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Packing Challenge (Minimalistic Packing)

Like most of us here, my travel has been quite reduced since March. For my own entertainment, I joined in a packing challenge/class over the last few weeks. It was run on a website called “Her Packing List”. She has many packing lists, that vary from minimalistic to traveling carryon only (but with larger bags). The class was inspired by a post she made about a 3 week trip in the US (she lives in Australia) using a 16 liter bag.
https://herpackinglist.com/how-to-pack-minimalist-packing-list/

It was a series of 5 “classes” (YiuTube Live). Each week there was an assignment. I found it quite interesting, and it was entertainment for me over these last 5 weeks.

For those who may want to know, yes there was a fee involved (maybe it was $20?). I know some people will say they would never pay for information they can get for free, and I respect that. But I found it fun, and it really opened up my eyes to how I overpack accessories. I think when I’m really packing for a trip I get caught up in it, while this was just really practice (It was easier to pare down my list for a make-believe trip) $20 was a bargain for the engagement I had over the sessions.

We were challenged to basically pack in a handbag type bag. I used my Rick Steves backpack. It’s the super light one that is like a day pack and about 12 liters for the main part. I don’t usually use small pack packs (I prefer totes), but this bag has great sentimental value to me....it was my dads day bag for all of his European trips. I am guessing it’s 30+ years old?

Anyway, I don’t think I’m interested in traveling with a 12 liter bag. But it really helped open my eyes to packing lighter! I think the other thing I Ike about her posts is she understands that there is really a difference between carryon packing and minimalistic packing.

For those who are interested, i am linking some other minimalistic packing posts I discovered as I took the class.
https://adventureswithsarah.net/blog/ultralight-packing
https://thedeepdish.org/minimalist-female-packing-list/

I’d be interested in hearing what others thinking about carryon vs minimalistic packing. Would you try minimalistic? Or is carryon your comfort level?

Posted by
4038 posts

Carry on isn’t my comfort level unless I am away for a week or less. I certainly wouldn’t try minimalist packing.

I will stick to my huge duffel on wheels for holidays of a longer duration. EasyJet permits a bag of up to 23kg and it usually weighs in around 20-21 kg for a month away. We have one bag for the 2 of us plus hand luggage. These usually weigh between 8 and 12 kg depending on how much camera equipment is being taken. We always hire a car abroad, so public transport isn’t an issue.

Posted by
2334 posts

I'm happy with carry on for most trips. However, I see the value in minimalistic packing. On the right trip it's something I would try. It would have to be summer (lighter clothes, no outerwear), no formal activities planned, and ideally staying in an apartment with a washing machine. My hangup is on toiletries and makeup. I have a small makeup bag (quart ziplock size) and a TSA 3-1-1 bag for shampoo/lotion/contact solution/deodorant/hair products. It all fits in the bag but it's fairly heavy for what it is. I suppose I could skip the makeup, but I need the other stuff. Paring that down would be my biggest challenge for going totally minimal.

Posted by
3005 posts

I don't replace things when the newest thing comes along, and I don't have an iPhone brand smartphone, so though I have done some downsize on camera and binoculars, they cannot be replaced by a Smartphone....yet. I like a good zoom and I always integrate birdwatching i to my travels. I generally do carry on, but have only done minimalistic packing one trip when I needed to do standby military flights to an ill parent. That resulted in a lot of shopping while there.

Posted by
105 posts

I have always traveled with carryon luggage. My flight attendant sister recommended it. You have no lost luggage. I keep down sizing as the years go by. Did a 3week trip just using the RS Civita day bag. It was a fast moving trip in warm weather. My luxury item was a sketch pad and colored pencils. Just replaced a roller carryon with RS back pack. It works well but unbelievably is too roomy. Have to use the inside straps to hold everything. There is just a small percentage of people who are comfortable traveling this light. Bicycle tourists and backpackers are an inspiration on traveling light. Like the OP I like Sarah Murdoch’s packing light videos, especially the one where she did a super light challenge. Here’s a last laugh-I often end up packing extra stuff from people I travel with.

Posted by
5166 posts

The value in this kind of extreme packing challenge is getting people who dont think about it, to consider how little they actually need to bring with them. Some people just don't have the imagination, or just don't care, based on how they travel. Everyone has to find their comfort zone, and one is a carry-on sized bag, not always full. Minimalist packing for me would detract from enjoying the trip.

