That three-piece matching luggage set may seem eye-catching in the store and even more impressive as it waits to swallow up your closet for your jaunt around Central Europe. However, it can rapidly lose its appeal once it’s been lugged up and down a few flights of stairs, squeezed it into a few taxis and faced the perils of public transport and airport check-ins.
With multi-destination vacations becoming increasingly popular, traveling light and the convenience it brings is becoming an essential part of stress-free travel in the modern age. We’ve put together 10 tips to lighten the load while making sure you don’t miss out on your creature comforts while traveling through Central Europe.
1.Take a small suitcase or backpack so you can’t possibly fit too much in it. As obvious as it sounds, there’s an unwritten law that says if you have space, you’ll fill it. Don’t fall into the trap of getting something a little bigger. Rest assured, whether you need it or not, you’ll still find a way to take up every available inch.
2. If you’re staying in a hotel, shampoo and shower gel should be provided, and thus can be left behind. Likewise, leave behind that bulky hairdryer that can take up serious amounts of essential packing space.
3. Use your technology to the max for items such as books, magazines, MP3 players, maps, or travel guides and simply pack a tablet. Although many hotel rooms have charging outlets, that’s not always the case in smaller establishments, so take a portable charger. This will greatly assist you with another unwritten law —your battery will die on you just when you need it the most.
4. Use packing cubes – now the essential de rigueur item for travelers. These keep your bag organized and make the most of your space. But most importantly, they stop you from overpacking. Once a packing cube is full, you’re forced to pack light whether you like it or not.
5. Wash clothes while you’re on vacation. It’s Central Europe, not the third world and most hotels offer a laundry service. You can also easily do a bit of DIY in your hotel room for the daily essentials. Many holiday apartments have washing machines that travelers can use, so check before you go.
6. Buy when you get there. No matter where you’re traveling, you’ll always be able to find the necessities. Even though it may not be your favorite brand, you’re sure to find something very similar. Pack for the forecasted weather conditions and remember items such as umbrellas, hats, and gloves can be cheaply purchased in local shops and markets in case of a sudden and unexpected change in weather.
7. Fold/roll/lay flat clothes – the debate rages on over the most efficient space-saving way of packing clothes. While the folding versus rolling battle dominates the issue, the new school of thought gaining ground is laying your clothes flat (with the exception of trousers). Choose whichever space-saving option works best for you.
8. Take your mobile/cell phone – due to high roaming charges, not everyone takes their phones with them on vacation (although from April 2016, charges have been capped in EU countries prior to abolition in 2017). They’re smaller and less convenient than a tablet, but switching your phone to flight mode can help avoid charges while still being able to use all its facilities (camera, GPS, alarm clock, torch, e-book readers, etc.). It also saves the hassle of carrying separate devices around.
9. Reduce the frustration of packing for future trips by compiling a packing list and keeping it for your next trip. Keep a spreadsheet on your computer that you can tweak over time and list all the items you might need to take on an overseas trip. Packing for future trips should take less and less time the more your list is fine-tuned.
10. And finally, what if you’re still not sure that you’re traveling light enough or you’re tempted to take that extra pair of shoes? One slightly radical solution is to pack your bag, ignore the stares from the neighbors, and march up and down the street for 30 minutes with your gear before carrying it up and down the stairs three or four times. How you feel after your test run will soon determine what goes and what stays.
Do you have any tips for packing light and traveling smart? Do you find packing a breeze or a task you dread? Feel free to comment and share your recommendations and stories with us.