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Tips on "Packing Thin"

We recently booked short flights within Spain on Vueling, and we noticed their highly restrictive policies for carry-on luggage, especially for the Basic Fare tickets we purchased. This started us thinking about reducing bulk when packing for our three-week trip, and we realized that "Packing Thin" was a good way to describe our goal. For example, a couple of disposable razors eliminates the need for an electric shaver and charging stand. Same with toothbrushes. And my husband wears a Nike pullover warm-up shirt (in Kelly Green), rather than packing a bulky sweater. He also uses synthetic T-shirts and underwear, rather than his usual cotton. And we both avoid blue jeans and pack zip-off pants instead, because they are adaptable, light, thin, and easier to wash and dry. Any other helpful tips you'd like to offer?

Posted by
5828 posts

Put the heavy stuff in your "personal" bag along with the can't afford to lose. Airline can require gate checking if passenger carry-ons exceed cabin storage. Watch your 10kg weight limit. Lighter bags without wheels and frame help stay within the 20 kg limit.

*Note: Vueling personnel have the ability to further limit this allowance in the cabin provided available space in the aircraft.
*All hand luggage must fit in the overhead compartments or under the seat in front of the passenger.

Posted by
2081 posts


if a flight is my final destination i dont mind checking in my luggage. Where i do mind is where i have a connecting flight.

this year i had to check in my pack on an EasyJet flight from Krakow to London. No problem since i was on it for the flight and no connection to miss.

I've been buying and trying some "travel" clothes. more or less synthetics, moisture wicking, quick drying clothes. the undies I've been trying have been marino wool. I find they dry overnight if you can get most of the water out and if you do get wet, you dont feel it as much as with cotton. Also i found that even if you dont wash them daily, they dont stink. I will also try to pack my outer clothes so that i can mix/match the pants/shirts.

on my souvenirs and treats i buy, i will ship them home. Some places are expensive and some not, but its something you have to do some homework on to find out.

i will also wear my bulkiest stuff onboard the plane when i need to.

i bought a waterproof, breathable, hooded, medium warm jacket that i can rollup and stuff into a small REI stuff sack about the size of a loaf of bread. i can pack it smaller but there isn't a stuff sack that size so i will be making one to fit it special.

But i agree about learning how to pack light. Some people will figure it out and some won't and some dont care.

I will also stuff my spare shoes with anything that will fit to save space.

happy trails.

Posted by
7786 posts

I always carry one pair of jeans and one pair of khaki pants--both heavily starched at the dry cleaners. You can wear each a week and they still look good. I'm sorry, but non-cotton T shirts and underwear is too hot for me and something not worthy of giving up.

I carry 5 golf shirts for warm weather 2 week trips, and I still prefer an electric razor when traveling.

One trick to traveling light is taking only one pair or shoes (on your feet)--a big space saving when I wear size 15 shoes.

Posted by
5828 posts

Re David's comment: ...non-cotton T shirts and underwear is too hot for me....

I travel with non-cotton polyester/polyester blend T shirts that are moisture wicking and quick drying. Some proprtietary fabric names include Nike's "Dry-Fit", Polartec's " Powder Dry" and similar running/multisport products. The wicking fabric pulls moisture away from the skin and promotes quick air drying while wearing and after washing.

Nike Dri-FIT is a high-performance, microfiber, polyester fabric that
moves sweat away from the body and to the fabric surface, where it
evaporates. As a result, Dri-FIT keeps athletes dry and comfortable.

Polartec® Power Dry® was created to give base fabrics greater
efficiency, more dependable wicking properties, faster dry times and
better overall performance. Not all base fabrics are created equal,
and many can only provide temporary wicking chemistry that fades and
weakens with every wash. By designing mechanical wicking fabric with
our patented bi-component construction we invented a superior base
material that pulls moisture from the skin, expands for faster
evaporation and lasts the life of the fabric.

Capilene® synthetic baselayers wick moisture away from your skin,
breathe efficiently and dry fast to provide the foundation for any
layering system for any pursuit.

Posted by
552 posts

My wife and I share a razor (hotel soap for the creme) and most other toiletries. There's lots of 21st century synthetics in the layering system. We even share a scarf during cold spells...

But each of us has our own set of cotton P.J.'s!!

For a good night sleep, nothing works like some light flannel pants and a 'beefy' T to restore your pores after a day of 'wicking', as well as to protect from synthetics in the linens at 'econo' accommodations.

Let me say it another way, I'd give up my tablet with GPS to make room for a set of cotton sleepwear.

Posted by
8293 posts

I am curious as to just how Bill and his wife "share a scarf".

Posted by
5828 posts


Re. ...just how Bill and his wife "share a scarf".

Warmth sharing had been floated around as a hypothermia first aid concept. However one report refutes the two naked people in a sleeping bag concept's effectiveness:

Ideally the people should be nude. The more skin to skin contact the better, but realistically, even nude, the direct skin contact between the heat donor and the patient is small.
According to Dr Giesbrecht3 the transfer of the energy to the core will be blunted by vasoconstriction. Since most of our mildly hypothermic patients are not dramatically vasoconstricted, this will be only a small hindrance. In severely hypothermic patients it may be a significant limitation to the heat transfer from donor to recipient.

Sharing a single scarf even with both naked may not be an effective technique.

