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

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. 

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Traveling Light || How To Pack For A Week Away

Traveling Light || How To Pack For A Week Away

One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is tips for packing light for a trip. As an ex-over-packer, I've drastically changed my habits when it comes to packing for a trip and I thought I'd share the process I use that works for me and encourages me to pack less, instead of grabbing half my closet and throwing it into a suitcase (or two) just in case. 

My hubby, kiddos, and I are currently in CO (our future home — yay!) for my little brother's graduation and so it was the perfect opportunity to share exactly how I packed. 

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3 Ways to Embrace Traveling Light on your Next Adventure

This post is a guest post from Kristi Soomer, the founder of Encircled, an ethically made women's clothing line making traveling a breeze:

It’s difficult to feel free to explore the ancient streets of Greece, when you’re struggling to drag a 30” extra-large roller bag behind you. Uneven historical roads, while gorgeous, do not mesh well with over-sized luggage. Before I became a frequent flyer, the benefits of going carry-on were purely financial. If I didn’t check a bag, I could save $25. However, when I started my career in management consulting and became a weekly airport commuter, I also turned into a carry-on only traveler. I started to value the less talked about benefits of traveling light: knowing where your bag is at all times, turn-key airport arrivals, connections and departures and mostly, the freedom of not being burdened with a gigantic bag at your destination.

Travel is a source of major anxiety for many.

The rush to get to the airport on time.

The lineups, oh, the line ups... for check-in, customs, security, loading on and off the plane, and waiting for bags.

The delays.

The unpredictability.

The new surroundings.

For some, none of this is a bother, but in my experience, most people I’ve run into at airports are the worst versions of themselves.

Stressed. Angry. Short-fused. Inconsiderate. In their own world.

Traveling doesn't have to be the stress-filled rush that it's stereotypically made out to be. Using these three tips, you can simplify your travel and make your next adventure a stress-free one.

No one wants to be that person at the airport.

You know -- the angry person barking at the luggage service people, begging the customs or security officer to let you to the head of the line because you’re late, or scolding the gate agent for not giving you two seats together. Traveling light isn’t about just packing a carry-on bag -- it’s about letting go of the emotional baggage that comes with travelingEven if you don’t travel often, you can embrace the frequent traveler's mindset. It’s about being efficient, savvy, and kind.

1. Join your country’s expedited security clearance program

In Canada/US, there’s the trusted traveler/Nexus program -- it lets you access a significantly shorter customs and security line, both domestically and abroad. No more showing up and braving the extra-long, security line, or begging other travelers to let you by first.

Travel benefit: Less time waiting, more time at your home.

2. Stop Checking A Bag

Unless you’re traveling for months, or carrying special equipment (surfs up?), removing the checked bag requirements allows you to spend less time at the airport, particularly when combined with the expedited security clearance.

In Canada, I know it will take me on average 10-12 minutes to go through expedited security clearance, and I need to be at the gate a minimum of 15 minutes prior to the flight (though, let’s be honest - flights never leave on time). In general, you’ll find me at the airport 30 minutes before a domestic flight, or 45 minutes for US-bound departures. Compare that to those who show up 2-3 hours in advance. Yuck. I value my time greatly, and you should too -- it’s not an infinite resource. Moreover, upon arrival - light travelers can easily navigate public transit. I remember once taking the London Tube with a massive bag. It was a nightmare.

Travel benefit: More time at your destination and the freedom of not lugging around a bag.

3. Embrace the mindset that anything can, and will happen when you travel

Support this mindset shift by fueling your body with healthy foods, exercise the day prior and drink loads of water. A hydrated and well-nourished body is more resilient to change, and stress.

Give away kindness like candy. To everyone. To the gate agent, flight attendant, security guard, and most importantly, other travelers. You’d be surprised how positively people respond when a stranger helps them out at an airport. And your kindness will likely help reduce someone else's anxiety as well. Win, win.

Travel benefit: High energy levels post-flight, less stress, and less likelihood of getting sick.

Photo courtesy of   Kristi by Tracey Tomtene Photography    

Photo courtesy of  Kristi by Tracey Tomtene Photography


Practicing radical kindness, being more strategic with time spent at the airport and switching to carry-on only travel can be freeing and bring a new sense of peacefulness to your travel.

Traveling light can go beyond the luggage you carry on your back, or in your mind. Free your mind of stress during travel and the possibilities for fun and adventure are endless.

Author BIO

Kristi Soomer is an entrepreneur, ethical-fashion advocate, minimalist and surfer with a serious case of wanderlust. While traveling 100,000+ miles a year, she became frustrated with the lack of stylish travel clothing and founded her own travel fashion line, Encircled. A self-taught designer, Kristi takes traditional silhouettes and infuses style with function to help women do more with less.

Connect with Kristi + Encircled:



facebook:     https://www.facebook/getencircled

pinterest:     Http://

7 Tips For Minimal And Stress-Free Travel


Traveling should be about exploring new lands and living care-free for the brief (or long) period of time you’re away from home. So why is it that we always seem to bring unnecessary things with us that weigh us down physically and emotionally? Before I took on the minimal lifestyle, there wasn't a single trip that I went on where I didn't think either, "I packed way too much" or "why the heck did I buy this?" 

