Traveling like a Minimalist

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“Um, aren’t you forgetting something?” Megan asked as she picked me up for the airport.

“What?” I asked.

“Your luggage?”

“All set,” I said, patting my one backpack with confidence.

Megan eyed my choice of luggage doubtfully, probably thinking she’d have to provide my toothpaste, shampoo and underwear for our three-day, two-night trip. (But hey, she’s a bestie, and besties know they gotta share…)

Lucky for her, though, I had packed my one bag with all my necessaries, including and limited to:

  • Toiletry bagPacking light clothes
  • Make-up bag
  • Pajamas
  • Two clean shirts
  • 1 set of workout clothes
  • Running shoes
  • 2 pairs socks
  • 1 bra (I feel totally weird writing that and posting a pic, but I figured, we are all adults here. Except for those two tween-agers who read this blog… why don’t you guys go Snapchat or ChitChat or whatever you young folks do? This is a blog about organizing, for Pete’s sake! You have a life to live!)
  • 3 pairs skivvies (When it comes to undies, follow my mama’s advice and always pack extra. This is one area in which it could be disastrous to be a total minimalist.)
Everything I need for three days fit into one backpack. And yes, this is my backpack from college. Rock on, JanSport!

I wore the same pair of dark jeans every day. (Stop judging! This is not gross! Unless you’re a preschooler who hits the sandbox circuit regularly, there is really no need to wash your pants every day.) I also layered a long-sleeved shirt and scarf over the t-shirt I wore on the plane, so I could stay comfy in the variant climes of the hotel conference room where Megan and I would spend most of our time.

The result? I felt comfortable the whole time and never lacked for clean clothes.

But I know what you’re thinking… What if you spilled red wine on one of those clean shirts? You only had two! What if a mud-soaked golden retriever gave you a full-body welcome and ruined your one pair of pants?? What if you casually met an A-list celebrity in the elevator and he invited you to a party and you had left all your sparkly tube tops and leather pants at home??? The horror! 

The fact is, these things do happen. You never know when Kid Rock might invite you to his house to watch a private fireworks display. (By the way, that totally did happen to me once… and I’m not kidding. But that’s a different blog post.)

A more realistic “What if?” scenario actually DID happen to me earlier this summer, when I traveled (with Megan, coincidentally) for another two-night conference stint. True to my minimalist ideals, I had packed just one pair of sandals. And they broke. Like heel-flopping-off-my-foot broke. One passersby even commented, “Ooooh, that sucks…” as he saw me flopping down the hall. (Thanks, passersby, for your accurate-yet-unhelpful assessment of my situation.)

So what did I do? I got resourceful. Megan found a pair of scissors, and I cut the heel off the sandal, allowing me to make it through the rest of the day without looking too embarrassing. Then, that evening, we hit up the local TJ Maxx and I bought new sandals. Done and done.

The truth is, unless you are traveling to Antarctica, you can probably buy anything you need to get out of a “What if?” situation. The “What ifs” rarely happen. And if you pack for every “What if?” you’ll be lugging around a suitcase the size of a body bag, paying high baggage fees, and never running into A-list celebrities in the elevator because George Clooney cannot fit into the elevator with your big-ass bag.

But beyond that, there is joy in packing light. It frees you to spend time researching the place you’re traveling, as opposed to obsessing about what to pack. It saves you money and energy while on the road. And it makes coming home and unpacking (#3 on everybody’s Least Favorite Chores list, right behind scrubbing the bathtub and removing unwanted body hair from hard-to-reach places) much easier.

So I urge you, travel.

And I urge you even more strongly, travel light.

And if you run into Kid Rock, tell him I say hi.

Rose Lounsbury is the Dayton, Ohio area’s up-and-coming professional organizer. She also once watched a private fireworks display with rock stars. This, along with the birth of her children, comprise the major accomplishments of her life. After blogging about her own journey toward a minimalist lifestyle, Rose was inspired to start Less, a minimalist-minded professional organizing company. If you’d like Rose’s help with an organizing project at your home or office, please call her at 937-626-9030.

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