The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), the world’s largest organization of professional travel journalists and photographers, recently polled their members to come up with the top 10 tips on how to reduce the weight of your luggage when traveling.
“It’s always been desirable to travel light, but never more so than today when many airlines are imposing surcharges on bags and on luggage that weighs more than 50 pounds,” states SATW president Bea Broda. As a first step, she suggests travelers lay out everything they want to pack. “People tend to take too much. Before you pack anything in a bag, look at everything you are thinking of taking and ask yourself, ‘Do I really need to bring this?’”
If the item passes the first test, here are 10 more recommendations travel writers – people who travel for a living – suggest to cut down on weight, along with some comments from SATW members:
1. Pick one basic color that doesn’t show dirt (such as black) then brighten with lightweight accessories like scarves. Make sure each item of clothing can be worn with any other item and will match with all your shoes.
- “I always stick to a single color scheme when I pack: black and white, khaki and navy, denim and red. It not only eliminates the need to pack multiple pairs of shoes and a variety of accessories, it ensures that I can mix and match as needed based on the weather, the day’s activities, or the formality of the establishments I’m visiting.” Kim Knox Beckius, freelance travel writer
- “If you select one base color, everything will go with everything else and you can bring less pieces overall,” Robin Robinson, travel editor, Toronto Sun
2. Wear your coat and heaviest pair of shoes on the plane and always get by with just two pairs of shoes.
- “With my heaviest shoes, coat, sweater et al on my back and feet, I can peel off as much as I want on the plane and get by with packing lighter clothes.” Lorraine O’Donnell Williams, travel writer
3. Pack clothes that can be washed in a sink and that will dry overnight.
- “Synthetic microfiber clothing lightens your load, can be washed – and dried — overnight and never wrinkles.” Amy S. Eckert, freelance travel writer
- “Fast-drying clothes you can wash in your hotel room are the foundation of the go-light lifestyle.” John Flinn, freelance travel writer
4. Buy new lightweight luggage. Many older bags are very heavy by themselves. Advancements in plastics and materials have led to durable, strong bags that weigh a fraction of their older counterparts.
- “Many of the new, lightweight suitcases are every bit as strong as the older designs with a heavy metal frame.” Mary Ellen Botter, travel editor
5. Pack all heavy items in a carry-on bag, including cameras, books, reading materials and even shoes. Also bring a change of clothes and any medications needed, just in case luggage is lost.
- “I actually cut up guide books before I travel, taking only the pages I’ll need.” Elaine Warner, freelance travel writer
- “My vacation reading matter is magazines. When I complete them on the road, I can leave them behind.” Al Bonowitz, Hawaii Westways Magazine
- “So far, the airlines aren’t limiting weight for your carry-on, so take all you can carry on to lighten up your checked luggage.” Nicki Chodnoff, editor, Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter
6. Take only small bottles of shampoo and toiletries or buy them when you get to your destination. Remember the 3-1-1 for carry-on bags: 3.4 ounce bottles or less (by volume) must fit in a 1-quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag and only 1 bag per passenger can be placed in screening bin. The one-quart bag per person limits the total number of 3.4 ounce liquid volume bottles each traveler can bring.
- “Instead of toting a purse on the plane, ‘wear’ its contents in the pockets of cargo pants or a travel vest with multiple pockets.” Linda Coffman, freelance travel writer
- “Bring an empty water bottle through security and then fill it up from a water fountain on the other side to save on buying bottled water.” Laura Daily, consumer travel strategist
7. Pack clothes you no longer want and leave them at the destination or throw them away as you go to make room for souvenir purchases.
- “Most people take their best underwear on a trip. I take my worst. I wear it and toss it along the way. Two benefits – I lighten my load as I travel and I don’t return home with a bunch of dirty laundry.” Mary Ann Treger, freelance travel writer
- “I love leaving unwanted clothes at my destination, and when in Europe, I replace them with smart new clothes.” Christine Potter, travel journalist
8. Pack for the best possible conditions, not the worst.
- “Leave the raincoat at home, bring a fold-up umbrella. Unless you know you’ll be in icy conditions, leave the heavy coat, hat and gloves, but pack a lightweight jacket – travel specialists offer a range of these, some quite stylish. If the weather turns foul at your destination, shop a second-hand or thrift shop for better gear – and you can leave that for your chambermaid.’’ Bob Jenkins, freelance travel writer.
- “Go native. Live like a local. In Hawaii, buy a Hawaiian shirt. If in India, buy an inexpensive sari. You’ll blend in, you won’t feel like a tourist and you’ll be dressed for the climate.” Laura Daily, consumer travel strategist
9. When traveling within the U.S., ship items ahead.
- “Pack, then re-pack, tossing out half of what you packed first. But ship ahead if you can. I can ship from New York to Seattle with FedEx ground at only $1 per pound.” Robert Haru Fisher, columnist and contributing editor, frommers.com
10. Use lightweight clothing such as fleece instead of wool. Many synthetic fibers provide the same warmth without the weight.
- “Lightweight clothing dries fast, is compact and weighs next to nothing,” Eric Lindberg, freelance travel writer/photographer
ABOUT SATW: The Society American Travel Writers (SATW) is a non-profit professional association that works to promote responsible travel journalism and to provide professional support for its members, including travel journalists, photographers, editors, electronic media, film lecturers, television and film producers, and public relations representatives from the travel industry.For more information on the Society of American Travel Writers, visit www.satw.org.