Work’s been a circus (this month, I’ve read 5 novels, graded projects, edited essays, and made study guides and exams until I absolutely loathed the sight of Microsoft Word). However, there has been a light at the end of the tunnel.
I leave for London . . . today! I’ll be gone from June 16th to August 7th. 53 days. One girl. One backpack. Lots of adventures.
I’m not a seasoned minimalist. I like things so I won’t sugarcoat it – minimalist packing is hard. Very hard. It took me about four tries to get to this list and I’ll probably go back five or six more times to make changes. (Final Edit* – 10 tries).
I took stuff out, put more back in, and took even more out. What did I want to take? What did I need to take? How many shirts is too much? What about that loose leaf tea I’ve been drinking religiously this month? But, in the end, it came down to one question: what would I really use in a week? That’s what the minimalist travel gurus always said in the dozens of packing videos I watched on YouTube – prepare for a week and (with laundry, of course) you can travel forever. Only, I had a problem. My backpack couldn’t fit everything I need for two months abroad and a week’s worth of clothes . . . so, what was I going to to?
The travel packing side of YouTube is a giant black hole. Hours can go by that feel like minutes. Suddenly, the birds are chirping outside and the sky is no longer black, even though you swear that you just went to bed an hour ago at least. However, despite all of my late night/early morning research, I still had that same problem. Most minimalist backpacking lists either used a 40L (which is twice the size of my bag), multiple carry ons (which seemed defeat the purpose, but whatever), or were centered towards men traveling around Asia (which seems strangely specific, but if you’ve found yourself down that YouTube rabbit hole, you know what I’m talking about) . . .
I’ve lugged around stone suitcases. I’ve struggled with heavy duffle bags on the tube and shoved 50lb checked baggage onto conveyer belts. Traveling with too much luggage not just physically weighs you down, but can mentally slow you down as well. I don’t want to feel like I’m bursting from the seams by all the stuff I’m carrying. There’s something so freeing about the idea of being able to carry around everything I own with no problem. If I could, I’d go with only the clothes on my back, my camera, and my journal (wouldn’t that be an adventure). No one ever complained about traveling with too little.
So, enough introduction. You’re here for the packing list, right? BEWARE: if you are a fashionista, you may want to look away.
Here’s what I’m taking:
Fits snugly in a nice little picture, doesn’t it? And you can still see the bottom of my bag. I surprised even myself with that.
1: Bathing suit
1: PJ set
The clothes. The bane of my existence. One part of me wants to be stylish and bring an entire wardrobe, while the other part knows how crazy the first part sounds. But, I’ll still be in London with or without the 50 extra shirts, so I think I can make do for a few weeks.
I tried to choose clothes that would function as multiple pieces. My bathing suit top and bodysuits can work as a bra. I can wear the bottoms as underwear on a really desperate laundry day. Yoga pants are the universal travel clothing item; they can be lounge/sleepwear/activewear and travel wear for those long airport days. They also have deep pockets that can hold keycards (that way I don’t have to dig around in the night if I need to leave the hostel room). As for shoes, all I really need is one pair to wear out and flip flops for the hostel showers.
Here’s how I came to my list:
1) I can wash all of them together and not have to worry about colors bleeding. 2) If I need to, each piece (except for jeans) is light enough to be washed when I take a shower and dry overnight. 3) Dark, neutral colors blend in. Plus, black’s my favorite color to wear anyway. 4) You can’t go wrong with a crop top and jeans. 5) I can mix and match pieces to comfortably explore the cities, to do active things like hiking, and even go out at night. 6) And finally, these are all clothes I can layer with my light jacket. I’ll be going from Scotland (which is around 64 degrees) to Madrid (with is definitely not 64 degrees).
Where are my clothes?? They all fit in the yellow cube. It’s actually for makeup. I got it in the beauty section at Bed Bath and Beyond when I couldn’t find a small enough packing cube. But hey, it works great.
*A few dryer sheets also keep clothes smelling nice.
Yep, that’s it. Time to move on.
1: Liquids Bag
1: Makeup/Hygiene Bag
1: Shower Bag
1: Medicine Bag
In order to make travel as easy as possible, I vowed to keep my liquids to an absolute minimum. Yet, if I decided to skimp out on clothes, I didn’t really want to skimp out on smelling good.
Liquids Bag: Perfume + Refill, Hand Sanitizer
Two Liquids. Even though I’m traveling, I still want to smell like me. Sure, the perfume may not be an absolute necessity, but I compromised with an extremely cute (and reusable) travel size.
I just threw these into a clear bag that will hang out at the top of my bag. That way, I’m ready for those pesky Heathrow TSA agents every time. You almost made me late for a plane once, but I’m not going to give you the same satisfaction again.
