Solo Travel-Tips for Packing Light

(For other information on solo travel with no single supplements and solo-priced lodging, go to our free search tool, the, and for our complimentary “Updated 2020-2021 Solo Travel Guidebook”, be sure to register while there.)

Here are our five updated tips on how to pack light.

  • I started packing light in school. Why? I didn’t like the fees. I also didn’t like to carry a heavy bag!
  • I went on my first trip abroad as a teenager. I took an overnight bag for 6 weeks.
  • In college, I went 5 weeks with the same small bag!
  • The problem? I didn’t know what to leave out and what to take.

Carry-on’s can be limited to 11-15 lbs even on international flights.

Here are 4 things to think of if you check your bag.

  1. Lost bags: A checked bag, like Brigadoon, may only reappear in 100 years! One Christmas, I spent a half-day to find my bag in an airport’s lost luggage room.
  2. Arrival overseas: You may have been up all night. Now you must wait for 300 suitcases to be unloaded while you look for yours.
  3. More fees:  Another charge to add to the trip’s cost.
  4. Upstairs:  What’s worse than dragging bags up and down steps? On travel abroad, you may not find elevators or escalators in subways and train stations. This is really true with local trains.

Solo Travel-Tips for Packing Light: Tip One: Liquids:

1.Liquids: Just say no to single purpose items.

  • Liquids spill.
  • Bottles are odd shapes. I call them “space stealers”.

2.Pack only items that serve two purposes.

  • Take a shampoo mix with conditioner.
  • Use sunblock with tinted moisturizer. For more information on what’s available, click here. (Besides packing light, it’s never too early to protect your skin from sun damage and potential skin cancer. Right after finishing school, I started making sun protection part of my daily routine!)
  • Take brown mascara. It can serve as eye shadow. Try it as eyeliner and eyebrow make-up.

3.Use flat-pack samples. They take up less space.

4.Mark travel bottles. You don’t want to wash your hair with bug spray!

5.If you lose an item, visit large drug stores. Find the item among global  brands. Then buy a local, cheaper  one.

Solo Travel-Tips for Packing Light: Tip Two/Three: Small Bags and Necessities:

1. Don’t dig through your bag each day. You will have a mess. What can you do? Use zipper bags and other packaging that comes with pillows and many consumer purchases That way you will organize your luggage.

How to do this?

2. Put items you need on arrival in one bag.

3. Bag what you need for each part of the trip. For example, will you ski? Going on the Amazon? Take a Paris cooking course?

4.Split up casual clothes and sports wear. Put fancy clothes in a separate plastic bag.

5. Think about your must-have’s. Then plan how to pack them.

For some, this would be workout gear.

  • For me, it is an electric coffee pot. On a small boat on the Amazon, I ran to the 2nd deck in the dark each day. I had to have a cup before the sun came up. It was really dark. I thought I might fall in!
  • Many hotels have them in guest rooms. However, not always.  Room service is an option. I once paid $25 for a coffee pot in the French Riviera. (I didn’t know the price included an option for continental breakfast!)
  • In another top European hotel, my room service never arrived. I had to go to to the airport starving!

How can you make up for the lost space?

  • Tuck lingerie, bathing suits, socks and small items in sandwich bags.
  • Then put them into the coffee pot!

Solo Travel-Tips for Packing Light: Tip Four: Special Activities:

4. Think about your destination or special sports.

  • Visiting temples, mosques and some European churches, all must dress modestly. This can mean being covered in hot weather. The best solution? Take items that add coverage but can be used throughout your trip.

Here are some ideas:

  • A sunhat that completely covers the hair. It may work for women touring in certain places of worship.
  • A large designer scarf can be a head or shoulder covering. It can also be an accessory or a belt.
  • A long cotton skirt can be a good beach cover-up.
  • Add socks. They help on hot pavement to go in where you can’t wear shoes.

The one time I check bags? When I go ski! For winter, save space with street clothes that work for sports.


Solo Travel-Tips for Packing Light: Tip Five:  Miscellany:

5. Don’t forget the odd’s (or odd things) and end’s.

Just say “no” to your top umbrella. You must leave it behind. Use a slicker sold at your drugstores.

Going boating ? Don’t take a sunhat. Try a neutral vizor. If you wear a hat on a boat, use a scarf to hold it on.

Take several pairs of sunglasses. They may break or get lost.

Always wear a money belt. (I was robbed at noon in Europe. I luckily had also split up my cash.)

With backpacks, watch out. You may not feel a thief right behind you!

Take a “purse-within-a-purse”. It should be a small, flat shoulder bag. It has 2 uses. Put in items you need on the plane. It helps to have travel documents and overnight toiletries easy to find. This also works for medicine and cash. When you arrive, it is a great small tote for tablet/phone and other small items. Wear it under jackets to avoid pickpockets.

The last key tip:  After packing, take your luggage on a walk around your home. Lift it up and down steps. Load it above you on a high shelf. You will see if you have too much! Next? Take out at least one item!

Please check out our 5 tips on how to pack light. Then send us your own!

For more information on packing light, go to our free app, the Solo Sherpa available at the App Store for iPhones and for Android devices at the Google Play Store.

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