You don't have to be a minimalist to pack lighter when you travel. It's not about scaling everything down to the point where you claim you own just “five” things.
Instead, packing light is about being flexible, making transportation easier to cope with, and saving your back from suffering throughout your journey.
You may have already seen my packing list, and here are five of the ways that I lower the overall weight and size of my backpack.
1. Use a Smaller Bag
This might be an obvious way to scale back on the things you bring with you, but seriously speaking, we'll probably fill it up no matter what size our bag is.
Have you ever seen a backpacker walking about with a half-empty backpack?
No, most of the time, I see backpacks maxed out and overflowing with extra things hanging from strings and carabiners.
Possibly the easiest thing to do when you want to pack lighter is to use a smaller bag – that way, when your bag is full, it still won't be too big.
2. Bring Less Clothing
Clothing is one of those things that I see nearly everyone brings too much of.
Sure, you need the basics, and you need a few extras, but do you need seven shirts and seven pairs of underwear?
I travel with no more than around three sets of clothes, sometimes with just two.
Now, of course, you have to consider the weather conditions where you'll be traveling, but think about how many clothes you need.
Remember you can wash your clothes in a sink each day or even buy new clothes wherever you are.
3. Hold Back on Toiletries
I've honestly seen travelers with toiletry kits that are nearly the size of my entire backpack!
Stuffed inside are full bottles of shampoo, entire boxes of band-aids, facial creams, and who knows what else.
Depending on your own physical needs and comforts, you can probably still cut back on some of the unnecessary toiletries.
Also, remember again that just about everything toiletry-wise will be available in the nearest store in whatever city you'll be in.
4. One Pair of All-Purpose Shoes
Shoes are incredibly bulky and often quite heavy, but they are indeed important, depending upon where you're going or the activities you'll be doing.
The way I travel, I bring one all-purpose pair of shoes that I use for walking, hiking, or jogging, and I carry one pair of flip flops that I prefer to wear the majority of the time.
These two footwear options are probably all you'll need for a typical backpacking trip, and any extra footwear will only make your bag heavier with little use.
5. Fewer Books
I don't mean less reading material (I think reading is a great thing to do when you travel), but I do mean fewer physical reams of paper that are outrageously heavy.
I know it is nice to have a physical book to read while traveling (maybe one or two), but a whole stack of books may not be worth its weight.
You can often find used books when you need them or trade with other travelers.
Also, consider an electronic book reader where you'll be able to store hundreds of books on a tiny device.
When it comes to guidebooks, either don't bother and just rely on the information you find online, or I've seen people tear only the valuable pages out of guides and ditch the useless portion.
I'm an advocate for traveling the way you feel most comfortable, and we each have our unique wants and needs.
However, I firmly believe that lightening the load is directly correlated with getting the most out of your trip.
These are just five suggestions, but there are countless other ways you can cut weight from your bag, so you can travel with ease and give your back a break!
Mark was raised in central Africa before migrating back to the U.S. for University. After graduating, he decided to continue traveling the world. On Migrationology, he shares the cultural side of travel from a slow-paced local perspective that often revolves around his love for eating all forms of food. Join him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @migrationology.