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The Art of Packing Light For a Wellness Vacation

Last updated November 5, 2021

With airlines charging extra fees for checked luggage, it’s a smart idea to downsize and go carry-on only. But it’s not about traveling carry-on only—as airlines have also gotten stingy about carry-on weight restrictions.

So what’s an over-packer to do? Enter the art of packing light. A skill set that anyone can grasp.

From getting the most out of your luggage space to capsule fitness wardrobes and cutting down on toiletries, mastering the art of packing light is actually quite simple once you get the hang of it.

Pack the must-haves, not the nice-to-haves

Packing list

The best way to get started is to identify whether an item is essential or a “just-in-case” addition. Before you start to pack, consider where you are going and what activities you plan to do.

Will you really need those heels when you’re on a wellness retreat at a secluded resort? Will there be a yoga mat and props available? Remember, you can’t pack it all!

Choose versatile pieces

Pile of rainbow folded clothes

When it comes to packing light, multipurpose is the name of the game. Clothing should be able to be worn in several different combinations—even your fitness wear. Likewise, shoes should be comfortable enough for long walks, yet fancy enough for dining out.

Several “professional” light packers suggest taking toiletries that have more than one purpose. Lotion that also serves as sunscreen is a great example. Bottom line: think twice about anything you’ll wear only on one occasion.

Learn to layer

Multilayered outfit for traveling

Nothing can fill a suitcase faster than a big, bulky jacket or a bunch of different clothes for different temperatures. Packing multiple thin layers takes up less space and offers more flexibility.

Try to visualize your day and imagine what clothes you need for which daypart. Can you wear a tank top with a light zip-up athleisurewear hoodie in the morning and ditch it when the temperature creeps up mid-morning?

Wear the right fabrics

Correct fabric for sportswear

In some cases, the number of wellness activities you choose may demand a variety of different sportswear. Wicking fabrics that comprise antimicrobial properties are not only functional but they keep sweat off the body and also breathe so you don’t get too hot when you exercise outdoors.

Usually, these types of fabrics can be worn more than once, even if worn during active adventures. And most of these fabrics are lightweight, which makes packing light easier. 

Know your room amenities

Solid shampoo bars when traveling

These days, it goes without saying that hairdryers, toiletries and personal care products are stocked in every guest room and suite.

If you’re fussy or have sensitive skin then of course bring your own toiletries. It does pay to do your due diligence, though, and see which amenities are provided. That way you don’t pack duplicates.

Better yet, hop on the solid shampoo and conditioner bar train. Using a bar saves space, cuts down on waste as well as reduces your plastic footprint.


Anyone who has ever gone on vacation—close to home or abroad—can attest to the benefits of packing light.

Packing light can be challenging. However, when you know how to do it right… you may even lose that pack rat moniker.

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