Scottevest used to (maybe still do) have challenges for travelers to see how long they could get by with only what they could pack in their multi-pocketed vests. Quite a lot, actually.

Posted by
672 posts

Since my first trip to Europe 12 years ago I have taken a lighter bag each year as I continue to refine my packing. I enjoy reading about others experiences on this forum and have adopted many of their “tricks of the trade”.

For me personally, I have found that the lighter I pack, the more fun and enjoyable the trip is! Two years ago we spent a couple of weeks in Sicily and then jumped to Lake Como for 4 days before heading home. I decided to try and take only the minimal of clothing and accessories, I took only two pairs of pants (convertibles with zip off legs) with packing one pair and wearing the other pair, 4 button up shirts and 2 golf style shirts (again wearing one of the shirts on the way over). I did sink laundry every 3td day and it was an amazing trip that we still enjoy remembering.

Packing light is a concept that a person embraces because of it’s advantages, but for others it creates a feeling of being unprepared for travel situations that may arise. I can see both points of view but for me, travel is an “adventure “ and packing light heightens the experience.

Posted by
1552 posts

I too have watched and learned from Sarah’s packing video. Like other posters, each trip we pack lighter. As we grew older, I didn’t worry as much about being fashionable, just comfortable. We started buying clothing geared towards travel such as better fabrics, washed easy, dried fast, were lightweight, did double duty, were packable, etc. Granted, we have mostly traveled in the summer and summer clothes are lighter. I feel we have this Season figured out. Our next Challenge will be packing for off-Season travel.

Posted by
11112 posts

Rather than minimalist packing I prefer the school of efficient packing. The size of the bag doesn't dictate, what I want to, or can, do Doing things properly dictates what I bring. I don't get thrilled by the idea of how little I bring, just with the idea of how efficient I am. With some planning and matching and care, more often than not, I do it with carry on. But I have interests that require certain things. When I go to Budapest during the season, I attend the opera (sports coat, slacks, nice shoes), when I go fishing; that's a whole different set of clothes and gear. This last trip a few weeks ago included both (no Opera, but nice night out) and I still managed to do it with a carryon bag and a "personal" item.

Carry on had the casual clothes, mostly fishing stuff which is incredibly light and packs down small, but modern fishing clothes are pretty stylish for casual wear too; and sports coat, slacks, shoes, nice dress shirt, fishing rod and net (both a tad too long to fit in the underseat personal item). Underseat personal item had hip waders, wading boots, reel, fly box, woolly socks, long johns (for the cold water), rain cover, hat and all the small associated tools. the two were 8kg and 4kg respectively. The carry on was a RS Backdoor bag I have used for the last decade. Exactly the permitted size. The underseat was a $14 back pack bag I got off Amazon, again, exactly the permitted size and really well made and proportioned for the task. Actually I love the thing now. Discovered that I could strap the rod and net to the outside, put it on my back and climb over rocks to the best fishing hole with all I need on my back.

Oh, then I have a small cross body bag. Its barely larger then the dimensions of a passport but about 1.5 inches thick. It holds, the passport, wallet and when I am going through security the watch, cell phone and anything else in my pockets. I load it up before I get in the security line then just toss it in a tray and walk through.

Okay, boring. But I was sort of proud of how it all went together this time. Had to do it too, cause I had a long layover in Istanbul and I worry about bags sitting around for hours and hours making the next flight. I checked the whole mess for the trip home.

I missed my laptop, but even though its very thin and light it would have thrown me over the weight limit. Im looking at something like a MS Surface Go for future trip.

Posted by
7757 posts

What a fun exercise!

When I first started back to European travel my brother got me interested in carry-on and light packing. I used to be the person who rolled up to the Delta counter and the agent had the "heavy" tag ready for my bag. I did quite a few "recreational" packs, lol, and learned a lot. Now I've generally settled on using a carry-on size bag with packing cubes but checking it. When I was flying from a very small airport I've had as long as a 9 hour layover and managing your carryon for that amount of time as a solo traveler is a PIA! My main criterion is that I need to be able to lift it on and off trains in Europe. I'm also not sure I could lift a carryon up into an overhead luggage bin at this stage of my life. I'd hate to start out a trip with rotator cuff or other shoulder issues!

