top of page

Packing Light

Updated: May 18

The back of the van used for our Outlander tours.

If you don’t already pack light, I highly encourage it.  Here is a picture of my suitcase for a 4 week trip to Ireland and Scotland.  One 23″ suitcase (purple), a day pack and a small purse. Seriously!  That’s all! (See below for more pictures of how I did it.)

Try it. I promise you’ll like it.  Everyone who has tried it has been sooo happy (and proud of themselves).

I only take enough clothes for a week (no matter where or when I go) because in Europe, they have these nifty places called launderettes where you drop off your clothes and they wash and dry them for you. It’s a little disconcerting at first to have someone else handling your clothes but it’s better than spending a day of your vacation in a laundromat – and some places just don’t have them – they only have launderettes.

AND it’s better than dragging a bunch of clothes in a huge suitcase around Europe.  When you pack light – you look at those people shoving those huge suitcases through the stiles at the airport or lugging them along the coblestone streets and you just feel sorry for them.

carry-on size suitcase and daybag

Another time,  I had a week in London for business so I had to dress up.  I started that with a weekend (in January) to the wild west coast of Ireland and ended with a trip around Scotland.  So I thought, “Well that’s a good reason to take a larger suitcase.”  And…  ok I did it – I took a 25″ suitcase.  (The problem is not just the height, but the width and the weight!) 

Elevator (or Lift) in Oban

Big mistake!  Never again!!  The worst part was getting around London and down the passageway of the sleeper train on the way back from Scotland and the stairs to the tube and the “lift” in the hotel in Oban (yes that is an elevator), and stowing it on the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh….  Not worth it!

Packing for an overseas trip is different than packing, for example, a trip to New York City for a weekend.  Then you’d only be staying in one place and maybe going out to a nice dinner so you’ll want to dress up.  Plus there are the social media pictures – you have to look good for those. 

Overseas trips are different because usually you aren’t staying in one place the whole time (so you are dragging that suitcase round), you are outdoors a lot so you’ll be wearing the same jacket/coat in all of those pictures and it’s not about dressing up – it’s about enjoying your time over there!!

  1. Pack comfortable clothes that don’t wrinkle easily.  (I take a small squirt bottle to de-wrinkle clothes between washings.)

  2. Plan to layer.

  3. Don’t take new clothes that have never been worn.  (You don’t know how they’ll feel sitting in a van/car/bus/train/plane or if they’ll shrink.)

  4. Don’t take anything that you will wear only once.

  5. Refrain from taking things you “might need.”

  6. Keep in mind, they do have stores overseas and a new scarf or gloves could make a nice souvenir.

  7. Good footwear is important.

  8. If you’re from a southern state and not used to cold weather or just don’t like cold weather, get some nice long underwear.

  9. Don’t bother with a bunch of hair products & appliances.  Ireland and Scotland are windy so you’d be better off with hair-ties, barrettes, clips…

  10. Please, please, don’t take an extra suitcase for souvenirs.  Either ship them home or just buy small things like hand embroidered Irish lace, a spurtle (a Scottish wooden cooking utensil for stirring porridge), a leather wallet, a tartan scarf, a small tweed purse…

Here’s how I do it:


2 small bags – the pink one with socks, undies, turbie towel and the other red one with my bathroom supplies

make-up bag – the little blue multi-colored (note: smaller than my shoes)

1 pair of extra shoes (this was traumatic for me because I love shoes but it worked)


Smaller bag – 3 pair of pants (I found a great pair of grey hiking pants that look nice for travel) and I take a pair of jeans. Note: one of the pair of pants is my husband’s because I wanted him to have 2 pair and he only wanted to take 1 extra.

Medium bag – 6 shirts, 2 t-shirts 1 golf top & 1 dressier shirt, plus PJs and long underwear

Yes, 6 shirts – 4 are polyester with 3/4 sleeve and they roll up and pack very small and 2 cotton long sleeve ones.


not one to waste space, I also use the area between the rails for



I also had a raincoat on top of everything, but I had been wearing it before I took the picture above.

And I wear a sweater (a nice wool one that I might buy in Ireland), vest or jacket on the plane, plus my hiking shoes or knee high boots if I’m going dressier as I did for a weekend to Dublin for St Patrick’s Day below.  And here is a picture of my 3/4 sleeve shirts and my grey pants.

Here is a Rick Steves video where he talks about 2 types of travelers: 1) those who pack light and 2) those who wish they packed light. Rick Steves – Packing Light and Right

And here is a video about packing light for women Packing Light for Women She is a rather petite lady and I am 5’8″ and not petite but just remember you only have to bring multiples of the things that are next to your skin like tops and undies so they should be light weight and easily packable.

And another list of suggestions – the title has carry-on but they’re actually decent tips.  There is a link to “View as One Page” below the image.

Here are my grey pants.  The Prana ones look the nicest because they don’t have the bulky pockets on the side of the leg.  They do have some gussets which make movement easier – but they’re not obvious.  And they do have tabs inside which snap to the outside so you can roll them up and make capris out of them – which I did in Bath one time when it was one of the hottest days of the year in London. The Patagonia ones are thinner but have great pockets – I’m wearing them to Dublin for St Patrick’s Day because I don’t need to be dressy.  The Arcteryx ones make that swishy noise – so I don’t take them on trips – they’re just for hiking – they warn the bears that I’m coming.

Prana – they don’t look like hiking pants.

Prana back pockets.

Patagonia – great pockets.

So now you know what I wear on my Outlander Tours of Scotland and my Ancient Scotland Tours.

10 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page