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The Art of Traveling Lightly: Part Two

On Thursday, Logan and I left the ranch and headed to Red Bluff to spend time with my mom and on Friday we left for my book event. Since Friday, I’ve visited Ukiah, Hopland and Sacramento. And on Sunday, I flew out of Sacramento and arrived in Southern California. I will be in Southern California for a week because I’m taking care of my nieces and nephew while my step-brother is on vacation.

So far the trip has been fun and I’m thankful that I didn’t pack much stuff. I love traveling lightly because it makes my life so much easier. I don’t have to worry about checking baggage or being weighed down with a heavy pack. I only bring the essentials.

A year ago I wrote:

Before I leave for any type of trip, I ask myself two questions:

– What will I be doing?
– What type of climate will I be in?

Answering those two basic questions determines what comes with me. Let me give you a quick example. Last weekend, Logan and I went on a small road trip. We drove down to Little Shasta to visit family and relax. I knew we’d be lounging around the house, helping out with chores, and eating a lot of amazing food. Also, the weather wasn’t going to be too hot or cold, but just right.

Even though I’ve downsized my stuff, I’m still apt to pack my whole closet. To solve this problem, I put half the clothes I was planning on bringing along back in the closet. Most of my outfits center around my black dress. It goes with everything and it’s easy to mix and match with sweaters, shirts and leggings.

. . . Traveling lightly is an art because you have to carefully chose the things you are going to bring along. The more multi-purpose items you pack, the less stuff you have to carry. With less stuff to worry about you can focus on the people and places you’re visiting, instead of worrying about losing stuff or trying to decide what outfit to wear.

It’s 2012 and before any trip I still ask myself those two basic questions. It’s amazing how a small habit can make a trip so much better. For more on the art of traveling lightly, read this post.

What do you carry when you travel? Share your tips in the comments section.

Be well,

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  • Candice October 22, 2012, 11:14 am

    I love traveling lightly – also, I hear that about packing a good multi-purpose black or brown dress or two (nice to have a back-up if something happens to the one)! I love my infinity dress that can be worn 15+ ways and looks like a different dress/skirt/top each time. Add a cardigan, jacket or coat and pack leggings or tights and you’re ready for just about anything!

  • Rebecca October 22, 2012, 12:25 pm

    Depending on the weather I can now pack lite. For summer I pack 2 pairs of my capris, a skirt and then a few shirts to mix and match with everything since my carpris are both black it just makes my life easier and of course a good book to read and now that I have an ereader it makes for even more fun since it is light, portable and can hold a lot of books so no one is the wiser if I am reading a trashy romance novel or something more intellectual to while away the time.
    For fall and winter an umbrella, jacket, pair of jeans and several shirts and maybe a skirt and leggings and ereader again.

  • Claire October 22, 2012, 12:26 pm

    A lot of my clothing is ‘crinkle ‘ – no ironing , no fuss and it can be squashed into all the gaps in my luggage.
    I pack lots of light layers too.
    Enjoy your time away 🙂

  • Cynthia October 22, 2012, 2:58 pm

    Packing light here in Canada can be challenging in winter, but layers are key! I try to wear one heavy sweater, with something light underneath and a good pair of warm boots and then pack my backpack with thin, long-sleeve shirts that can be layered.

  • Paul - The Kind Little Blogger October 22, 2012, 4:36 pm

    I’ll be going on my first trip since “lightening my life”, in November. We have booked check-in baggage for only one of the tickets, therefore, we are limited to 15kg between the two of us. I know R will insist on taking a lot of stuff, so it will leave little space for me. Which is exciting — and was my idea from the start.

    On past backpacking trips I have travelled very light. I tend to carry an “outdoor kit” — clothes for the trail, e.g. waterproof outer layer, a fleece, a polyprop top and bottoms and quick-dry shorts; a “town kit” — clothes for if I decide to hit the pub one night, e.g. jeans and a tee; and a couple of extra pairs of the essentials, e.g. socks and underwear. Effectively I have two outfits. One which is worn the majority of the time, without the polypros, as they tend to be my PJs. This upcoming trip, however, is to Melbourne. We are going to a gig — Radiohead! — and there will be lots of wining and dining. I will have to seriously rethink my way of packing. I don’t want to be bogged down by outfits upon outfits but ought to look semi-civilised I suppose. I much prefer the simplicity of backpacking I think.

