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How To Pack Lightly When Traveling Long Term

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When packing for a vacation, many of us have the intent of packing light. However, once it is all done we quickly discover that we packed just about everything we own. Being able to master the art of packing light when traveling long term takes patience, a little know how and creativity. Here are some tips to help you pack everything you need for a vacation without the need to purchase additional suitcases for the things that did not fit in the ones you already own.

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The first key to packing just the right amount before a long trip is to have luggage that is the appropriate size for your trip. Limit yourself to only taking a few bags. The best tip is to not purchase a backpack or suitcase that is larger than a carry on size and limit yourself to only what fits in that bag. This will be a good measure for you to know just how much to pack.

In addition, pack a small day bag in your carry on. This way you can leave the suitcase behind when exploring your destination and you will have an extra bag, if needed, to carry things you collect along the way.


If you are traveling to a warm climate, then choose a jacket that is warm enough for evenings, yet small and light enough that you can wear it comfortably on the plane or other means of travel you use. If the climate is cold, think about investing in a neoprene jacket (or other such "tech" material) made for thermal warmth conditions. Such "tech jackets" are slim fitting, yet warm and durable enough to handle the harsher conditions. In fact, such jackets can double well for either warm or cold climates. If you are able to wear your jacket comfortably while you travel, you'll be able to free up precious packing space in your luggage.

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Pack lightweight, wrinkle free clothing. This way it does not take up a lot of room in the suitcase and will dry fast if needed to be washed while traveling. Only pack enough clothes for seven days, and make plans to do laundry a few times during your getaway.

Consider packing mix and match outfits. This way you can look like you have a different outfit every day, without having to pack all of the necessities for each one. Light, neutral colors are the best for mixing and matching outfits.

When packing, place smaller items, such as socks and underwear inside shoes and other similar items. Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes and one pair of jeans. Both of these items take up a lot of room in the suitcase, yet you can wear them for multiple days during a trip before washing.

Depending upon where you plan to travel, another great option is to purchase new, inexpensive clothes along the way and donate to local charities as you are done wearing them.


Do not pack any toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lotion, body spray and the like. These items can be purchased at local convenience stores upon your arrival. Remember, when you do arrive, to avoid the convenience stores located in the direct vicinity of your hotel or other accommodations. Typically, such venues will know they are catering to tourists, and thus their prices may be elevated on common toiletries. Instead, when you arrive find your local, nationwide convenience store and shop there. Prices at these nationwide markets will be more consistent with what you are used to at home.

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Instead of bringing travel games and books with you, download a variety of these items onto a single tablet or laptop computer. You can fit so much more on a single piece of technology, rather than have these items taking up room in a suitcase.

Do not pack anything "just in case" you think you may need it. Only bring the necessities and things you will not be able to live without or replace while traveling.

Before putting everything inside the suitcase, take time to lay everything out on your bed. Take a close look at all of the items you want to take and ask yourself, "What can I live without while I'm gone?" and "What can I purchase while traveling?" This will help you eliminate some items that may be taking up space for no reason inside your suitcase.

Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions - writing and travel - to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at


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