I've done minimalistic - wear one pr of pants, take one, but have gone back to having 3 pr of pants. Someone (was it Wray?) on here related an experience where they broke a zipper on their pants so they were stuck with one pair for the duration of their trip. I'm a plus size woman and it's difficult enough to find things to fit at home so I am not going to try and shop for basics in Europe. (Scarves are a different thing, lol!!) So...I've retreated a bit from minimalistic and have found what works for me. I used to take jewelry and then realized I never wore it so cut that out. I think the things that are the heaviest are my electronics/charger cords (phone, iPad Mini and watch) and my OTC meds. After getting stuck a time or two and not having what meds I needed I do tend to overpack on these but sometimes by the end of the month or so I am traveling I've used them down so they aren't so heavy!

I'm glad you've had a fun experience! Did you live out of your carryon for a "trip length"? I've done that as well, lol. Kind of fun.

Posted by
1136 posts

I've traveled to Europe for years and always took a 25-26" rolling case.
Last year, because all the airlines now seem to charge huge fees to check a bag, I set myself the challenge of taking carryon only for the first time.
Like others have said, it's the toiletries that are the trouble.
However, what I did was fill the tiniest bottles and containers with my lotions and potions that I had to have with me, and kept track of how long each lasted.
I did this a few months before the trip.
You can take three weeks worth of toothpaste in a GoTub 1" X1" container and still have some left over!
Same with face cream and hair putty.
Lots of things come in dry roll on form, such as deodorant and sunscreen.
I really pared down the clothes I packed, and I still took too many things.
However I did it, and it certainly was so much easier getting on and off trains with a smaller bag.
I think it was 19".
I felt quite smug that I did it, but now of course, I'll have to wait to try again another day.
Occasionally I go to our store cupboard to tell my case I haven't forgotten it.

Posted by
2484 posts

I love packing discussions and I love to see how people pack. I reviewed Her List and I find it is a packing light list rather than a minimalist list. I've never over packed because...well how many clothes do people have? Before my only (yet) RS tour I ruined one of my two pairs of slacks that I had with me...I did a hurried shop in Athens. Had I not been in a city, it would have been a problem. Now I always pack two slacks and wear the third. I don't wear skirts or dresses so that is not a packing option, but any list can be adapted to what one does actually wear. I was one who used to pack too light...in my younger years and learned my lesson, but I still do pack light. I know I could get by with packing 2 shirts, slacks, unders, etc., but I don't want to do that.

For those who think they have to pack heavier in off seasons ( I never travel in the summer, if I can help it ), a hat, gloves, and scarf is all the extra you need to fit in your suitcase (or coat pockets).

Back info?: When I moved to my college dorm room many years ago, my mother and I watched girls with many, many trips to their car for more clothes. The resident told me how efficiently I had packed, and said she was impressed. My mother and I looked at each other and laughed. I'd brought all the clothes I owned. LOL Even now, my husband has the walk in closet...I have a small one. So maybe it is just what you are used to? Or I don't know how to dress? LOL As she says, 'You do you'.

Thanks for this topic! Packing brings me happiness!

Posted by
150 posts

Thanks for sharing all your interesting experiences and ideas.

I would love to pack fewer pairs of pants, but how do you get your pants to dry overnight? I even stomped a bath towel on it beforehand. But it's still damp in the morning.

Are there quicker drying fabrics in pants I might have missed?
Cotton knit: Dries soft, comfy to wear, but takes too long to dry
Light cotton like chambray: Dries a bit faster, but ends up very stiff, wrinkled and "crunchy"...very uncomfortable
Nylon: Doesn't breathe. Feels like I'm in a sauna
Athletic pants or yoga pants: Not appropriate everywhere, so not versatile for me
Linen: The wrinkles make me look very sloppy

Has anyone tried Tencel?

Thanks for your help and suggestions.

Posted by
2484 posts

Carole,

I actually pack mostly black jeans, but they are NYDJ. They have some stretch material in them so they dry more quickly than regular jeans. And, with two other pairs, if they don't dry overnight, it doesn't matter. I do wear my jeans more than once, FYI. Also, I bring a small microfiber towel to wrap them in for a few minutes before hanging them up, that seems to absorb water much better than a regular towel.

Posted by
7757 posts

"I would love to pack fewer pairs of pants, but how do you get your pants to dry overnight? I even stomped a bath towel on it beforehand. But it's still damp in the morning."

Everything I own is a poly-cotton blend. I do test washes at home to see how fast something dries because sometimes even though it says poly-cotton it takes forever to dry and that just won't make the "travel team". Almost all of my "regular" clothes are also my travel clothes. My 3 pr of jeans are Gloria Vanderbilt, I think plus the other 2 are from Christopher and Banks (or their big girls' side). All dry overnight.

