Sunday, March 18, 2007

packing for weekend trips

Since I started dating someone in another city, I have become the master of the weekend road trip. (Thank heavens I kept my mileage low in the first three years of my car lease - I'm adding kilometres at a frightening rate these days.)

I fancy that I have honed to a science the art of packing for a weekend. I'm a minimalist - although I haven't always been that way. At the beginning of this relationship, I would bring along tons of food (because I like home-cooked meals, but didn't want to burden my love with the chore of shopping or cooking for me).

I also packed way too many clothes, and brought way too many books or magazines to read in my spare time.

Then I realized that I NEVER HAVE spare time when I visit my boyfriend. (Besides, he has lots of books, should I feel like reading.)

After several trips where I got tired of lugging too many coolers and bags back and forth (and if you don't think this is a chore, remember I live in an apartment building), I wised up. These days I carry my purse (which is actually a nice, roomy bag), my suitcase, and my laptop case. And I really shouldn't carry the latter, because I HAVE NO SPARE TIME at my boyfriend's. It's next on my list of things to stop bringing (see below).

How does one pack lightly?

It helps to make a list each time you unpack from a trip. Be vigilant about noticing what you don't use. And make another list, of things you wish you HAD taken along.

Here's today's list of things not to bring again:
  • my laptop
  • so many magazines (yes, I'm a slow learner)

Here's the list of things I want to remember to take next time:

  • a nicer toothbrush (the one I've been using is too hard)
  • one bag for all my toiletries (I've been trying to make do with two: my usual cosmetics bag, supplemented by a toiletries kit I only use on trips - but it's becoming a hassle to remember which things I keep in each bag)
  • my cell phone recharger (I remembered it this weekend, but I forgot it the last couple of times)

Here's what the minimalist usually packs in her suitcase:

  • one pair of pants for each day I will be there (not including the day I arrive, when I will be wearing that day's pants)
  • one t-shirt for each day I will be there, plus one extra in case of spills or stains
  • one pair of wool socks for each day I will be there, plus one extra pair
  • one pair of underwear for each day I will be there, plus one extra pair
  • one wool sweater (which I usually wear to travel)
  • a pair of slippers
  • my toiletries kit, which contains: hand lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, and a small bottle of baking soda (which I use as a deodorant)
  • my cell phone recharger
  • condoms and personal lubricant
  • pads or tampons if I need them
  • lots (LOTS) of plastic bags in all sizes and shapes, stashed in an outside pocket of the suitcase: grocery bags for dirty laundry, Ziploc bags for holding underwear or condoms, and large, clear lawn-waste bags for anything extra (like the laundry I take to my parents')

In my purse/bag I carry:

  • my keys
  • my wallet
  • my cell phone
  • my day planner and a small notebook
  • my cosmetics bag (which contains: a small date book, emergency tampons, lip balm, cover stick, hand sanitizer, dental floss, toothpaste, travel toothbrush, nail clippers, a small mirror, Zeel homeopathic salve (for bruises), Bach Rescue Remedy Spray (for when I'm stressed), earplugs, a pen, a small tape measure, an eyeglass cleaning cloth, lozenges, and Advil Extra Strength Liqui-Gels (in case I get a migraine))
  • my digital recorder (for taking notes while I'm driving)
  • a bottle of water
  • a couple of clean facial tissues
  • a small shoe horn
  • a tuning fork (don't ask)

I try not to carry an extra pair of shoes or boots (besides the ones I'm wearing on my feet when I travel). I normally wear yoga pants and t-shirts, but if I need something special for a night out, or extra work clothes if I know I'm going to get dirty, I try to keep it simple - as few extra pieces as possible.

I don't pack pajamas, since I either wear nothing to bed, or (if I'm someplace where I want to be more modest) I wear the clothes I've worn that day (yoga pants and t-shirt, remember?).

I stopped travelling with shampoo/conditioner and soap years ago, since everybody I visit always has plenty to share. I don't have a skin-care regimen, so I don't need facial cleansers or moisturizers.

I always wear a sports watch with a built-in alarm, so I don't need a travel alarm clock.

When I take my laptop, it goes in the laptop case along with the adapter and mouse, and a couple of books or magazines. The entire case often fits inside my not-full suitcase, which cuts down on the number of bags I have to carry.

That's it. If I could get it down to even less without compromising my comfort, believe me I would.

copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow


DaJoy said...

This was a great help in finishing my packing list! I also quickly learned to try to minimize things, especially the #of bags! Often I will use the tie on the suitcase to put a small bag, or a plastic bag with one bulky item (ex: Jacket) so I only carry one rolling suitcase. Also being married further eliminates some of the other items ;)

Michelle Lynne Goodfellow said...

I hear you on the "one bag" issue. I'm travelling this weekend, and it's always a hassle when I have more than one bulky thing to carry. This time around I've got a small suitcase, my laptop case, a Rubbermaid tote full of supplies that I'll be using with clients (it's a working trip) and a grocery tote full of odds and ends I need. Nobody's perfect! LOL

Anonymous said...

this was SO helpful-- thank you!

Anonymous said...

This was very helpful! My boyfriend only lives across town (but when you live in LA, "across town" can be a long way) but I often go to is house to spend the weekend and inevitably go minimal and wind up missing the comforts of home or pack way too much and spend too much time packing and unpacking for just a weekend trip. Thanks for the input! I'll definitely be taking your advice this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, this was not helpful at all (for me!). Good god girl I wish it was that simple for a non-minimalist.

I pack at least two outfits for each day, which includes coordinating shoes, accessories including a bag and jewellery, and then I also have to pack the coordinating cosmetics. I went for a (single) overnight this weekend and took three pairs of shoes (plus the ones I wore out the door), a fully packed carry-on size suitcase (that the shoes didn't fit in), and a garment bag for my dinner outfit. My best tips for someone like me is to get a large, clear/see-through fold up cosmetics bag. The best gift I ever received—I can find anything I need quickly and easily! I also pack my outfits together. For example, for my night outfit, I packed my necklace, bracelet and strapless bra inside the clutch that I would be using. I also roll my sports bra, underwear and socks inside my gym clothes. I also keep all of my hair products, brushes and curling iron in one pocket in my suitcase. When you do NOT pack lightly with me, it's really REALLY important to keep everything organized!!!

Madgirllolly said...


Have been looking for something for this for so long!!! My other half lives a few hours away and I have to be minimal with my packing and I'm so bad at that kind of thing! But this is so useful for when I go to his or even home from uni!