People always tell me I travel light. I can't remember the last time I had to check a bag. When I head to Boston in a week (!) for the ...

Prepping for Travel

People always tell me I travel light. I can't remember the last time I had to check a bag. When I head to Boston in a week (!) for the Head of the Charles, I'm looking forward to making the journey with just a backpack.

I'll be staying with friends throughout the trip to help make it more affordable, but I'd prefer to take up as little space as I can manage. I also expect to be walking around the city with all of my stuff. The less I have to carry, the better.

Of course, I will also need to work out on the trip, so I will need to bring a decent amount of clothing.

How do I do it?

First, I re-wear clothing. Although I prefer to keep my workout and every day clothing separate, traveling is my one exception. A shirt or tank top can be worn first as a pajama, second as normal clothing and third to work out in. I also wear running shorts as pajamas.

Second, I bring versatile shoes. I will be sad to not have my Vibrams for this trip, but my toes will probably thank me. (Those shoes are NOT warm.) Generally, though, I like to travel with one pair of running shoes and one pair of day-to-day shoes. Occasionally, I will also bring a pair of sandals. This trip, the sandals are staying at home. While it's 80 degrees in NorCal, I'm expecting chilly temps in Boston.

Third, I'm willing to forget things. Or buy them. Or borrow them. Of course I like to have my normal toiletries with me: toothbrush/paste, lotion, shampoo and conditioner, etc., but I don't feel the need to bring everything.

Yes, it might be a little bit less pleasant to go a week without Q-tips, and annoying to have long nails, but that's part of the charm of travel. I'm willing to trade some of the convenience of home for the newness of away, at least for a week.

Fourth, find a small bag that holds its shape. When my back is full, I stop packing. In any case, it's much easier to size up than size down your bag.

I've also found that things pack more efficiently in slightly stiffer bags. Logically, this may not make sense, but I'm going with it. Learning to fold clothing neatly gives you a much tighter pack. (Just because my bags are small does NOT mean they are light.)

Where should you start?
1. Make a list of everything you need for your trip. Be medium-generous: a shirt for every day, a few bottoms, etc.
2. Decide where you can pare down. Maybe you can do laundry, or expect to lounge in pajamas for half of each day, and so can double up on tops.
3. Pack as many double-duty items as you can. Tank tops + a jacket instead of long sleeves, for example. (You can wear the tank top to bed or to workout.)
4. Pack the rest of your list.
5. Unless you have a ridiculous amount of space left, take 10% of your items out. You don't need clean running shorts for every workout. Plus, you'll need the extra space for the way back, when you don't feel like folding so neatly.
6. Plan on buying some things there. Travel toothpaste costs the same in New York as it does in California. Stop at a Walgreens when you arrive and pick up some travel-sized items. Toss them before you come home.

What are your tips for traveling light? Even I'm not sure about making it for a week with just a backpack, so I could use some advice!

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