When trying to pack light for your long or short term trip, your overarching mantra should be: “Things that are also other things.” Here are some examples of this motto in action to consider for your bag, graciously modeled by Sena Comfort of YCC, Ghana!
1. A sarong or large, lightweight cloth.
Uses: Towel, light sheet on cold bus rides or nights, sleep sack in nasty dorm beds, screen for changing in public places, post-swimming dress, makeshift wrap/bag for dirty laundry.
2. A thin, plain, dark-colored tank top.
Uses: Cute going out top, hiking or exercise shirt, pajamas, undershirt, swimming top for conservative countries.
3. Semi-stretchy knee-length pants.
Uses: Pajama bottoms, exercise-wear, around-the-house/hostel wear, casual bottoms, under-skirt “slip”.
4. Supportive, nice-looking hiking sandals (I swear by the Chaco brand).
Uses: Hiking shoes, daily walking/working sandals, around-the-house wear, cute going out shoes.
Uses: Shampoo (duh), body wash, laundry soap, hand-wash for un-equipped bathrooms.
6. Dark, fast-drying hiking pants that are also nice looking and thin enough to roll up to knee-length.
Uses: Hiking Pants, work bottoms, respectable-looking pants for events, travel wear, pajamas in a pinch.
7. A small “netbook” computer.
Uses: Free Internet source (free Wi-Fi is everywhere!), phone (Skype is free!), map, emergency contact system, photo and document backup storage, life organizer (ex: To Do list, calendar, etc.), lifeline and sanity maintainer.
8. A small, dark, fold-able bag.
Uses: Backpack, purse, airplane carry-on, divider for inside a bigger bag, quick cloak for valuables in a hotel room.
9. A small notebook of plain or lined paper.
Uses: Stash of paper to rip out, diary, game board, catch-all for important notes (ex: phone numbers, addresses).
10. Short, fast-drying (synthetic) running shorts.
Uses: Pajamas, exercise shorts, boxer-style underwear, swimming bottoms for conservative countries.
11. A plain-looking baseball cap.
Uses: Sunscreen, identity hider (for when you don’t feel like people talking to you), rain hat, mini-purse in a pinch.
12. A nice-looking but durable plain t-shirt.
Uses: Cute shirt, work shirt, exercise shirt, pajamas, undershirt, towel in a pinch.
13. Plastic bags of different sorts.
Uses: Backpack divider (ex: sock “drawer”), dirty laundry bag, protection against toiletry spills, Trash bag, Last-resort purse, barf bag, wet item repository, shoe bag.
14. (For women and Scotsmen) A lightweight, plain but nice-looking knee-length skirt.
Uses: Cute skirt, slip to go under sheer skirts, post-swimming wrap, method to change clothes in a public place.
15. (For women and perhaps jiggly men) A sports bra.
Uses: Exercise essential, swimming top, casual daily bra, girdle to fit into too-small shirts/dresses.
16 and Up: Digital camera, Small scissors, Inflatable travel neck pillow, and more!
The Moral: As you pack, keep asking yourself, “Can I use this item in more than one situation?” If not, think long and hard about whether there is a more versatile item to replace it with. And as for that lime green ballgown? Leave it behind.
Want more details on the brands and specifications of the items I use and adore? Click here for tons of posts on Pre-Trip Packing and Planning!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!