I love to travel, but I hate to lug around a lot of gear. I am notorious among friends and family for long trips with nothing but a carry-on. Following the advent of budget airlines (which only allow one personal item per ticket), I’ve gotten used to nothing but a backpack. I can be gone for two weeks with just a tiny piece of luggage, and not complain once. I take pride in my ability to look tidy and presentable even when I am traveling with next to nothing.
So what’s my secret? I make the items I bring with me pull double-duty. If I can’t get more than one use out of a piece of clothing, a toiletry item, or a piece of luggage, then it is unlikely to make the cut.
Below are five products I swear by when it comes to traveling comfortably while conserving luggage space.
This is listed as a woman’s accessory on the Lululemon website but is honestly a genderless item. This scarf is a fantastic travel companion due to its versatility. The scarf features a snap closure and two inconspicuous slits that allow it to be worn in nearly a dozen ways.
You can wrap it around your neck as an infinity scarf, secure it around your shoulders and head as a DIY hoodie, or unsnap it and drape it around your shoulders as a shawl or blanket. I have used the Vinyasa scarf as a picnic blanket, a cardigan, a hood, and a traditional fashion scarf. Check out this video for inspiration on how to utilize this versatile piece of clothing.
This lightweight, water-resistant jacket from Tumi offers more than meets the eye. The entire jacket folds into a small pocket, which not only saves room while packing but due to its unique horseshoe shape, can also be used as a neck pillow! That’s right, this coat also gives you a place to rest your head. So instead of lugging both a bulky jacket and an annoying, I’m-only-going-to-use-this-on-the-plane neck pillow the next time you travel, invest in this one piece and get two incredibly useful items out of it.
Sometimes I feel like I can’t win with my luggage choice. If I opt for a wheeled bag, I will inevitably end up trekking over uneven sidewalks and through crowded markets. If I opt for a heavy-duty hiking backpack, I will end up with a back-ache at the airport as I haul everything I’ve brought with me across the terminal. This piece from High Sierra solves those problems by functioning as both a backpack and a wheelie carry-on. So now I can keep my items on my person as I explore pedestrian areas, but save myself a dose of pain reliever by wheeling the luggage in more secure environments.
Link to purchase.
This is a man’s jacket, but again can be worn by any gender. The wind and water resistant material make it great for travel. The sleek design completely masks the fact that the sleeves are removable, making this either a jacket or a vest. The sleeve portion of the jacket stretches across the shoulders and zip via two diagonal zippers that extend from the armpit to the collarbone. Considering that a lot of activewear feature seams and darts in that exact location, few are likely to notice that the detail on your jacket serves a functional purpose.
This “cosmetic bag” can be used for so much more than makeup. With an easy drawstring close, this serves as not only a travel bag but also a mat for your items. I like to use it for charger cables and cords. I keep everything on the small mat to charge, and when I’m ready to pack up and leave again I simply pull the drawstring to close the bag and take off!
Link to purchase.
Other items to consider
Luggage and clothing are the only items that in which I appreciate versatility. Below is a list of some other travel staples, and what I use them for:
- Lip Balm
- Baby powder
- Drying agent
- Dry shampoo
- Wallet phone case
- Protects phone
- Functions as wallet
- Make-shift curtain
- Beach mat
So the next time you find yourself packing a scarf, blanket, jacket, vest, neck pillow, shampoo, lotion, lip balm, wallet, phone case, and towel, ask yourself, “is all of this really necessary? Or can I make some items pull double-duty?”.
Your back, the trunk of your car, and the zipper on your luggage will all thank me. Forgo what you don’t need and hit the road!