item now and another tomorrow in meeting.  Jot them down.  How many clothes to take etc are common and easier to remember items but need to be listed.  Often forgotten items are taking headlamp or floaters and sport shoes with leather shoes for that one occasion or that special color tie?  Sometimes your backup currency card.  You don’t want to be left high and dry when you sorely need them.

3) Rationalizing the list:   By listing items in one place, you can quickly run through the list and check if you are over packing or not and of course, add what is missing.  Packing light does not mean packing less.  It means packing what you need only.  Today towels are available everywhere free of charge or at small rent.  If you are staying in hotel, then towels are not required at all.  Also, if you are in a warm / hot country, then you don’t need more than one pair of jeans and neither shoes are required.  Floaters are good enough with slippers. Also, laundry is available in hostels and hotels else outside in the market for everyone.  You can rotate your cloths by getting them washed every fourth or fifth day hence limiting your packing to six or seven days of clothing. Also, if I am traveling for few months, then I tend to pack with my almost finished clothes so that I can throw them towards the end of the trip and create space for souvenirs.  This also saves me from heart break if clothes are damaged in laundry.  I would have thrown them few weeks later myself anyways.

4) Gather and Pack:  Your major work is done above.  Now you only have to implement it.  With all the planning above, execution can be a piece of cake.  See the list, pick your stuff and put it in.  If you bag is lot larger than what you need, simply throwing in your stuff will pack you in five minutes.  If you are on the borderline, then there is only one way to pack.

Start bringing your stuff but before putting them in your bag / backpack / suitcase. Roll them tight.  Rolling your clothes will do two things, prevent your clothes from getting crumpled, and occupy minimum place required.  Place your less to be used and also large items first / at the bottom, and then top them with more frequent / small items.  There will be gaps in the bag, fill them with very small stuff such as socks to utilize the space and not to leave it unused.  While you are packing, press your stuff down, in order to compress them and remove air between layers.  This way you will be able to add 5% – 20% more clothes from your previous packing style.  And since you know what to take with you, it won’t take you more than 20 minutes.  Wearing bigger clothes eg jean while traveling is another trick to carry more clothes in less space

I adopted the list practice first in 2008 as I was feeling lazy to pack for my two months work trip to London.  Having the list, enabled me to pack at the last minute and not forget anything in hurry.  I did not follow the list practice for my SE Asia trip and I forgot to take my duplicate currency card and couple of notes.  Luckily the need for duplicate card never arose, and notes were resourced from friend, else I would have been in a spot.  By carrying old clothes and discarding them on the way, I created space for my souvenirs from SE Asia trip.


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