Posted April 12, 2016

3 Easy Tips to Travel Light

Travel Tips

Mason & Rook High Res Packing

Everyone’s been there: you’re desperately attempting to finish packing before a trip, trying as hard as you can to get that carry-on bag to close with every last thing you need crammed in it. Opening it up again at security? Forget it. Wouldn’t it be great to just pack light, without feeling like you’re leaving your essentials at home? It’s not just a pipe dream… Here’s how:

  • Start with a smaller bag.

Your beloved Rimowa might be great for two weeks in Europe, but for a shorter trip, nothing beats a smaller leather or canvas bag. We swear by a classic duffle. Gone are the days of your middle school camp-era canvas, as high-end designers like Thom Browne and even perennial road warrior favorite Tumi have started making sleek, highly portable bags in a variety of colors and materials. A bag like this has just enough room for plenty of clothing, an extra pair of shoes, a liquid carry-on bag, and portable in-flight entertainment in the form of an iPad or a magazine. Carrying it around the airport is a breeze and you don’t have to worry about wrestling a giant hardshell suitcase into the overhead bin—a soft-sided duffle can squeeze almost anywhere.

  • Dress smart.

Putting just a little extra thought into your “plane outfit” can save lots of headache later.

The micro-climate of a plane can range from Arctic tundra to a Saharan desert across the span of one flight and your outfit should reflect that. Our favorite fail-safe: a basic, neutral sweater or T-shirt with a leather jacket or wool blazer, depending upon where you’re traveling, and a scarf that can double as a cover-up. Pairing this with dark jeans and your heaviest pair of shoes means you’ve likely already “packed” the most versatile outfit of your entire trip.

For guys traveling on business, wearing a suit on the plane  gets rid of the hassle of carrying a garment bag and flash back to a time when people dressed up to fly.

  • Forgot it? We’ve got it!

Staying with Kimpton will make your travels even lighter. If you forgot your hair dryer, flat iron, a makeup mirror or even a whole bag’s worth of liquids, every Kimpton hotel has an entire packing list full of items you might have missed—or never even considered, collar stays and contact lens solution included.

Do you have any tips or stories for traveling light? Tell us below!

Photo Credit: Quirk Creative

— Ryan Smith

Ryan is New York-based freelance writer and photographer. He has worked in the hotel and restaurant industry for nearly a decade. His work has appeared in the New York Times, GOTHAM Magazine, Eater, Elle Korea, Selectism, Food & Wine,, and more.


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  1. Allen Bowen says:

    Thanks, I love these types of articles; always looking for a helpful tip. BTW, I would ditch the flask shown above unless checking your bag due to travel restrictions on liquids.

    • Mark Gillespie says:

      I was thinking that myself about the flask…but here’s the workaround. The mini-size airline bottles meet TSA carry-on standards, and you can always put one in your liquids bag for screening. Also, I recycle prescription bottles for use with whisky samples, and small ones will also work in your liquids bag. The childproof cap prevents them from leaking, and the plastic bottle won’t break inside your bag.

  2. Karen says:

    And what about women business travelers? This is clearly all about men.

    • Terri says:

      Not sure what makes you conclude that this article is “clearly all about men.” Every tip in the article can apply to women just as well as men. In fact, I don’t know any man who has a scarf that can double as a cover-up and I personally thought that was a helpful tip for women travelers like myself.

    • Pat Wells says:

      I came to say the same thing. Completely male-oriented.
      “For guys traveling on business, wearing a suit on the plane gets rid of the hassle of carrying a garment bag and flash back to a time when people dressed up to fly.”
      No mention of toiletries, accessories, etc. Leather jacket or wool blazer?
      What decade is this article from?

  3. Sonja Haggert says:

    Pack one color or colors that go together. For women–buy suits that have matching pants or pants that fit with the jacket.

  4. Carol Dunning says:

    I would really appreciate a GOOD humidifier for the room! I have been to several hotels and have asked for an humifier and had really good ones provided!! I LOVE Kimpton hotels but when I asked for an humifier I was given a cheap Vicks from the CVS that did not work at all!! Many people have allergies and with all of your ecological and health concerns this would be a good item to provide to pack light!!
    Thanks so much for your kind consideration of this matter!

  5. Tim Brophy says:

    Please correct the grammatical error on the main page tease for this article. The phrase “Here’s three tips…” should read “Here ARE three…” There is one, there are two or more.

  6. JoAnn says:

    Since I’ll do almost anything NOT to check a bag, these are 2 strategies that work for me (especially for women travelers, as requested by Karen):
    > Buy a good quality fabric purse in a neutral color and pack it in the pocket of your roll-aboard. Transfer the “essentials” from your purse (wallet, etc.) to your computer bag or briefcase until you reach your destination, then transfer to the pack-able purse.
    > Pack clothing that can all be worn with the same color shoes. Wear the bulkiest pair and pack another of the same color (different heel heights, or one more casual, etc.) I love my shoe collection, but I’ll sacrifice the fun colors to avoid checking a bag! (or pack an entire wardrobe that can use the same fun color!) The same principle can apply to belts and shoes for men.

  7. Mark Koromhas says:

    Leave the duffle bags back in your dorm room. Check out travel gear and luggage from Tom Bihn, made here in the USA by non-sweatshop labor. Very well designed, durable, and has lots of color in a world gone self-consciously black. Using this line of travel gear will also help ensure that you don’t show up on your next trip looking as if you slept in a dumpster.

  8. Jenni says:

    Wow Nice content it’s a Helpful blog. Thank you for share.