Skip to content

Packing: I’m a failed minimalist

July 27, 2011

I am not a minimalist.  (Post inspired by a true minimalist!)

However, I did want to pack smart for our vacation.  I’m not sure that I have succeeded, but when I come back, I’ll let you know how much of what I brought I didn’t use.  For last year’s vacation, I brought 1 too many dresses and probably 2 too many pairs of shoes.   I promise I won’t wear something on just for the sake of “using” it!

We created a packing challenge for ourselves by planning a trip that has two purposes & destinations.  The Russia portion is for a conference for T’s work.  There is a welcome reception one night, and a banquet another night, both of which require some level of dressiness.  In St. Petersburg (I read online) it is more common to dress up (at least somewhat) for dinner and it generally isn’t a casual city.

After St. Petersburg, we go to Scandinavia.  This is a place I’ll fit right in!  The dress is more casual, the women don’t wear a lot of make-up, and people are generally somewhat outdoorsy and down to earth.  (Again, speaking only based on what I’ve read online – let me know if you know better!)  My day time clothes will be the same in whatever city I go to, unless we are doing hiking, biking, or other active things.  Which we definitely plan to do!

Travel Stuff:  The plane rides are LONG and numerous.  We leave Friday and arrive Sunday!  This stuff is all about comfort or entertainment.

  • Outfit: Gray T-shirt, purple long sleeve half zip shirt (doubles as a hiking shirt), and a blue fleece, black pants with some stretch.  Hiking boots (because they are heavy, but I’ll probably slip my TOMS on once I’m on the plane).
  • Miscellaneous:  Travel books, unisom & ibuprofin, ear plugs, glasses, ipod, neck pillow,  eye mask ipod, hair ties & headbands, tiny brush/mirror, liquids, make-up bag, books, passport & notebook holder, wallet
  • Cords/electronics:  camera charger, gorillapod, ipod charger.  I’ll bring my phone & charger too, and the camera… was in my hands.  🙂



  • Floral day dress
  • Black dress (reception, with scarf everything is laying on, and also works as a day dress)
  • Gray dress (banquet)
  • Tops:  5 light & small tanks of various degrees of dressiness
  • Black Shorts  – I’m thinking of replacing with (or adding?) a longer black skirt, as I’ve heard shorts are not popular in Russia (or in europe?).   The black pants in travel outfit also can be worn with the tops.
  • Skinny jeans (not pictured)  – I know jeans are a travel no-no to serious travelers, but I’m bringing them anyway.
  • One light sweater (striped white and green)
  • Black cardigan
  • Ballet flats and flat sandals (pictured below)
  • Not pictured – black trench coat

Hiking: I could leave a lot of this behind if we didn’t have some hikes planned, including (maybe, hopefully!) a glacier hike.  The fleece from the travel day also really goes with this stuff.

  • Blue 3/4 sleeve lightweight hiking top
  • pink hiking shirt (I’m bringing 1 more hiking shirt that was in the wash)
  • Black hiking pants
  • Baseball hat, wool hat, gloves, Buff headband
  • blue soft shell jacket
  • Socks (2 wool, 2 liners, 1 -2 ankle socks)
  • Gray bag containing underwear and bras
  • Bikini
  • Sleeping clothes (that pile of pink stuff is 1 pair of paints, 1 pair of yoga shorts, 2 tees and 1 tank)

Moment of truth…. can I fit it all into a carry-on sized daypack?

First I packed everything down & rolled all the clothing.  The tank tops are in the packing cube, the hiking clothes were stuffed into the yellow bag, and I added my sleep clothes to my underwear bag.  (Don’t worry, I bring a separate bag for dirty stuff.)  See that bag in the back?  That is my goal!

Ta-da!  I could have scrunched the dress in, but T has to pack a full sized suitcase (he needs a suit) so I thought I’d put my nicer dress in with his stuff.

