Last Updated on February 17, 2023
Before I started traveling, I had calculated how much my backpack should weight according to my weight (it should be around 15 %), so that left me with 20 lbs. I was really optimistic at first and then soon realized I would never manage to bring only 20 lbs of stuff. Over the years I’ve become an “expert” in lightweight packing, here are some items that will help you save space and reduce the weight of your backpack or suitcase.
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1 – A Kindle
If you like reading, a Kindle is a must. Books are heavy and take up a lot of space; problem solved thanks to the Kindle. You can have thousands of books, and it won’t weight a thing. Another advantage is that you can buy books from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
Prefer one with a paper-like screen, so your eyes don’t get tired. You can also get a small clipping lamp to be able to read in the dark. I got mine around five years ago, and it’s still working really well, even the battery is still doing pretty well. They resist well to sand and heat, and the new ones are now waterproof.
2 – Solid personal care products
You will save so much space if you buy your hygiene products in solid form instead of liquid. Conditioner, shampoo, moisturizing, so many cosmetics are available in solid form. They are smaller than their liquid counterparts and will last just as long. They’re also eco-friendly. It’s also a great thing to have when you’re trying to travel with a carry-on only.
Lush offers a few choices of hygiene-products, they even make solid perfumes.
I also love Ethique’s products; it’s an eco-friendly brand specializing in solid personal care products. The shampoo bars are around 15 USD and conditioners 18 USD; they have a lot of other great products, just check it out. Here are a few options:
Complete face set (face wash, make up remover, moisturizer, scrub, and serum)
Shampoo and conditioner set
Body sampler (Body wash, scrub, deodorant, body butter)
3 – An inflatable airplane pillow
An inflatable pillow will make you gain in comfort and space! It’s great not only for planes but also for long bus or train ride. There are many sorts of pillows you can choose from, my favorite is the one you put on your laps and “bury” your head and arms inside.
Here are some options from Amazon:
4 – A microfiber towel
Not only does microfiber towels weight way less than regular towels, but they also dry faster and are anti-bacterial. It takes up less space in your bag and limits the chances of having to pack a wet towel when you’re traveling to different places.
5 – A silk sleeping bag liner
This item has saved my life many times. It takes no place and weight nothing but is a life-saver. I’ve stayed in truly disgusting places where clearly bed-sheets weren’t changed often, and it’s great to have something to wrap yourself in. It also comes in handy when you do CouchSurfing.
Browint Silk Sleeping Bag Liner
Buy on Amazon
The Friendly Swede Sleeping Bag Liner
Buy on Amazon (synthetic fabric)
6 – Packing cubes
Packing cubes will not only help you save space, but it will also allow you to have a better organization. I’ve struggled for so long with my backpack, having to unpack everything each time I wanted something. The packing cubes helped a lot with that. They make all your stuff more compressed.
OEE 6 pcs Luggage Packing Organizers
Tripped Travel Gear Packing cubes
Veken 6 Set Packing Cubes
7 – A menstrual cup
A menstrual cup will help you save space as tampons and pads usually take up a lot of space. It also can come in handy in countries where finding tampons is hard and with the cup you don’t have to stash up on them before leaving.
8 – A sarong
Sarongs can be used as so many things than having one is almost mandatory. It’s great to protect yourself from the sun, also when it starts to get a bit frisky, or simply as a blanket to sleep in. You can use it to visit temples or to cover up when you feel a bit too “exposed.”
If you’re planning a trip to “cheaper” countries, wait to be there to buy one. I got one in Indonesia for 50 cents.
9 – A lightweight coat
For longtime travels or if you’re planning to travel to destinations where it’s usually warm but can also be cold (for example if you visit the mountainside), it’s good to have a warm coat. Coats typically take up a lot of space and are not practical. Fortunately, you can find super light-weighted jackets made for cold weather. Mine came in useful during the colder months in Vietnam and Laos and while trekking in the mountains in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. It doesn’t take up much space and is pretty light.
10 – Rolled up sneakers
This one I was excited to learn about, it’s a game-changer. When I travel, I don’t use my sneakers much, and it takes up so much space, but it’s still an essential item. These comfortable sneakers from Vivobarefoot can be rolled up into the size of a pair of socks; you will gain so much space with these. Unless you have back problems or need a lot of support, they’re great for trekking, doing sports, or even for everyday walks. The only bad thing is that they don’t do well in rainy weather.
11 – Wash Bag
Being able to wash your clothes while you travel will allow you to pack fewer clothes. Hand washing your clothes is a good option to save space, but you might not want to use the hotel’s sinks, especially if you’re staying at a hostel, where the sinks can sometimes be dirty.
The Scrubba Portable Wash Bag is an amazing thing to have when traveling. First, it’s small and lightweight, so it won’t take up much space in your luggage. Second, it leaves your laundry super clean and saves water. The flexible textured scrubbing washboard allows for washing-machine-like results in just minutes. It’s easy to use and a super convenient thing to have.
12 – Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
If you are used to using cotton pads, you can swap them for reusable ones. It’s a more eco-friendly option, and you can just take a couple with you when you travel and hand-wash them after use, so it saves space.
This pack includes 30 pads of three different sorts (10 for exfoliation, 10 to remove makeup, and 10 soft ones). They are gentle on the skin and are made with bamboo fiber. It comes with a mesh wash bag.
13 – Reusable cotton swabs
In the same spirit as the reusable cotton pads, cotton swabs tend to take up more space than needed. by getting a reusable one, you help reduce waste and save space in your luggage.
These Ear Cleaning Spoons come as a set of two eco-friendly cotton swabs made of bamboo. Easy to wash, they are long-lasting and will leave your ears clean.
14 – Travel Bottles Set
If you are traveling for a short time, you probably don’t need full-sized bottles. Getting these mini containers will allow you to take just what you need and nothing more. It’s also TSA-approved, so if you are planning on traveling by plane with a carry-on only, you’ll be allowed on the plane with these bottles.
15 – Mini Travel Bluetooth Speaker
If you love listening to music, this Travel Case Packed Portable Bluetooth Speaker is for you. It will take way less space than a regular speaker yet is loud enough to satisfy your music cravings. It’s waterproof, has great battery life (up to 8 hours), is fast charging, and is long-lasting.
16 – Mini Emergency Kit
When traveling, you might want to have a first-aid kit with you. Those might get bulky and you might end up packing more stuff than you’ll actually need. This first aid kit is lightweight and tiny, yet it contains everything you might need. Everything comes tightly packed in a waterproof case.
17 – Flexible Water Bottle
A refillable water bottle is a travel essential, but it’s often bulky and you might not be using it all the time. That’s why having a flexible water bottle is super useful and will save you a bunch of space.
This flexible bottle from Vapur is lightweight and takes almost no space when folded. It comes in different sizes and colors.
18 – Lightweight Packable Backpack
Having a day pack when traveling is always a good idea, but it’s often bulky and not really practical when you have no use for it. This lightweight backpack by Hikpro is lightweight, foldable, and water resistant. It’s a great travel accessory that won’t take up much space.
For most items listed here, you can also check them out on Decathlon. It’s a sports shop, really big in Europe and they’re developing in the US now. They sell branded sports items, but they also have their own brand. It’s way cheaper, and the quality is equal to the branded items’ one.
What about you? What do you pack that helps you save space?
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