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Minimalist Packing - Old School vs. Modern

I am middle aged. I have noticed that “minimalist” packing seems to be different for younger people than me. I am used to packing with zero electronics, no cell phone, etc.. In recent years, I started using an iPad and WiFi. Old style suitcases and backpacks (which I still use) don’t have dedicated space for computers and charging cords, etc.. I must admit that many years ago I did travel domestically with a hand-held hairdryer.

Now when I see online packing videos - it’s all about the electronics and bags designed for them.

I am not implying that one version of packing is better. Rather, just that travel has changed significantly in so many ways. Different World - Different Experiences.

Posted by
16035 posts

Now when I see online packing videos - it’s all about the electronics and bags designed for them.

I think those videos are trying to sell you new luggage. I just shove them in my small back pack along with all the other stuff I want to keep handy.

Posted by
3523 posts

At 75 I'm probably not younger than you. I take a small tablet and a small smart phone. I put them in my carry-on personal item. I don't obsess over the kinds of features you're talking about and would never choose any bag based primarily on accommodating them.

I'm more concerned about weight and having enough space for my meds. I bet the target audience for those packing videos wouldn't have that on their radar. 😆

Posted by
9770 posts

Minimalist packing is whatever you decide it is for you.

Many younger folks today are slaves to social networking and must post regularly as to what they are doing. Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.....you need lots of electronics for that. In addition to computers, cameras, lights, tripods, selfie sticks, and cables galore, some are taking drones for aerial shots.

But the best packing light video was from a guy who made sure he let his viewers know he also took a "good" t-shirt in case he wanted to go to a fancy restaurant. A fancy restaurant? in a T-shirt? I guess fancy to him is one where you don't go up to the counter to order.

Most of the newer travel backpacks are designed for these type of travelers.

Posted by
2918 posts

Whatever floats your boat as far as luggage and packing goes. I have the feeling that most luggage marketed to emphasize special electronics compartments are targeting business travellers. Once upon a time DH would pack his laptop in his carryon backpack; but that hasn't been necessary since he retired.

We each pack noise canceling headphones, a phone, tablet and camera, They just get thrown into our personal item for the plane, or our day bag. We do have a special piece used specifically for our chargers. I think it's called a zip lock bag. I learned that from one of my 30 something year old daughters. Who, by the way, travels with a small gym bag for flights and a regular, run of the mill backpack. I think the only major change for us was the switch to fewer and smaller suitcases over the years.

Posted by
759 posts

Electronics - iPad and phone (very rarely a small laptop) in my carry-on shoulder bag (with chargers). Everything else in 1 or 2 checked bags. Bags go onto a cart at luggage claim and from there to a car/cab. From cab I can get them to the hotel door- doorman often help. No muss, no fuss.

Posted by
4945 posts

At airport security, every time I put my carry-on suitcase on the conveyor, I’m asked whether I have a laptop. The answer is always “no,” but the agents must all think everybody has one, and that I’ve just forgotten to remove mine from the bag.

My biggest change in the last 20 years (aside from bringing more meds now) is no longer hauling a ton of rolls of film, to be developed after I get home.

Posted by
2492 posts

The thing is that electronic devices make minimal packing easier. I’ve said it before but an iPhone replaces many different items and pounds in a bag (printed confirmations, camera, books, calculator, address book, notepad…).

Also many of us who are not retired now occasionally check in with work while traveling. On one hand, it kind of stinks having to check email or call in to a meeting an hour or two a week while on “vacation”. On the other hand it allows greater flexibility to stay longer and work from wherever, instead of being stuck in the office. To do this most of us need a laptop, sometimes just a phone or tablet. So that’s another major change.

So are special bags with cord pockets etc necessary if you travel with electronic devices? Of course not, you can put your items in any bag you want, it’s partly marketing and partly just that some people find it easier to have dedicated space for these items. Me, I like a laptop sleeve simply for protection (the padding keeps it safer), but find extra pockets for other devices/cords too fussy and limiting. Squeeze those where they fit, maximize space.

Posted by
4737 posts

I don’t pack light, unless going for a short city break. Hand luggage (between the two of us) comprises one MacBook Pro (weight 1.37 kgs) plus charger, 2 iPhones plus chargers, 2 iPads plus chargers, two pairs of binoculars (about 2.5 kgs combined plus holsters), sometimes one lightweight telescope (1.3 kgs), 2 Kindles plus charger, plus around 8-10 kgs of “lightweight” camera equipment - it was 15 kgs + when he used Canon. Most stuff goes into the one checked bag that we usually take - weight is usually around 20 kgs.

