How to Travel with Less

  • Woman in Airport

We have all done it. We have all traveled with way too many things in our luggage. And we have all had some horrible scene, like carrying too much up some public transit stairs or shown up to the airport with an overweight bag. Was all of this stuff you brought with you worth it? Did it make you more stressful or less stressful? Maybe it’s time to think about what you bring more consciously and to travel with less…

I once thought that there was no way I could minimize what I brought with me. I HAD to bring those pair of shoes. I HAD to bring that outfit. But after doing this for years I began to realize the truth. It’s really really exhausting to have too many items on any traveling I did. I mean I had enough to worry about already! Why would I want to bring more things so I can worry even more? Suddenly backpacking didn’t seem so absurd. A roll-on seemed enough for even a 2 weeks away.

Sound crazy? Do you think you could do it? I’m going to help you with how to travel with less. How editing what you bring on your travels can actually help your travel lifestyle and perhaps arguably help you see a different way of traveling.

First Off… Edit Ruthlessly

Edit to your heart’s content. Scale down to only the essentials. You’d be surprise with how much you can do without. And part of knowing what you won’t need and what you do need is experimenting when you travel. Do you usually bring 3 pairs of jeans? Scale down to just 1 or 2. Do you really need 3 pair of shoes? I usually bring just one now. Do you need all of your hair products? (the answer is NO). Do you need all of your make-up? How much jewelry do you actually need to wear?  Scale down to what you know you’re going to use.

On your next travels you should keep track with how many clothes you use. What could you loose? You might be surprised that it’s actually very little. Could you travel with less?

But then you might ask “Well Shawn how do I still look the part?”

Quality and Quantity/Interchangeable

Quality over quantity any-day. If you buy travel gear or clothes that are quality, they will last on your travels. And make sure your clothes are interchangeable. There is nothing better than having clothes that work well with all of your other clothes. Do your shoes work with all of your shirts? Are you shirts and pants comfortable and flexible and work well with other outfits?


For shoes:

I would stick with leather boots. Leather boots are comfortable and generally work well with most outfits. Make sure you find boots that you don’t mind scuffing. Sandals can hurt after long period of walking. Tennis shoes are an option but I’m more of a boot kind of guy (if you do get tennis shoes make sure they have some sort of flair).

For shirts:

Blues, blacks, grays and whites tend to my favorites. This is because they usually work well with all types of shoes and pants. I usually also throw in a some sort of sweater if it’s a cold destination or a vest. Vest are great because they are lightweight, easy to pack and look great with collared shirts or t-shirts. If you’re bring collared shirts make sure to fold correctly. Bring light shirts and then layer with some sweaters. Both are interchangeable and can be worn multiple times.

For pants:

Jeans, especially dark jeans, are always a great option. Jeans are flexible and if you spill on them it’s usually an easy clean up. I usually bring a couple of pairs with me. Depending on where I’m going I might bring some dressy pants but I usually bring a dark grey or black (keeps the stains from being noticeable). Also shorts are great options and are less material to pack but can only be used if you are traveling to warmer destinations.


Bring some accessories but keep it simple. Again blacks and browns are always a good idea. Maybe some cheap sunglasses?! Silver jewelry tends to go great with a lot of outfits. Make sure you don’t mind bringing jewelry that you wouldn’t care losing. If it’s valuable… I wouldn’t recommend bringing it on your travels. I always love scarves, either summer scarves or winter scarves.

Layer, Layer, Layer

Layering is key on your travels. The only exceptions would be warm beach places where all you need is a swimsuit and a shirt. But even then you may want to think about layering on the plane or if you sit down at a cold restaurant. I tend to favor light weight jackets or sweaters that could be worn for most occasions. If I know I’m going to a high-end meal then I will bring just one collared shirt with a blazer (one blazer can be used over and over).

Layering is important because it keeps your comfortable for whatever environment you’re heading to. It always adds more style and sometimes texture to your look but make sure your layering is functional. Sometimes a thin long sleeves shirt is required even when it’s 90 degrees outside (you don’t want to catch a sunburn and covering up with a thin shirt is easier than putting on sunscreen).

Fold, Fold, Fold

There is no perfect way to fold clothes but the Japanese method is pretty legit. All I have to say is to check out this video. Properly storing your clothes is essential for opening up space in your tiny luggage.

Have a Travel System

My personal travel system, the Spacepak, is pretty awesome. It sucks the air out while your zipping the bags up. This opens up space in your luggage as well as keeps your clothes organized from clean and dirty, it is perfectly joined in separate bags and keeps the clothes perfectly folded up.

Of course you can use your own method. You might have a folding contraption that helps you fold the clothes. I’ve seen bags similar to the Spacepak that save space in your luggage. Whatever your method is make sure it is helping you and not hurting you. If your bag is perfectly folded with no creases possible movement, you’ve done a good job. If your bag is overflowing… you know it’s time to edit.

Make sure your most important documents are well protected and easy to grab. It will make your travels less stressful.


The Spacepak | visit for more info

In the end it really comes down to the bare essentials when you’re traveling. Miniature is sexy and everything in your luggage needs to be small and compact. The worst thing is to have too many things with you while you travel. It bogs you down and stresses you out. Travel with less and it will allow you to have freedom and is something every-body should strive to do on their next trek.




images by: Patrick, Corinne, shawnvoyage

By | 2017-08-23T19:52:16+00:00 April 22nd, 2013|