Slobodanka Graham


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How to overcome your addiction to checked luggage

How to overcome your addiction to checked luggage

Learn to be a light traveler

I'm an extreme light traveler, but I didn't hop out of the luggage rack fully enlightened. It's taken me years of flights, trips and tours to master the art of light travel. These are some of the things I learned along the way, which might help you over come your addiction to checked luggage.

Packing light for a conference

Packing light for a conference

Model your packing on yacht racing 

A long time ago, I was persuaded by my boyfriend, Paul, to go deep-sea yacht racing with him. For two years, I did this every second weekend. Yachting taught me not only how to pack lightly, but to manage with few clothes and fewer niceties - and I survived!

Weight is an issue on a racing yacht, particularly a small one like ours, so I was only permitted one small bag, which I had to load and unload myself - sometimes jumping precariously from tender to yacht, carrying my bag and other supplies. I had to pull on my waterproofs, boots and all, in the low-ceilinged cabin, where we occasionally slept, prepared food and used the bucket (you know what for . . .) Talk about living and travelling in a tight space!

Back in the 80s, socialising after a long day on the water with (from left to right) Ray, Heather and Paul 

Back in the 80s, socialising after a long day on the water with (from left to right) Ray, Heather and Paul 

Planning and packing for yacht racing was excellent preparation for flying and travelling - and surviving - with few possessions. I'm not suggesting you take up yacht racing, but if you participate in a similar activity, like camping and hiking, you're most probably already prepared for light travel.

Holiday in a mobile home

Mobile homes are wonderful holiday vehicles: compact, comfortable, easy to drive, but small on packing space. Our first trip around New Zealand was in a mobile home, which was a little like yachting, but less restrictive - you can stop to get out of the vehicle.

By the time of this trip, many years after the yachting experiences, I was already a lighter traveller, but Mr PetMan was still addicted to large luggage.

Maui motoring in a mobile home

Maui motoring in a mobile home

Mr PetMan's large red suitcase led to conflict and discomfort - it's funny in hindsight - but he learnt through that experience: there's no need to pack all your possessions for every trip.

Think of your next trip like packing for a mobile home where every little thing has to have its place on board. This will help you to better consider how and what you really need next time you embark on a voyage.

Lighten your cosmetics load

I hate to confess, but for years my toiletries bag was like a graveyard for discarded toiletries - both opened and unopened. My approach was, 'Oh, I'll take that sample face mask/exfoliator/skin balm so that I can use it on holiday.' And guess what? I never used it. As I didn't use those products at home - why should I use them on holiday? The face mask/exfoliator/skin balm looks appealing, but it just takes up space. 

My Planepack essential cosmetics and toiletries

My Planepack essential cosmetics and toiletries

These days I'm merciless in culling unnecessary products, packages, pills, etc. I weigh all my toiletries: you'd be surprised how heavy cosmetics and toiletries can be. Download my free calculator - see the bottom of this post how to do that.

Be ruthless when packing your cosmetics and toiletries: only take the essentials; leave the nice-to-haves at home. You'll be amazed and grateful how much lighter your luggage will be.

Pack for a weekend away

Do you fly long distance to visit friends or family? In Australia that's quite common. Next time you do, pack as if you're going for a weekend only. I promise you will survive with a carefully curated wardrobe, one (maybe two) pairs of shoes, and a small selection of cosmetics. You can always borrow or buy something that you may have left behind.

My packing for a Melbourne weekend getaway

My packing for a Melbourne weekend getaway

Planning and packing for a short break is good practice for managing overseas travel with one small bag. The thing that I find most liberating when staying with family is that my small suitcase fits easily into the spare bedroom - just like staying in a Tokyo hotel!

Stop shopping 

If you've followed my advice, by now you'll have learnt how to prepare and pack for light travel. You've practised and succeeded in travelling with one small bag only. Your last hurdle is to stop shopping when you travel.  

Food souvenirs - snap them, not take them. Serbian food stallholder,  Kalenciva Piaca , Belgrade

Food souvenirs - snap them, not take them. Serbian food stallholder, Kalenciva Piaca, Belgrade

I remember when you had to go to Italy (those who could afford it) to buy the best sandals. Or you could only buy the latest fashions by visiting the boutiques of Britain. I even remember the days when you gave and brought back - well my family did - heaps of presents. These days, you can buy anything online - so why burden yourself with things. If you want a souvenir, snap a photo.

De-tox travel 

Well done: by this stage you've practised techniques to cut down on weight, clothes and unnecessary items. You've even travelled with only one small bag. How does that feel? Pretty good, I hope.

I don't mean to complain unnecessarily, but another major reason for travelling with carry on luggage only is that your bags will never get lost by the airlines. I've had my bags mislaid - once for six weeks - at least five times. That's reason enough not to check in your bags.

My advice: don't spend thirty travel years - like I did - before lightening your load. Wean yourself off that addiction of checked luggage today. Your hands, heart and travel soul will thank you for it.

Lose that addiction: download Planepack's FREE toiletries weight calculator

Planepack - carry on toiletries packing weight calculator

Download your free calculator.

To make de-toxing your cosmetics case easier, I've created this nifty little calculator. Just enter the quantity, weight and item of each item to calculate the total weight.

Add or remove toiletries as you please. Knowing what each bottle or object weighs helps you decide which toiletries and cosmetics to leave at home.

About the author

Planepack - light traveler

I'm Slobodanka Graham, digital publisher, content entrepreneur and committed light traveler.

Follow Planepack for advice, tips and how to travel light.


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