One of my biggest passions is to travel and if I could, I’d do it all year long. But traveling can be taxing for those of us over 50. We have to maneuver through crowded airports, squeeze ourselves into seats like sardines, and haul our luggage from planes into trains, buses, and automobiles. The actual “travel” part of traveling is what takes a toll on our heads, shoulders, knees, and toes. Still, nothing is more thrilling than getting on a plane and taking off to a fabulous destination. That’s why it’s best to travel light.
It’s not always easy to travel light if you’re a female
We like to dress to impress, especially if we’re traveling on a group tour or cruise. But, the more we stuff in our bags, the more it’s a pain in the neck. . . literally. That’s why I’ve put together my recommended list of best travel accessories and essentials to travel light, so you can enjoy your trip and still be in style.
Carry a light and functional travel purse
I’m in love with my baggallini Crossbody Bag. It’s light as a feather and ultra-practical. I carry it with me all the time, even when I’m at home. I love that it has a side pocket to store my water bottle because it’s important to stay hydrated when you travel. Baggallini bags have multiple compartments and come with a detachable RFID-blocking wristlet, so your credit cards won’t get scanned. It’s a drag when you’re relaxing in a gondola and a nasty thief is busy draining your bank accounts.
You can wear the bag over your shoulder or across your body. There’s no need to worry about the straps breaking because they’re strong and adjustable. It’s made out of lightweight crinkle nylon and is water-resistant. If you smudge it, like I always do, it’s easy to wipe off. A zipper pocket in the back easily converts to a sleeve that slips over the handle of your rolling bag.
Make sure your suitcases are spinners
Spinners have 4 wheels, rather than 2, making them easier to haul around in different directions. eBags has a wide variety of quality spinner carry-ons at an affordable price.
Another option is a light duffle bag like this Novel Duffle from Herschel Supplies.
If possible only take a carry-on
I hate schlepping luggage around and would rather manage with just a carry-on. If you are traveling from city to city, no one will know you wore the same thing twice. This light and sturdy Minima carry-on by Chester is sleek and comes with its own TSA-approved combination lock, zip pockets, and even has a hideaway zipper for your dirty clothes. I own one and love all the compartments it has. It’s super light and sturdy.
What about those bulky winter clothes?
I’ve taken several European trips in Nov/Dec and it was chilly. It’s not as easy to travel light when it’s freezing outside and you need a warm, toasty coat. I’m spoiled living in Los Angeles and start to freeze when the temperature drops under 50.
One thing I learned is to NEVER pack bulky sweaters or wool coats. One big sweater fills up an entire suitcase? Instead, I bring a nylon down jacket that will squish into a small bag if needed. For extra warmth, silk undershirts are wonderful because they don’t take up space in your luggage but more importantly, don’t add bulk to your figure.
When it’s cold it’s all about your jacket
This Women’s Bugaboo™ II Fleece Interchange Jacket by Columbia is a 3 in 1 that has a waterproof outer layer and fleece inner layer. You can separate the layers if you get too warm or warm up if you get a chill. It comes in aquarium blue, beet, (shown here) dusty iris, and twilight.
Travel tip – Carry your down coat on the plane so you can use it as a pillow or to snuggle up in. Airplanes are notoriously chilly.
You may also enjoy: 10 Winter Travel Tips for Baby Boomers
Use packing cubes to organize your suitcase
Eagle Creek has a large selection of packing cubes so you can separate items in your luggage and make them easier to find. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. They’re also perfect for storing dirty or wet clothes
If you want to be hands-free, carry a backpack
Backpacks are handy, especially on tours because they don’t get in the way when you’re shooting photos or shopping. However, if you’re over 50, don’t try to carry a large one or you’ll end up with a backache.
The Travelon anti-theft backpack has padded iPad/tablet sleeves, RFID blocking card slots, and pockets for an umbrella, or water bottle. Some also have compartments for your cell phone, sunglasses, paper money, and important papers.
Don’t forget your camera
When I travel, I love to take lots of photos. Even though my Galaxy smartphone has an excellent camera, it doesn’t have a zoom lens. The problem is, fancy cameras can be heavy and strain your neck. For several years, I’ve been taking along a Canon PowerShot. It’s super light, affordable, and takes amazing shots. I’m not particularly technical when it comes to camera settings and always use the auto feature, but I’m always astounded at the quality of photos it takes.
Keep your clothing options simple
My travel uniform is usually black leggings or stretchy flared slacks with black no-iron soft tops. I wear black because it hides most of my major flaws in photos. I also like to choose a fabric that’s easy to rinse out and dry. If I’m not wearing a coat, I’ll wear a reversible jacket over my black ensemble and sometimes a scarf. I particularly like infinity scarves because you never have to tie them. (I’m kind of a klutz at tying scarves)
To avoid bulk, I recommend packing a few silk infinity scarves. They’re light, beautiful, and will keep you warm on a cold winter night.
If you’re traveling from city to city you only need to bring minimal outfits that don’t wrinkle and are easy to rinse out when necessary. If you can avoid bringing a travel iron, you’ll have more room in your suitcase and it will be lighter. I usually wear black or a dark color because I don’t have a model-skinny body and it hides my flaws in photos. A simple travel dress comes in handy for dressier occasions and can be accessorized to look perfectly elegant on formal nights.
Comfortable shoes are a priority number one
Traveling usually means lots of walking. (which is healthy) However, there’s nothing worse than getting blisters from ill-fitting shoes. Go for comfort and support beyond anything else and your feet will thank you. You’ll also have much more fun.
For dressy occasions, flat slippers are nice because they’re stable and are easy to pack. Have you ever been on a cruise ship in rough weather? It’s hard to walk around in heels! Leave your stilettos at home.
How to travel light with shoes – tip – Bring as few pairs as possible. (3 max) When you pack, fill the inside of your shoes with socks or undies to save space. If you find you need another pair, buy a stylish pair in Italy or wherever you happen to be.
How do you travel light? Please leave a comment below.