The only time I can remember having an issue was in Bath before the Best of England tour. It had been raining and my room looked out onto a small rock garden. I finally had to set the room fan on the floor and hang my jeans over it. I would not leave ithe fan running when I left the room but I did it at night while I slept. I got up a few times to check on it but I would have left the fan running all night anyway so figured it would be OK. I also pack a plastic coat hanger and clothes pins so I can separate the legs a bit for better air flow.

I love it when hotels have heated towel rails! Heaven for sink wash!

"I do wear my jeans more than once, FYI."

Me too. I generally will wear them for 3 or 4 days depending on my activity. I do wash the jeans I wear on the plane on my arrival night. Somehow those always feel stinky and grungy after the several flights and layovers I have to do to get from Idaho to anywhere, lol!!

Posted by
150 posts

Hi Wray and Pam,
Thanks for your suggestions and feedback.
I'll have to look into these pants you suggested.
Safe travels everyone!

Posted by
2334 posts

For pants - I wear jeans for like a week straight unless they get visibly dirty. Other pants more like 2-3 times. I feel like shirts need to be washed every time unless you just wore it for a short, clean time but pants can go a while between washes.

I also have a pair of Athleta pants in polyester/spandex that are pants, not leggings or sweatpants. They look like regular black pants, dry fairly quickly and are comfortable. I wore them with a t shirt and comfy sandals for climbing pyramids in Mexico, I washed them and wore them with flats and a blouse for a decent dinner out and so on.

Finally, in the summer, casual dresses or skirts come in more easy-dry fabrics and have less fabric overall so do dry quicker.

Posted by
17720 posts

I've posted about this previously, but for those who missed the those earlier posts, I went to Europe twice on business in the 1980's, and both times I just barely avoided loosing my luggage. First time it was offloaded to the carousel in Boston when I was going to Brussels; second time it almost went to South American when I flew from Frankfurt to Paris. So when I read Rick's advice to use only carry-on, I enthusiastically embraced the concept. Since then, 11 trips since 2000, I have never come close to losing my carry-on luggage, and carrying on came in handy in 2001, when my United flight to an eastern city was delayed, and we arrived just before my Lufthansa flight was scheduled to depart. The airline met 11 of us at the gate and took us by shuttle to the international terminal where our flight was waiting. My carry-on luggage came was me; I doubt that anyone's checked luggage made the connection, and there were no more flights from that city to Frankfurt that day. They probably had to wait at least a day for their checked luggage to arrive.

In the beginning, I struggled some just to keep my carry-on weight below Lufthansa's 8 kg limit (I found I would reach the weight limit before I would stuff my RS convertible backpack to beyond the size limit). I kept a packing list on a spreadsheet along with the weight of each item,weighed on a post office scale. I took things off of the list if I found I didn't need them. I also accumulated a set of travel clothing, including cotton/synthetic blend shirts and underwear that were sure to dry overnight when sink washed, so that now I take only 3 sets of underwear (wear one set over) and 5 shirts (wear one over).

I summer, I wear a lightweight jacket; in the winter I take a down ski parka. I take a lightweight sweater to wear under either of them if it is a little too cold for just the outer one. Add a pair of shorts and a bathing suit, if I will be somewhere to need one. I don't try to be an extreme minimalist, but I do try to take only what I know I will need. Besides a couple of extra shirts, just for variety, that's all the clothes I take.

I now have the weight of contents down to about 10#. Put it in a light backpack style bag at 2#, and I'm slightly under 12#. If I really wanted to be extreme, I could cut it down to three shirts and 2 pair of slacks, and be even lighter. I really want the third pair of slacks; since I don't sink wash them, I think just two would get a little too dirty in 2 or 3 weeks. I do try to find a washing machine during my trip, particularly for the slacks, but I don't depend on it.

When I returned from my Germany/Austria trip in 2009, I took everything out of my pack and put it in a box of known length and width and measured the depth. The volume was 1400 cu inches, 23 liters. Now my slightly-smaller-then-regulation (OPEC) bag was only half filled and sagged badly, so I reluctantly got a 1 lb heavier eTech Weekender Jr. bag just for the cinch straps.

The main thing is that although I'm not trying to be an extreme minimalist, I don't try to fill my bag just because I have the space. I only take what I know I will need.

