Ditch your full size rollaboard and downsize your luggage

I was traveling a multi-city trip with a colleague this past week, and he was carrying a full size carry on, and a rolling laptop bag.

Whilst his luggage fits in the allowable space, it struck me that carrying that much around was a big hassle. As for me, I was carrying a single bag roughly the same size as his laptop bag for the whole trip.

With that in mind, I came to the realization that downsizing your luggage is the #1 thing you can do to enjoy traveling more.

Get a smaller bag

You don’t need a 22" roll aboard for a 2–3 day trip, and they are unwieldy and take up valuable cabin space.

Downsize to one or more of my bags in this blog. I have a few different ones that I use depending on my needs for the trip. Bags are very personal so choose what works for you.

Pack precisely what you need

I know what I need in advance. For a typical 3 day trip here’s what you will find in my bag:

  • Spare pair dress shoes
  • 2 pair microfiber undershorts, 2 pair microfiber shorts, placed in dress shoes
  • Workout shoes, shorts, socks, T-shirt, placed in dress shoes

I carry a flat folding pack with the following:

  • Jeans and 2 T-Shirts (I like to change in the evenings)
  • 2 Shirts

And some electronic equipment, which I fit in the same bag:

And a 3–1–1 bag with the following:

  • 1.5oz tubes Shampoo and Toothpaste
  • 1oz jars of moisturizer, hair product
  • 1oz jars with painkillers and antihistamine
  • 1oz sprays of deodorant and clothing starch
  • 1oz bottle of clothing hand wash detergent
  • Hand Sanitizer

I don’t pack a thing I won’t wear and if I need an extra night, I break out the detergent and hand wash underwear. Microfiber clothes mean they dry overnight.

Also remember that I’m usually wearing a suit to travel in. That’s the third days clothes and the reason for only two days of clothes in the bag!

The key though: plan your outfits in advance, and choose a bag (or bags) to fit the trip.

Monitor what you use

It’s easy to pack things you don’t need. Watch what you use and eliminate things you don’t need for future trips.

Try traveling a little too light, for example do you really need toothpaste or shampoo? Your hotel will provide these if you ask.

Avoid taking bulky phone chargers, I just take my MacBook Pro, and charge my phone from that. And I actually don’t carry an external USB battery any more, the iPhone 6S+ has enough charge for a day.

Buy compact clothes

I wear microfiber rather than cotton, because it doesn’t absorb sweat, is lightweight, and dries fast. My workout clothes and underwear are all Microfiber. Calvin Klein make a great range of underwear.

Pack the night before

You should be able to figure out the size bag you need for minimalism. If you have a bigger bag, there is a tendency just to fill it. That’s no good.

Instead, learn how to compactly pack. Underwear and workout clothes will fit in your spare shoes. Everything else fits in the flat folding pack, which will be extremely compact.

And make sure you’ve packed it all the night before. It’s not fun to do this at 5am.

Also, practice. It will take a few times to become a pro.

Final Words

It’s so liberating to get away from a big bag. I can always find space for my bag in the overhead bins. You can move much faster around when you carry less weight.

Even getting through checkpoints is easier with less bulk. And on smaller regional jets, you don’t need for your luggage to be delivered.

I think that because the airlines allow these huge 22" bags, people think they have to carry them. Consider liberating yourself this year!