I don’t know what we are going to do now EasyJet have changed their baggage policy and introduced weight limits to hand luggage.

I have never taken a hairdryer on holiday - get a short, no fuss cut and you don’t even need a comb!

Posted by
9770 posts

Easyjet hasn't introduced weight limits to hand luggage. Just size limits depending on what type of ticket you buy.

If there are weight limits, please point me to what page you are looking at. I couldn't find any mention on the Easyjet luggage page.

Posted by
6714 posts

it’s all about the electronics and bags designed for them.

That's purely marketing and a way to signal to others that you're cool and always plugged in, and likely of a certain age range. Electronics can fit into any bag (old school and otherwise), even one with very few compartments. You can use your (clean) socks as a buffer (for cords) or a bubble wrap mailer or a protective padded sleeve made for that purpose or whatever....it doesn't need to look hip to work. I love Tom Bihn but that company is an extreme example of going overboard with straps and o-rings and a-z of "stuff" for your electronics. I'm really happy with most of the things I bought from there except one - it doesn't even work for my cords and that's what it was (partly) supposed to do. The easiest way to be minimalist is not to pack much in terms of anything, including electronics. I went to Mexico for a week a few years back with a gym bag under my seat, everything fit. I never bring work stuff on vacation.

Posted by
1459 posts

Jennifer,
I haven’t carried a hair dryer in many years. Even at home, I don’t use one except for a rare craft project. The hair dryer for domestic travel was from the 1980’s to early 1990’s. Probably the “Big Hair” thing. Plus, many hotels have hair dryers.

Posted by
3789 posts

I find it is the backpack or tote bags that are including sleeves for laptops. It is frustrating as it takes up some space with the padding that I don't need. However, I find that most laptop space can take my home made shirt folder quite nicely, so it isn't unused space, but it isn't how I would design it for my needs.
If you find a packing video for birders on 3 month sojourns; please let me know. Even if it isn't laptops and all the electronics, I still have 'stuff' I need to accommodate.

Posted by
1857 posts

My biggest change in the last 20 years (aside from bringing more meds
now) is no longer hauling a ton of rolls of film, to be developed
after I get home.

I had to laugh because about 5 years ago we bought all new kitchen appliances. As we're cleaning out the fridge I found an old roll of unused film that had been pushed to the back and never seen again. We do clean our fridge...scouts honour.

I've been packing electronics now for 15-20 years so I guess it's not really a modern way of packing anymore, except those electronics-especially the laptop have thankfully gotten smaller. I bring both laptop and tablet because I still do some work while I'm away, but I do prefer a laptop over a tablet or phone for some daily surfing and I suspect the laptop will continue into retirement. I keep a ziploc bag of cables for the various electronics that my wife and I bring so we don't have to scramble at the last minute to remember if we have all chargers.

Posted by
2204 posts

Not sure which school you dump us into, but we were 67 and 68, and this has been the routine since 2010. A small mesh pack holds both our iPad minis (once we switched to them). It has our phones tucked away, not to be used until we call for our ride at our home airport. Two cables and chargers for the pads, a small point-and-camera. and a couple outlet converters. Enough changeable clothes for 1 week (we are always able to plan a laundry stop), a second pair of shoes each, another mesh with our various small toiletries and meds. Packed in 2 RS convertible packs, which we comfortably carry. And never had to weigh these, let alone check them, although I have checked wight at home and we are right at Lufthansa's 8 kg. We put as much as we can into the plastic compression bags, this does wonders for volume. I will disclose that our trips have all been late spring through early fall, so no heavy clothing involved.

Posted by
1063 posts

I do have to laugh because I pack lighter than my young adult daughters. We all take about the same electronics, though. They just feel the need to have more clothes available than I do. Lol!

Posted by
646 posts

Thanks for a topic that is not about the covid!

I am middle aged. I have noticed that “minimalist” packing seems to be different for younger people than me.

The largest thing young minimalist digital nomads carry is their ego. I'm sure Minaal and Aer are building new $300 bags with TSA-friendly ego sleeves in "I'm Not A Tourist" black.

Instead of searching for minimalism, try simply looking for "packing light" -- huge difference.

