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TMS: 04 Minimalist Packing

It’s hard to rid yourself of the baggage of material items when you live in a house. When you’re not using an item, you simply stuff it in a drawer or box it away in another part of the house. The big space tricks us into thinking that we need to fill it with things. Anything will do the trick. After all what is all this space if you aren’t going to use it?

If your mind goes through this process all that you may need to break this spell is a flight away. Travel gives us the necessary limitations that force us to see what is really necessary for our daily happiness. The limitation of having to store our belongings in such a small space frees us to live without baggage. So today I dare you to go on a week long trip with only your backpack and one carry on suitcase. In the past I’ve traveled 10 days through 4 countries with just these two items and I found that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Your luggage won’t get lost

The two most stressful aspects of flying are (1) delays and (2) lost luggage. When traveling it’s important to recognize what is in your control versus what is out of your control. Delays are out of your control. You roll the die every time you buy a flight. However, luggage is partly in your control. While you can’t control an airline from losing your luggage you CAN control how much you pack. I can’t even begin to express the security that comes in knowing that all of your necessities are with you at all times.

You won’t have to wait around in baggage check

Grab and go

Baggage check can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes. Once again, you are forced to be at the will of the airline. You must wait for the luggage to be transported to the terminal and then if your bag isn’t first it feels like ages that you’re watching random bags drop onto the luggage carousel. It’s so freeing to know that once your plane lands you can hop right on over to your taxi.

Checking bags is expensive

In my experience, the cheapest I’ve been able to check bags has been $30 with the most expensive rising to $100 per bag. You are paying an average of about $60 just for an inanimate object. Be honest. Have you ever worn every outfit that you have packed in your checked luggage? I know that I haven’t. Checking gives us fashion “options” but at a ridiculous cost. We like to feel secure in the fact that we are prepared for ANY event that might come our way, but is this practical or just foolish anxiety? In my past experience, packing has been motivated by anxiety and not practicality.

So, are you excited yet to fit all of your belongings into one tiny carry on suitcase?! You had better be because here we go with the best tips and tricks to making it happen!

(1) Pack outfits that are versatile

Don’t bring a shirt that will only match with one pair of pants and visa versa. Every article of clothing needs to be able to mix and match with your other articles in order to create the most outfits with the least amount of clothes. For my most recent trip, I was able to pack 5 tops, 3 pants, and 2 jackets that lasted me 10 days worth of completely unique outfits on the road.

(2) Limit your “what if” items.

We all know what the ‘what if’ items are. What if my heel snaps and I need a second pair of dinner shoes? What if I lose my lipstick? What if I run out of shampoo? The list goes on and on until a quarter of your bag is filled with ‘what ifs’. The chances of your heel actually snapping is so low. Is losing lipstick really the end of the world? Shampoo? Why are you even packing shampoo when the hotels always have them for free?

While most ‘what ifs’ are not necessary,  I don’t want to suggest to entirely eliminate these items because there are several wise ‘what ifs’. One wise ‘what if’ is what if the weather changes? I will never suggest to leave an umbrella at home. Pack that umbrella because the weather is unpredictable and it very well could start pouring when you’re nowhere close to shelter. Another good one is a phone charger. Phones are essential for travel these days. They hold tickets, credit cards, and directions. If your phone dies than your day could very well be over. Pack that second charger and keep it safely tucked away in a backpack pouch.

(3) Pack Core Items, Not Rare Items

Core Makeup Items

The best way to explain this tip is through the lense of makeup. When packing make up, you should never bring your entire make up bag unless you are already a minimalist and only own the essentials. I myself have not reached this level of minimalist perfection. I do not only own the essentials. Instead, I own the essentials along with a dozen other extra options and colors on those unique days where I jazz up my style. However, when I travel I only bring the essentials. I only pack my core and perhaps one extra color if I need it for a particular outfit. Traveling is exhausting. Will you really want to put on a full face of make up every day? Probably not. So don’t waste the room with superfluous rare items. Just bring your every day make-up look along.

 (4) Roll! Don’t fold!

Rolled clothes

This is the best technique out of them all. Normal folding requires you to stack clothes which makes it harder to find in a suitcase. What I suggest is to roll them. Rolling them gives you short tubes of items. Now you can layer them in your bag and they are much easier to see. There is no digging involved like there is for traditional folding and when you do need to grab items, the rest of your clothes don’t get unfolded; they stay tightly wound in their place.

Have faith in yourself. Less is more. If I can survive 10 days with two bags you can surely survive one week! Try out these tips and let us know how they work for you in the comments below. Until then, happy travels!

Pack up and GO!