Minimal Packing || What I Brought for a Week in California

Lately, my life has been a bit like an endless vacation (but not in the magical way). Between moving from house to house, selling our own home, downsizing substantially (again), and taking a few actual vacations, I've been living out of suitcases and totes for longer than I care to admit. 

But, in the chaos, I've learned a lot about packing lightly and choosing outfits that will actually work for a trip, or just for a messy phase of life. 

AJ and I recently went to California to take a bit of a break from the moving-induced chaos and I promised I'd share a run down of everything I brought along with me. Overall, I was really pleased with the items I brought and even patted myself on the back for planning it all out well enough to get excited about each outfit I brought at the beginning of every day.  

I won't go into how I chose all of my outfits in this post, but if you're looking for a semi-detailed post on how I plan my outfits check out this post from a few months ago, or head over to see an article on travelling light that I wrote for my friends at The Good Trade. 

Before we get into what went into my carry on for the trip (AJ and I both packed our clothes in our carry on's, although we had to check a bag on our way back because #weboughtlotsofwine), I want to talk about the bag I packed it all in. 

This little suitcase might be the classiest, most functional duffle bag I've ever used. The lovely people at Lo & Sons sent it to me specifically for this trip* and I was so excited to pack it to the brim. It is the light traveler's dream bag: hidden pockets, storage underneath for shoes, and the ability to slide right onto a roller-suitcase so that your husband can carry both bags for you ;) 

Lo & Sons is making some admirable strides to make their bags as sustainable as possible, with their newest line being fully organic cotton. I've used my Catalina Deluxe for the past few months non-stop and am still amazed at its endless possibilities. 

Now onto what I put inside. I'll do a quick day-by-day break down (because I'd rather see some outfit photos than a packing list), and then share the full packing list at the end. 

Day 1: An early flight + Lodi 

  • Dress: Sweet Lupine (coming to their store and the blog soon!) 
  • Kimono: Sweet Lupine
  • Shoes: Olli  (See my review here. I wish I could tell you that I didn't wear flip flops 90% of our trip, but that would be a lie). 

The dress transitioned perfectly from airport to vineyard and I was comfortable ALL DAY LONG. Not something I usually say on travel days. 

Day 2: Santa Cruz

  • Crop top: How We Soul (coming to the blog soon!) 
  • Maxi skirt: thrifted 
  • Denim jacket: Target from my high school days 
  • Tote: ENAT (see my review here)
  • Shoes: Olli (again). 

This crop top conveniently doubles as a swim suit, which was perfect for walking along the beach. 

Day 3: Mountain Escape

Very few photos were taken this day, but we drove up into the Sierra's, camped out for the day, and then explored Sequoia National Park. 

I bought two swimsuits on the trip: my bikini from Holdensmaaa and my one piece from Azura Bay. I wore the one piece as a base layer for the most part during the trip, but it's had several other successful beach days this summer as well. Neither pieces are sponsored or for the blog. I debated long and hard before buying both pieces and am so glad I went with high quality suits that will last me years. 

Day 4: San Francisco 

  • Pants: MATTER Prints (see my review here. These pants are my favorite piece in my closet right now and always earn a few compliments when I wear them out and about ;) 
  • Crop top: Thrifted tee that I chopped in half
  • Shoes: Filanthropik Threads (These hauraches have been a staple for me this summer. Use the code simplyliv15 for 15% off a pair of your own!) 
  • Coffee: Keepcup. Seriously my most used travel essential. 

Day 5: Napa Valley

  • Dress: Trove (I broke my own rule about keeping "special ocassion" pieces with this dress. I've been saving it for the perfect place to wear it and Castello di Amorosa in Napa was it.) 

Day 6: Relaxing + flying 

Exact same outfit as day 1, because this dress has me hooked. 

Packing List: 


  • Wide leg pants
  • High waisted shorts


  • Flip flops
  • Hauraches
  • Wedges (disclaimer: I never wore mine the entire trip...too much walking and too little grace for me). 


  • One piece/body suit
  • Reversible bikini


  • Floral kimono
  • Striped crop top
  • Black tank
  • White DIY crop top 
  • Denim jacket


  • Midi-dress
  • Off the shoulder dress
  • Maxi skirt

*This post wasn't sponsored by any of the brands mentioned above. Several of the items I brought along will be highlighted at a later date, but I wasn't compensated for this post*