I am not implying that one version of packing is better. Rather, just that travel has changed significantly in so many ways. Different World - Different Experiences.

Philosophically and realistically, packing light has terrific benefits, but that discussion can quickly devolve into religious fervor. I'll just say, yes, it's possible to pack a single carry-on for endless traveling and not feel you've denied yourself anything. If you are interested in what other women carry, you might visit https://herpackinglist.com for a wide variety of styles, destinations, travel methods, length of journeys, work/career needs, recreation goals, budgets, and age groups.

Posted by
1459 posts

I have been online looking at some of the osprey packs lately. I think osprey is well positioned to take over the eagle creek niche. Osprey appears to find a good balance of price, durability, functionality, simplicity, and basic aesthetics for casual travel. Still interested in Deuter as well. Patagonia just doesn’t “do it” for me. I have one Patagonia tote I bought a while back on sale. That’s probably the only Patagonia purchase I will make.

Posted by
646 posts

I think osprey is well positioned to take over the eagle creek niche. Osprey appears to find a good balance of price, durability, functionality, simplicity, and basic aesthetics for casual travel. Still interested in Deuter as well.

Might be but there are many other travel pack companies, just takes an hour or two of research to find obscure companies offering interesting products. Eagle Creek's numerous products will continue to be liquidated at retailers and online sites. Power shopping could yield some terrific bargains if one's got the energy and, of course, one NEEDS another bag.

Posted by
224 posts

Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.....you need lots of electronics for that.

Not really. You just need a phone. :)

Posted by
224 posts

I have never taken a hairdryer on holiday - get a short, no fuss cut and you don’t even need a comb!

You're lucky if you can get away with that, but different hair textures don't make a "short, no fuss cut" feasible for some.

Conair makes a 1850 watt travel dryer that weighs very little. I use a collapsible silicone diffuse as an attachment, which also weighs practically nothing, and I'm good to go.

Posted by
99 posts

I’m I an older woman who usually travels to Europe alone. I always travel with an iPad mini and smart phone. I use the iPad to read my local newspaper in the morning at breakfast, read books (I use Overdrive for library books and the Nook app for purchased books), email and watch shows in the evening since I don’t speak/understand any foreign languages and I find most English language tv is just news. Since I travel alone I don’t mind spending the $10/day for my phone which I use for internet and pictures and contact with home if necessary. Once I tried to download the next episode of a show I was watching and couldn’t because it said they were not licensed in Spain (hotel WiFi) so I used my phone as a WiFi hotspot instead and it worked! I use a small padded zipper pouch for my iPad and a see-through ziplock bag for cords, etc.
I still check my bag because I always have at least one lay-over from my home airport to Europe and I don’t like dragging it everywhere especially to the restroom. It’s a 26” but usually weighs in at about 25lbs. Oh and I like that size because I travel with my pillow from home. Yup! It’s down so it’s the last thing in and just flattens down on top of everything and fluffs back up when unpacked.

Posted by
1268 posts

Sun, I should have known you'd start this thread. I also have not carried a hairdryer for years, the rick steves store sells a small bag in two sizes that is basically for cord management, it's somewhere in an empty suitcase, I think I only used it once.

I am fond of my Fair view osprey, but it's laptop sleeve is in the wrong place, on the front so that it's weight would pull the pack away from your back and the pack would tend to cause that compartment to curve.

I'm also in the Less Rolls of film, More Meds/Supplements crowd. That calcium is heavy!!

Posted by
1459 posts

Doric,
Cord management? Hahaha ....
I bought my husband one of those cord pouches. He uses the red Rick Steves Toiletry pouch as a packing cube for his cords. He doesn’t even place the cords in the zip compartments. Just tosses it in and zips it shut. I think men may pack differently than women. My husband basically opens any bag you give him and sticks things in the main compartment and is done. He does fold his clothing though.

I emailed the RS corporation. If decent zippers were added to the inner pockets of the gadget pouch and a finger strap was added to the side - these would be great for a backpack and trail hiking. Would like a bright color also. RS gang does not seem interested in my suggestion. Not RS’s market niche.

Posted by
74 posts

For electronics I only take an iPhone and an older model Kindle. I don’t bother taking a laptop or digital camera like I did back in the day.

