Friday, June 11, 2010

Minimalist packing

I'm not a minimalist. Not the in sense that this person is, or this person. But I do find lots about a minimalist lifestyle attractive, considering that when you come down to it, all we really need is shelter, food, clothing, and some books.

For a long time I resisted being a carry-on baggage person. I liked checking my bag and not  having to worry about wrangling it through the airport, through multiple layovers, and got used to waiting at my destination for it to (hopefully) come rolling out at baggage claim. I didn't want to be one of those people who held everyone up while they tried to stuff their suitcase into a clearly-too small space in the overhead bin, or have to worry about the ounces of my liquids. Also, having been a Girl Scount, my motto is "always be prepared," which makes one lean in the over-packing department, "just in case" it should snow, rain, freeze, or have a heat-wave in rural Northern Vermont in June. (Unfortunately, those are all actual possibilities.)

But then the airlines started charging for checked bags - sometimes $25 a pop, which, if you are traveling with multiple people, starts to add up. If they'd simply added in this surcharge with the ticket price (which they probably do anyway), I wouldn't have cared or noticed. But having to swipe my debit card when checking in stung. It made an already often unpleasant (I normally fly out of LAX) process a step less enjoyable.

So my husband and I became carry-on people. I have the largest suitcase you can have and still get away with carry-on, and I'd dearly, dearly love to be one of those people who have the doll-sized rolling bag, the kind that looks like it holds a pair of jeans and some flip-flops and that's it. I don't know how those people do it. Maybe they're only going somewhere for a single night?

Anyway, I'm not getting a new bag - yet - but in the meantime, even though I have quite a bit of room, I am not going to fill it up with stuff I don't need. For a seven day long trip, I'm packing about four day's worth of clothing and plan to do laundry halfway through. Everyone who writes about packing lightly will tell you that the key is being able to wash your clothes. So, that's my plan. But I'm also going further. I'm only wearing one set of jewelry on the plane. I usually wear a different pair of earrings and different necklaces everyday, so that will be different. Where we are going isn't terrible urban, but they do have stores. I can buy toiletries there if the small items I have run out, which they probably won't. I always overestimate that stuff. I'm also only bringing three books. That might sound like a lot, but I'm going on vacation, and I'm a fast reader - especially on planes, when I crave an engaging story to pass the time. But I think that will be enough. Again, I can always borrow something to read from someone else on the trip, buy and read the newspaper, or get a novel at the grocery store if I'm really desperate.

So, it may not sound super-minimalist, but compared to what I'd like to pack, it's a change. I'll be back in a week and half. See you then!

To read more about minimalist packing, Miss Minimalist has a great comprehensive post.

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email


  1. I can relate! I am a horrible over-packer...and, now, I pack too much for my daughter, too! Ugh...useless. Have a fantastic trip :)

  2. How many of the "100 things I don't own" do you own? I had 50.

  3. Lena is referring to this Miss Minimalist post: I own 59 of the items. Mostly the stuff I don't own is the outdoor equipment, as we don't have any outdoor space.