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Article: How To Pack Light For International Travel - A Step-By-Step Guide

How To Pack Light For International Travel - A Step-By-Step Guide

How To Pack Light For International Travel - A Step-By-Step Guide

Learning how to pack light for international travel can save you time, money, and stress. It can even make travel more enjoyable. No longer will you need to worry about airport baggage fees or waiting in check-in lines. Instead, you can zip through security, keep your belongings with you, and avoid hauling heavy luggage around.

Many people think that packing light only works for weekend trips or short getaways. However, using the right tips and travel hacks can help you pack everything you need for weeks, months, or even years in one or two small bags. Here’s a helpful guide on how to pack for international travel.

How To Pack Light For International Travel

Step 1: Find A Reliable Carry-On Bag

Whether you’re traveling for a week or a year, a reliable carry-on bag can fit everything you need. It’ll also help you reduce or eliminate luggage costs and get through airport security faster. Most airlines have carry-on allowances between 55x40x25cm to 56x45x25cm - enough for around 30 to 40 liters of luggage. 

It’s best to start at the higher end of this range. A 35 - 40L travel backpack can easily fit a couple of weeks’ worth of clothing along with all of your essentials. Experienced one-bag travelers even learn to fit all of their gear in a 26L backpack. Alternatively, you might want a handy travel duffel to keep in the overhead compartment.

Step 2: Get A Travel Daypack

Although you’ll need a larger bag for your clothes, it helps to have a secure travel daypack for international travel. That way, you have a smaller storage solution for your everyday needs. You can also use it as your personal item on flights, giving you a little extra storage space.

A high-quality sling bag, such as the Bravo Sling Max V2, is the best option. It has enough space to carry your phone, passport, wallet, laptop, and all your other everyday needs. It’s also ideal for storing your valuables while going through airport security. You can even hang it on your tray table during flights.

Step 3: Compress Your Clothes With Packing Cubes

You might wonder how light packers fit all the clothes they need in nothing but a backpack or duffel bag. The answer? Packing cubes. These handy accessories are capable of compressing clothes into a tiny space. They’re also perfect for organization.

Use a large packing cube for trousers, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and other large items. A smaller packing cube can fit your t-shirts and underwear. It’s best to buy light, packable clothes to make the most of the space you have. As you get used to packing light, this will become second nature. You’ll soon find that you can fit anywhere from 7 to 14 days’ worth of clothing in a few small packing cubes.

Step 4: Downsize Your Electronics

One of the biggest space-wasters in any luggage system is bulky electronics. If you’re trying to haul a 17-inch laptop and multiple large chargers around the world, you’ll find it hard to pack light. The best way to upgrade your travel electronics is to downsize.

Nowadays, you can charge most things with a universal USB adapter and a couple of cables. Find small, packable electronics you can charge via USB-C or Thunderbolt connection. Find a portable laptop, such as the Huawei Matebook 13 or MacBook Pro 13". Take the same approach with your earphones, smartphone, and other electronics. Soon, you’ll find you can fit everything in a single tech organizer.

Step 5: Go Easy On The Toiletries

Many travelers waste far too much space by packing their bags full of toiletries, makeup, perfume, and other home comforts. Not only does this make it harder to pack, but you usually need to take a checked bag if you’re carrying too many liquids.

Start by finding portable, travel-sized essentials, such as travel toothpaste and travel makeup kits. Try to fit everything in a single, clear zip-up bag and keep it at the top of your carry-on. This will make getting through airport security easier. Finally, ditch what you don’t need. For instance, you can buy shower gel and shampoo once you reach your destination or even find it in your hotel.

Step 6: Ditch Large Or Heavy Items

If you want to learn how to pack light for international travel, you need to get rid of anything that wastes too much space. Downsizing your electronics and toiletries can free up a lot of space, but you might also need to ditch some other items such as extra shoes, jackets, and unnecessary accessories.

There are a few approaches to this. You can find smaller alternatives - such as using a windbreaker jacket instead of a large coat. Alternatively, you can wear your heaviest items, such as your boots and jacket, to the airport. Thirdly, you can buy what you need when you reach your destination and take an extra bag home. Some long-term travelers even give heavy items away before switching destinations.

Step 7: Keep Packing Lighter

You shouldn’t expect to fit everything in a single tiny bag the first time you pack light. Learning how to pack light for international travel is a continuous process. You might start with a large carry-on bag but find that you gradually need less and less on later trips.

As such, don’t force yourself to pack too light. Take what you think you’ll need and take note of the things you barely use - you can eliminate these on your next trip. What’s more, find ways to reduce size where you can. For instance, you could replace your thick sweatpants with a thin pair of yoga pants. Over time, your bag will become lighter, and traveling light will become easier.


If you want to pack light, these tips will help. After a while, you’ll find it easier to pack less while still carrying everything you need. That way, you can travel cheaper, avoid losing your luggage and make your travels much more pleasant.

One of the most important parts of learning how to pack light for international travel is buying the right equipment. Fortunately, you can find a wide selection of high-quality travel bags and accessories at ALPAKA.

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