For as long as I can remember I have been an over-packer. I was the one they joked brought “everything but the kitchen sink.” I just wanted to be prepared for anything and everything that could happen. Thinking about it though, it wasn’t just things I might “need,” but things I loved as well. ALL my CDs, my Bible, my journal, my favorite this, my favorite that. You get the picture. It was excessive. My brother-in-law still gives me a hard time about moving me in to my college dorm as a freshman.
I would’ve claimed to not be very materialistic. In fact I was the girl who hated shopping, and still does. I didn’t go overboard on clothes and makeup. But I was materialistic. Not in the shopping sense, but in that I placed a lot of value, security, and identity in my things and therefore, I tried to take as many of them as I could when I was going somewhere. If I packed for a trip and there was room in my suitcase, you better believe I filled it up with something that might be nice to have. Books, another outfit, whatever. I filled all the space.
One of the first challenges I faced when I decided to become a minimalist was with packing. I knew before any trip came up that it would be hard. My first thought was, “I can’t” But I took it as a chance to try out being even “more” minimalist. It was fantastic! It also gave me the courage to pare down my clothing.
The are multiple benefits to packing lighter. Here’s a few:
-Lighter load to carry.
-Ability to move quicker and easier during your trip
-Less stress packing before
-Less stress during the trip because decisions of what to wear are reduced or eliminated.
-A chance to try out more minimal wardrobe/lifestyle.
Different situations call for different ways of packing. There are long trips in which you’ll be able to wash some items or there’s shorter ones, like overnight or weekend trips when washing doesn’t make sense. This first packing post, I’m just going to tackle the overnight or weekend trip.
1. Clothing. I’m not much of a planner or fashionista, but I have fun packing my clothes now. I like the challenge of mixing and matching so that I take the least amount of items. In cooler months I mostly wear jeans and those will usually last a couple days without a wash. So I take a couple of tops to go with and one pair of shoes. In warmer months, I lean towards dresses and especially with traveling this makes it so simple. No matter when, I am a fan of layering because even in the summer, I usually get cool in the car with my husband having the AC on high. I stopped taking workout items because the shoes are heavy and I don’t want to take the clothing. Many times I don’t have the chance to run or visit the hotel gym. Plus, its a chance for doing something simple like squats, lunges, pushups and crunches. You could even have a simple yoga routine to do when traveling. If the traveling is for sightseeing, many times you will take much more steps that you would in a normal day so you can count that for your workout. My husband and I took a 3 day trip last summer and decided to just walk to all our destinations (we were in a city) and on one of those days we walked over 9 miles!
2. Accessories. I love accessories because they allow me to add variety to my clothing. But when it comes to traveling I tend to go really minimal on accessories. I’ll choose one or two pieces that I can easily wear with everything I’m packing.
3. Beauty. Yet another time that we can try out a more minimalist way of life. I pack a smaller makeup bag and try to minimize hair/beauty products to take. For example I wouldn’t pack eye/night cream, just my regular moisturizer.
4. Entertainment. With the advances in technology, we can have a variety of things on our phone. While I am still very much a physical book lover, on trips I try to have an e-book on my phone so that I don’t have to add that to my bag. I also try to “do” less during the trip so that I can watch the scenery. Seeing the natural beauty and cultures of whatever place you’re in can really encourage deep thought. Its also a great time to have conversations with whoever you’re traveling with, even strangers. I have some very memorable conversations from years ago with people I will never see again.
One of my favorite quotes about travel from someone who was very well traveled is
The true fruit of travel is perhaps the feeling of being nearly everywhere at home.”
– Freya Stark
While at first you might be tempted to think its because you take everything with you, I think its quite the opposite. If you live lighter and you travel lighter, then you won’t be so worried about all your stuff and will be able to make yourself at home wherever you are.