After having my luggage lost 3 times in 3 years, I decided it was time to try traveling with carry-on luggage only. After all, I had come back from trips having worn 1/2 of what I took — maybe I could narrow it down to taking only the things I would actually need, and have no worries about lost luggage. Plus, lugging heavy suitcases around is no fun. And now, airlines are even adding extra fees for checked baggage. So, as an experiment, I packed for a 2-week trip to Spain, using carry-on only. It worked great! Secrets: *Really, really think about what you need on the trip. Before you pack, spread everything out that you intend to pack & consider if it is essential or not. You don’t need a new outfit for every day. Remember — you’re traveling, not in competition for “best-dressed.” *Layer your clothing as temperature & weather conditions dictate. Even for cold temperatures like those found at 14,000 ft. on the Inca Trail in the Andes, you don’t need a heavy jacket — you just add layers. Then, when you are in warmer climates, shed some layers. For example: CoolMax t-shirt, long-sleeve base layer, synthetic roll-sleeve campshirt, lightweight zip fleece, GoreTex or similar shell, synthetic hiking pants (lots of pockets). This will be enough for temperatures near freezing. *All clothing should be mix & match, easy care. I like synthetic fabrics often found in outdoors/adventure stores and online. CoolMax and similar wicking fabrics will keep you comfortable in all kinds of conditions, and are quick-dry if you wash them, and don’t really wrinkle. Ex Officio even makes quick-dry underwear you can wash at night in your hotel room & wear in the morning. Favorite brands include: LL Bean, Ex Officio, Columbia, North Face, Mountain Hardwear. Travel catalog/websites like Magellan’s & LL Bean Traveler have a lot of selections. Women can also look to stores like Chico’s and Coldwater Creek for travel-worthy clothing. *Pack one lightweight dressy option, only if you know you will need it. Men can usually wear a nice sweater, lightweight fleece or campshirt, in all but the fanciest restaurants. Women can pack a lightweight top and “travel pants,” made of a great no-wrinkle fabric. *Wear your bulkiest items on the plane, like hiking shoes, jacket, etc. Less to carry this way. *Minimize the toiletries & put all the liquids/gels (3 oz. or smaller) in a quart-size Ziploc bag, kept in a handy place for the airport security check. Other toiletries can be kept in another bag in your suitcase. *For a travel tote, use a small daypack — which you will be happy to have when you are at your destination. Women, don’t bother with a purse. *Bring a small container of laundry detergent & a travel clothesline. Do a little bit of laundry (underwear, socks) in your hotel sink each night. This way, you don’t need to pack 14 pairs of underwear for a 14-day trip. *Choose flexible, lightweight luggage. I like Rick Steves 21″ roll-aboard, with wheels, so I don’t have to lug the suitcase if I have a ways to go to my hotel. Any other ideas for packing light?
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