Travelling is a wonderful opportunity to pare back all the stuff we deal with in everyday life and lighten the load. First off, be ruthless and pack light – how often have you gone on holiday and come home having used only half the stuff you packed? Heavy bags and too many clothes to choose from are a strain on both body and mind.
Whatever trip you have in mind, bringing good quality layers of clothing is the way forward for a lighter suitcase, preferably in breathable, sustainably sourced fabrics that are quick and easy to wash out and dry if need be. With key items such as shorts, trousers, skirts or dresses, try taking only one of each kind, choosing only your favourites. When it comes to tops, underwear and other items that might require more regular washing, take just a few more and pack an eco-friendly travel wash too. Check out How to pack a sustainable suitcase.
Let climate and your choice of trip activity dictate your essentials. These might be one warm and/or waterproof coat of some kind, one pair of worn-in walking shoes or trainers, one pair of lighter shoes such as flip flops or sandals, and a swimsuit (Davy J do stylish swimwear cleverly made from waste). Other useful stuff might include a shawl that can double as something to sit on and a sarong that can double as a towel.
Pick other items that are truly useful and that will significantly contribute to you having a brilliant trip, whether that’s a travel candle, ear plugs and sustainable sun protection or a kindle, camera and some natural remedies such as plant-based essential oils. You’ll want to bring your own water bottle to refill instead of buying plastic ones, but very little is vital. Travelling light is about losing your fear that you won’t have what you need when you’re away from home. Trust yourself to know what’s crucial, and ditch the rest. You can always buy stuff on the move if need be.
Travelling light doesn’t just involve packing light. Lighten the load in other ways by carrying the right attitude so you stay stress free on the move. Expect the journey to take longer than scheduled. Keep a light heart and maintain a sense of humour. Plan ahead, but keep your mind open to change and the joy that can come with serendipity.
Tred a light environmental footprint. Avoid jumping on a plane just for a weekend, consider taking overland routes for short haul destinations and when you do fly long haul, offset carbon emissions with a legitimate company and consider staying for longer to justify the trip and give something back.
When you’re at your destination, continue the lightness by staying at sustainable hotels and by encouraging them to offer you a decluttered experience during your stay. If your room is full of clutter on arrival – be it the packaged sugary snacks in the mini bar or the expensively-produced notices and magazines on the side table – ask staff to remove it all and keep them removed for the duration of your stay. And if a hotel is still using single use plastics such as plastic water bottles, straws and food packaging, it doesn’t mean you have to use them – you’ll be encouraging hotels that aren’t truly sustainable to change by speaking out.
Travel light in these ways, and you’ll be lightening the planet’s load as well as giving yourself more time, space and energy to focus on being in the moment and savouring every moment of your trip rather than worrying about all your stuff. It’s a win win.