Pack smart, travel light – part 1, equipment

Travel quote Oscar Wilde

We travel more than before and in addition, we focus more and more on gathering impressions, not souvernirs when we are on a trip. We travel often, and on short trips. It is also a trend to travel with only handluggage.

What are the advantages of traveling only with hand luggage?

No waiting for your luggage

(which may or may not be lost)

This is one of the greatest advantages by traveling light, with only hand luggage. You are on your way out of the airport and on your way in to the city long before the other passengers have even gotten the suitcases loaded on the conveyor belt. In addition, you need not worry whether it is lost, because you are always carrying it with you.

You are well dressed

Yup, it’s true. With a carefully curated minimalist travel wardrobe you can put together just as many outfits as if you had a suitcase full of lots of complete outfits. Plus, you actually end up with a more throught through selection of clothes when you give yourself the restrictions of a smaller travel bag. You check the weather forecast for your destination, you think through what kind of occasions and activities you will be dressing for. You choose more carefully, instead of just tearing through your closet and filling your suitcase with «what if» outfits.  Part 2 of this blog post is about the clothing you will pack, you can look it up HERE if you want to skip straight to Travel capsule wardrobe bit.

So. There’s always challenges, right? (I can hear you thinking) There’s always a snag. Lets get to the challenges of traveling light:

Lekker, men er dette den mest praktiske løsningen?
A hard case carry-on is elegant, but is it the best solution?

Choosing a travel bag

Personally, I prefer not using a hard case carry-on suitcase. They are very professional and cool looking, and it is tempting to not have to carry it, but the wheel construction and the handle take up quite a lot of precious packing space. The hard case suitcase is also – well, hard. Which makes it more difficult to stuff into the overhea compartments in the aircraft. Worst case scenario: You end up being told bu the cabin crew that there is no room for it and they take it from you and store it elsewhere. Which defeats the purpose of being able to just grab youd bag and go once the airplane has landed, right?

Reisenthel weekendbag in nylon

In addition, it’s pretty clever to consider the weight if the bag itself. If a weekend bag in leather weighs 3 kilos in itself, and a similar travel bag in nylon weighs only 1,5 kilos, it goes without saying that you will be able to bring an extra sweater or two in the latter, without exceding the max total weight limit. With some airlines the limit is 10 kg. Some have 8 kilos as max, which is pretty awkward when you are standing on an airport in Botswana and you are told that the max limit is 8 kilos, and your bag weighs in at close to 9. And don’t ask me how I know this. Suffice it to say that this is the kind of situation where you rely utterly and completely on the kindness and flexibility of the airport staff. And it teaches you to always read the information about all the airlines that you will be using on your trip. That being said, it is completely possible to travel for two weeks in Africa with all you need in a small week-end bag.


From what I have heard in my informal survey among my readers, this is quite a challenge. Airlines have strict rules about liquids in hand luggage, and many feel this is so cumbersome that they choose to just pack all their toiletries in the suitcase and check it in, and be done with it. I understand this. However with a few simple tricks you can pack a week’s worth of liquid toiletries in one 1 litre ziplock bag. Doesn’t that sound a little tempting too?

1. Do not bring anything if you believe your hotel will provide. All hotels offer complimentary shampoo, and even if the quality cannot compare to the brand you are using at home, we can all survive a shampoo or five with hotel shampoo. A little change does us all good. In the same breath, I hasten to add that hairdryers are also almost always available in your hotel room, so by all means, leave it at home, save your precious packing space for clothes and toiletries.

2. Proquire a small set of bottles and jars that you can fill with your cleansers, lotions, contact lens solution et cetera. There are lots of stores that offer sets of these. Ask me if you want to know some online sources for this, they are readily available. Make sure to get little labels so you can easily distinguish between the hair gel and the contact lens solution. Rinse and dry the bottles when you come home, and reuse them on the next trip. A tip about contacts: I have found that the little containers for contact lenses are not tight enough to withstand the pressure in an airplane cabin. No matter how hard I tighten the lis, the case leaks. So if I need to travel without wearing my lenses (on super long flights, for instance), I put the contact lens case in a separate tiny ziplock bag inside the 1 litre liquids bag, to avoid a big mess. Usually I just wear my contacts, and I bring the contact lens case empty, and the contact lens solution in a separate bottle.

3. If you think it is a hassle to fill and refill little bottles on your own, there are stores that cater to the carry-on luggage traveler, and they offer small size versions of everything under the sun. In Norway is the place for this, in other countries I am sure there are many shops that offer similar concepts.

4. I find it quite nifty to choose mineral makeup as much as possible when traveling, and leave the liquid foundation at home. Or, go for a BB cream, which offers transparent coverage and sun protection in one product.

5. Other toiletries like your toothbrush, dental floss, mascara and such you pack in separate ziplock bags. You do not need to show these in the security control, but those 1 litre ziplock bags are pretty darn practical, super space saving compared to oh so elegant but very bulky toiletry bags, and if you divide yout toiletries in several small bags, you will find it so much easier to stick them inbetween the clothing in your travel bag.

6. Going on a beach holiday and need more sunscreen than the 100 ml bottles allowed in yout liquid allowance? Buy some at the place you are going to.

The biggest advantage

The greatest asset of traveling light is that you will be exonerated from the obligation to bring something back. There simply is not room in your travel bag, so you can just relax, enjoy the trip, gather impressions and not worry about what to buy to bring home. Bring memories. They weigh nothing, and last far longer than that coffee mug with «I heart Barcelona» on it.