Simpler Packing

Teresa Carey Words 5 Comments

I am amazed how many great people, and writers, I am meeting through the blogging world. Naomi, of Simpler Living writes on her blog tips and stories of living the simple life. You should check out her blog! She posts frequently, so be sure to bookmark it. Recently she asked that I do a “guest post” on her blog about packing for the holidays. Here is what I wrote: 

The holidays are approaching and many people will travel to warm beaches, ski resorts, or the cozy hearth of their childhood homes. I will be choosing the latter. My home in Michigan was once a place where Santa filled the living room with surprises for my sisters and I. Now its filled with squeals of delight from my two little nieces and laughter at reminiscent stories of the past. What will I need to bring with me?

I have two weeks at home and my vacation “to-do” list is getting longer and longer. I’ll need my computer to keep up, or rather catch-up and get ahead with blogging, several books for my studies, a camera, warm clothes, dressy clothes, snowy play clothes, workout clothes, party clothes…hey you just never know. A gal likes to have her options. And, of course, the shoes for each outfit…

But with the airlines increasing the expense on the baggage policy and travel requiring me to move from boat, to walking, to ferry boat, to car, bus, then finally the plane, I really need to pack lightly. With the amount of packing I have done, one would think I would be an expert. But with each journey I find myself discovering things deep in my bag I never needed, or saying, “oh, I wish I had brought this or that.”

As a sailor, and one who lives aboard a small boat, I have learned what is “necessary” and what ends up just getting in the way. It really is a burden to travel with a large load. Just yesterday, I cleaned out all the lockers on my boat. My home was starting to feel cluttered and cumbersome to live in. I filled a bag with used items for the thrift store, and packed a few to take to my family. I often find that my living space reflects how I’m feeling at any moment. Or perhaps it’s the opposite, that I reflect my living space. So this year, I’m giving myself a holiday gift of a clear mind and heart at peace. I’m packing light and returning back to my less cluttered and therefore more comfortable boat with a mostly empty bag.

 Chris McCandless, of “Into The Wild,” an extreme example of Thoreau-like simple and deliberate living, suggests that we own only what we can carry on our back while running. I like to assume he means “running with the wind” and live with only what can fit on my boat. But my travel bag might be more like what he is suggesting.

 This is my plan for holiday packing:

1) I pack in a duffle bag that I can carry. Rolling suitcases are nice, but they take up a lot more space, weigh more, and hold less than a duffle bag of a similar size.

2) I’ll first pack some bubble wrap in one end of my duffle. The holidays are full of gift exchanges and I might return with more than I started with. The bubble wrap serves as a space holder for my returning holiday loot. Years ago I used an extra duffle bag in the same way…just in case my loot was really big.

3) I pack only cloths that I have worn in the last week. These are obviously my favorites! All I really need is only one change of clothes and an extra layer for chilly days. I bring an extra t-shirt that will double as sleepwear and casual wear. By packing clothing that will mix and match well and sticking to the old favorites I’ll keep my load small. 

4) I don’t bring anything I haven’t wanted in the past week: my curling iron, a novel, makeup, shoes, etc. If I didn’t want it recently, chances are I won’t miss it while I’m gone. I’ve found that traveling with too much stuff adds a bit of frustration to the experience.

5) Lastly, I bring a toothbrush and a camera. These are the essentials. Wherever I go, I always bring a camera. Photos are the best souvenirs. 

Since then I have traveled home for the holidays and found all this packing and planning pointless. The airline has misplaced my luggage. Oh well, at least my camera was in the carryon bag!

Comments 5

  1. Naomi

    These are great tips, Teresa. Thanks so much for sharing.

    I use a duffle bag, too (I used to have a roll-on, but the lock broke and I never got it fixed). The weight issue makes sense, especially since airlines are charging even higher fees now if you go above a certain weight limit.

    I’ve also packed a smaller bag inside my duffle in case I need it after a vacation, but since I’m limiting what I buy, I didn’t need the extra room this time, even after a trip to the thrift stores.

    I finally got home last night, but I think my luggage is still in Chicago, and given the number of flight cancellations today, it might be there a few days. But I don’t have to worry about living out of a suitcase, and I’m glad not to be on standby again. I hope yours shows up soon.

    Have a wonderful Christmas.


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