Packing Light

If you don’t already pack light, I highly encourage it.  Here are some pics of my suitcase for a 4 week trip to Ireland and Scotland.  One 22″ suitcase, a day pack and a small purse. Don’t take anything that you will wear only once and refrain from taking things you “might need”.

Note:  I took a trip in January.  I had a week in London for business so I had to dress up and I bookended that with a long weekend out in the wilds of the west coast of Ireland the weekend before and a trip around Scotland the weekend after.  So I thought, well that’s a good reason to take a larger suitcase.  So I took a 24″ one.  Big mistake.  Never again.  The worst part was London (and the sleeper train on the way back from Scotland) and the tube and the “lift” in the hotel in Oban, and the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh….  Not worth it!


I only take enough clothes for a week (no matter where or when I go) because in Europe, they have these nifty places called launderettes where you drop off your clothes and they wash and dry them for you.  It’s a little disconcerting at first to have someone else handling your clothes but it’s better than spending a day of your vacation in a laundromat – and some places just don’t have them – they only have launderettes.  AND it’s better than dragging a bunch of clothes in a huge suitcase around Europe.  Try it.  I promise you’ll like it. This time I tried packing cube – pink ones! lol not exactly me, but fun!


  • 2 small bags – one with socks, undies, turbie towel and the other red one with my bathroom supplies
  • make-up bag – the little blue multi-colored
  • 1 pairs of shoes and other small supplies




  • Smaller bag – 3 pair of pants
  • Medium bag – 6 shirts, 2 t-shirts 1 golf top & 1 dressier shirt & PJs and long underwear


Note: one of the pair of pants is Dan’s because I wanted him to have 2 pair and he only wanted to take 1 extra.



not one to waste space, I also use the area between the rails for

  • socks
  • flannels


I also had a raincoat on top of everything, but I had been wearing it before I took the picture above.  And I wear a sweater, vest or jacket on the plane, plus my hiking shoes (or knee high boots if I’m going dressier).


My parents like packing cubes.  I like to roll my clothes (in packing cubes this time).  My husband folds his.  You’ll have to determine which works best for you.

We learned our lesson about packing light on our first trip to Europe in 1999. We didn’t follow travel expert Rick Steves’ advice (see link below) to pack light and only take one carry-on sized suitcase each. We took one rather awkward suitcase for both of us. It was a beauty! It was square on the bottom and had shelves and some space in the piece that unzipped. The only problem was, that it didn’t fit on the conveyor belt at Heathrow airport (I can still see the gate person pushing and pulling the monster, trying to get it turned so it would go down the belt). Then the timeshare that we rented in Germany was on the second floor, which was reached via a narrow black wrought-iron spiral staircase. Fortunately my husband had a strong back.


Next trip I ‘downsized’ to a 26″ suitcase.  But then when we went to get on the double decker sight seeing bus around London, we had to pay to put my suitcase in “left luggage” so that I wouldn’t have to drag it up and down the stairs.

my suitcase

So I have found that carry-on size 22″ is best.  Yes, I am a bit sick of those clothes by the time I get back home, but it works so well that I pack them up again when I go on the next trip with slight variations depending on when and where I’m going.

I do check my 22″ bag because

  1. I have trip insurance so if they lose my luggage I get new clothes
  2. I usually try to fly direct from Denver to London (although I am becoming less happy with British Airways) – so there is less chance of them losing my suitcase on a direct flight and if they do lose it, it’s most likely to be in the same country eventually.

Here is a Rick Steves video where he talks about 2 types of travelers: 1) those who pack light and 2) those who wish they packed light. Rick Steves – Packing Light and Right

And here is a video about packing light for women Packing Light for Women She is a rather petite lady and I am 5’8″ and not petite but just remember you only have to bring multiples of the things that are next to your skin like tops and undies so they should be light weight and easily packable.

A quick tip list:

And another list of suggestions – the title has carry-on but they’re actually decent tips.  There is a link to “View as One Page” below the image.


Note from a lady I work with in Scotland: “pepper spray is illegal in Scotland and counts as an offensive weapon, as do knives (including penknives unless you have a reason) airguns etc etc etc”