When I travel, I like to challenge myself. One of the challenges I typically face is packing. When you’re on the move a lot, having two giant roller suitcases, a purse, and a hat case is not only heavy and cumbersome but also screams, “TOURIST.” I choose to travel with a 40L backpack, which can hold everything I’ll need for months on end.

Most people see what I’m packing and gasp in horror. They ask me how I can survive with such a small amount of stuff. In all honesty, it makes life so much easier. Here are 5 tips to help YOU travel as light as possible!

  1. Find the Right Luggage

There are tons of luggage options on the market. You have to choose what’s best for you and the way you travel. I always recommend trying to fit everything into a carry on. Now, I understand not everyone can be as minimalistic as I am, but it saves you lots of hassle.

If you pack with a carry-on, you can save money when you fly. Most budget airlines will charge you to check a bag. Having a carry-on sized bag also makes it easier to throw under a bus, put in overhead luggage, or convince a handsome man to carry it for you. It’s also one less thing to keep track of and potentially lose, or worse, have stolen.

When I was shopping for the perfect luggage for my travels, I knew I wanted a backpack. My local outdoors store showed me what would fit my frame, how to adjust my bag, and what would work best with my travel style. That’s how I settled on the Osprey 40L backpack, which has a detachable day pack. The day pack was perfect for my computer and meant I could take my computer to a coffee shop or pack snacks and drinks for a day-long hiking trip.

The cat is used for scale, don’t worry, King Henry doesn’t travel with me.

If you’re not sold on the idea of carrying a backpack around, consider a rolling backpack. This gives you the option to roll your bag when you’re on hard surfaces—like when you’re running through an airport to avoid missing your flight -or throwing it on your back when you’re navigating through cobblestone streets.

Rolling suitcases are another great option. I recommend finding one that has four wheels and testing out the wheels in the store before you bring it home. It’s never fun to have a suitcase that has a lazy wheel which makes it difficult to maneuver.

There are tons of other options to choose from. But don’t feel overwhelmed; the best way to start shopping for luggage is by going to your local luggage store and seeing what’s best for you.

  1. Pack with a Purpose

When I prepare for a journey, I make sure everything I pack serves multiple purposes. My scarf can be used as a blanket on a plane, for privacy in a crowded area, or to cover myself when visiting places that require me to be more modest.

I do allow myself one luxury item. This is something that I don’t necessarily need, but makes me happy. My luxury item is my eye mask. I am someone that gets really cranky if I don’t have a good night’s sleep. If I’m staying in a hostel, or trying to sleep on a flight, the light really disrupts my slumber. When I have my eye mask on, I can sleep soundly— even through the loudest of noises. For you, your luxury item could be a token from a special memory, or a picture of your family back home for when you’re feeling homesick.

  1. Picking Clothing

When I begin packing the first place I start is with footwear. Shoes take up a lot of room and can also make you either completely comfortable or absolutely miserable. Make sure your shoes are well broken-in so you don’t get blisters. I try to pack at least 3 pairs of shoes:

  • A comfortable pair of athletic shoes that I can go hiking in or that will allow me to walk for miles in one day.
  • A pair of flats/heels that are dressier, which I can wear to a nice dinner or if I’m going out to a bar with friends.
  • A pair of sandals to wear on the beach or for relaxing. These can double as shower shoes if I’m staying at hostel where I don’t have a private shower. A pair of flip-flops take up very little room and can easily be thrown away if more space is needed.

Packing clothes is always a tricky part of packing; it’s what usually takes up the most room in your suitcase. When I pack, I try to bring a lot of dark clothing. This makes it easier when I’m doing laundry, because I don’t have to do two separate loads. It also helps me “blend in” more. If I were wearing my hot pink yoga pants (yes, I do have a pair of those!) I would stick out like a sore thumb. But, when I’m dressed in all black I can blend into the crowd more, which is a “safety trick” that a lot of experts recommend travelers try to do.

I pack all my clothes in Space Bags. Remember how I told you that I only had a 40L backpack? Well, that doesn’t fit a lot of clothes. Space Bags keep my stuff organized and conserve space in my bag. I’ve met other travelers that swear by packing cubes, but I think they take up more room —every corner is precious! But again, whichever you find works best for you!

  1. Throw Away and Buy New

When you’re traveling, you are going to not only experience new sites and cultures, but also new fashions. I usually bring clothes that I don’t mind tossing if I need to. If you’re traveling for a long period of time, you typically get sick of wearing the same clothes every week and they also get worn out more quickly.

It’s easy to pop into a local shop and buy the latest fashions. Buying clothes on the road can also be treasured as a keepsake. I still have the dress I wore when I met a handsome man in Krakow, and the scarf I bought with new friends I made in Budapest.

  1. Don’t Forget…

Most travel items are easily replaced if you forget to pack them or leave them behind. Don’t fret, because most places will have a toothbrush, shampoo, or even underwear that you can buy. Once I went on a weekend trip and forgot to pack undergarments—don’t worry they have them just about everywhere!

The things that I always triple-check to make sure I have them packed are:packing must haves

  • Passport: This is not easily replaceable! I also have a photocopy saved to my cloud and a photocopy with my parents in the event I should lose it.
  • TSA Approved Luggage Locks: This way you can keep your belongings safe when you aren’t nearby.
  • Electric Converter: If you lose it, it can be replaced, but it’s much harder to find the converter for your electric items in another country and it will be a lot more expensive.
  • Thank You Gifts: I like to bring a few small tokens from my home country. This could be something as simple as a t-shirt, postcards from your hometown, or something your hometown is known for. Then when you meet people on the road, or need to give a “Thank You” gift, you have a memorable keepsake for them.

I think it’s always important to remind people that most of the things you pack are just that: things. Clothes, shoes, and toiletries are easily replaceable. The important part of packing is to make sure what you bring will help you have the best possible experience.