practising | packing light

packing light

Before heading off for our week holiday, Tim and I purchased some new ‘cabin size’ friendly bags. We have a few Ryanair flights this year but also thought it would also be easier for our trip to Japan to pack as light as possible as we aren’t keen to travel across the country with 23kgs of bulk.

Having bought the bag I got a bit nervous (it is so small!) but thought I would share a few tips of what I have already learnt from my first packing. Luckily for Japan it will be summer but we are away for two weeks. Obviously, last week we were still in winter so it was bulkier and I packed my laptop (which I don’t plan to take to Japan) so I think I might be alright.


  • I mostly packed along the principles of the Konmari folding method that I have used in my cupboard after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. All my clothes were folded in this method and I was able to layout items so I could see everything that I was taking in one look. Tim said it looked like a bento box. This made it really easy to pack and, more importantly, while we were away I was able to put items neatly back in my bag so the airbnb didn’t look like something had exploded.
  • Puffer jacket. I finally succumbed to an Italian sartorial classic and bought a puffer jacket. I bought one that fits under my other jacket so I could layer up well. Mostly I had great fears that I would be cold in Budapest (although it wasn’t). But it is so light, like it won’t even show anything if I put it on a scale. And you can ball it up really small when not wearing it and it doesn’t come out looking like it has been crushed. Not only is it great for layering in winter but I figure it will also be good for travelling and while in Japan if there is a cooler evening in the summer.
  • If you can manage and feel comfortable wearing them go for bras without underwire (you get some cute tshirt bras). They can fold up much smaller and are actually super comfortable for long flights, and actually just generally more comfortable (why have I subjected myself to underwire for all these years?).

Toiletries and such

  • I have been streamlining my skincare routine so all I brought with me was a mini tub of coconut oil, a muslin face cloth and a small bottle of tonic.
  • In the makeup department I like multi-use items and none of them require brushes. Next time around I might even take fewer items.
  • Pack a small bottle of washing liquid. This is useful if you are spending more then 2 nights somewhere so you can wash socks and underwear and don’t have to try and squeeze in 14 pairs of everything.


  • Chargers and masses of plugs are always an issue. First decide do you really really need something? Like I won’t be taking my laptop to Japan. Then I’ve discovered that one charger can do it all and you normally just need two cords (one for my mobile and one for my tablet/kindle/re-chargable battery). For my camera I know that the battery life is rather long so I just fully charge two batteries and don’t need to bring the charger, It obviously depends how long your trip is on whether this is an option.
  • Kindles. You can have all the books and none of the weight.

Next, I would really like to buy a lighter weight ‘personal’ camera for when I am not doing ‘work’ related things and am only using photos for my own enjoyment and for sharing on the blog (in which case they don’t have to be that high a quality. Any tips on good mirrorless cameras? I’ve been eyeing out the Fujifilm X100T but it is rather steep on the budget and I don’t like that you can’t change the lens. I am looking for a camera that I can still use a viewfinder, is fully manual, has a good quality lens option which means I don’t need to buy a kit lens, is light and compact. I wish I could try them all out.

On a side note: be aware that even if you are flying with Ryanair there is no guarantee that your bag will be allowed with you as cabin luggage as there is a guarantee that only the first 90 bags are allowed. So on our way back from Budapest our bags were checked into the hold from the runway. A combination of early morning and not being prepared meant that one of our bags didn’t have a lock and something was actually taken from our bags in transit. I now kind of liken flying Ryanair to a bad relationship which you keep going back to!

Anyway, I would love to know if you have any magical packing tips for future trips?

7 thoughts on “practising | packing light

  1. Maybe you should buy a new camera in Japan? I always see Japanese tourists with the funkiest cameras that I never see here- you might pick up something really cool!

    Ryanair and I broke up for good when I forgot to print our boarding passes and had to spend another E120 on two pieces of paper!! I hear they are better these days but I’d never go back unless there was no alternative!

    1. €120!!! I once had to pay €15 but then the machine didn’t print out my pass and airport staff then fed me through a fast queue which was nice. Sadly it is about the only reasonable option that flies locally for us.

  2. This post is well timed for me, as I’m heading off on my first Ryanair/cabin bag only flight soon and am a bit nervous about falling foul of the rules, or having to put my bag in the hold and doing something stupid, like leaving my passport in it…!

    Having to check your cabin bag isn’t ideal, but it does work both ways. When travelling to Iceland in winter on Easyjet, we opted for one bigger suitcase between us so we could pack our walking boots etc, and we each had a carry on bag. But by the time we got on the plane all the luggage bins were full – of suitcases! So we paid for our luggage to be checked, but then couldn’t use a bin because most other passengers were going for the free option. Guess the lesson is to get on the plane quickly so you snag some storage space!

  3. Hi Michelle
    On our last trip to Colombia I managed to cut down on the multiple adaptors, chargers & plugs conundrum by taking just one international adaptor and then plugging a multi-way plug into that – you know the kind that in the UK is square and has sockets on each side? That way I could charge my phone and iPad at the same time AND dry my hair! On that note Muji do an excellent super small travel hairdryer, which is dual voltage and has a decent amount of power. I’m sure they do a European version as well. Can’t wait to see your photos from Japan this summer!

  4. Great post Michelle. I’m halfway through that book and although I think she is a bit mad, my drawers have never looked better and I can find everything! For me, when packing I always find shoes a bit of a dilemma – what if it rains? Do I need a nice pair? Should I just pack flip-flops and sod the rest???!

    1. Shoes are definitely the worst part! My husband runs so packing his massive running shoes is always an issue with only cabin luggage. I joke he should take up barefoot running. In winter I only generally take a pair of boots which I wear while travelling anyway (I literally only own that at the moment for winter). For Japan I am planning on taking a pair of slip on trainers and pair of sandals (which work decently for a nicer though not fancy outing, maybe I will have to rethink that as we will have to do something for our one year anniversary). For Crete: sandals, flip flops for the beach and screw the rain (it isn’t allowed!). Flats are always a great option as they take up less space (and I rarely wear heals anyway) and wear the bulky pair while travelling.

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