  • Kitty October 22, 2012, 6:07 pm

    I never bring a suitcase larger than a carry-on. It just simplifies every part of the trip and makes getting from one destination to another so much faster!

  • Cluttered Mama October 22, 2012, 8:04 pm

    I like packing light, but with two small kids it is difficult. Baby is the biggest challenge becasue we have to bring diapers & diapering supplies, plus bottles & sippies, etc. When I travelled with just the 4 year old last month, I was so excited that I could pack for both of us in just his little Lightning McQueen suitcase.

    Yesterday, still riding that high, I was excited that I all the baby and I would need for an overnight could be packed into a reuseable shopping bag… Until I got halfway to our destination and realized I had not packed my toiletry bag. No toothbrush, no deoderant, no shampoo… OOPS!

    And welcome to So. Cal! I hope you brought some cool weather with you!

  • Kara October 23, 2012, 4:40 am

    Thank you for the time and effort you put in to making your blog a lovely place. I have nominated you for the ‘One Lovely Blog’ award!


  • mark owen-ward October 23, 2012, 7:53 am

    I have 2 bags, one for long trips/life and one for overnights. I always aim to stick the limits of the bag and either 12kg or 5kg weight( depending on bag). I like lightweight clothes by Patagonia, especially the guide pants which are super light and way more comfortable than denim. Merino layers are good top but expensive – my Patagonia pieces last 10’years or more typically so I reckon they’re cheap when you get past the upfront cost. 2 pairs of Vick barefoot shoes, one leather and warm, one lightweight fabric and cool. My wardrobe is basically the same whatever the trip I just edit it a piece at a time – one in one out. But what is the male equivalent of the little black dress (for a non jeans wearer like me) – any tips from Logan for the male readership?!

    • Logan October 23, 2012, 6:21 pm

      Hi Mark,

      My ‘little black dress’ of choice would be zip-off pants that can be worn as shorts or as slacks. A darker color hides the utility zipper, any wrinkles and most blemishes. I agree on the merino wool tops…they look good and smell great even after several days. I have wool slacks with silk lining for during the winter months. These are typically too expensive new but you can find wonderful USA made wool pants inexpensively at thrift stores since they were popular 30+ years ago. 😉

  • John October 23, 2012, 7:56 am

    Hi Tammy,

    My little family have asked ourselves these same questions for our Thailand adventure that we started last week. I posted the contents of my pack; however haven’t gotten around to doing the same for
    Melissa and Jack yet. All were pretty similar. We ended up with three 25liter backpacks, one each, and a bag to keep the backpack secure that I use to carry jack on my back when we’re walking long distance. Here’s a link to my blog on the contents of my pack: http://forgetthegrind.com/2012/10/09/light-weight-carryon-travel/

  • Michele Reilly October 23, 2012, 3:34 pm

    I travel a lot for work. I never check luggage. No matter where I go or how long I stay I never carry more than I can carry on. And, while I have enough frequent flyer miles to get one bag free I never use it. Mostly, because I don’t trust the airlines and am too cheap to pay.

  • Sara October 24, 2012, 8:49 am

    On Friday, I’m leaving on a four-day trip to London (UK) and I’m gonna check in my travel backpack and have a small shoulder bag for the cabin with just my travel documents, wallet and cell phone. And my KeepCup, although it’ll be empty on the plane. I won’t actually fill the 55 liter backpack anywhere near its limit, but I’ve always traveled this way and I prefer it. I don’t like to lug any sort of travel luggage with me and with the backpack everything travels on my back (obviously) 🙂 Thus I won’t take too much, since I’ll be the one carrying it around. Two skirts – I’m gonna wear one and pack the other – a couple of long-sleeve tops, since it’s getting colder, night shirt, underwear and socks and the basic toiletries. Oh and an adapter for recharging my cell. Coat I’ll have on me and the one pair of shoes. This time around, I’m going on a weekend course, so I need to take some stuff with me for that, but all in all, it’ll be easily manageable. BTW, I live in Europe, so four days for the whole journey is plenty!

  • Alicia October 25, 2012, 2:44 pm

    I read You Can Buy Happiness (And It’s Cheap). I love your suggestions for travel. My question: where did you get your backpack?

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