Purposeful Travel by Sophia Macpherson

How to Pack Sustainably

Every kilo counts when flying. The heavier your luggage, the more weight on the plane, the more fuel is burned and thus, more CO2 is released. Packing lightly and smartly is an easy way to lower your impact.

We’ve all found ourselves guilty of packing one too many things in our suitcase. Let’s admit it - it can be stressful and also isn’t the most thrilling part of travelling. But in part of becoming more conscious travellers, we need to think about all the ways in which we could be doing harm in our travel cycle... and this starts at home as you sit looking through piles of clothes.

Packing lighter simply means being harsh in your selection and more minimal. Along with all the upsides of bringing less weight onboard, it also allows you more flexibility and movement as a traveller; you'll less likely find yourself lugging your bag around the bumpy streets of Rome or face planting down the subway's stairs. It's simple: less stuff, less trouble.

To help you travel better for yourself and to lower your carbon footprint, we've condensed our method of packing for long-haul journeys into a few simple steps...

1. Invest in the right suitcase

This might seem pretty straightforward, but if you want to pack light, get a small bag. This will help remove the temptation of adding more and more stuff, as you simply won't have the room. The type of luggage you get will also depend on what holiday you're going on: are you going backpacking or just a weekend-trip? For long, backpacking trips, invest in a light, 40l backpack that has a little room to budge. For your standard trip away, your hard case suitcases will do; think Rimowa or Horizn.

2. Give yourself time

This might seem obvious, but we've all been guilty to leaving it super last minute and packing the most random stuff. If you want to be as efficient as you can, do it at least the night before and make a list for those longer trips. This way you'll have more time to narrow your items down and think through your trip more and what you'll actually need. More time, more consideration.

3. Pack the must-haves, not the nice-to-haves

Lay out all the items you wish to bring and go through each item with as much thought as you would when spring-cleaning. Channel your inner Marie Condo. Do you really need this? Is this going to make that much of a difference to your overall trip? Ask the harsh questions. With your toiletries, only bring the absolute essentials and make sure they're miniatures, or invest in a mini toiletry set and fill it up with your own products. For shoes, choose light options and always make sure to have one comfortable pair. For bulky shoes, wear them onboard.

4. Think versatility

When choosing clothes, pick items that you can style easily in multiple ways and that doesn't crease as easily. For example, for a beach holiday, a sarong will be your best friend; you can wear it as a dress, skirt, use it as a beach towel, a blanket or even as a sun shade. For mix and matching your clothes, choose a simple colour palette so that colour coordination is as stress-free as possible. For shoes, flip flops are handy as they can be used at the beach, somewhere casual and even as house shoes.

5. Roll and stack

If you can't be bothered for folding squares, a safe bet is to just roll your clothes. It's more space-efficient, easy, and reduces the chance of creases. Also, stacking your shirts allows you to identify it more easily at a glance. You'd be surprised how much you can fit into a tiny corner in your suitcase.

6. The Rule of Three

This packing 'concept' props up on pretty much every 'how-to pack' article online and that's because it actually works. It's pretty simple - pack three of everything: three shirts, three bottoms, three dresses, three pairs of shoes and make sure they can all be combined.

7. Leave some space

This might seem impossible, but some extra space goes along way, especially when your suitcase gets a bit messy. A better way to use this space would be to fill it with supplies to give to socially sustainable projects, like Pack For A Purpose, who encourage travellers to bring over supplies needed for community projects.

Images by: Bonnie Ophelia and Nick Veasey

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