24 November 2011

Things That Are True - Less is More

Once upon a time, I was the girl who took two giant suitcases with me to spend a weekend with friends. Once upon a time, I was unable to decide which pair of shoes I might wear most, so I brought six. Six pairs, not six shoes. Once upon a time, I brought dresses just in case I might get the chance to wear them, and running shoes just in case I went to the gym, and every makeup item I owned because you just never know.


HWSNBN doesn't like to carry things, so he packs light. Whatever he neglects to bring with him, he does without or purchases at the final destination.

At first I really didn't understand this concept of taking the bare minimum, but over time the idea grew on me. For our two weeks in Paris in 2004, we decided to travel with carry-on luggage only. The earth didn't stop spinning on its axis because I only had one pair of black boots to wear. After that it became an unspoken rule: no checked luggage. Hong Kong and New Zealand in 2006, Paris and London in 2007 - we just gathered up our stuff and stepped off the plane and into our adventure. No waiting at the baggage carousel, first to arrive at the customs counter. Excellent!

And here's a secret: no matter how lightly I packed, there was always one item of clothing that never got worn. I began to pride myself on my ability to pack light. My travel mantra became: "Passport and a credit card. The rest is details."

Then we had The Imp. The amount of clobber you haul around for a 30 minute trip to the playground with a baby wouldn't fit in just one carry-on. For a trip to Provence when The Imp was two months old, I took: two suitcases, a large carry-on for myself, a giant diaper bag for The Imp, a baby bjorn, a stroller, and a car seat. Not to mention breast pump and bottles. Yeah.

Now that The Imp is past the diaper years, minimal luggage is possible again. We went to Hawaii in April with two carry-ons, a laptop bag, and a camera bag. We'd planned to do the same again for this trip. Today, HWSNBN wondered aloud, "Do you think we could do it with just one carry-on bag?"

The gauntlet was thrown down. "Challenge accepted!" I shouted, and got to packing.

Laptop bag, camera bag, carry-on, and Curious George
Several hours later, I have unlocked the Less is More achievement.

Three people, nine days, one carry-on, a laptop bag, and a camera bag. Oh, and The Imp's "suitcase", which is actually his daycare lunch bag, with two small books, two small toys of his choosing, and George, his constant companion. (He carries his own bag.)

Granted, it's Hawaii, a casual kind of place, and warm, so heavy clothes are not required. That makes it easier to fit it all in less space.

What are we bringing, you ask?

Bloggable, indeed. Grin.

The carry-on, which is the max size allowed for carry-on, contains:
Imp's clothes:
4 pairs underwear
bathing suit (board shorts & rashie)
4 t-shirts
1 short-sleeved button up collared shirt
3 pairs shorts
2 sets pajamas (granted, they're short sleeves & shorts sets)

HWSNBN's clothes:
3 short sleeved button up collared shirts
2 pairs shorts
swim trunks
4 pairs underwear

My clothes:
1 casual cotton skirt
bathing suit (tankini)
2 lululemon tank tops (with built-in bra)
1 sleeveless shirt
1 t-shirt
2 dresses
4 pairs underwear, 1 bra

1 litre ziploc bag of toiletries:
1 eyeliner, 1 lip gloss, 1 mascara
sample size toothpaste
sample size contact lens solution
2 pairs contact lenses
allergy meds
dental floss
3 toothbrushes
1 comb
3 hair elastics
men's deodorant, women's deodorant
20 Breathe Right strips, lest our marriage end before we return
1 set of invisalign braces, since I need to put in a new appliance on Tuesday

Oh, and a roll up real small tote to take snacks/towels/etc to the beach while we're there

Laptop bag contains:
macbook pro/power cable
car lighter to USB adaptor, wall plug to USB adaptor
wallet, passports, flight/hotel printouts
Kobo, USB cable
iphone, USB cable
glasses case: 1 pair prescription sunglasses, 1 pair non-prescription sunglasses
old school paper notebook/pen
100 page sticker activity book, Brain Quest alphabet write and erase set, fingerpainting art set (must keep The Imp busy while trapped in his seat for six hours)

Camera bag contains:
SLR w/35-70mm lens, additional 70-300mm lens
battery charger/cable, USB cable
315g package of Bassetts licorice all sorts for my uncle
pkg of 14 28g Hawkins Cheezies for my aunt
HWSNBN's pathetic excuse for a pillow - I have known towels that offered more padding
HWSNBN's sandals, The Imp's sandals

Bags are packed. Booyah.

And that's it. We haven't exactly deprived ourselves; it's still a lot of stuff. But it's a lot less than I took to Hawaii, traveling alone, when I was eighteen.

We'll wear our heavy items on the plane: boots/shoes, sweaters, winter jackets. Airplanes are always freezing anyway.

What's missing?
Enough clothes - wash in the sink, hang in the bathtub, or find an actual laundromat
Shampoo/conditioner/soap - hotel provides, or buy on arrival
Towels - hotel provides, both for the pool and the beach
Sunscreen - buy on arrival
Razors - buy disposable ones on arrival
Nail clippers/tweezers - either do without or buy on arrival and leave behind - I have strewn nail clippers and tweezers in my wake everywhere I've travelled for the last several years

So what do you think? Anything we're not bringing that you simply couldn't live without? Could you pack for nine days in one carry-on, a laptop bag, and a camera bag?


  1. Hairbrush, although I suppose you can buy one. I just insist on having one available. And for a place where you live in a swimsuit, that is plenty of clthes. Have fun!

  2. I'd need more bras. I'm afraid a built-in bra in a tank isn't quite enough to control me, but colour me impressed. I'll have to hire you to pack for me from now on.