This is a guest post by Susan Guillory of The Unexplorer.
I’ve become quite a minimalist when it comes to packing for a trip. Don’t get me wrong: I like having clothing options as much as the next gal, but after spending three weeks in Italy and hiking the Dolomiti mountains with no more than 19 pounds of stuff in a backpack, I kinda got hooked. I don’t miss dragging a rolling suitcase over jagged cobblestone streets. I don’t even have to check my pack on a flight if I don’t want to. Going minimal is a thing of beauty.
So I know you’re curious how I do it. Since I’m leaving for two weeks in France soon (headed to another yoga retreat in Provence, then to Saorge, my favorite place on earth), I’m letting you in behind the scenes (underwear and all).
Laying the Groundwork
Before I pull anything from my closet, I check the forecast where I’m headed. While it will be low 70s in Amsterdam (and raining, darn it), it will be high 70s and low 80s in Provence. It’s the perfect packing time because I won’t need jackets (though I will pack a raincoat and umbrella).
My big secret for packing light is: plan to wash daily, and bring clothes that will dry quickly. For two weeks, I’m just bringing a pair of jeans, capris, and harem pants. I’m super excited about the harem pants, which I was turned onto by another travel writer. They’re lightweight, quick-drying, and versatile. I can do yoga in them or wear them out. I’m also bringing an extra pair of yoga pants.
I’m bringing four dressy shirts, two tanks, and a t-shirt for yoga. I’m also bringing a button-up shirt and a cardigan so I can layer and change up my look, as well as a dress for special evenings out.
It may seem crazy, but I totally roll with just three pairs of underwear. One to wear, one to wash, and one for tomorrow. Last year I bought ExOfficio underwear because it dries super fast, but at $10+ a pair, they don’t come cheap. I’m trying out Fruit of the Loom’s new Breatheable line. Stay tuned.
Just two regular bras and one sports bra will get me through. I’m bringing clothes to sleep in and my swimsuit.
Shoewise, I feel I’m going a bit overboard, but I’m a woman. I’m bringing a pair of sneakers for hiking and walking around town, a pair of cute tennis shoes when I want to feel a little more dressy, Teva sandals that are uber comfy, and a pair of flip flops. I’m also bringing a handful of silver and gold jewelry to make me feel purty.
Consolidating it All
When you lay it all out, this seems like a ton of stuff! But here’s a tip: packing cubes. Game changers. Not only do they make things fit better in your suitcase or pack, but you don’t waste so much time rummaging for things. I organize pants in one, shirts in another, and underwear in another. If I need something, I slide out that packing cube. Then it looks like this:
I slide the heaviest bag (with shoes) in the bottom of my backpack, then fit the other packing cubes as they fit. Here’s what my pack looks like full. It weighs 14 pounds. Not bad.
Packing for the Plane
I’ve kept out the clothes I’m going to wear on the plane. I always opt for light, flowy fabrics, not jeans, especially for an international flight. Comfort first! I bring a scarf that I can wrap up in if it gets cold. And here’s another tip! Take an extra pair of socks. I used to just take my shoes off and wander around or go to the restroom in my socks, but then someone pointed out how grody that was, so I now bring a pair of socks that I was given on the plane to Poland and slip those over my good socks.
I bring a carryon bag on the plane that has all my entertainment. This is also the bag that stays with me throughout my travels. The bag I’m taking has all kinds of pockets and compartments, which I love. I read a ton when I travel, and rely primarily on my tablet, which has magazines and books downloaded. I do bring a print magazine and book that I can leave somewhere on my travels, maybe trading for something cool.
I like to take a toiletry case on the plane so I can brush my teeth and wash my face before we land, helping me feel somewhat human after a long flight. Another tip? if you travel to the same area frequently, save your change and a few dollars’ worth of money for your next trip. I had about 8 euro left over from Italy, so now I can buy a snack or get a train ticket before I get to an ATM.
Okay. Bag’s all packed. I’m ready to go!