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I’m often asked about how to save time and money when you travel and one of my best money- and time-saving travel tips is to pack light. When I first started traveling, I was one of those people who took a huge suitcase and packed everything but the kitchen sink. But when I observed business travelers just cruising in and out of airports with a small bag, I realized I was packing all wrong. So this summer, as you prepare for vacation, here are some tips to help you travel smarter. RELATED: Stop overpacking! 10 things you don’t need to pack

There are so many advantages to packing light. For some, you’ll save money on checked baggage fees although if you’re a business traveler with elite status, you’ll get this for free anyway. But this isn’t my main reason for packing light.

My main reasons for not checking a bag? Where do I start? Here are my most important reasons:

1. You won’t have to show up to the airport extra early to wait in line at the check-in counter.

2. You won’t have to wait around for what seems like an eternity at the baggage carousel, waiting for your bag to show up.

3. You won’t have to worry about whether or not your bag actually made it to your destination with you.

4. You can easily switch flights if yours is delayed or canceled if you haven’t checked a bag.

5. You can more easily take public transportation with a small carry-on bag; this is much cheaper and usually a much faster option than a taxi or Uber since you don’t have to sit in traffic.

6. You don’t have to pay high fees for checking a bag.

I realized that I’d finally mastered packing when I could pack just enough clothes to fit in a carry-on suitcase … even when going on a multi-week trip around the world. And I was able to convince my wife to do the same.

One way to cut back on what you pack is to wear your bulkiest items on the plane. In your suitcase, bring enough clothing, underwear and socks for a week, then wash your clothes at a laundromat or hand wash them in the hotel bathtub if you need to. Just bring small packets of detergent with you.

Here are some more summer packing tips. I admit, a few of these are from my wife since she’s now a master packer.

  • Put your shoes in shoe bags so you don’t contaminate your clothing with the dirt and bacteria from the soles of your shoes. Don’t have a shoe bag or plastic bag handy? Use the shower cap provided in your hotel bathroom.
  • Store all your liquids (sunscreen, aloe vera, bug spray, etc.) in plastic bags so you don’t open your suitcase to find a goopy mess. I recommend these TSA-compliant toiletry bags that ensure your bag is the right size.
  • Always travel with spare plastic bags or better yet, wet bags, for things like wet bathing suits that need to be packed in a hurry.
  • Check the weather. Just because you’re headed somewhere warm, there might be a cold snap or rain in the forecast. You won’t want to be unprepared so find out in advance and pack warm sweaters or a travel umbrella if necessary. It’s a good idea to always have a sweater anyway, especially to wear when it gets chilly on the airplane (it always does).
  • Pack items that are multifunctional like a carry-on bag that can double as your beach bag like this Bagsmart tote bag or clothing that can be dressed up or down.
  • Mix and match! Choose a color scheme of three colors (say, green, navy and white) and pack only items in those three colors. That way, everything will go with everything and you can pack fewer things. (See? I told you some of these were my wife’s tips!)

What are your best packing tips? Share them in the comments.


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4 Comments On "Pack like a pro: Your smart summer packing guide"
  1. Toni|

    Concur with wearing bulky items on plane but I put zippered toddler pillowcase in pocket of down jacket or down vest. When I get on plane, I stuff the jacket/vest into the pillowcase and have a down pillow for the ride. Mine is bright pink satin so I won’t forget it accidentally.

  2. Anthony|

    Wife and I typically go to various places in Europe for a month a year. Last year we decided to challenge ourselves a bit – each of us only took a carry on bag and a “sack” for things like iPad. We also reminded ourselves that if we hadn’t brought something that we wanted, we could buy it there. Yes, we used those little “washing” sheets and brought quick dry underwear. Worked out fine. We’ve done your wife’s tip for years-similar color wardrobe items-that is a good tip. Yes, we also used hotel laundry service – inexpensive compared to hauling larger suitcases.

  3. Robin|

    Do not pack nail polish remover. Leaked on a trip back from Hawaii and ate the lining of a suitcase

  4. Dotti|

    I always take throw & go stuff. Throw away underwear (6 rolled up in a small pkg). Reversible outfits. Samples of all cosmetics that can be discarded when used up. Perfume cards torn out of mag. Blowup neck pillow. Scarf that can be used as head covering, shoulder coverup, neck trim or waist outfit over shorts. I put all of this into a small suitcase that fits under the seat.

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