Posted by
461 posts

Several years of ultralight backpacking and bicycle touring prepared me for carryon-only travel.
Because there is so little of it, I believe I will be able find all my travel-specific stuff when the corona become just another health concern.

Posted by
154 posts

We have done carryon only for the last 20 years. I look back at what we took before we converted and can still remember hauling some of those suitcases around and what a pain it was.

The longest we have been away is 3 weeks, and one time we did that was in the winter in London, Scotland and France, and we still managed with just a 21" bag with room left over for some purchases.

I have had the toiletries thing down for a long time. It is easy, and fun, to find creative uses for things. Like using a contact lens case for moisturizer. Toiletries get heavy, so even if it were not for room in the bag, I would want the weight of that cut down.

One time we were in France and went over to London for 3 days/2 nights. It was myself, our daughter and her friend. My daughter and I both use a Longchamp tote bag as our daily purse, so we just took that with us and had our extra clothing and toiletries. It was during a heatwave, so the clothing we took was very light, sleeveless/tanktop styles.

Before the pandemic, my husband traveled to Germany often for work. I found him a tiny little 19" bag at Costco for $30 and that was perfect for him. He could easily manage a full week of work travel with that. He did not need to dress us, so jeans were fine, but he would wear dress shirts. The two of us went to Germany and Prague in Jan/Feb and used that bag for our 10 day trip. I use the 21" bag, and on that trip I bought a lot, so ended up buying a backpack to bring stuff home:)

Posted by
2104 posts

I was pleased to discover I could do carry-on on my 1 week or less trips--rolling suitcase along with a big zipped LeSportsac bag that held my separate purse as well as the usual important things needed in flight, fit under the seat--but found the scramble to get overhead bin space aggravating, so really I will continue to check a mid-size to smaller suitcase. I like to shop and I need a certain amount of hair goop.

I do pare down my clothing choices, washing undies and socks nightly, taking 1 spare pair of shoes (I have great lightweight travel boots, though, that have been comfy enough to wear every day for a 2 week trip), a few tops that I wash during the trip, and just 2 pairs of jeans total--wear 2-3 days, wash, wear the other pair. The secret is choosing lighter-weight denim with a bit of spandex for shaping--my favorite brands are Hudson, Lucky and Old Navy; honestly, the $20 Old Navy skinny jeans are even more flattering and comfy than the $200 Hudsons :) I want to have what I need with me, and after 12 trips I have a tried-and-true packing list that has never let me down, nor has it overly burdened me.

Posted by
2484 posts

I'm with Christa and Pam, and perhaps others: I check my carryon size bag and just carry my Personal Item onto the plane on most trips because any bag besides a medium size purse/backpack/PI bag is an unnecessary addition around the airport. Plus, I don't want to be worried about overhead space in the plane, lining up anxiously with the crowd for their spot. I'd just as soon be last on the plane as the fewer hours sitting the better, IMO. YMMV

Posted by
5605 posts

I am such a nerd, I looooove these packing posts — even though I wouldn’t be able to pack light to save my life !!! But i love reading about what and how people pack.

Posted by
803 posts

What fun! What I put in of course varies by where I am going and planning on doing, but I love packing light and sharing my love of it. Most recently with my MIL and sister. My sister didn't think she could go to England/Wales for 3 weeks with one carry-on, but she did it, enjoyed not having to lug a lot of stuff, and now shares her experience when others ask. My MIL is more traveled so just had a few things where I asked, do you really need 2 sets of pajamas?

Carole - I really like the pants from Duluth Trading Company. Their pants dry overnight.

Posted by
1136 posts

And of course, if you prefer to stay in apartments, as I do, always book one with a washing machine.
Easy to take less clothes then.
I can always fit a few Tide or equivalent laundry pods in my liquids bag.
The challenge then is figuring out how a foreign washing machine actually works.... ;)

Posted by
17720 posts

The challenge then is figuring out how a foreign washing machine actually works.... ;)

Amen to that.

Posted by
17720 posts

I was pleased to discover I could do carry-on on my 1 week or less trips

As Rick has pointed out, if you wash as you go along, you can pack the same for five days as for all summer.

I check my carryon size bag and just carry my Personal Item onto the plane

The whole point of packing light to carry on is so that your luggage isn't check and possibly lost.

Guy goes up to the counter to check in for a flight to Chicago. He has two bags.
"Send this bag to New York," he says, "and the other one to Los Angeles."
"We can't do that", says the attendant.
"You did that last week," he says.

Posted by
3005 posts

Tip for foreign washing machines. Google make and model + english user manual.
That's how I figured out the one in Madrid.

Posted by
316 posts

Tip for foreign washing machines. Google make and model + english user manual.
That's how I figured out the one in Madrid.

Yep, that works! It’s how I broke into a locked (no power) Swiss washing machine and rescued my clothes!

Posted by
1567 posts

I would love to pack fewer pairs of pants, but how do you get your pants to dry overnight?
After reading some great forum advice, I decided to invest wisely in a few things: one year it was my lightweight raincoat; next were a couple of lightweight, quick-dry travel pants, both from REI. I rarely bring jeans any more, or at most 1 pair.

And today I'm packing for a road trip to Idaho - having loads of fun packing as much as I want! We'll see how I do carrying it all - plus my dog and all her stuff - into hotels. It seems I am rebelling against everything I've learned in packing light for my trips to Europe, where I normally carry on outbound and check a bag on my return.

Posted by
3483 posts

My husband and I were each given a $1000 AmEx cash card in 2014 for packing light! True story - went to Rome airport to fly home to Seattle. The flight from Amsterdam to Seattle was cancelled, so they switched us to a flight through JFK. At JFK, the seats were oversold. When they reached $1000 in real money and a paid hotel night, we jumped at it! Those with checked luggage were ineligible since they were loading passengers by that time.

I’ve always been a light packer, but I try to pack lighter each year so appreciate your post, PandaBear! Less items in a suitcase also correlates to being more efficient with time, i.e. “what am I going to wear today?” becomes a quick decision - Option A or B! ...and everyone around you doesn’t care that you’ve worn that outfit eight times on your trip as long as it’s clean!

I like to attend something during each trip that is special to me - a classical concert, ballet, etc. where I want something dressier and that is easily done with my travel wardrobe. A black design washable polyester dress easily works for both dressy and normal outdoor evening dinners. Or for a colder location, I wear a micro 32 degree long-sleeve scooped neck black or burgundy top with a beautiful scarf and black pants and possibly a lightweight open-weave cardigan.

That outfit plus a black cotton-blend cap-sleeve casual knee-length dress (and two patterned scarves), two nice-looking casual tops with either another black pant or capris is my normal minimal wardrobe. I wash in the sink each night. The black dress and the pants can be worn a few times between washings.

I wear black Rose Keen sandals so no socks needed. And a pair of black ballet style shoes for the dressier outfit.

Having a final packing list to check off is vital! Otherwise too many items will call out to you, asking to come with you on your vacation. ; )

Posted by
58 posts

Carole - I really like the pants from Duluth Trading Company. Their pants dry overnight

Jlkelman, which DTC pants dried fast? Thanks!

Posted by
3005 posts

CWsocial, if these are different hotels every night you could consider taking a small foldable duffle or tote bag and only put 1 r 2 days worth of clothes in it. I had a bigger suitcase for winter travel to safari for 4 weeks and then a stay in Istanbul. Safari segments were often new place every night for 4 or 5 nights in a row. So took the smaller bag with my minimal toiletries and a few changes of clothes. Much easier for those one night stands.

Posted by
981 posts

My carry on only IS my minimalist packing, that is about as minimal as I will go and our longest trip has been 3 weeks. I love that you supported a small business tying to be make a buck during Covid and that you found value.

Posted by
185 posts

@jlkelman I too would love to know which Duluth pants you get for traveling.

Posted by
1567 posts

consider taking a small foldable duffle or tote bag and only put 1 r 2 days worth of clothes in it.
MariaF, that's a great suggestion! Maybe I need to rethink how I normally use packing cubes to do just as you say - a day or two worth of clothes in each cube. I'm going to go give that a try, thanks!

I'm also trying to arrange the bags so that, for example, hiking equipment/clothes are in a bag that I can leave in the trunk when I don't need it. Fortunately, I have 3 (possibly 4) nights in Twin Falls, so I won't be hotel hopping every day.

Posted by
3005 posts

CWSocial, yes packing relevant things together and leaving them in the trunk is a great idea. Using cubes for this is a great thought. Still let's you pack everything and the kitchen sink, but not need to carry it in every hotel change.

Posted by
1567 posts

MariaF, your suggestion is working great! I've organized a cube for each hotel stop, whether 1 night or 3. The PJs went into the "every night" tote. I'll leave the big case in the trunk and carry a tiny tote with just that stop's clothes. One less big thing to carry in each night....so practical!

