Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

When it comes to traveling overseas for any extended period of time, there is a little complexity in how to pack light. For one, you need enough clothing to wear for your entire trip; for another, you really don’t want to be lugging around a lot of suitcases while you traipse from one town to another (or in my case, one brewery to another). On a recent trip through the Czech Republic and Germany, I decided that I was going to make the lugging around of luggage as easy as possible by issuing myself a challenge: I would allow only one carry-on sized bag per person. At first, I thought “Ohmagah, is this hard.”

Packing light means heavily editing our list of things to bring. Which I honestly am no good at. But after thinking and rethinking each item about eight gazillion times, I was finally able to do it. And in turn, the beer tasted that much more delicious without a bunch of bags weighing me down. In case you ever thought that packing for a 10-day trip with one carry-on isn’t possible (like I did at first), I have the following tips:

How to Pack Light

Forecast It Out

Do your research to know what you’re in for. Ever go on a trip where you never wore that pretty sundress because it was too chilly? Know the weather, and you’ll get rid of half the stuff you imagined you’d bring “just in case“. After being so used to the heat in Georgia, I initially thought I’d be bringing at least one pair of shorts. But I never would have pulled them out of the suitcase—the average temp in September in Germany is in the 60s. Also, knowing that there was a good chance of showers while we were abroad meant I needed to pack a rain jacket. Thankfully, with enough forewarning, I was able to find a compact one that zipped up into itself and took up only a tiny bit of room in the suitcase. Good thing too; the weather was perfect the whole trip, but when we left Bamberg for the flight home, it began to pour.

Edit, edit, edit

Pack no more than four pairs of jeans/pants (or shorts if you’re going to be in warmer climate). In places like Munich and Prague, there are enough tourists that shops and restaurants are used to traveler-wear, so no need for fancy schmancy clothes. Yes, this means you will wear each pair at least once more. Don’t worry about wearing dirty clothes – most cities have laundromats to quickly wash your things, and hotels usually have laundry service.

Style 1 Outfit 10 Ways

Pack shirts or tank/cardigan combos that you don’t mind seeing in every photo. Neutrals are also good, but aim for pieces that can work in a variety of combinations with each other rather than individual outfits for each day. I stuck to plain colors so that I don’t do the why-did-I-wear-that-ugly-thing when I look at these photos again in five years.

Accessorize to keep it fresh

Scarves and accessories are teeny and can completely change an outfit, so these are where you can have fun. Pack as much as you like, and stuff them into the nooks and crannies of empty suitcase space.

Go Shoeless (sort of)

Here’s where it gets almost impossibly hard: pack only one pair of shoes. You will have two pairs at any given point on your trip: one packed, and one on your feet. I brought flats and walking shoes with traction for when/if we were on rougher terrain. Or if on a beer trip I manage to lose a shoe. Hmm, I wonder how that could happen…

Toss and forget

My favorite tip of all: throw away your underwear. I went to Walmart for two five-packs that cost less than $5 each and tossed them right into the side of the suitcase. This was helpful for two reasons: they were already packaged, which was compact; and with each toss, more room was created in the suitcase. If you’ve ever had to re-pack your clothes during a trip, you are familiar with the mysterious nature of dirty clothes taking up more room than clean ones. By having fewer clothes to put back into the suitcase, it was easier to get up and go to the next city. If you hate the idea of buying new ones just to throw them away, you can just use a ziplock bag to tightly pack some of your older pairs. By tossing them as you go, you’re not only making it easier during travel, but you’re getting a head start on your seasonal closet cleanup. Win-win.

Roll it up!

Instead of folding your clothes into the suitcase, roll them. This actually compacts each article of clothing into a smaller size, making it easier to find extra room. It also helps to keep your clothes wrinkle-free.

Use negative space

Don’t take space for granted. Stuff the insides of your shoes with chargers, socks, belts, etc.

Hide an extra bag

Bring a folding bag. Just before we left, I first found Envirosax at a luggage store in the mall for less than $10 each, but they’ve gotten a little cheaper over the years. I also saw a similar brand when I was in a souvenir shop in Germany. They’ll also make you feel a little bit better about all of those discarded undies.


These large bags can roll and snap into a compact bundle about the size of your cell phone, making it really easy to take extra souvenirs home that wouldn’t have made it into your carry-on. Plus, when your trip is over, these little (er, big) guys can be reused as environmentally-friendly grocery totes.

There you have it! Got any of your own travel tips? Please share.

how to pack light for long trips

What to see more pics from our travels? Click here.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy: I love comments, especially if they make me laugh. Feel free to let your words of wisdom and humor fly (there's no swear jar on this blog), but if you're overly spammy, rude, or just plain boring, you're just going to have to accept that your comment may not see the light of day. P.S. If you leave an affiliate or monetized link when making a comment on this site, such links might get overwritten by a plugin I have installed that uses my own internal tracking. See terms and disclosure page for more info! Thanks in advance. You rock.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Great tips! Thanks for sharing. I'll have to try rolling my clothes for our next trip – they always get wrinkles!