The trick to a cheap trip is to limit yourself to a carry-on bag or large personal item. Stop freaking out. It’s possible, people.
Most major transatlantic airlines will allow a personal item, a carry-on, and one or two checked bags, but their flights can be hella expensive. Airlines like Norwegian are significantly cheaper and will allow you to bring one personal item, like a backpack, and one carry item for no additional charge. Some airlines, like Wow, will have dirt cheap flights, but you’ll have to pay $40-$50 for a bag. Surprisingly, it still ends up being cheaper than their competitors.
If you're only planning on going to one city and can take as much baggage as you want, or don't mind paying $40 for your bag each way, go for it. But if you're planning on hopping around a country (or a continent), I suggest that you keep it to a carry-on. Or better yet, a small backpack.
Let's say you want to go to London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Rome. It is incredibly cheap to fly from city to city (less than $100 for all 3 flights), but that's only if you don't have additional baggage.
Stop shaking your head at me. I’ll show you divas how to survive.
1) Only pack the essentials
No, that hair dryer with attachments is not essential. Stop. Coming from someone who has some crazy ass hair, you’ll survive. Most places will have hair dryers available anyway. They just won't be ion plus ultra professional grade cruelty free hair dryers (I clearly know nothing about hair dryers), but they'll get the job done. Plus your American hair dryer is only going to create issues in foreign outlets.
If the place you’re staying at doesn’t have a hair dryer available, and you just #canteven, go to the store when you reach your destination and buy a cheap travel one. Done.
Another thing you could do is experiment with no heat hairstyles before you leave so you know what works and doesn’t work when you're on the go.
Make-up. I don’t wear it, so I never have to make room for it. To those of you who feel the need to contour your face every morning with a thousand products and brushes, I hate to break it to you, but you’re wasting your time and space. Bring the basics and use your time exploring new cities instead of putting on a false face.
Another thing, why do you think you need 12 pairs of pants, 30 tops, and 6 pairs of shoes for a 10-day trip? What is wrong with you? You’re not Beyonce. Make sure you have versatile day-to-night wear and can mix-n-match your stuff.
2) Pick an Airbnb or hostel with a washing machine
I've never understood why laundry at hotels is so damn expensive, but most Airbnbs these days have laundry facilities. Utilize them! I'm not saying that this should be a priority for your accommodations, but if you're packing light for a long trip, see if you can find accommodations where you can wash your dirty drawers.
And not every place you stay at needs to have facilities. Be strategic. If you’re traveling with only a backpack, you may need to do laundry after 3 or 4 days depending on your stash. Others may only need it after 7-10 days. Everyone, and every trip, is different. If your place doesn’t have laundry, just find the closest laundromat.
3) Bring some old or cheap clothes
If I know I’m going to buy too much stuff on a trip, I’ll bring some “disposable” clothes with me. That way I don’t feel bad about tossing things along the way. Got some shirts that you only wear to bed because they’re covered in holes, or have some underwear that is past its expiration date? Pack ‘em and toss ‘em. Those ratty clothes are perfect for adventure days, like hiking or kayaking.
No old clothes to bring? Grab some cheap tops that you don’t mind tossing or donating if need be. I honestly can’t tell you guys how many times I’ve ditched old or cheap clothes at the end of a trip. There are usually a lot of backpackers in hostels that can't afford new clothes, so I usually give them some of mine and just tell them to pay it forward.
4) Vacuum bags
Save space by vacuum sealing your clothes. Just be careful, some airlines put a maximum weight on your carry-on and will actually weigh it. Check with your airline before you cram 30 pounds of junk into your bag. Invest in a travel scale!! You'll never pay overweight baggage fees again.
5) Buy It There
Don’t pack five 3oz. bottles of shampoo to make it through your trip. Believe it or not, other countries have shampoo. Shocker, right? Stock up on your needs as you go.
If you’re planning on staying at a hostel or hitting beaches, either rent a towel at the hostel or go buy a cheap one at the store. Or, if you’re like me and don’t mind forgoing a plush, fluffy towel, invest in a quick-dry, lightweight microfiber towel that only takes up as much room as a t-shirt.
6) Leave your electronics behind
Do you really need your laptop, ebook reader, Beats by Dre headphones, Bluetooth speaker, and iPad on vacation? PLUS all of their cords? No. You paid $800 for your phone so you wouldn’t have to do that. Although I must admit that I’m guilty of bringing my bulky Canon and GoPro with me on major trips. But that’s because photography is important to me and the GoPro can go places other cameras can’t. So find what’s important to you and leave the rest behind.
So that's it. Those are the simple ways I make it through a long trip with limited baggage. But look, we all have different needs and budgets, so find what works and doesn't work for you.
If you have any of your own tips you'd like to share, post them in the comments below!
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