I was 19 the first time I traveled out of the country on my own. Looking back, I’m surprised my overprotective parents even let me go, especially considering that I was gone the entire summer! I had gotten a new set of luggage when I graduated from high school the summer before and I was so excited to get to use it for my first solo trip as a “grown up.”

Fast forward a couple decades and I don’t even own a luggage set anymore. Aside from avoiding the charges for checked baggage, I’ve found that traveling is WAY easier when all I have to lug around is a backpack.

I know — for some people this is unimaginable. Believe me, I wasn’t sure if I could manage it either. But consider these benefits:

  • No waiting at baggage claim.
  • No lost luggage.
  • No maneuvering a heavy luggage cart with two wheels going in different directions.
  • No trying to keep your wheeled luggage upright AND push your chair.
  • Independence — you won’t need to ask for help.

A lot of hotels have laundry facilities, especially extended stay places. If you book through AirBNB, you can specify lodging that includes a washer and drier. And if you’re staying with family or friends, then you really have no excuse for not packing light because you know they’ll be happy to let you wash a load.

So how do you reduce your load from two or three suitcases to a carry-on and a personal item? Here are my top tips for packing light so you can kick (metaphorically, of course!) your suitcase habit to the curb:

  • Choose coordinating tops and bottoms that you can mix and match for different looks.
  • Bring one or two pairs of shoes that work with all your outfits. If you’re bringing boots, wear them on the plane so they don’t take up your limited real estate.
  • Instead of packing a lot of bulky sweaters, bring lightweight long sleeve shirts and wear a jacket on the plane that matches all of your outfits.
  • Ditch the paper: download tickets, maps, etc. to your phone and leave behind the pile of paperbacks in favor of your Kindle app.
  • When in doubt, leave it out. You don’t need as much as you think you do. Really.

Still not sure? Here are some pro tips from other bloggers on how to get by with less: