The flight attendant’s secret guide on how to pack light

From seven pairs of shoes to toiletries bags that are bursting at the seams, becoming a chronic over packer is all too easy. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. With a few minor tweaks and a little inside knowledge, you can become to feather light packer you’ve always wanted to be.

Not only will you get to skip the lengthy bag check lines, but you’ll also minimise handling fees and avoid lugging a ridiculously heavy suitcase around.

Here’s how:

Make a checklist

It may sound simple but putting together a packing list forces you to differentiate between what’s essential and what’s not. Start by writing down exactly how many garments you’ll need, considering the climate of your destination and what you’ll be doing when you get there. You can also factor in whether you’ll be able to wash garments on your trip. After you’ve strategically calculated what to bring tick off each item as you lay it next to your bag. And the number one rule – ignore the urge to add any extra garments at the last minute!

Opt for quality, not quantity

When it comes to packing light quality, pieces can make all the difference. For example, say you’re heading off on a five-day trip to Queensland to visit your daughter and her little ones. While some people might pack five different pairs of socks and three t-shirts, savvy jet-setters know better. With fabrics like merino wool and linen you can wear the same shirt multiple times. The natural fibres banish sweat and keep smells at bay so you’ll stay feeling fresh throughout your holiday. Plus they’re super-lightweight and keep you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. Genius.

Be neutral

From cruise ships to weekends away, a general rule of thumb for packing light is to select neutral shades. This goes for ladies and gents. Ultimately, it’ll give you the freedom to accessorise with colourful silk scarves, statement jewellery or a unique hat. If you’re not into neutrals simply be aware of your colour palette. If it’s cross compatible you can put together multiple outfits from minimal clothing while you are on the road.

Versatility is key

When packing look at each piece of clothing and ask yourself whether it’s versatile enough to make the cut. For example, rather than wear a something comfortable on the plane and pack a second option for wearing out to dinner, choose an outfit that can do both. The same goes for items that can perform a double duty. For example, a cotton sarong can be used not only as a beach cover-up but also as a picnic blanket, scarf, shawl, pillowcase and so on.

Compress and compact

What’s the secret to packing it all in? Flight attendants swear by compression bags and packing cubes that reduce excess air and bundle all your clothes into one neat parcel. The trick is to avoid clothes that crinkle easily as you’re guaranteed to get a wrinkle or two.

Trim down your toiletries

It’s one thing to keep clothing to a minimum, but toiletries can start piling up fast. For shorter trips travel sized bottles can be a great way to save space. You can also make smart switches like using a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner or a shampoo bar that can double as soap.

Good things come in small packages

One of the oldest tricks in the book is to buy a small suitcase and stick with it. In short, if your travel suitcase is small there is no possible way to overpack!

So, is it really necessary to pack five t-shirts in different shades of blue? The answer is no. At least, not according to these veteran flight attendants who know a thing or two about how to travel light.