Posted by
26 posts

This post has been so much fun to read and brings back many happy travel memories. As to recommended quick-dry pants, I like the travel line at Eddie Bauer (slacks, crop pants and even shorts), as well as Eastern Mountain Sports and LLBean. A few years ago I spent 3 weeks in Germany and Austria for winter markets in December and took the fleece lined version of Eddie Bauer’s travel pants and they were cozy and light. Even when traveling for a month, I never take more than a carry-on which I generally check and a backpack with enough to carry me a few days if my bag goes missing.

Another lightweight item I’ve come to rely on for shoulder seasons and winter travel are the thermaskin tops from Lands End. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, no wrinkles, and fold to practically nothing.

My biggest packing challenge is always shoes. I’ll wear my heaviest pair on the plane (hikers or similar), a second pair of walking shoes and nice looking flats get packed. I should probably eliminate one of those, but reluctant to do so just yet.

Posted by
2484 posts

PandaBear, Thanks for the HerPackingList link. I'd been on that site before, but never noticed the podcasts! Yesterday, as I was healing a complaining back, I enjoyed listening to several of them. It made me look in my closet, again, and remove a few items...well scarves. I, too, would have enjoyed the packing class, just for the heck of it, as I am a recreational packer (I think that is Pam's term), even though I wouldn't pack minimalist unless I felt challenged...for one trip maybe. LOL

Posted by
17720 posts

Still let's you pack everything and the kitchen sink

You don't need the kitchen sink, don't take it. Saves you the trouble of reconnecting all those water lines and drains when you get home. Every hotel or private room I've stayed in has had a bathroom sink, even when the toilet was down the hall, and the two apartments have had kitchen sinks.

Seriously, that system just facilitates overpacking. What you describe as a cube for one night and your overnight tote isn't much smaller than my entire carryon. And my way I don't need a car to store what I don't take into the hotel.

I started refining my light packing technique in 2000. First thing I had to do was acquire a fast drying set of underwear and shirts so I could minimize the clothes I took. By 2007, when I did my Romantic Road trip, I was able to do four consecutive one-nighters on the Road followed by two nights in Würzburg followed by three one-nighters (Fürth, Vilshofen, Burghausen) coming back to Munich via Passau.

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7757 posts

"After reading some great forum advice, I decided to invest wisely in a few things: one year it was my lightweight raincoat; next were a couple of lightweight, quick-dry travel pants, both from REI."

CWSocial mentioned this and I think it is key. Moving my regular clothing choices to things that would sink wash and dry quickly took a few years to do. I have an extremely casual normal wardrobe anyway so almost everything I wear now qualifies for travel, lol!!

I don't think anyone has mentioned The Vivienne Files blog (www.theviviennefiles.com). Janice puts up wonderful color combinations. Her clothing choices are often too expensive and too dressy for me but she always uses basics from Lands' End and LLBean and it's from her that I started using the LandsEnd Cotton/Modal tee shirts which are great for travel. I love her themes of basing a wardrobe around scarf or painting colors! She does do travel capsule wardrobes but they still have way more shoes than I would take!

Road Trips...all bets are off, lol!! I can get my clothes in my regular carry on but will usually have a bag of outerwear and one for birding stuff. Plus reference books. And a cooler. And a food box, lol.....

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803 posts

From Duluth Trading company pretty much anything with a high nylon and then some spandex content will dry quickly. So the Flexpedition or the Dry on the Fly.

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3005 posts

Lee, my kitchen sink comment was for CWSocial specifically as she is driving and wants the indulgence to not pack light. A car trunk has sink space :-)

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1567 posts

A car trunk has sink space :-)

My overnight tote and clothing aren't much different than what I would bring (carry-on friendly) to Europe. OK, I might be bringing a few extra things to avoid doing laundry - but with this system, I'll leave those in the trunk. And in addition, I get to bring hiking boots and poles, hiking day pack that isn't lightweight/foldable/packable, impractical shoes just for the heck of it, munchies for the drive and hikes, my iPod for the road, my Kindle - and even 1 "real" book - for the room, swimsuit/goggles/coverup; a carry-bag with COVID essentials to bring into public restrooms; and of course, all the dog stuff.

Even with all that, there may still be trunk space for the sink ! ;-)

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72 posts

I always prefer carry on and because of that I weigh all my clothes, which Sarah recommends. I have photos of every piece I might take and how much it weighs. If I am overweight for the airline I can easily remove an item and either wear it on the plane or leave it home. I always recommend looking at the baggage weight for the airline before you book your tickets. Our last trip flying on British airlines had a limit of under 15 lbs. for carry on luggage. I didn't take my jeans (too heavy) but everything else I needed was easy to accommodate in a 20 inch carry on. I will check out the links you posted though because I always need good ideas on packing.

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58 posts

"From Duluth Trading company pretty much anything with a high nylon and then some spandex content will dry quickly. So the Flexpedition or the Dry on the Fly."

Thank you, jlkelman!

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95 posts

The longest trip to Europe we made before moving here was a six-week visit.

Neither of us checked a bag -- just a wheeled roll-aboard bag for each of us and a briefcase (me) or backpack (my wife).

Once you make the commitment to pack light and wash as you go, you don't need any more space for one week or six weeks or longer.

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990 posts

I've been fantasy packing most of the year, trying to stay positive that Covid will someday go away and I can go to France next year (the year after?). I've made list after list after list, tweaking here and there. But until PandaBear's post started I hadn't realized that my packing list has grown not shrank. I'm blaming last winter's store shopping excursions and this year's online shopping trips.

I'll never be a minimalist packer and really don't want to be. My feet will hate me if I leave the third pair of shoes at home. But I took a hard look at what I thought I needed vs wanted to decide that I can easily cut 5 lbs. My packing list is now revised. It all fit into a rolling carry-on and PacSafe tote before. Now the tote stays home in favor of a light-weight Eddie Bauer backpack. I eliminated one pair of leggings, two less tunics, one less sweater, and a few less OTC drugs and sundry items. Everything fit into the suitcase and tote before. Now it will fit even better. Actual weight savings to be determined after future recreational packing .

So thank you everyone for your ideas that will save my back and shoulders!

By the way, why do women hate leggings? Spanx brand holds the jiggle in, age-spotted legs don't hang out like they do with capris, leggings are lightweight, three pair take the same packing space as one pair of jeans, and they hand wash easily.

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7757 posts

"My feet will hate me if I leave the third pair of shoes at home."

And to me this is key. You have to know what you really need and if it's 3 pr shoes to keep going on long days on cobblestones then that's a good expenditure of space!

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150 posts

Hi Jlkelman: The Duluth Trading Company pants look like a good possibility too, so thanks so much! I might order a pair to try out.

I so admire all of you who do laundry nightly on your trips. I must confess that coming off a long, interesting tour, then having a delicious dinner maybe with wine, chatting with new friends...then I open the door to my room and aargh! I see the dirty laundry! If I weren't so seduced by other interesting things to see and do, I would do my laundry before dinner. Oh well.

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7757 posts

"If I weren't so seduced by other interesting things to see and do, I would do my laundry before dinner. Oh well."

For me, the key is to put things in to soak in a 2 gal ziplock bag while I go to dinner. Sloosh it around a bit so the soap works thru the fabrics and off you go. Easy to rinse, squeeze out and hang to dry when you get back. Another key is not to let things build up so you have a lot to do. A shirt and a pr of undies is quick and easy whereas 2 shirts, a few days of underwear and a pr of pants is more time consuming.

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150 posts

Hi Pam,
Absolutely excellent suggestions! Thanks so much.
I did use to soak my laundry before dinner, but I got lazy and distracted.
I'm going to leave a reminder in my travel kit!

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443 posts

In the 5 times I traveled outside the USA as a tourist, I took just one-two changes of clothes, only the shoes I wore to the airport, some food for the airport and/or the plane rides to my destination, one or more books or magazines, along with toiletries, sleep mask, handkerchiefs, polyester quick-drying towel, and so on. I had two pieces of luggage. I packed most or all my stuff that wasn't clothes in backpack without wheels - if this matters it is a Jansport brand backpack, without wheels, well paded on the back and straps, and might be 2,200 cubic inches total. I packed my clothes in a sort of heavy-duty woven polyester or nylon travel bag without wheels, that has both a shoulder strap and hand carrying handles. The strap sometimes digs into my neck, so maybe I will switch to the kind of backpack that fits most of my stuff including my clothes. So far I have been able to fit both on the planes - I didn't have to check in any luggage on my last 5 trips. The travel bag containing my clothes was only partially filled. I handwashed at least some of my clothes in the sinks or showers of my hotels or hostels, every or every other evening.