A few months ago, I wrote about the contents of my carry-on (Minimalist Travel: What’s in My Suitcase). This is the only bag I travel with, whether I’m going away for one week or three months. You can read about it in detail in my earlier post, but generally it contains a packing cube of clothing, a toiletry bag, and odds and ends like guidebooks, energy bars, camera, iPod Touch, umbrella, etc. in the pockets. After years of overseas travel, I had this system down to a science.
Now that I live in England, however, I’ve been spending a lot of long weekends visiting European cities. And truth be told, my little carry-on is simply too big for these quick jaunts!
In order to maximize our travel time, my husband and I usually book a very early flight the day we arrive, and a very late flight the day we leave. Therefore, we often wind up carrying our bags for much of the first and last days. (Sure, we could leave them at the hotel, but we don’t like to “waste” time going back to get them if we have a full schedule.)
My objective, then, was to pare down my luggage to the size of a large purse. That way, I could enjoy sites, shops, restaurants, and walks without the carry-on on my back.
[EDIT: For those who have asked about my new bag (pictured above), it's available on Amazon (affiliate link).]
My strategy: for a 2-day trip, I don’t pack a change of clothes; for 3 days, it depends on the itinerary; for 4-5 days, one change. This system might not be for everyone, but it works for me. (I have no problem doing laundry in the hotel sink if necessary.)
Therefore, my packing cube contains (at most) one pair of pants, one top, pajamas, underwear, and socks. For 2-3 day trips, I skip the cube altogether, and stuff the pajamas, underwear, and socks in a large ziplock bag.
I never worry about packing shoes, since I only travel with the ones on my feet.
The contents of my toiletry bag remained much the same; however, I’ve been able to reduce it to half the size by “miniaturizing” as much as possible. I never take soap, shampoo, or conditioner, and I use travel or sample sizes of everything else.
When I arrive at the hotel, I dump the toiletry bag and clothes, and use the bag as a purse (eliminating the need to pack an additional “day” bag).
I’ve tested my new system of “extreme light travel” on a few trips now; and I’m happy to say, it’s worked like a dream!
It’s amazing how lightly you can travel if you want to. Now, if I could only pare down to what fits in my coat pockets…