The 5 Lightweight Items We Can’t Travel Without

Packing lighter is no news to backpackers and trekkers who want to ease sprains and strains on their weary muscles. But the ultralight packing trend that the outdoor industry is embracing can be applied to travelers as well – even if your end destination is a resort instead of a tent under the trees. If you have a big trip coming up but are fed up with lugging around those 2 exactly-50-lb suitcases, this article is for you! Not only will international transfers be a breeze, but you also don’t have to break your back stuffing it into the back of a taxi, shuttle, or longtail-boat-transfer-to-tiny-island-resort. Win-win! Leave the packing tips to us, embrace the minimalism, and focus on all the R&R you could want on your actual vacation.

1. Osprey Porter 46 Pack, $130

Osprey Porter 46 Pack

Osprey Porter 46 Pack

Hey, you! Yeah, you. Most likely you had a paranoid parent who insisted on showing up to the airport approximately 12 hours before your boarding time, and now you angstily overcompensate by pushing it and showing up at the last possible minute. Just to, y’know, really show ’em. Unfortunately, the whole airport procrastination method doesn’t fly when you’ve got a bunch of luggage to pack. So our ultimate ultralight packing trip would be to…(you guessed it)…avoid bringing checked baggage in the first place.

Yes, we know. Sacrilege! Heresy! Your ticket includes not one but two checked bags and you are going to squeeze every oz. (no pun intended) of value out of your baggage allowances, dammit!  But hear us out – if you pack well, you might not even need all that extra weight. If your trip is shorter than a couple weeks or you’re going somewhere tropical (lucky you!) where your bikinis and booty shorts weigh next to nothing, chances are you’ll be able to get by with a very well-organized carry-on (okay, and a very large “personal item”). And that’s where the the Osprey Porter 46 pack comes in handy. Not only will traveling be a breeze when you’re not weighed down by so much stuff, but you’ll be able to avoid long baggage check lines at the airport and secretly satisfy that reckless sprint-for-the-gate-at-the-very-last-minute urge instead of tearing out your hair for hours trying to get the airport wifi to actually work.

Where were we? Oh right, the bag. Pros: this cleverly designed pack fits carry-on dimensions of most major domestic airlines (watch out if traveling to Asia, though), allowing you to save yourself time, $$ on checked bags, and of course overall body fatigue that you’d be battling with taking too many bags.  It is surprisingly roomy, but shrinks down nicely with multiple attachment points for the compression straps. Its stowable backpack straps allow for effortless carrying within the airport, but can also be tucked away for easy storage in the overhead bin.

2. SteriPEN Water Purifier, $69.95

SteriPEN Classic 3 Water Purifier

SteriPEN Classic 3 Water Purifier

Depending on where you travel, water quality might be suspect – and overpaying for endless plastic bottles can get old real fast. Give yourself peace of mind (and take it easy on the plastic bottles!) by picking up a SteriPEN instead. This clever water purifier employs the same technology as the sun (aka UV rays) to sterilize water, destroying 99.99% of protozoa (including giardia and cryptosporidia, both big no-nos, traveling or not), bacteria, and even viruses. It’s quick, easy to use (just press the button), and weighs in at just over 6 oz. It’s compact and will purify up to 150 liters of water without replacing the batteries, and the Classic 3 model runs on standard AA’s.

3. Leatherman Style PS, $27.85

Style PS Leatherman Tool

Style PS Leatherman Tool

Raise your hand if you’ve had nail clippers/scissors/whatever confiscated during a security screening before! 🙋 Woe no more, because you can snag one of these sleek TSA-friendly multi-tools and never worry about it again. The Style PS comes with all the essentials that you’ll inevitably forget to bring (bottle opener, nail file, scissors makeshift nail clippers, etc.) in one convenient tool. Toss it in your carry-on and airport security won’t bat an eye. Weighing only an ounce and a half, you can’t afford not to take it.

4. Goal Zero Battery Pack, $39.99 (without accompanying solar charger)

goal zero flip 20

Goal Zero Flip 20 Recharger

Apps are indispensable while traveling. Whether it’s Google Translate, Maps, or your favorite currency converter, apps can easily become the most crucial piece of your travel tools.  And weighing in at exactly zero pounds, zero ounces, you can bring as many as your smartphone will hold! But your trusty iPhone will very quickly become an expensive brick if your battery runs out – and then you’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere without a way to translate “which way to the guesthouse?” and then you’ll really be in trouble, won’t you? Fuel your concerning electronics/media dependence keep your travel-survival apps running smoothly without constantly hunting for charge stations with the Goal Zero USB battery pack. The best part is that this little guy can can be re-charged via electrical outlet or (paired with a compatible solar panel) by the sun!

5. Permethrin Insect Repellent, $12.95

Permetherin Insect Repellent

Permethrin Insect Repellent

If you’re wondering why bug spray is on this list, hear us out! If you’re headed to a tropical destination, you can keep the bugs at bay, but not your friends. Permethrin is a natural alternative to DEET, with only a mild odor and no harmful chemicals. Just spray your clothes before packing, leave the bottle at home (it’s good for 6 washes, and who washes their clothes on vacation anyways?) and you’re good to go! You can’t pack much lighter than leaving the bottle behind, and it’ll be one less thing to worry about.

That’s all for now, folks! Happy (lighter) traveling.

Pssst…if you liked this post, might you be interested in a cool travel backpack that keeps your valuables safe, great gifts for travelers, or how to never miss a flight?



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About Mia McMahon

I’m constantly trying to learn more in everything from branding to social media to user experience to SEO. I live-tweet a lot. I’m studying communications/marketing/internet entrepreneurship and you can follow my journey at

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