How To Travel Light and Leave the Extras Behind!

After selling all our stuff that had been such a burden, it was such a free liberating feeling to own practically nothing! So why would we want to tote around everything we own on our backs in a huge backpack?? Not happening! We learned really quick how to travel light! After our first big walk from a bus terminal to hostel passing all the tourists which their HUGE bags and a big front backpack, we were so glad we packed the way we did! We still had to be careful because we quickly found that even these bags can still get really heavy!

Backpack Travel Light Pinterest


First, Some Reasons Why You Should Pack Light:

  • It makes traveling so much more enjoyable!
  • You really don’t have to pack for every possible circumstance.
  • If you need something, you can usually buy it where you’re going.
  • It’s not worth the burden of carrying things you don’t use at least once a week.
  • You can take your entire bag with you on the bus so it doesn’t get lost in the bottom baggage hold.
  • It works as a carry on for airplanes.
  • There are places that wash laundry for pretty cheap in nearly every town.
  • No back pain!

We went in search of some small backpacks – I settled on a 45 liter bag and Alyssa got a 35 liter one. We feel we are packing pretty light but there are a few ways we can travel with even less. For instance, we are pretty electronics-heavy, and could do with less in that area. Also, I have a pair of jeans and Alyssa has a jean skirt – you don’t have to wash them as much, but jeans are heavy :( There are ways we can get our overall weight down even more, and we’re still learning how to travel light as we go! Check out our packing list to find out what is in our bags!

How To Travel Light With Clothes:

Clothes end up weighing a lot! A good start is to bring no more than 2-3 sets of outer clothes and a few more underwear and socks – then just do wash. We carry a little bag of laundry soap with us and do a few small items in the sink. When we get a lot, we take it to a laundry service, and it’s pretty cheap! Remember you can always buy clothes if the weather changes and you suddenly need another jacket. Don’t carry 2 big jackets around your whole trip “just in case” if you will likely only need one of most things. Don’t carry two pairs of shoes – wear your hiking boots when traveling and carry a lightweight pair of sandals for lounging around or in the water. Just remember, don’t bring two if one will do!

How To Travel Light With Electronics:

Electronics seem like a good idea to bring along at first because we’re so used to being connected all the time. Well, in Central and South America you won’t have facebook on your cell phone every minute of the day. If you can, leave the big laptop behind and just go to an internet cafe and use their internet for $1-2 per hour.

Bags Packed

We do recommend to bring an iPad or smartphone as your one lightweight piece of electronics. They can be useful with and without internet, and are small enough to be discreet when using them. They are very thin and light, so they won’t add more than a pound to your pack weight. You can use them offline for maps, Lonely Planet book, notes, taking decent-quality photos, books, music, movies, alarm clock, geocaching tool, and games for the long bus rides. When you find some WiFi it can turn into a Skype video-phone, internet browser, instant messenger, and social media master.

How To Travel Light With Books:

Ditch the HUGE Lonely Planet book! We’ve seen some people carrying 3 books trying to plan their trip – that is like 3 pounds! Spend a few bucks and buy the digital version of it. You’ll never regret it (as long as you keep your iPad or smartphone battery charged). If you’re not keen on spending $50 on a book, you can usually check it out digitally from your library – brilliant!

We have library cards for 2 different branches in San Diego and they both offer e-book check-outs. Each lets us have 5 items checked out at a time. You can check on their local webpage or head over to, a website that manages thousands of libraries. They also have an app for Android and IOS (both iPad & iPhone). There are usually an unlimited number of copies available for the Lonely Planet books, and we can check them out for 3 weeks at a time. After a book expires we simply renew it and keep using it.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for how to travel light.

These are just a few of our favorites that are simple and apply to most trips. Certainly someone could spend thousands of dollars on lightweight gear, but most world travelers have a little tighter budget than that!

Share your favorite tips on packing light below!

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