Makeup/Hygiene Bag: Dry Shampoo, Deodorant, Makeup, Large Hair Ties, Nail Clippers, Earplugs and Case (1 set)
I picked smaller versions of the items I knew I had to carry. This bag will probably hang out at the bottom of my hostel bed for easy and everyday access.
Technically, this bag has no liquids. I went a little Lush crazy, as you’ll further notice. The bar deodorant takes up half the amount of space as my travel sized Dove. I do wish the dry shampoo was a bit smaller, as I won’t use the entire bottle. However, I have enough room that I don’t mind.
I had to make sacrifices with my makeup. Even though I want to carry the least amount of stuff as possible, I love makeup. However, I narrowed it down to five items: foundation (with a little mirror), brown eyeshadow, waterproof mascara, eyeliner, and liquid lipstick.
Shower Bag: Lush shampoo bar, travel toothbrush, Lush toothpaste tablets, razor + case, floss
Absolutely no liquids in this bag. I’m very excited to use my Lush shampoo bar. I’m expecting it to last the entire trip and, if not, they have many locations in Europe. Since they are natural ingredients, I’ll use it as body wash, face wash, and as soap for hand washing small clothing items as well. I’ll let you know how that goes.
I’m also giving the toothpaste tablets a chance.
Medicine Bag: Decongestants, Advil, Wipes, Gauze, Band-Aids, Dramamine, 2 Vitamin C Packets
I cut back on my medicine bag as well, but I didn’t want to take it out completely. I know I can just pick up this stuff along the way, however timing may be everything. Last time I was sick on the road, I waited too long because I didn’t have medication immediately on hand.
1: Laptop and Charger
1: DSLR and 50mm
1: Camera charger
1: Adapter with 3 heads (US, UK, and Southern Europe)
1: Portable Charger
1: TEP Wireless Hotspot
My laptop makes my backpack heavy, but as I constantly use it for writing, working, and photography, there is no way to work around not bringing it. Since I’m not taking another lens for my camera (don’t really have the room to), my 50mm will stay with the body of my DSLR. I carefully place this at the top of my bag between soft but sturdy things – you don’t want to have your camera on the bottom or be able to slam it against anything accidentally. When I use it, it will go in my day bag.
I love my travel adapter. Sure, it’s a little bulky, but I can plug everything in to charge at the same time (computer, phone, and camera battery).
1: Foldable Backpack
1: Cross Body Bag
1: Travel Umbrella
1: Microfiber Towel
2: One-A-Day Contacts
1: Glasses and Case (Sock)
1: Watercolor Bag
1: Small Case for Jewelry
1: Folder with Important Documents
I also swear by my foldable Longchamp backpack. I’m also going to carry a cross body bag because all the pockets in women’s pants are too shallow (but that’s a whole other rant). I don’t really want to be adding another bag either but, since I have extra room, I can always shove the small purse into my backpack for the 10 minutes it takes to board my flight. I will keep everything I need on hand in that purse; my wallet, passport, pens . . .
I don’t have a cover for my backpack, so I opt for carrying a small umbrella instead of a raincoat. I may only use it two or three times, but it’s always worth carrying.
Unfortunately, I wear One-A-Day contacts. Fortunately, they’ll only continue to take up less and less space as time goes on. But I want to be able to see these new places.
Some of these items aren’t a necessity for everyone. I’ve recently gotten into watercolor, so I gathered a travel set of colors, a few pencils, pens, erasers, a pill container I use as a water pot, and a pack of tissues. I picked up my leather journal in Florence, Italy. The other journal I’ll use for general writing, blog notes, scrap paper, or any kind of rough drafts. I can already imagine it – sitting in Edinburgh under a large, shady tree, the grass silky and the sun hidden behind a cloud, journal on my lap and fingertips stained green, yellow, and brown.
Thinking of going minimalist for your next vacation? Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Think Small
Minimize everything. Cut down on quantity and size. Bringing a brush? Maybe opt for a comb.
2. Remember The Outside
Keep smaller items, like your umbrella, hanging on the outside of your bag to save some space.
3. Worried About Space?
Remember, you’ll constantly be wearing at least 1/4 of your wardrobe.
4. Jackets Matter
Find a jacket that can roll up super small. That way, when you aren’t using it, you don’t have to worry about it. Hang it on the outside of your bag like I did mine.
5. Watch your liquids
What I really focused on this trip was cutting back on liquids. Now, when I’m at security, all I have to take out is one ziplock bag and my computer. Fast, easy, and breezy.
Next time I blog, it will be from London!
Keep on traveling!! xx