What to Pack

Packing Light: Our Top 10 Choices

Packing light used to be for students backpacking their way across the Europe. But today, it’s adopted by savvy travelers everywhere. Whether you are heading out for several days on a business trip or enjoying two weeks of sightseeing, you’ll want to avoid bulky and heavy, opting instead for garb and gear that’s contemporary, sleek and light. Try these 10 choices on for size.

1. Technology Meets Carry-on

Deal yourself into the game of packing light by opting for the coolest case around: a lightweight smart bag. With a slim smart bag, you get a 20-inch carry-on you can keep tabs on via your smartphone. You’ll automatically know your bag’s weight, location and whether it’s been opened, as well as have the ability to charge devices via USB connections.

2. Smartphone Plus

Of course, you’ll want eye-catching pics of all the amazing places you travel, but you don’t have to be weighed down by a stand-alone camera and its power cord. Convert your phone to a high-performance camera with a smartphone-attachable camera lens that stabilizes your images, gives you 10x optical zoom and low-light shot capability. Add-on wide-angle lenses are also available. Check out these options from olloclip.

3. Multitasking Travel Jacket

Call it a hoodie, windbreaker or rain jacket, a lightweight, multi-purpose travel jacket will “have your back” on and off the airplane. You’ll find versions that shrug on over a tank top or sweater, zip up to keep the elements out and include a thin hood for wet weather. Choose one with multiple pockets for travel essentials, and for the ultimate, hard-working jacket, look for one with a built-in blow-up neck pillow or hidden, fingerless gloves. Check out this award-winning jacket by BauBax.

4. Cashmere Pashmina Scarf

Luxurious, timeless and beautiful, cashmere Pashmina scarves are also extremely lightweight and versatile. If you travel with one, you’ll find yourself wearing it everywhere. Women can wear a classic (28 by 80 inch) pashmina scarf as a head cover, beach wrap, shawl or neck scarf. Guys love these soft scarves for their warmth, with a dash of panache. Look for one in elegant black to go with everything.

5. One Adapter to Rule Them All

Wherever your fancy takes you, plugging in is an essential part of the trip. Phones, tablets, e-readers and computers all require “feeding” to keep them happy, but electrical outlets vary by country. Carrying multiple converters weighs you down. Rather, pack an all-in-one adapter; be sure to pick one with built-in extenders for European outlets.

6. Summerweight Hiking Shoes

Planning on doing some serious walking on your trip? Whether you are crisscrossing a large city or ascending a remote mountain, leave your heavy hiking boots at home. Choosing shoes for warm-weather trips is a snap given the wide range of comfortable and attractive hiking sandals on the market. Pick one that lets you pound the pavement all day, yet treads gracefully into an upscale restaurant. For hard-core treks, opt for a pair of contemporary hiking shoes, weighing in at less than two pounds.

7. Sonic Electric Toothbrush

To save space and still get that fresh-from-the-dentist feel, pack a travel sonic toothbrush that runs on batteries, offering high-speed vibration at 40,000 strokes per minute. Some models have five brushing modes to whiten, clean and polish your teeth and provide 30 days of brushing on a four-hour charge.

8. E-reader

We love books as much as anyone, but for travel, books are heavy. Unless you are going to use the books you cart with you as weights for morning exercises, go for an e-reader, less than half an inch thick and weighing about six ounces. The latest models offer built-in front lights for eye-comfy reading in the dark, plus a crisp resolution that feels a lot like reading a traditional book. Robust built-in storage lets you carry an entire library with you, and a full battery can power up to a month of reading time.

9. Travel “Curator” Pants

Drapey, fluid and lightweight, curator or soft pants are ideal for travel. As comfortable as sleepwear and body skimming, these pants can take you from the plane to a chic cocktail lounge. They weigh about as much as a sigh, yet never wrinkle, offering a dream match of comfort and style.

10. In-Ear Headphones

No matter how much you love the expansive sound of your over-the-ear, noise-cancelling headphones, they are bulky and add weight to your travels. Instead, carry a pair of wireless, in-canal earphones that also offer clear sound. Once you try them, you may never feel quite the same about your bulky earmuffs again.

Travel writer Teo Spengler splits her time between San Francisco and France’s Basque Country, and travels extensively in Europe. Her work focuses on the best luxury hotels, resorts and travel experiences on both continents. She has published thousands of articles for such publications as USA Today and SF Gate and for brands including InterContinental Hotels Group, Choice Hotels, JetBlue and United Airlines.

How to's

How to fold, roll, cube

Love to travel but hate packing? We’ve broken down the steps for three essential packing styles: folding, rolling and cubing. Whether you’re headed on an international adventure or a local business trip, find your style and follow the outlined steps for stress-free packing!