Whether you are packing up for a business trip or going on vacation, it pays to travel light. Minimalists have an edge, both financially and in terms of mobility.

If your trip includes several stops, what you save on cab fares could be enough to pay for an extra day or two of vacation. You can save a bundle by getting into town by public transit, rather than in a cab.

When there’s no alternative but to tote your own load, you can’t put a price tag on mobility either. Light travelers can maneuver more nimbly on and off trains, where outside of the United States there may not be porters to help; and dash along the frictionless surfaces of airport terminals. By avoiding potentially long waits at baggage terminals (not to mention the risk of lost luggage) the carry-on crowd also saves precious time on vacation.

No matter how long you are away for, pack just one week’s worth of clothing. Here’s how to think–and pack–like a minimalist.

1. Put things in perspective. The evolution of travel and lightweight materials enables us to move about relatively unencumbered. It wasn’t always so. During the early 19th century, suitcases were mostly made of leather. To transport toilet articles, the wealthy carried elaborate kits, outfitted with small jars and boxes made of crystal, ivory and silver.

Put things in perspective

Still, to pack light, you must be willing to live with less. If that notion makes you uncomfortable, remember it’s only temporary; consider it a vacation from your possessions. Barring a terrorist incident or a natural disaster while you are away, all your stuff will still be there when you get back.

2. Choose a capacious carry-on. For a recent vacation I invested in a conveyor wheeled duffel bag .It weighs just seven pounds; has removable skate board wheels and grab straps in four places; and fits in most overhead compartments. Unlike the roll-aboard used by many business travelers, it doesn’t have a stiff frame, which gives you a lot of flexibility about what–and how–you pack. I also like the packing space; if you feel a need for compartments, you can create your own using plastic bags.

Choose a capacious carry-on

Whatever bag you choose sets the limit on how much you can take: if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go. On the other hand, don’t feel you must fill every available crevice. You will welcome the extra space for those must-have souvenirs

3. Bring ample footwear. Shoes are the non-negotiable essentials, and take up the most room in your suitcase. So without going overboard, figure out what’s appropriate for the activities you have planned. When I need to bring hiking boots or winter boots, I wear them on trains and planes, and carry a pair of ballet flats in my purse to change into once I’m on board. The only footwear that goes in my suitcase is a good pair of sneakers or comfortable walking shoes, and a set of flip flops that I use as bedroom slippers; to pad around hotels; and when going to the beach or swimming pool.

Bring ample footwear

4. Be a minimalist with toiletries. Pare your list down to what you absolutely need. Hotels have gotten skimpier with amenities, but you can usually live off the land for soap and shampoo. On the other hand, if you wear contact lenses, you should bring enough of the various solutions you use since they may not be readily available where you are going. If you use makeup, carry just enough to last for the length of the trip–small containers or samples are great for that. A pair of earplugs and a set of eye shades weigh practically nothing and can help you get your beauty rest in noisy hotel rooms.

Be a minimalist with toiletries

5. Layer to change your look. This approach gives you more outfits and the flexibility to adjust for weather changes–for example if your trip takes you to various climate zones, or you run into a hot zone or cold zone. For example, one long-sleeve button-down shirt, two camisoles, two tank tops and a cardigan can be combined in multiple ways.

Layer to change your look

6. Dress it up or down. Light-weight, wrinkle-free separates that can go dressy or casual make the most of each inch of packable space. By day three semi-dressy tops go casual with cargo pants (when touring, stash your cash in the pockets to deter pickpockets). In the evening, pair them with a wrinkle-resistant tube skirt and ballet flats for a more polished look.

Dress it up or down

7. Teach kids to help. Young children are natural tourists. Pack too many toys, and you may wind up carrying their stuffed animals and picture books through museums, for example, while they find endless amusement in the audio guide and growing number of interactive exhibits. If they are old enough to help pack, let them choose which items to bring.

Teach kids to help

Even a four-year-old can maneuver a small wheely.

8. Use apps to the max. Even when traveling on business, I generally leave my laptop at home and rely on an iPad and iPhone to stay connected. During the past several years I have shed yet more baggage by using a variety of smart-phone apps, instead of toting weighty paraphernalia. Some of these apps are specifically designed for travel and touring. For example, I use the Camera+ app to take pictures, like the one at the top of this post and in the accompanying slideshow; convert currencies and measures of altitude, weight and temperature with Converter+; and wrote this article and kept background information about each destination on Evernote.

Use apps to the max

9. Wear the bulkiest items in transit. This goes not just for shoes, but for clothing too. Jeans, which are heavy and take up a lot of suitcase space, are great for travel because they are so durable. Don’t travel in shorts or a skirt, which can be easily packed. If it’s too warm to wear the jacket or coat you’ve brought, sling it over your arm.

wash rinse repeat

10. Wash, rinse, repeat. You can’t beat the convenience of a hotel laundry service, but it can cost almost as much as certain items of clothing. In some locations, self-service laundromats are your only alternative. A drop-off laundry service (priced by the pound) is a happy middle ground.

Wear the bulkiest items in transit

To tide you over, rinse things out in the hotel sink. (If you expect to do a lot of this, bring rubber gloves to avoid dishpan hands.) Pack a mild soap power for the purpose or live off the land if you’re staying at a place that provides shampoo or bath gel. Dry your garments on towel rods or the retractable clothes lines that many hotel bathrooms now have, or string up one of your own, like the Flexo-line
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What about souvenirs? Truth be told, I bring back a lot more than photos and memories from my travels. My sweet spot is for inexpensive, fancy items wich reminds me of that place


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