Lightweight-packing tips

By Wayne Stickle
This item appears on page 42 of the April 2019 issue.

Mark Gallo's article "Traveling ultralight" (Feb. '19, pg. 43) is the type of packing I do anytime I go on a trip (unless my wife is along, and then we have to have a checked bag). I use a different approach, however, in that I don't wash my own clothes on the road.

I've found that laundry places are ubiquitous and cheap in the areas where I travel, which is Latin America and Southeast Asia. On a recent trip to Cozumel, Mexico, I paid MXN35 (about $1.80) for a kilo of laundry, washed and folded.

I find that two pairs of pants, eight T-shirts, underwear and socks are enough clothes for eight days. On the fifth or sixth day, I take my laundry in so it will be back long before I run out of clean clothes or move to my next destination.

Rather than use the old tried-and-true method of rolling my clothes (like I did in the Navy), I vacuum-pack them, but the method I use is simple and very cheap. I put my clothes in a lightweight plastic trash bag, gather the opening, then sit on the bag to purge the air out of it. This works better on a soft surface, such as a bed.

The end result is similar to that of the expensive vacuum-packing systems. In most cases, the volume of clothing is reduced by about half, sometimes a little more. The bag can be tied in a knot or just twisted and folded back under itself in the carry-on bag.

The bags can be reused or, at 2¢ or 3¢ apiece, replaced.

Also, while flying, I like to wear cargo pants. I know they aren't fashionable anymore, but they're useful.

The pockets are large enough for my passport, boarding pass and other necessary documents, and it's much easier to find those in my pants pockets than digging through a fanny pack or suitcase pocket.

Long Beach, CA