Packing Light: Tips from a Woman Who Learned to Let Go

Practice makes perfect when it comes to packing light. Lay out your clothes then walk away. Come back and remove one article of clothing. You won't miss it. I promise.

Practice makes perfect when it comes to packing light. Lay out your clothes then walk away. Come back and remove one article of clothing. You won’t miss it. I promise!

My family and I recently returned from our first Las Vegas vacation. We had a blast…and experienced a lot of things for the very first time. We loved our vehicle from the cost-efficient, friendly and easy-to-arrange RelayRides, which has easy airport rentals. We stayed in the luxurious Marriott Grand Chateau.  We hiked in Red Rock Canyon, toured the depths of Hoover Dam and sailed on Lake Mead. And,yes, we gambled. Just a bit. And do you know what one of the best parts of our trip was? My newfound dedication to packing light!

My husband Mike travels, ahem, very light: a small backpack and a slightly larger suitcase. He zips through airports with the greatest of ease. Me? Not so much. For years I carried my closet in my suitcases: at least 6 pairs of shoes, a colorful array of outfits with matching accessories and makeup. I was the proverbial tortoise, albeit one with a constantly aching shoulder, to Mike’s hare. I checked my huge suitcase then dragged my “as large as it can get and still be let on the plane” suitcase and HUGE tote bag behind me. Packing light was a foreign concept to me.

But not anymore!

I am a reformed pack-aholic. One legal-sized carry-on suitcase on wheels and one tote bag makes for easier airport transfers, less hassle when it comes to getting dressed every morning (Fewer clothes? Fewer choices to agonize over.) in whatever sunny locale I find myself (What? You think I travel to cold, rainy places?!) I am a free woman! And I still look damned good even though I “limit” my clothes, accessories and shoes (I’m looking at you, Betsy.)

Are you tired of dragging your closet suitcase up stairs and down, on and off monorails, waiting at baggage claim with bated breath hoping your suitcase(s) made it to you?

Do you want to know one of my secrets to packing light? Stick with a single base color of clothing! For example, I pack only tops, bathing suits and accessories that blend with the 1 pair of black pants/legging, 1 black skirt (I rarely wear shorts) and 1 black dress (which doubles as my beach cover) that are my base clothes. Then I add 4 tops that can mix and match with those pieces. Take a look at the photo above and get a better idea of what I pack. Note that I use earrings and bracelets to add “pop” to my outfits. And I always throw in a large scarf of some sort for evening. And a small purse. Yes, it’s that simple!

Pack a single eyeshadow set and lipstick that compliments your base clothing color. Leave the rest at home!

Pack a single eyeshadow set and lipstick that compliments your base clothing color. Leave the rest at home!

Toiletries are a no-brainer since every drugstore now carries TSA-approved travel bottles that you can fill with your fave shampoo, conditioner and body lotion (or, hey, if you stay at the same brand hotel when you travel and you like its products, leave yours at home and use theirs!).

What about makeup? Another one of my secrets to packing light is to bring one makeup color palette that blends with my clothing base color. I leave the rest at home.

Do you travel? What’s your single best tip for packing light and leaving your backache at home?

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7 Responses to Packing Light: Tips from a Woman Who Learned to Let Go

  1. I never pack anything that wrinkles. If it rolls, it strolls.
    Which means, if I can roll it up like a pair of knee socks, it gets to go on the trip with me. That said, I’m not a great packer, but I always pack a medium size plastic bag to keep dirty clothes from the clean ones. And shoe bags!

  2. I’m getting much better at packing light and agree about taking a carry on rolling bag and tote. Although, that can become complicated if you’re on a cruise with 3 formal nights. I spent 2 weeks in Italy before jumping on a cruise so I still needed to travel light. I tried carrying a backpack once and felt like Reese Witherspoon in Wild. Not the greatest choice for someone who is 61. I’ve also stopped bringing shampoo because most hotels offer that. The one thing I hate is not being able to carry water through the TSA. I have to dump my bottle and then buy one that’s about $4 to carry on the plane. I bet the airports are making some good money on that one.

    • Rebecca,
      Hah! I love your backpack comment! I am so not that woman. You know, I’ve thought a lot about the whole TSA water thing. And I agree with you…Someone, somewhere at the airports is making some great money on bottled water sales.
      Happy travels,
      Darlene

  3. Jennifer says:

    I always go carry on only. I pack two colors only and rotate tops with bottoms. I pack knits that don’t wrinkle and one of my colors is always black, which hides dirt.

    • Jennifer,
      I agree with you about packing darker colors, especially for my “bottoms” as they don’t show dirt…I’m always sitting in something I shouldn’t be!
      Happy travels,
      Darlene

  4. Lisa Tognola says:

    Thanks for the travel tips, Darlene! I’ve got the packing down. Now I just need a vacation destination! 🙂

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