With added fees from airlines, the hassle of baggage claim and the many TSA regulations, being able to carry-on luggage is a must and will make your life a heck of a lot easier. This is not to mention that you won't hear frequent fliers snicker as you pass by, lugging the most enormous bag known to man.
How to pack light is a question I get all the time and these are some of my favorite tips:
1. Make a list...and check it twice. Using a packing list will make sure you not only cut down on items to bring, but also remember to bring underwear (you'll never forget underwear twice by the way).
2. Go with a color scheme. A great way to save space in your bag is to limit the number of shoes you bring and reduces unnecessary repeats of clothing items so you can mix and match everything in your bag. The color scheme should probably revolve around a pair of your most well thought-out travel shoes.
3. Wear Layers and save space. If you're going to a cold climate, there's no need to pack your bulkiest sweaters. Go with silk long underwear under your shirt and a jacket on top of that. You'll be toasty and travel savvy.
4. Hand wash laundry. Soap packets will help give you the flexibility to re-wear items that get dirty (or stinky) and don't take up much space.
5. Don't pack things you wouldn't use at home. First-timers going abroad often make the mistake of thinking they are traveling to another planet and pack far too many items. This classic mistake might be due to the many seemingly fantastic travel gadgets available, but a good rule of thumb is if you don't need it at home, you don't need it while traveling.
6. Buy stuff there. Since you're not going to Mars, you will be able to find things in your destination you can not only use, but once you bring them home will become souvenirs! And you just might find the perfect face lotion or hair conditioner in a brand that's expensive back in the States, making all of your friends back home green with envy.
7. Go mini. Just like it sounds...don't bring a full-size hairdryer or flashlight, etc. If you can't do away with these items entirely, pony up and buy them in miniature-size. An inexpensive LED penlight can light up a room or a hiking trail with ease and easily slip into a carry-on; check out online travel stores like Magellan's or TravelSmith to find more minis.
8. Use Packing Cubes or mesh storage bags as a way to keep yourself organized and save space. This is helpful if you have multiple destinations on the itinerary and need different types clothes for various climates. Packing cubes are especially useful if you've got kids and need to keep things under control.
9. Roll large bulky items, but leave the rest alone. It's an old wive's tail that you should roll everything in your bag and here's why: You have to keep rolling your stuff up throughout your entire trip. Not only is this a pain in the butt, it doesn't actually save all that much space. To save yourself the headache, you'd be better off culling a few items out, and packing things that don't wrinkle easily.
10. Use unique luggage or luggage tags to help keep track of your bag while traveling. This way even out of the corner of your eye. Plus, if you do end up in baggage claim, you'll see your fabulous zebra stripe bag or cute luggage tags coming from afar rather than elbowing people out of your way to check every non-descript black bag that goes by.
Happy (light) travels!
Kim Mance is editor-in-chief of Galavanting, an online women's travel magazine.