Travel light. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Until you’re forty minutes into the packing process, pulling your hair out because your belongings don’t fit, and ready to reach for that tequila shot. Trust me, we’ve all been there. Well certain trips are easier to pare down for than others, I have found several strategies over the years that work really well when I need to travel light. Here are five of them.

Coordinate a limited number of wardrobe items.

By selecting your wardrobe items carefully, it’s possible to travel with fewer pieces of clothing than you might otherwise be used to. The key is to use items that coordinate in color as well as style and functionality. One example of this is a classic pair of black leggings. You can wear these with a flowing top, instead of long underwear under a pair of jeans, to exercise in, or under a mid-length dress with flats for a dinner outside of the traditional backpackers’ ghetto. Choosing a black tankini as a swimsuit for women is another helpful strategy. The top can be worn layered under a long-sleeved blouse, on its own in a less conservative country, or as a workout top. Of course, the entire ensemble can be used for its original purpose of sunbathing and swimming as well.

Photo: Salim

Travel light with smaller sizes of your travel favorites.

While this certainly applies to the expected bottles of shampoo and sunscreen, smaller sizes of non-consumable travel items are available as well. Miniature versions are available for travel clotheslines, nail clippers, emery boards and headlamps, as well as travel pens and pharmaceutical staples like aspirin. To save money on things that are refillable, decant the replacement product like shampoo or lotion from a larger bottle, and just keep reusing the smaller containers trip after trip.

Digitize.

This doesn’t just apply to extra documents, but also to your entertainment. Multiple books can be stored on a space-efficient Kindle, and a variety of podcasts and musical selections can be stored on your smart phone, skipping the need for additional entertainment devices. Your smart phone can also be used as a voice recorder and digital appointment book. Not only does this keep things super easy to travel light, it’s also less expensive, as you have fewer pieces of equipment to purchase.

Layer up.

Keeping your clothing choices as thin and compact as possible allows for an exceptional amount of layering, particularly on travel day. Wearing as many clothes as possible keeps your luggage needs low. This is especially important if you are a digital nomad, and need to use as much of your baggage space as possible to store equipment and media gear.

Design.

The right bag is critical. While finding a universal bag design that suits every type of trip and purpose still alludes me, I am getting closer and closer to finding the perfect bag design for certain types of trips. If that’s the closest I ever get, it’s still light years ahead of where I was when I first started traveling. Certain design elements are important for every piece of travel luggage. Generous amounts of pockets and clips to attach extra gear, as well as whether or not a particular bag is roomy enough to be functional, yet small enough to fit in the allowed cabin spaces for carry-ons.

As you can see, you don’t need to be an airline professional or travel rock star to figure out how to travel light. You just need to be aware of your needs, and disciplined in your approach to meeting them. Happy trails!