Posted by
8293 posts

Well, thank you, Edgar. My mental image of scarf sharing was two people (hopefully fond of one another) with a long-ish scarf around both necks forcing them to walk in uncomfortable lock-step, but enjoying a certain amount of warmth.

Posted by
295 posts

Here's a couple of my tricks. Instead of worrying about razors I wax. No razors needed. This isn't an option for men but for ladies its great. I also pack a pair of black leggings. I can layer with them, sleep in them or wear them under a skirt to get into a church if my knees are showing. I use the alarm on my phone instead of bringing an alarm clock. That's a few of my tricks.

Posted by
8082 posts

The bulkiest things I see people bring are shoes, books, and heavy sweaters or jackets. Eliminate those and you can pack thin. Basically, underwear, socks, t-shirts, slacks and shirts, and a minimum of toiletries (to be added to at destination) and you can be thin. I've seen people arrive with only a small day pack, and kit themselves out with everything when they got there. Not fashionable, but it works.

Posted by
11613 posts

Downsized to a mini-tablet and put all reading material on that. Flashlight app, alarm clock, pages app for journaling - eliminates lots of stuff. Still pack good maps, though.

Posted by
552 posts

There are two scarves in our luggage:

One elegant, that my wife wears in the evenings.
The other a pleasant solid color that I will wear some chilly nights,
yet she can wear in the day with more casual attire.

Posted by
484 posts

If you can find high quality hiking sandals that are comfortable, you can eliminate socks. Just pay for some laundry every 4-5 days and only carry that much clothing. Depending on weather temp.s, pack a zip up fleece and outer shell. You can adjust your layers then. Sleepwear - a comfortable t-shirt and undies will do. Maybe eliminate sleepwear. Leave many cosmetics at home. Medicines? Remove from original packaging and pack in compact pill containers available in Wal-mart travel section and just abbreviate a label for yourself. Same with band-aids, etc.. If you can leave your tablet at home - then do it! Wear the same pants for 2-3 days. Use your daypack as your carryon bag. Packing cubes, pouches, and folders really help. Reduces space needed.

Posted by
18 posts

I really love to "pack thin" by wearing my Scottevest which I load with my ipad mini, iphone, chargers, Bose noise cancelling earbuds, water bottle, sunglasses, ID, passport, lipstick, cash, credit cards, jewelry, and anything else that I want readily available on the plane. Going through TSA is a breeze; I just slip it off , place it in the bin and I'm through the scanner. See my 18 pockets here travel vest This totally has eliminated my need for a small tote. Also, for daily sightseeing, I will be handsfree in the vest, and so much more secure, and I have a small crossbody purse that I will carry at night. My DH opted for the convertible jacket with the magnetic sleeves that has 22 pockets tropiformer jacket He has always worn convertible pants and can pack 2 pair for a 1 week trip.

I pack in ziplock compression bags in a soft sided Lipault rolling bag that weighs in at only 6 lbs. Lipault luggage It is a fabulous, durable bag that has served me well for business and leisure for over 3 yrs now, and it totally folds down into nothing. My iphone is my alarm clock, camera and GPS so no need to duplicate those electronics. No laptop since I downsized to the ipad mini for all music & reading purposes. After having a business travel job, there are so many advantages to lightening the load, that it is easy to ditch all those things you never use or need.

I have stopped carrying a hairdryer, shampoo or conditioner as hotels, cruiselines provide them. I use an all-in-one makeup travel compact by bare minerals & all medications fit in a business card size flat case.

I purchased a great travel dress that is reversible and I color coordinate all clothing while changing accessories to maximize my choices. Here is a great resource for women travelers who would like to "pack thin" by creating a travel capsule wardrobe

I pack a pair of Tory Burch ballet flats for nighttime wear, and a pair of walking shoes for sightseeing. Yep, that's it- 2 pairs of shoes and fold up comfy airplane slippers with leggings that double for pjs.
I have a friend that discards her underwear daily while she travels! LOL! I haven't done that yet, but who knows.... I might!

The freedom that "packing thin" affords the modern woman is amazing and I am a carry-on girl only now! Great thread.

Posted by
107 posts

rbovine1 of Chattanooga,
Thanks for the thorough response and helpful tips. Those are some great ways to "travel thin."

We've heard of people paying exorbitant rates for hotel laundry service, so maybe throwing aware your underpants each day makes lots of sense.
Thanks to everyone in the thread for their thoughtful comments and we especially appreciated the humor of "shared scarves."

Posted by
484 posts

You can get your laundry done down the street at a laundromat for less money. You can even do a load or two yourself at a self serve for even less money. You spent a lot on airfare, hotels ,etc.. So, spend a few bucks on laundry and pack less stuff. If doing your own laundry - factor it as a time break and read your travel books, get something to drink/eat close by, go for a short stroll, etc.. Check out eagle creek brand or brand of packing organizers. The EC folders (or any brand of folder) can really help compress shirtsand pants for "thin" packing. Size medium is good for average size women. Size large is good for 6 footers or close to that or larger.

Posted by
552 posts

Self-catering accommodations, including a washing machine in unit, are an important part of the 'thin-pack philosophy'. An AirBnB, three-day stay, at an occasional sweet spot along your route, is a great way to facilitate this nowadays!