Naturally Packing Less

We are spending the weekend with my partner’s family, which begins with a little under four hours on the road and ends in east Texas where the trees are still in bloom in early October and the allergens greet us in the driveway. We always feel like we have to prepare for these trips because of the same reasons that cause us to overpack: what if our allergies blow up, which is not terribly unusual; what if we need entertainment during the downtime; what if we go out someplace fancy and our casual clothes are not nice enough. Our packing lists are a mess of what ifs! And that can lead to two full duffel bags and an overloaded backpack for two people for a three-day visit. It’s just too much.

This is the first trip we’ve taken since embracing minimalism, and I didn’t set out to consider how to pick minimally. It honestly didn’t cross my mind. My partner started packing first and I followed behind with my stack of clothes–and we had a wonderful revelation: our mindset has shifted so naturally that we packed less without intending to do so! Even after we both had set aside all of our clothes, which included one or two extra shirts in case we needed them, we only had enough to fill half a duffel bag. The rest of the bag was packed with our toiletries, including everything for our shower, and the main section still dropped when it was zipped. We had packed only the necessities without even considering what all we wanted to take.

We did bring a backpack for both of our laptops because we both have side projects to work on if we have spare time, and we brought three books, one for her and two for me because I’m studying for an interview test later this week. We likely could have fit it all in the duffel bag but we didn’t want to chance bending the books or scratching our laptops. So the extra bag, which easily fits on our shoulders, was worth the space.

We also dropped our usual full-size cooler to a single lunch box with an ice pack for snacks. We are snackers, and I get sleepy if I’m at the wheel too long. So having food and caffeine handy is a must. Packing it to take with us also saves us money, so we never mind that little bit of preparation.

In the end we left with a not quite full duffel bag, a backpack, a small lunch pale, and our pillows for better sleep. We got it all to the car in one easy trip. We almost never do that! It was very refreshing to see how our mindsets had changed when we started a simple task like packing where it is easy to overdo it. We could have been even more minimal and packed only the absolutes–no extra shirts or entertainment items–but we had the room, didn’t have a smaller bag to use anyway, and might find we use the extra shirts after carving pumpkins tonight. So it’s still a win for us! I’m interested to see how this new mindset translates when we start packing for our five-day trip to California: I’m giving us the goal of one bag. We’ll see if we can manage it!

Do you have any minimalist packing tips?

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