Tips to packing light

NEW YORK • Why bother with the hassle of checked luggage when it is possible to travel to any destination with only a carry-on? At least that is what Anne McAlpin, a packing expert and the author of the book Pack It Up: Travel Smart, Pack Light, thinks.

She never checks in luggage - her recent three-week jaunt through Asia and the Middle East included - and says that travelling is much more convenient as a result.

"Taking just a carry-on is liberating because you're not bogged down by heavy bags," she said. "It also saves you money since you don't pay to check in luggage and can rely more on affordable public transport instead of pricey taxis because a small bag is easier to transport around on your own."

Below, she shares her tips.

• Go for a soft bag

Stick to a soft bag versus one with a hard case, said McAlpin, because it has a bit of give. "If you're trying to get your bag into an overhead plane compartment, a soft one will bend a little to fit, but a hard one won't, so you may be forced to check it in," she said.

•Pare down the toiletries

McAlpin advises minimising toiletries. "Take all your favourite products, but you don't need large quantities of them for a week away," she said.

A clear quart-size plastic bag can hold the bulk of your liquids, such as shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, and for liquids that you need a small amount of, such as face cream, she suggests using a contact lens container, available at any pharmacy.

She also relies on the growing number of travel-friendly nonliquid toiletries that are readily sold online and at pharmacies.

•The magic number for shoes

Wear a pair of stylish and comfortable walking shoes on your flight and pack two more.

Men should take dressier loafer shoes to wear in the evenings, while women need a pair of strappy sandals or low heels that can go from day to night.

Both sexes can also take along sneakers, preferably a fashionable pair that can be used both as day shoes and to work out in, and a pair of flip-flops - because they take up minimal space.

•Choose a colour theme

McAlpin recommends going for a dark shade such as black or navy because it looks more chic than a lighter hue, and packing no more than nine tops and three bottoms around this tone. "The number of looks you can put together with these pieces is endless," she said.

A pair of fitted jeans looks sharp. Women should also pack a pair of capris or pants, a skirt or dress that can be dressed up or down, a mix of long- and short-sleeved tops and a tank top. Men should take a pair of slacks, a tailored button-down shirt, a zip sweater, a few polo shirts, a shirt with a fun pattern (like a colourful plaid) and a sports coat (wear this on the plane). Bathing suits take up little room, so feel free to pack two.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 24, 2016, with the headline 'Travel anywhere with only a carry-on'. Print Edition | Subscribe