Minimalism is a great concept to take on the road with you. Packing only the essentials and focusing more on the experience makes for a more eye-opening and rich experience.

Now, I'm not saying you should go on your next vacation with one outfit and figure out how to make do with it. And I’m definitely not insisting that it would be a sin to contemplate buying something other than food while you travel. That's crazy, unrealistic, and definitely not an enjoyable way to travel. But what I am going to share with you are some tips I've acquired while living and traveling around the world that are helpful for making your vacations more simple and carefree.

1. Skip Baggage Claim and Only Bring A Carry-On

Unless you're going on a trip that is longer than a week (and even then, I would argue for simply doing laundry while you're on vacay), only take a carry-on. There are a plethora of reasons why I advocate for a carry-on only travel style.

  • First off, you don't have to worry about your bags getting lost. Every time I move somewhere new, I stand in panic-stricken fear as I watch the baggage claim carousel go around until I finally see my own bags. 

  • Having only a carry-on sized suitcase kind of forces you to bring less.

  • You can travel faster.. literally! Luggage is big, heavy, and not so easy to transport. Zoom past everyone at the baggage claim and look like a travel pro doing it!

Don’t forget to take into account that you're allowed a carry-on and a purse. I've taken a large shoulder bag as my purse and that, combined with a carry-on, is a lot more space than you would think!

Image courtesy of author   

Image courtesy of author


2. Down-Size Your Beauty Products And Toiletries

Packing a carry-on makes you also stop and consider your beauty/toiletry products because, you know, TSA regulations and stuff. But a great way to really minimize what you're brining is to pack smaller-sized products, only the make-up you'll actually use, and the bare minimum hair tools, if any at all. Another great tip I would give you is to contact your hotel or Air BnB beforehand and ask if they have a hair dryer (or any other complimentary products for that matter). I absolutely hate packing mine, so it's awesome when places provide one! 

3. Don't Worry About Forgetting Something Because You Can Always Buy It.

Woah, I'm a minimalist telling you to buy something? Yes.. Yes I am! Because instead of over packing with way too many shoes/tops that you could ever use on one trip, it's better to take less and know that, if worst comes to worst, you can always buy something. Plus, whatever you do buy is kind of like a souvenir from your vacation! Going to Mexico for the week? I'd rather buy a cute printed dress from a trip to Puerto Vallarta than wear the same ole stuff I always do (true story; this happened).

4. When It Comes To Clothes, Pack Neutrals

If you bring clothes in neutral colors that can be easily switched around with each other, you've just cut down on your outfit decision making time and allowed yourself to bring less but still make more combinations! And let’s not forget; when in doubt choose black. Because what goes with black? Everything.

5. Skip The Souvenirs 

Here is the number one thing that can really add unwanted stress to your vacation; souvenirs. It's like the forbidden word of the minimalist language. Do I want to buy a porcelain tea set from Korea that I will probably never use and will collect dust in the back of my cabinet? No. And I sure as heck don't want to buy that for someone else. Large souvenirs not only take up a lot of room, but most of them are quite pointless. My advice for some more interesting souvenirs, if you really must buy some, are: bracelets, a scarf, tea, or a postcard (mailed from your actual location. How cool!).

Image courtesy of author

Image courtesy of author

6. Switch To USB Chargers

Write down all of the electronics you're bringing with you, take note of which ones use the same plug, condense and buy USB chargers for your items. Nowadays, the part that plugs into the wall is detachable from the actual charger via a USB plug. So, instead of having multiple parts that plug into the wall, take one and you will be able to use it for all of your chargers! Even better, I suggest buying a thin portable battery. These are my weakness; they have saved my phone's life countless of times! 

7. Clean Out Your Wallet

Pull out your wallet. Go it? Take everything out of it. Everything. Now, place back two debit cards and one credit card; if you have a student ID or a medical insurance card, put those back in too. Got it? That's all you need to bring! Brining your wallet full of loose change, your Sephora card, and a partially stamped loyalty card to your local coffee shop are just going to weigh you down! Plus, and I hope this never happens to you, but in the worst case your wallet is stolen, at least your whole life won't go with it! Another tip I highly suggest you do before you head off on any international travels is call your bank ahead of time and notify them. I can't tell you how many times I've emailed my dad asking him to call my bank to let them know I’m traveling because my debit card wasn't working.

So there you go! Try out these tips for your next travel and I guarantee you’ll have an easier travel experience with less stress! But please remember, traveling is about the experience! It’s for you and the people you go with. So please, enjoy it for yourself!



Kirstie Taylor

Kirstie has been living around the world since she graduated college several years ago. After selling almost everything she owns, Kirstie set out with a couple of suitcases in hand, to find out about different cultures around the world. She has since started a social media business and delved into the world of blogging. She shares her adventures, passion for living simply, interests in living a well-balanced life, and obsession with coffee over at her blog, Lux and Lavender.

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