Traveling lightly - if you do it correctly - can be much more convenient and conducive to the 'nomadic' traveling style.
Last month, Daniel and I traveled through Thailand - we visited 5 provinces, 4 cities, and countless islands with that beautiful, crystal-clear water - and we carried all of our luggage on our backs. Thankfully, we discovered a few tricks for those trips when you have limited space to pack in, but countless space to pack for...
Shampoo and conditioner: basic hygiene needs, but not easy to pack into your carry-on. If TSA restrictions rule your packing list, a travel-sized shampoo and conditioner is seemingly your only option. And if you have hair as long as mine, those travel-sized shampoos don't last long at all! The option to purchase shampoo and conditioner in-country exists, of course, but if your itinerary looks like ours (multiple in-country flights), you're still forced to abide by TSA standards. And if you aren't flying in-country, you'd still probably like to avoid that inevitable "my shampoo bottle exploded in my luggage" disaster, right? That's why I'm overjoyed that we found this solution: LUSH shampoo and conditioner bars. They are, quite simply, a bar of soap - but you rub it into your hair and it has all of the same qualities and functions as normal shampoo! It is a solid that TSA will easily clear, and comes in a tin to put it after it is dampened from showers. And, as if that wasn't enough positive qualities, it is completely natural, vegan (with the exception of some products being made with honey) and works like a charm! I have long, sensitive hair, and it loves the 'Brazilliant' bar (specifically made for "unruly" hair) - made with andiroba oil and citrus. Daniel chose the 'Godiva' bar, made from jasmine, nut oils and shea butter, because of its promise to tame grease and balance natural oils. They offer conditioner bars as well (I am an avid conditioner-er) so we shared their coco butter solid conditioner during the trip. The convenience, the outcome, and the smell - you just won't find any better options. I'm convinced you can't go wrong with any purchase you make in a LUSH store.
Each bar lasts for approximately 80 washes. And another bonus: only $11.95 (give or take) each! The tin to carry them in is sold separately, but only $3.95. Check them out!
One of the most annoying things to pack are towels. They take up so much room, they're annoying to wash when you're in-country and paying for each laundry cycle, and - more often than not - they end up on your "oh my gosh, I knew I forgot something" list. But we have a clever work-around for all of these problems! Consider investing in some nice Turkish Towels. They're nearly double the length and width of a normal bath towel (so they can be used for shower-drying, beach-going, or even picnicking!), but they're only a quarter of the thickness. They're still soft, and they will efficiently dry you after a dip in the pool, but they don't take up even nearly the same amount of space in your carry-on.
They are $30-$50 each; we got ours on Amazon. We recommend putting them through a wash cycle twice before traveling with them - then they're nice and soft and pliant!
Inflatable Travel Pillow
How inconvenient are travel pillows? They are an item of luxury for the light-packer. They are cumbersome, oddly-shaped, and take up way too much space to try and shove among your clothing and toiletries. That's why we found the inflatable travel pillow. It deflates down and then fits snugly into a velvet, drawstring bag. When inflated, the pillow is also covered in a soft velvet; it's sturdy and efficient - an item of luxury, now in a form that even the lightest of packers can consider fitting into their carry-on. (Also found on Amazon.)
All three of these items fit snug in our backpacks, ready to travel across the world to Bangkok, Thailand with us. If you end up trying any of these items - or if you have other 'clever work-arounds' for light packers, please comment!