Travel Festival Packing Talk: My Handout 5

I’m speaking at the Rick Steves Travel Festival, teaching my “Pack Light and Pack Right” class. If you can’t make it to Edmonds, you can follow along on my Facebook page, Adventures With Sarah, where you’ll find the live streamed video. 

Here are my quick notes…

Lecture by Sarah Murdoch

No one has Ever said, “I wish I’d have packed heavier”

Packing Light Philosophy

* Always carry on your bags—don’t check on the way over. Checking bags on the way home is fine, and often necessary.

* Keep to the lightest airline maximum carry-on weight, or what you can reasonable manage

* I suggest no more than 16 pounds

* Take as much as you want, just stick to your weight target

* Take only what you need, you can always buy things abroad

* Be practical

* Pack at least a week before your trip, revisit your choices before departure

* Take your packed bag for a walk and make sure you can handle it

Choose the Right Bag

* Backpacks are best to keep footloose and fancy free, they also keep you honest about weight

* Rolling bags are fine, but be careful about dimensions, check with your airline.

* Before buying, compare bag weights empty, much of a bag’s weight is the bag itself

* Fancy bags with bells and whistles are rarely light, choose something sturdy and practical

* Pick a daybag that is comfortable, with plenty of room

* Cross body bags are smarter than backpacks, many museums don’t allow backpacks of any size

* A packable souvenir bag can double as a picnic shopping bag or laundry bag. Many uses.

* Packing cubes keep a bag organized and easy to navigate
Dress Smart

* Don’t buy “travel clothes” unless you love them. Most of your own clothes are fine

* Choose clothes based on weight and versatility

* Layering is the key to dealing with a variety of temperatures

* Don’t bring anything you would be sorry to lose or see damaged

* Wash everything you plan to bring together on an extreme setting in your washing machine, since this is probably how it will be washed abroad

* Europeans tend to dress up, just so you know

* Skirts and dresses are a smart alternative to shorts and can be dressed up or layered in cooler weather

* Leave room in your bag to buy a piece of clothing, clothes make fun souvenirs

* All liquids must be under 3 oz in a clear, quart sized bag

* If you need more than 3 oz of something, fill more than one container

* You can always buy things abroad

* Cream deodorants take up less space

* Concentrating liquids helps maximize your 3 oz


* Minimum two pair, one athletic or walking shoe, one lightweight alternate–preferably sandals in summer

* Buy shoes at least one month before departure

* Break shoes in well

* Bring band aids or moleskin just in case, blisters happen


* Do you really need that?

* Choose electronics that can solve multiple problems, bring fewer items

* Buy long charging cables, adapters and a power strip as there are often very few outlets in a room
You Don’t Need That

* Excessive make-up and perfume

* Full-size toiletries

* current converter 

* Hair dryer


Sarah Murdoch is a tour guide and guidebook writer for Rick Steves Europe. Her blog, Adventures with Sarah, focuses on packing tips, travel stories and advice for planning the best trip possible.

5 thoughts on “Travel Festival Packing Talk: My Handout

  • Kristen

    Thank you, Sarah, for the great talk at Rick Steves’ Festival this weekend. It was fun to see you share, from your own personal bag, and to witness your passion in helping others streamline their travel packs! =)

  • Kathleene

    I don’t need to bring a current converter? Are you talking about that plug thing that allows one to plug an American device into the converter which then plugs unto the European outlet? Thanks, Sara.

  • Bobby Graham

    I love your practical approach to light packing and traveling; so good. I use a wheelie bag – just never gotten used to wearing a backpack. My wheelie bag weighs only 1.5 kilograms (that’s 3.3 pounds) and is the lightest I’ve been able to find. But having said that, I’d like to try a backpack, preferably one that opens like a suitcase. Do you have any recommendations?

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