When I recently booked a trip to visit family back east, I noticed that things are getting pretty crazy on certain airlines. Some are now requiring passengers to pay $25 to put a carry-on bag in the overhead compartment. Pay? Are they nuts? There was no way I was going to fork over the dough for a carry-on, so I decided to do an experiment. I wanted to see if I could pack for 8 days and put it all into a tiny backpack that could fit under the airplane seat in front of me.
I started out with my bright blue Osprey 35, a simple day pack I use to carry around my computer and work-out clothes. It has a sleeve to fit the computer, one main compartment, and a front compartment for odds and ends. I pulled the bag open and peered inside. I didn’t think there was any way I’d be able to fit all the clothes I’d need into that tiny space.
But I was going to try.
Here were the facts I was working with.
- I knew I was going somewhere hot and muggy
- I knew I’d want to work out while on my trip
- I knew I was celebrating my cousin’s birthday one night and would probably want to dress up
- I was pretty sure my family would have a washer/dryer I could use halfway through the trip, thus eliminating the need to bring eight pairs of underwear and eight pairs of socks, both of which take up way too much space in a bag.
I slowly started laying out clothes that I could use and reuse in a variety of ways. Shirts that would go with both jeans and shorts. A wrinkle-free dress I could wear to the birthday party. One pair of trail runners I could walk and hike in, and one pair of cute, gold flat sandals I could wear with shorts, jeans and my dress.
I’d wear the bigger trail runners on the airplane so I’d have more room for the other stuff in my pack.
Here is what I ended up bringing:
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 wrinkle-free dress
- 1 pair of work-out pants
- 1 work-out tank top
- 2 T-shirts
- 1 nice shirt
- 1 pull-over shirt
- 1 down jacket
- 3 pairs of socks
- 4 pairs of underpants
- 1 regular bra
- 1 sports bra
- 1 roll-up sunhat
- Trail runners
I put the sandals in the bottom of the backpack and rolled up each item, making it as small as it could possibly be. When I was finished, my pack looked like it was full of clothes burritos. But everything fit! I was elated!
And not only that, my computer fit into its sleeve. All my power cords and my toiletries fit into the front compartment. I had my water bottle in a side pocket, and my Kindle in my purse. I was all set for a “no fee” carry-on. Success!!
It all worked out perfectly on my trip back East. I wore every single item, and did a load of laundry half-way through. I didn’t miss or long for anything at all.
I’ve come to the conclusion, through this exercise, that I could pack like this for any trip. I could bring this assortment of items on a two-week or even a one month trip to Europe. I just have to be willing to do laundry along the way and wear the same thing over and over again, which is fine.
Another thing I love about light-weight packing is that it’s so easy to carry everything around. With only a small backpack strapped to me, I can walk quickly through the airport, or even run if I had to. No more unwieldy roller bag that slides every which way on the slippery airport floor.
I am convinced that we don’t need much stuff when we travel. As long as I have an outfit for every occasion, my laptop and my trusty Kindle, I’m set.
How small have you been able to pack for a trip? What’s holding you back from packing lighter?
This was a guest post by Kristin Hanes from The Wayward Home. To read more of Kristin’s travel tips and adventures check out her travel blog The Wayward Home and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.