So… If what I’ve read is anything to go by, there is an endless number of posts on travel websites and blogs telling you how to pack light, how to fit all your stuff in a carry-on bag, etc. Now, don’t get me wrong, an endless number of these posts are really helpful and have aided me in sorting out what I want to pack for my upcoming travels. However, many of these list a number of speciality items, that I don’t particularly want to spend my travel money on, or don’t align with my like for minimising waste. I also have some other strategies that I’ve been using for a while, which I haven’t found written anywhere else.
Some of these tips may only be relevant to some people. Some of them do involve some lifestyle changes or skills to acquire, but in my opinion, they’re not too difficult or drastic, and will help simplify your needs, waste, spending, and of course, luggage! Some things that help me and may help you, in no particular order, are…
- One Bar of Soap
- Coconut Oil
- Packing Cube Alternatives
- Make Friends!
Now here they are in more detail…
- One Bar of Soap
Shampoo, Body Wash, Hand Wash, Laundry Soap, Shaving Cream, Dish Soap, Toothpaste*. What do these things have in common? They can all be replaced with one product – a bar of soap.
Like the aforementioned bar of soap, coconut oil has a number of uses, and can replace many toiletries. See my post on coconut oil for a few ideas. Think moisturiser, hair styler, conditioner, shaving cream… And many more. If you’re planning on taking just hand luggage, coconut oil is your saviour. One 100ml jar will last ages! And no need for those annoying tiny travel bottles.
Another strategy to make your toiletries go further is vinegar. It can be diluted and used to condition the hair, instead of your standard shop-bought conditioner. So, a small bottle of something like Apple Cider Vinegar or White Vinegar will go far. Just a teaspoon or two in a cup of water can be used instead of loads of conditioner.
Now, vinegar is great if you’re transitioning from full-blown products to using nothing. But not using anything to wash your hair is even better! Here’s what I did.
Ever had your eyebrows threaded? It’s pretty quick, not too painful and tends to be cheap. Well, it’s even cheaper now. A few years ago, my cousin taught me how to thread my own eyebrows! No more tweezers, all my luggage in the cabin with me, no paying people to do my eyebrows for me (not that I’ve ever really done that except in India). Threading will also work for other hairy areas in a pinch, but doing a whole leg may test your patience! Think of it as an alternative to plucking!
It’s actually pretty simple. Cut a length of cotton thread, about as long as your arm, and tie it so it forms a circle. Hold the loop taut, then twist one hand around, so the thread forms a figure of 8, with around 5 twists in the middle. The aim of threading is to catch the hairs in the twisted thread, which will pull the hairs out. Instead of typing it out, here’s a link to a video of someone doing it (she starts threading at 6:39). Go ahead and try it!
Again, useful for haircare instead of shampoo. Either mix with water and massage into the scalp, or just sprinkle some straight onto your head and dampen it a bit.
Also, bicarb is great for the occasional tooth scrub! It’s very abrasive, so don’t use it too often, but it does give you a great clean feeling, either when you brush it straight on or mix with a bit of coconut oil. A bit of a change if you’re used to highly frothing, flavoured toothpaste, but nothing too alarming!
Buying new stuff is rubbish. Or generates rubbish. Well, both, actually! If, like me, you’re not a fan of spending loads of money and contributing to the world’s ever growing waste problem, give ebay a try. I find shops quite overwhelming – so many things all over the place, screaming, “Buy me! Buy me!” and looking through everything to find what I want can be exhausting. By shopping on ebay, I just type in exactly what I want, and it will be cheaper than it will be in the shops! Win, win.
Ebay is also great if you want a bit of extra cash. Have a look around and find clothes you no longer feel good wearing, or haven’t even looked at for months. Sell them! You get rid of junk and get money, and someone else gets to buy something without contributing to mass over-production and consumerism. Hooray!
- Packing Cube Alternatives
Quite a few travellers on the internet are raving about packing cubes. They do look really useful and helpful to keep all your stuff in order. I, for one, am terrible when it comes to stuffing things wherever I can in my bag and then not being able to find anything when I need it! Packing cubes, though. Buying stuff, spending money – not things I like to do! So I found an alternative. The things people like about packing cubes – they have see-through parts, so you can see where your stuff is, they smush all your clothes into a small space, different sizes, etc. I went around my house, looking for good candidates. I found a couple of pencil cases, make-up bags, and a few miscellaneous, transparent things. I folded up some clothes and squished them inside, and hey presto! Packing cubes!
In the above photo, there’s 5 t-shirts, 2 pairs of trousers, 1 pair of shorts, a maxi dress, A flowery shirt, a crochet waistcoat, a tank top and a lacy t-shirt. I’ve since switched some stuff around, after changing my mind about what to pack, but look how little space they take up! I’ve managed to fit 2 bras in the middle one, and a pair of leggings and a t-shirt in the first one in exchange for one pair of trousers (and there’s room for more!)
So, if you like the idea of packing cubes but don’t want to fall into the trap of buying loads of stuff and spending money unnecessarily, just look around your home for things you could use. There’s always charity shops as well, and if that fails – Zip-loc bags!
- Make Friends!
Obviously, making friends has many more benefits than making packing easier, but it does that too! Staying with people means you don’t have to bring everything you might ever need, because if you’re in someone’s home, they probably have it. Things like soap, toothpaste, towels, extra jumpers, niche equipment/clothing, etc will very likely be available at your friend’s home. So, no need for you to pack loads of bulky stuff that you won’t necessarily need in every place you go.
If you’re ok not using specific toiletries/clothes, etc, then staying with people in homes is a great way to save money, packing space, and to have a generally wonderful travel experience!