I try to never check my bag, unless it’s a long vacation (2 weeks or similar) and/or I plan to carry back 3 bottles of local alcohol produce, which is the case for most of my travels in foreign locations. Anyways.
I may not be the minimalist traveler as Leo of ZenHabits, but I gathered a few tips along the way:
- how to pack 2 weeks in a carry on (summer edition and winter edition)
- how to pack for a duffle bag
- ZenHabits minimalist travel tips (for women, general tips and beginner’s guide)
Also, here is my Pinterest board with travel and packing tips.
Last week I went for a 2 day conference in Athens, and traveled with just a duffle bag, in which I managed to squeeze:
- a crisp white business dress
- a pair of high heels
- white jeans
- a striped tshirt
- a navy sweater
- a striped shirt
- a pair of flats
- a cosmetics pouch
- a small black leather bag
- my laptop and phone charger
- a book
- my Clarisonic brush
I carried my laptop in a separate case.
As you can see, I’m a lavish (not really minimalist) packer.
However, seeing my colleagues rolling huge trollers plus backpacks for a two day conference, and hearing the comments “Is that your ONLY bag?” “How did you fit that dress and shoes INSIDE THAT BAG??”, I realized I might have a thing or two to share.
Here are a few principles I usually respect:
1. Make a list of what I’m going to wear and when.
This was a 2 day conference with a planned (informal) dinner, and I left directly from the office, so I had to prepare 5 outfits:
- day at the office & on the way
- walking around in the evening of arrival
- Day 1
- Dinner wear
- Day 2
I also took some extras with me, namely the navy sweater and one large cashmere scarf, which proved amazingly useful, as the weather in Athens was not 25 C and sunny, but 15 C, freezing and raining.
This particular trip was lavish because I wore every item only once, while normally you can plan on wearing each item at least 2 times.
Last weekend I went to Amsterdam for a 3 day trip, and my husband and I shared a carry-on. I only used 1/2 of it, and had 3 outfits: a jersey dress with flats, a jersey maxi with a tshirt and sneakers, and jeans and a striped tshirt with sneakers. I also packed one long shirt and a polar vest in case it would be cold (it wasn’t).
2. Decide on what’s non-negotiable and what can be left at home
For example, I took my Clarisonic with me, but left hair straightener at home. However I packed hair powder which doubles as dry shampoo and styling product.
The laptop and phone charger could also be left at home, since usually at a conference you can borrow them, but I decided not to take risks this time.
I never understood why people take Moleskines with them while travelling. Never could take notes, and if really necessary, I write them on Evernote and save them to my phone.
3. Roll clothes, don’t fold them!
I learned this from various blog posts and it proved to be immensely useful. Rolled clothes take up less space indeed!
However, you need to…
4. Pack jersey/sweater fabrics, not crisp cotton.
In my Athens trip, I was aware that my white dress would arrive in poor condition, but also assumed the hotel would have an iron (they did). However, unless absolutely necessary, I would not pack any wrinkly materials.
5. Pack flats and comfortable shoes, not high heels.
Or if you must pack high heels, bring only one pair, make sure that they match most outfits.
Pointy flats, especially if black and glossy, look marvellously elegant and match anything.
6. Stick to neutral colors – black, white or nude.
Several travel tips say you need to have a colourful accessory – I prefer greys and blacks, but to each his/her own preferences. Black is the best colour for travel, because it doesn’t get dirty (or at least you don’t notice it) and matches everything, so you can combine your outfits in more ways.
7. Always bring something warm…
I am suffering of cold even in summer, as my preferred temperature ranges around 25C, so any cold gust of wind will have me shivering. For me, it’s a must to bring some tights, a pair of socks for sleeping and a warm scarf of sweater. They also help on the (sometimes freezing) plane rides.
8. and…something hydrating.
Ok, this one is not just for the ladies. It’s true, skin gets dehydrated during travel. Recycled air on the plane, being busy travelling around, even stress while travelling, all get us dehydrated. I have a small cream box of cocoa butter which I use on my face, lips and hands. It can be the only cosmetic (except deodorant) you take with you.
When you prepare your outfits, think them in layers, since you don’t always know how the weather will turn out (like me in Athens). You might only need one sweater and/or shirt. If the weather is colder, pack a lightweight short jacket, or better yet, wear it on yourself going to the airport, in order not to take up too much luggage space.
10. Leave some space in your bag.
If you’re like me, you’ll want to sample some of the local foods and drinks, and bring back home for friends to enjoy. More so, if you want to do any shopping, pack (or buy at your end location) a large canvas bag, which can then serve as a tote as you come back, and in which you can squeeze some of your souvenirs.
I hope the above will be useful as we’re all preparing for summer vacation!