Posted by
107 posts

Packing has improved significantly. My first overseas trip was to Mexico -as I realised, correctly I wouldn't find English books easily, I filled 1/2 my 60l pack with books! They were by far and away my heaviest item. Plus my big bag of rolls of film and my camera (which didn't need batteries!) . I carried a wind-up alarm clock, and a paper diary.

Now I carry a phone and a kindle which provides all the above functions and can literally fit in a pocket. Plus I don't have to get a job at the end of the trip to afford to print my film.

I have just brought a new 46l Osprey Porter - mainly because it has a good laptop sleeve. Yes I carry a laptop - but that allows me to run my own business and not be stuck with a "reasonable" amount of leave LOL

Posted by
1 posts

I'm in my early 30s and even 10 years ago we were all leaning on NOT bring a laptop when traveling. However, it's much more usual for people my age to have a freelance business or work via computer-- plus lightweight/cheaper computers (and other electronics) are more available than they were previously-- and need a computer to handle their stuff. So it makes sense that the pendulum has swung the other way.

I do think there's some merit to the idea that a lot of these high tech packing lists are from a very specific subset of travelers who all tend to have tech-heavy jobs (or tech-heavy audiences on their social media profiles and thus tech-heavy sponsors sending them things to promote). Wonder how many people just take a cell phone but don't bother talking about it online.

Posted by
484 posts

I see so many responses of people traveling with both an iPad and a phone. What is the advantage of the iPad? I don’t even own a tablet, so I really am curious. I do everything on my phone and would be worried about one more thing with my “life” on it to potentially lose or have stolen.

Posted by
2785 posts

Since my husband always carries his laptop for work, I just take my phone and Kindle. No camera. I have a duplicate set of chargers that stays packed permanently in the Jansport backpack that I always take as my personal item.

Posted by
2721 posts

I have been known to just travel with an iPhone...well actually I think it was originally the iPod for years. However, on a totally solo international trip quite a few years ago now, I was using my iPod and my husband thought I might be having a stroke because my typing was so poor on the small keyboard so he was receiving much gobbly gook, because I was too tired from my day to fix the crazy auto corrects. LOL. So to avoid my husband worrying about me more than normally, I now also bring my iPad for a slightly better keyboard, (and reader and movie player, etc. for me). Sometimes I will carry it in my crossbody...which does affect the size of my crossbody, or leave it locked in my suitcase. It depends how trusting I feel that day...

Posted by
1857 posts

I see so many responses of people traveling with both an iPad and a
phone. What is the advantage of the iPad?

Not an iPad, but I do bring a Samsung Tablet. For travel I use it mainly as an EReader. For me it's a phone-which also doubles as a camera, tablet that doubles as an EReader, and my Microsoft Surface for my laptop. All three are small enough to pack easily and all three are well used on trips.

Posted by
14 posts

I have actually cut out the laptop sleeve in a couple of my old cheaper bags. It is amazing how much room is freed up. I realize many people do travel with a laptop. I do the same with the in-purse cardholder slots. II am a light packer and don't bring a lot of electronics. At 73 I don't want to drag, lift or carry a lot of weight as I am the carry-on type. What is important is whatever works for you.
If you do not want or need a wheelie bag look at Tom Bihn bags. They are amazing!! They are made in a small shop in Seattle WA. All the sewing is done in-house. They are on the expensive side but they are worth it and will last FOREVER! And if you decide after a while it isn't working for you there is a pretty good market for his used bags.

Posted by
1459 posts

Nadine,
I hear you. I am middle aged and I travel with no or small electronics that pack easily in my purse or between my clothes. Nowadays, almost all bags have some sort of electronics compartment. I understand why. It’s the era we are in.

I would much rather have a “precomputer” bag without the dedicated electronics compartment. Cuts down on cost, weight, bulk, even length. For now, my old “low tech” bags are still serving me well.

Posted by
84 posts

I use my phone for most everything when I travel. I have a kindle that is older, strictly for books, no wifi, that we take for reading on the plane. I also prefer to take our camera as a phone camera won't have decent optical zoom. My kind of space splurge item is my noise cancelling headphones. I can't tolerate earbuds for an hour, they don't fit my ear and I am pretty sure the volume I'd need to hear an in flight movie will cause hearing loss.
As far as charger cords, I have a denim bag I made that I put all the cords in, along with any adapters I need. I pack around a travel bag that belonged to my grandmother, so I'm not particularly up to date on what influencers are trying to convince us we need for traveling. If it's sturdy and you like it, then that's all you need!