How to Pack Lightly for a Week

Ask anyone what they dread most about a trip, and they’ll most likely say packing. Making sure you have everything you need, especially for an international trip, can be incredibly stressful. 

For many of us, packing is a chore we’d rather get over with quickly. As a result of rushing, we tend to overpack – and often regret it later on.

Overpacked luggage is a hassle to lug around, especially if you’re not staying in one place. It’s heavy, bulky, and slows you down. Plus, airline excess baggage charges are exorbitant.

Enter ultra light travel! Strategic packing can help you plan for your trip and lighten the load, avoiding those luggage nightmare situations. With a bit of preparation and a little bit of guidance, anyone can do it. Here’s how to pack lightly for a week or longer:

Choosing the Right Bag


Packing light starts with choosing the right bag. The goal is to pick the lightest one that will still fit everything you need. We recommend choosing a backpack over a piece of luggage if you want to travel light

First off, a backpack is lighter, which reduces your luggage weight before you pack a single item. They’re also much easier to transport, more maneuverable than dragging a wheeled suitcase around the airport, or worse, up a flight of stairs. Plus, it frees up your hand to carry other things.

The capacity of a backpack also limits you to a smaller space, which forces you to become choosier with what you pack than a suitcase. With that said, we recommend going with a capacity of 30–45 liters, which is more than enough for a week-long trip.

The only time you should travel with a suitcase is if your trip lasts for a month or more. Even then, be picky with the weight of the luggage itself. Ideally, go for those that weigh around 7–10 pounds or less. 

How to Pack Lightly for a Week: Essential Tips


Figuring out how to pack a carry-on bag for 10 days can be challenging. But trust us, it’ll be worth it when you’re on the road. Here are a few tips on how to pack for a week:

  • Don’t pack at the last minute. You need enough time to refine the items on your list. You definitely can’t do that if your departure time is just a few hours away.
  • A week’s worth of clothes is often enough for most trips, even if you’re going for longer than that. Remember, you can always do laundry while on your trip (pro trip: purchase a travel-size bottle of laundry detergent and wash your clothes in the sink).
  • Think in layers when packing for colder seasons or regions. That means opting for thinner shirts that take up less space over bulkier sweaters and coats, which can quickly fill up half of your pack. Clothes meant for layering are much more flexible and reusable. 
  • Wear your bulkiest items like hiking boots and jackets instead of packing them to free up space in your bag.
  • Consider buying things at your destination instead of bringing them. Not only does this lighten the load, it frees up space for great souvenirs. This is especially applicable if you’re figuring out how to pack for a 4-day trip in a carry-on because you won’t need to bring much for such a short trip.
  • Bring clothes that are easy to mix and match. That means sticking with neutral colors and designs.

The “Bare Essentials”


Ultralight travel means bringing only what you need. Here are the essentials to bring if you wish to pack light:

  • Clothes

Limit your clothes to lighter fabrics such as nylon, polyester, and cotton. If you’re packing for colder weather, consider layering, as we mentioned earlier.

  • Shoes

Ideally, bring no more than two pairs of shoes on your trip: one pair for heavy-duty walking and a lighter pair for use in your hotel room or around your campervan. Depending on the style, the lighter pair can double as “going out” shoes as well. However, multi-purpose shoes are preferable, so you don’t need to pack multiple options.

  • Toiletries

Toiletries can quickly become bulky and heavy. So it’s best to leave them behind and rely on the ones provided by the hotel instead. If you’re staying somewhere that doesn’t provide toiletries, try to downsize your toiletries: cut off a small chunk of soap or transfer shampoos into smaller, travel-size bottles. Better yet, buy mini toiletries when you arrive at your destination.

  • Jackets

Jackets and other outerwear are inevitable if you’re traveling during colder seasons or going to a colder climate. You can maximize your space by picking a lighter jacket and wearing it while traveling rather than packing it in your bag.


How to Avoid Overpacking


Overpacking is an easy trap to fall into, especially for longer trips. One of the challenges most people face when determining how to pack light for 2 weeks is differentiating between “essential” and “just in case” items. Avoid the latter completely, which includes:

  • Bulky sweaters or coats
  • Oversized towels (you likely won’t need towels at all)
  • Books (opt for an e-reader instead or download ebooks to your smartphone)
  • “Fashion-only” pieces, such as multiple pairs of high heeled shoes or bulky jewelry 

Ultralight Travel Organization


One of the most overlooked aspects of how to pack for 2 weeks in a carry-on bag is simple: stay organized. This helps you find belongings faster and makes it easier to quickly scan them to make sure you didn’t forget anything last-minute.

We highly recommend investing in packing cubes to organize your stuff. These are phenomenal organization tools and they maximize space at the same time. The best option is compression sacks, which suck out all the extra air around your clothes, freeing up a surprising amount of space.

Feel Lighter By Packing Light 


Packing lightly gives you the freedom to explore and experience instead of carrying heavy luggage around. When it comes to exploring and experiencing the great Icelandic outdoors, nothing beats doing it in your own campervan. is one of the largest campervan rentals in Iceland, providing access to remote areas where hotels might not be available. We offer well-equipped units with everything you need for safety and comfort. Contact us today, book your van, and start packing for your dream trip!

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