Packing Light: It’s All about the Mind-Set

March 26, 2013 | , ,

This is a guest post by Kris Emery.

‘Baggage’.  It’s what we say when a person comes with the bulky inconvenience of too many issues.  Complicated, overcautious, unspontaneous, heavy and hard to move.  Baggage has negative connotations in the world of words.  It’s why I insist on always packing light.  And not only in the metaphorical sense.

Packing light is nothing but a mind-set.  I crave that drop-everything spontaneity of not carrying anything.  The nomad in me needs to feel free to take flight.

Maybe it’s because of our family self-catering trips to Spain where my parents took teabags and longlife milk ‘just in case’ they couldn’t find somewhere for a cup of tea.  (So British!)  Maybe it was tossing three-quarters of my wardrobe on a backpacking trip to Australia as a teenager.  Whatever it was, I’ve never really felt comfortable with a lot of ‘stuff’.  It weighed me down both physically and emotionally.

So what does a pack-light mind-set mean?

#1 Think Item Importance

The way I was taught to pack, the bulky and heavy items went in first, then you packed around them and filled in gaps with smaller items.  This is the biggest mistake you can make, because it assumes you’ll take everything you start with.  Error.

Packing the most important items first puts everything into perspective.  Could you forego the extra pair of heels?  You might if they’re the last thing left to go in.  If they went in first though, you’re unlikely to delve into the bottom of your suitcase and take them out.

ACTION: Look at the item and ask, ‘How much do I need this?’  Then start with the highest-priority items.

#2 Be Flexible with It

Anyone with the slightest hint of perfectionist tendency will recognise this scenario.  Your bag is beautifully arranged.  Perpendicular, parallel, symmetrical.  You get attached to the neatness of the way you’ve packed.  And then that ugly-shaped item throws it all out of whack.  I’m thinking hairdryers, heels, boots.  It’s frustrating, yes, but don’t be too rigid with the way you’ve laid things out.

ACTION: Be prepared to repack if it’s not working.

#3 Go Multi-Purpose

Nothing—and I mean nothing—should go in unless you can think of at least two uses for the item.  Take a sarong, for instance.  I see a towel, a sheet, beachwear, and a wrap for your shoulders.  Think of a smartphone.  That’s a travel alarm, calendar, notepad, camera, and data storage (for copies of documents, say).

Even items of clothing are better off being those you can wear on different occasions in various locations.  Versatility is key in any capsule wardrobe, so make sure your clothes mix and match in many combinations.

ACTION: Look at the item and ask, ‘How could I use this?’  Only put it in if you can think of two realistic scenarios.

#4 Lighten Up and Enjoy!

Packing equals stress for some.  But it really doesn’t have to be that way.  Create time to really enjoy it. 

Packing in a fun and relaxed environment makes all the difference to how you feel about the impending shift you’re making.  If you feel lighter of heart, you’ll be less attached to the physical things you feel the ‘need’ to take with you.

Your journey starts here, visualising the days, weeks, months ahead, carefully and lovingly selecting each and every item that you’ll want with you along the way.

ACTION: Put on some music.  Pour yourself a glass of wine or make a lovely cup of peppermint tea.  Find a pen and notebook and list it out if you feel like it.  Take time to sink into the excitement of your trip.

Once you’re in the feeling of lightness, the need for ‘just in case’ stuff melts away.  Trust me, before long, you’ll be leaving the house with nothing more than the clothes on your back and a smile.  May peace go with you on your journey.

What about you? What helps you pack light? 

KE Profile Pic - High DefKris Emery is a location-independent writer and editor, and author of Freelance Your Heart Out.

After learning the ropes as a staff writer in London, UK, she quit her “grotty day job” and took the plunge into freelancing, with elated success and horrendous, embarrassing failure.

She now splits her time between London, England, and Auckland, New Zealand, writing, editing, and coaching others to do a great job of freelancing through her online programmes. Her purpose is to help people express themselves through writing and find freedom in freelancing.

You can find Kris online at



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