3 Tips for Traveling Light and How It’s Almost Impossible to Avoid Checking in Luggage

Hi, Friends! I’ve been absent a lot, I know. But I have good reasons–well, one really good reason: I went on a three-week adventure to Eastern Europe. I visited Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. Most of the time was spent in Hungary in Budapest, the lovely city of Pécs, and at Lake Balaton. I have several posts planned for All The Amazing Things later.

Diana Beebe, Mermaids Don't Do Windows, MDDW, Diana Beebe's Blog, science fiction, fantasy, Young adult, traveling
From these twelve tops, I cut five and added another shade of blue.

Before I left, I prepared to travel with just a carry-on suitcase and a personal item (a small backpack with a small cross-body purse stored inside). I packed and repacked and shopped and repacked for a couple of months. I repacked again hours before we left.

Why on earth would I even expect to be able to take just a carry-on suitcase and my little backpack for a three-week trip?

There are no direct flights to Budapest. That means a checked bag has to go through as many airports as we do. I really wanted to arrive with my luggage.

Diana Beebe, Mermaids Don't Do Windows, MDDW, Diana Beebe's Blog, science fiction, fantasy, Young adult, traveling
Four knit skirts and two pairs of loose-fitting pants. The pinks were the first to get cut.

These photos are the tops and bottoms that put me so close to the limit that I’d never make it if I had to pack underthings, a swimsuit, and a pair of sandals. 😉 I should’ve taken a picture of what I ended up with–way less than what you see.

Here are my top three tips for traveling super light:

Tip 1 Go shopping when you get there.

Pick up the items (hair products, toiletries, curling iron) that are bulky at a market or store. A curling iron from the states is useless without an outlet converter, and both are bulky. So I bought a wall plug with two USB ports and an inexpensive curling iron. When it was time to leave, I gave them to one of my local friends. For a three-week trip, it was worth it.

Tip 2 Use a coordinating color scheme and then cut the clothing.

I took two skirts, three pairs of pants, eight shirts, a light cardigan, and a light jacket for my outfits, mostly shades of blue to mix and match. I included one black and white skirt and a black shirt for a little variety. Three other shirts (white and beige) also coordinated, so I allowed the not-blue outfit into the suitcase.

The heatwave changed how I’d planned to dress. I’m glad I took out the long-sleeve tops, because the high temperatures lasted longer than the extended weather forecast predicted. The light jacket was useless, and I didn’t wear it. I wore the cardigan on the only cold day we experienced in Prague. The knit skirts were heavy for 90 degrees, so I wore the loose-fitting pants almost the entire time.

For traveling, I wore a pair of cute closed-toe walking sandals with tiny socks (the little ones that hide in flats). Those were the only socks I brought because airports and airplanes–gross. I had one other pair of walking sandals, and my feet have a cute tan to prove which pair I wore the most. 🙂

I read on multiple travel blogs to take only half of what you think you might need. I was ruthless, but there were still three or four pieces I could’ve left behind.

Tip 3 Plan to do laundry.

Having access to a washing machine (or a sink or a laundry service in a hotel) was a huge benefit, and the reason I could be ruthless. When it’s hot outside and there is little to no air conditioning anywhere, sweat happens.

The Best Plans…

On our last flight from Amsterdam to Budapest, we sat on the exit row. No luggage allowed under the seat on that plane. So, the gate agents took our bags. *hangs head* So close! At least it was a short flight and the bags arrived with us.

The trip back to the States was a different story. Repacking was challenged with all the souvenirs that needed to return home. So we borrowed a small suitcase and planned to check in the largest carry-on. When we checked in at the airport, the agent in Budapest wanted to make us check all our bags, but we convinced him that wasn’t going to happen.

Our connecting flights were really close. We ran to make it to the gates both times. Well, the checked bag didn’t make it from Amsterdam. Evidently, they take a long time to check bags there. So, at 2 a.m. back at our home airport, we waited in a line to report the missing bag. Two days later, it was delivered to my house. Yay!

I’d love to hear about your packing successes and stories! Where in the world do you want to go? Where’s your favorite vacation spot? Do you go to the same place or somewhere different every time?









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