Elimination. That is the name of the game when packing light.
For years we have only flown carry-on, but this trip was the ultimate test. Forget carry-on specs; everything packed must fit in the motorcycle’s panniers. 5 weeks, 3 seasons, + art supplies, and fly fishing gear, for two people. This was a challenge even with all of my previous experience!
We invested in a Moskomoto Backcountry 40 liter duffle/backpack specifically designed for the back of a motorcycle. I was able to pack all of our clothes, shoes (with the exception of two pairs of hiking sneaks), toiletries, fly fishing gear, a hammock, and some supplies in this bag. We have been very happy with this bag and highly recommend it to anyone traveling by moto. It opens on both ends for access and stuffing from either side. I also purchased a 45 liter Osprey Ozone 46 which held my laptop, and some loose items I like to have access to on the plane (first aide kit, kindle, cells and headphones, notebook). Over the years I have switched to purchasing only multi-functional articles of clothing. All pieces must be light weight and quick drying. They are interchangeable and most are in UV blocking fabrics. For specifics on what we packed, read my related article.
The first thing I do is lay everything out I plan on bringing, then eliminate at least half! This is easier than you think.
5 Must Dos for Efficient Packing
1. Consider the bag or suitcase you use. I have switched from a clamshell backpack style to the duffle backpack style. You really can fit so much more. I always use a backpack style. One thing I just can’t stand is tripping over wheely bags or struggling over cobblestones or staircases with them. No thank you. I am sure one day in the future my tune will change!
2. Invest in lightweight packing cubes. My favorite are by Travelon. They are super durable and have mesh tops so your clothes can breathe a little. The colors are day-glow bright which make it easier to find what you are looking for inside the dark abyss of you bag. They come in many sizes and I pack everything from clothes to gadgets inside. This keeps it all neat and tidy. I also a number of cosmetic and toiletry style bags for art supplies and gadgets as seen in the far right of the picture above.
3. Pack your socks and small items inside your shoes. I know for many people it seems like common sense, yet I still forget to do this until half-way through packing! Also, considering rolling your socks and undies separately instead of folding them. This makes them fit just about in any left-over crevice. I use both techniques depending on where has space.
4. Think it through. Ask yourself this question: What will I need at the airport and will I be unpacking everything at my first destination? Keep items you will need soonest at the top of the bag. There is nothing more annoying than having your connecting overseas flight delayed and realizing your plug converter is at the bottom of your bag so cannot charge your cell without emptying everything! Same goes for certain items – for example arriving in Ireland, I do not need my swimsuit until 2 months later when I get to Croatia – bottom of the bag it goes.
5. Do a “mock” pack at least 2 to 3 weeks before departure. This works really well for us. For about a week straight I wear the items I plan to bring (if season is different I wear the items when hanging around the house). I find that by doing this you can easily become aware of a pair of shoes that really maybe don’t go with everything you packed, or that you really need a different pair of pants because these just don’t agree with you after the holidays…get it?!