My husband and I went on a 10 day vacation with two good friends of ours who are notorious for overpacking. We had a bet - whatever couple packed the most had to treat the other couple to dinner. Let’s just say, it was the best dinner I’ve ever had.

Packing light might seem overwhelming, especially if the trip is longer than average. If I’m being completely honest, I really only travel to warm climates, so that makes these packing rules a lot easier to follow. But if you want to avoid the fees associated with checked luggage, try out these tips the next time you’re packing for vacation and see how much room you save!

open luggage suitcase with clothes laptop camera sunglasses

MIX + MATCH: Do you really need a brand new outfit everyday? Doubtful. It’s fun to think you’ll wear that cute top you’ve had for years, but chances are high that you won’t. Pair pieces together so that you can create various looks with just a few key items.

LIMIT THE SHOES: This goes with the above - you don’t need tons of shoes, especially for a beach getaway. I only pack flip-flops, water/hiking shoes, and one pair of nicer sandals for dinners out.

MAXIMIZE FUNCTIONALITY: Since we’re on the topic of shoes, let me introduce you to hiking + water shoe combos. As long as you’re just doing light to moderate hiking, these combination water/hiking shoes save a ton of space by doing the job of two kinds of shoes.

PLAN AHEAD: Take a long hard look at the itinerary your travel advisor has built for you. What kind of activities are on there? Pack according to that. If you’re spending the vacation hiking and kayaking, you’re not going to need 17 sundresses. Keep it real and leave half of your wardrobe at home!

ROLL IT UP: Rolling your clothes saves so much space! Fold everything lengthwise and roll it up nice and tight. It also helps keep wrinkles out!

LAUNDRY TIME: It’s vacation, and the last thing you want to do is laundry. But washing your clothes halfway through the trip allows you to pack less and return home with less laundry to do anyway! Pack a few travel size packets of your favorite detergent and hunt down a laundromat or use the on-site machines if your lodging offers them.

A real life photo of doing laundry on vacation - we hand washed laundry in the sink of our bungalow in Rangiroa and air-dried it on the patio. This method allowed us to travel for 22 days out of one large suitcase!

A real life photo of doing laundry on vacation - we hand washed laundry in the sink of our bungalow in Rangiroa and air-dried it on the patio. This method allowed us to travel for 22 days out of one large suitcase!

AU NATURALE: Don’t bring your entire makeup case, ladies. Blush and mascara will compliment that sun kissed glow and free up space for more important toiletries. Forget the hair dryer - let your beachy waves air dry! Pack travel sizes of your most used toiletries - you have to fit everything into 3.4oz bottles to get through security. Worst case scenario - buy what you need once you land and leave it behind. It will still be cheaper than checking luggage.

TAKE ADVANTAGE: Most airlines allow a carry-on suitcase and a personal item. I always choose to bring a backpack for my personal item. I can fit my toiletries, laptop, and miscellaneous items in there that would normally take up precious space in my suitcase. Just be sure to do your research (some budget airlines don’t allow a personal item) and make sure it will fit under the seat.

LAYER UP: I always travel with my travel pillow and a few warm clothing items. Even if it’s 85 degrees when we land, I’m in leggings and a hoodie, with my travel pillow around my neck. Those bulky items take up way too much space and are better transported on your body than in your bag.

See, wasn’t that easy? It’s not like I told you to only bring one pair of underwear! Another important tip is to make sure you pack smartly. If you don’t have TSA Pre-Check, you’re going to have to remove toiletries and electronics from your bag - always put them at the top of your bookbag so you can slide them out quickly and put them back once you clear security.

woman sorting through clothes on hanger in closet

Aside from saving money on checked luggage, carrying on grants you the peace of mind that your luggage is always with you. You also won’t have to wait in line to check your luggage or pick it up from the luggage carousel after a long flight.

What’s your favorite packing tip? Keep this blog post in mind when you pack for the next vacation I plan for you!