How To Pack Light For A Trip

I don’t know about you, but if I just shelled out a lot of money for a trip, the last thing I want to do is spend an extra $35-$50 per suitcase on a plane ride.  Or how about this nightmare scenario: You’ve arrived to airport for your best friend’s wedding, only to discover that your luggage (the one containing the bridesmaid dress) is lost.  Also, have you ever tried walking through a terminal with two kids, four suitcases, backpacks, and a giant stuffed dog that can’t be left home?  Hypothetically?  That’s why I learned how to pack light so everything fits into a carryon bag for each person.

My family and I just came back from a 17 day trip through six cities in Europe.  We each only carried one (1) backpack.  Here’s how we did it.

5 Tips to Pack Light For A Trip

  1. Pick a classic color scheme.  We live in a world of selfies and Instagram posts, so it helps to make those photos look better if everyone agrees on clothes that complement each other.  We decided to go with classic colors that looked good on everyone in our family: black, tan, navy blue, turquoise, gray and orange for a pop of color.  So even though we’re not all wearing the exact same shirt, our outfits look good next to each other.

    Color-coordinated at St. Mark’s, Venice
  2. Layer.  We visited London, Paris, Venice, Athens, Rome and Munich.  The climate went from rainy and 50 degrees to sunny and 87 degrees.  That meant we had to go from bathing suits to sweaters.  Jackets would have been too bulky, so we opted for a lightweight wool base shirt and fleece that could be wrapped around our waist as it got warmer during the day.  Also, you can mix and match sweaters with sundresses and sandals with jeans to create entirely new looks.
  3. Only pack outfits you LOVE.  Your vacation photos will be around long after your vacation is over, so don’t spoil your memories by packing something that makes you feel frumpy.
  4. Roll your clothes.  This allows you to pack your clothes tighter so you have room to add all the new souvenirs you bought on your travels.
  5. Pack gallon bags and plastic bags.  One gallon bag will be used to hold all your receipts and any important paperwork.  Each person should also get a bag labeled “dirty clothes” for socks and undies and the plastic bag should be used for larger dirty or stained t-shirts.  Tip: Add a dryer sheet to each dirty clothes bag to keep some of the stink down.  Find a laundromat mid-trip.  Just because you’re traveling for more than two weeks doesn’t mean you have to pack 14 T-shirts and pants.  Pack enough for a week and a day and then get thee to a laundromat.  Depending on where you are located, you can also buy a small bottle of detergent and wash your clothes in the sink and let them air dry.  We ended up washing our clothes at the mid-point and then the day before we flew home, because the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was laundry.
  6. Pack food and fitness items.  You knew I’d sneak this in there!  As a bodybuilder I’m used to eating six times a day, so I supplemented my backpack with Quest bars and individual protein packets along with an empty shaker bottle I could fill once past security.  I also packed resistance bands to keep my muscles toned.  My husband and kids eat like “normal” people, so I packed pretzels, almonds and granola bars for them to snack on in case (ahem…when) we got delayed at the airport.
  7. Pack a good book.  Need a suggestion?  How about my book, “She’s Losing It!”

    Get your copy HERE

Here is the list of what I packed:

  • 2 pair pants (jeans – I wore on the plane, and khakis)
  • 2 pair of shoes (lightweight sneakers and Ecco sandals)
  • 1 fancy dress
  • 3 sun dresses
  • 2 long sleeve shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 wool/flannel base shirt and pants to be used when cold and also for pajamas in colder climates
  • 1 fleece jacket
  • 1 vest
  • Underwear and socks to last 8 days
  • Toiletries and make-up
  • Curling iron
  • Converter kit for electrical outlets
  • Charger for phone and camera
  • Binder with all our travel info
  • Passports
  • Credit cards/money
  • Umbrella
  • My kids also each packed a toy and a journal

Purchases on the Trip

We bought a London suitcase for souvenir overflow

When we arrived in Venice it was unbelievably sunny, so we each bought a hat and sunscreen.  We had several flights during our trip and our sunscreen was always pulled out by security, so going forward we just bought the smallest bottles we could find and then left it at the hotel/VRBO.

One hat lead to several T-shirts, books and Christmas ornaments of various shapes, sizes and weights.  My daughter fell in love with a Carnival of Venice mask which didn’t fit in her backpack.  We could have gone hardcore and said no, but when are we ever going to take a trip partway around the world again, right?  So we bought another backpack that became the bag to hold overflow souvenirs.

We toyed with the idea of mailing some of the winter layers and books home but thought it might be cheaper to buy one suitcase at the end of the trip and pay for that instead.  The day before we left we bought a very cool London suitcase with rollers to hold the overflow and then went absolutely crazy in the Tower of London souvenir shop.  I’m not saying we’re necessarily proud of this, just owning it.

Packing light (international keepsakes aside) was very helpful.  We didn’t have to waste time at baggage claim and our kids (ages eight and ten) could carry their own stuff without our help.  Avoiding clunky carriage also helped us when we had to run through train stations.  And also, it saved us from paying baggage fees.

Hope that helped!  Do you have any packing tips?  Please comment below and let me know!

Lisa 😉

Lisa Traugott is a personal trainer, Mom’s Choice Award writer, original cast member of FOX/John Cena’s “American Grit” and has a monthly fitness column on  She won Ms. Costa Rica Sports Model 2017 and her transformation story was featured in Muscle & Fitness Hers, Good Day Austin, Great Day Houston and Texas Monthly.  She blogs at and is passionate about her clients. (c) 2012-2018 Lisa Traugott. All rights reserved. No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, video, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.


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