How to Pack Light

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Everything I needed for an entire month in Europe is contained in that tiny, tan bag in the photo above. And after posting that picture here, several of you asked how I did it. So here's what works for me and my 21" tiny bag for nearly any trip away -

Pack a few staple pieces that you wear over and over. And because you only have those few staple pieces, don't be afraid to wash clothes Laura Ingalls style.

Five (5) Tips to Do It,

(1) A cool, neutral, silk top that mixes well with jeans & maxi skirts like this one from Talbot's ($50).

(2) Speaking of jeans, all you need is one versatile pair that you feel fabulous in. EmersonMade's stretch bluebells do the trick.

(3) A maxi skirt. Mine is Mossimo from Target. You can wrap it up like a burrito in your tiny bag, and again day to night. Plus it drys super fast after washing.

(4) Black kitten heels. I like Calvin Klein's (Macy's, $60). Navigating cobblestone streets? Elementary. Trudging up a hill? Got this. And you look pulled together doing it. They 'click' like a heel but are comfy like a ballet flat. 1 pair of shoes, instead of 2 in your tiny bag.

(5) Instead of packing several different tops & bottoms, pack Scarves & Jewelry instead. Solid & Pattered Scarves, Colorful beads, classic Pearls, turquoise Ring, gold Cuff, pendent Necklace, dangled Earrings. They take up less room, and they have the ability to change the style & casualness from day to day of the few garments you have to work with.

Other useful tips I've learned over time,
* White v-neck tees (mine are Fruit of the Loom, small, boys section). Don't underestimate how handy these nuggets can be. You can sleep in them, and you can pair them with your jeans & maxi skirt. With a great scarf & cuff, hair in a bun, you're good to go for a day of sight-seeing.

* One light jacket. I bring a blazer. Neutral colored, corduroy or cotton.

* Detergent packs from the travel section of Target or Wal-mart, so you can wash those few pieces of clothes in the hotel room sink. Skip the laundromat. These pouches are about $1/each, and though you may feel archaic you won't be spending an entire afternoon at a laundromat.

* Again, travel section is my go-to. Transfer the contents of your large bottled shampoo, moisturizer, face wash into much smaller plastic apothecary bottles. Most are $0.50 - $1 each.

* Don't pack a hair dryer. They take up too much room in your tiny bag, and most hotels have them these days. If you're concerned, call the hotel ahead of time.

* Do make the room for a small medicine kit with the basics. Pepto tabs, Aleve, Theraflu pouch, Alcohol Swabs, Anti-diarrhea (thanks Brady Cupper). You may not use any of it, but the moment you have a wine-migraine or nausea due to too much schnitzel you'll wish you had packed it.

All that to say that if your planned trip has you bouncing from one area to the next, a tiny bag will do you wonders. From airports, to trains, to subways, to navigating those bumpy cobblestone streets, to climbing stairs because the lift is out... Tiny bag. Less is more.

So I want to hear from ya'll on this too. What do you do to minimize the baggage?



  1. Great list! Thanks for sharing!

  2. You're welcome! And as I sit here and re-read the post, a few other thoughts come to mind that I should have included. Like washcloths. Pack a few washcloths if this is something you can't shower without. And pack a small thin, or plastic, bag to isolate dirty clothes in your suitcase. I may do a 'Version II' to this!


  3. LOVE THIS! Should have read it before we went to Germany. Agree that scarves and accessories are key, and in the winter cute tall socks that peak out under your boots are a fun way to jazz things up!

    Ready for the next trip!

    1. ooh, Meredeth, and from the looks of your Christmas card you were super cute & warm in your winter attire out there in Germany! hope ya'll enjoyed those Christmas markets!

      where to next? :)

  4. Yes!

    When I was six and a half months pregnant, I spent 20 days of a hot July traveling across Italy with only a small backpack. But, I, like you, am a girl who likes to look stylish even with only a few things. For me it was all about the color black. Empire waist knee skimming dress (bought it at Target in Misses, not in the more expensive Maternity section; one black skirt and a couple of cool black (empire style natch) tank tops. I packed essential makeup, but didn't pack jewelry - just wore a pair of silver hoops to go with everything. Wet-wipes and tissues were a must. Oh! and while I love your kitten shoes, mine were cute - but very flat - Campers!

    Ciao, bella!

    1. bella!
      Black is one of those colors that you can wear every day yet still not look like you're wearing the same thing if that makes sense. Love black skirts & dresses for travel just for that!
      Ps, try the kitten heels!!


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