The other stuff fits too!  The pants were in the wash (i do plan to wear pants) & i forgot to stick the TOMS in the bag.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2011 7:34 am

    Wow you made all that fit in your bag? I always think I pack light, but I always end up bringing stuff I don’t wear. Enjoy your trip and I hope you’ll post some pictures. My friend was just in Copenhagen, and she wore shorts there, but with tights.

    Re: good things about Jakarta – I have a list as well 🙂 I just want to break it down into smaller posts, and i’m also hoping to take more pictures.

    Oh, and I find that southern Europeans are very relaxed when it comes to time, but in northern Europe (like Germany) they are very punctual. I like to arrive 10 minutes early for anything, and I also think i’m late if i’m on time. I think when it comes to business though, an effort should be made to come on time to a meeting. Here, that’s not the case, and it’s widely accepted.

    • July 28, 2011 6:33 am

      Looking forward to hearing more about jakarta! Shorts with tights, hmmm, I suppose that could work.

      I’m not trying to look like a local or anything, I just don’t like feeling like I’m dressed “wrong”

  2. Amanda permalink
    July 27, 2011 9:01 am

    Don’t forget that you’ll need a travel adaptor for the cords/plug ins for the countries you are going too. You won’t be able to just plug in into the wall due to various voltage different designs etc.

    • SP permalink*
      July 27, 2011 9:18 am

      The main electronics we are bringing is our laptop and camera battery charger, both of which have built in voltage converters and say on them they accept some range of voltages (consistent with where we are going). (I should be able to charge my phone & ipod with the USB port on the laptop. No hair drier or curling iron for me!

      I just got the appropriate plug converters Monday – I’ll put them in husband’s luggage!

  3. karen permalink
    July 27, 2011 12:31 pm

    Do you find the cubes make a difference? I haven’t seen anything to indicate that they save space or whatever it is they are supposed to do. But I’ve been tempted. Anyways, very impressed with your packing.
    I don’t know why people knock wearing jeans and/or sneakers. It’s not as if Americans are the only ones who wear them. I was just in the mall in an South American country (my boss wanted to go) and people wore jeasn and tshirts etc.

    My friend from Sweden jokes about Swedes always being punctual, getting to a place early, circling around for 10 minutes to be on time.
    Enjoy your trip!

    • July 28, 2011 6:28 am

      haha! Circling around to be on time – yes, I have done that. the area of the USA I’m from had a good portion of Scandinavian heritage.

      I agree that people wear jeans all the time. I think it used to be true that jeans were an american thing… but that was awhile ago. Serious travelers say they are too heavy and impractical because they are cotton… but I say they are very versatile!

      I’m not sure that the cubes save space. I just have one small cube. The main thing I like it for is because it helps things stay organized. The other things are just stuff sacks that I already had for hiking (for clothes that don’t have to get folded). If you are packing in a backpack, it is nice to keep things from flying all over the pack, especially small things like the shirts. A lot of people swear by them – I haven’t used them enough to know yet.

  4. July 28, 2011 4:25 am

    WOW! It all fits and looks awesome. I am impressed 🙂

    I brought tops and pants for 3 months and it turned out perfectly: 2 pairs of pants, 3 tops, 2 pairs of socks and 2 pairs of shoes (hiking boots & sandals)

    • July 28, 2011 6:32 am

      That is SO impressive! I won’t be carrying my backpack too much, and it is really really easy to slip in an extra few shirts if you aren’t trying to be minimalist! My husband is bringing a full suitcase and laughed at my efforts to use a small pack

      Did you bring a dress or two, or did they not make the final cut?

  5. Zade permalink
    July 28, 2011 6:12 am

    wow thats awesome, your are a minimalist lol! I take that as a challenge for my two week trip coming up in 3 weeks! How do you like using cubes? I’m still debating buying one.

    • July 28, 2011 6:29 am

      I’m not sure that the cubes save space. I just have one small cube. The main thing I like it for is because it helps things stay organized. The other things are just stuff sacks that I already had for hiking (for clothes that don’t have to get folded). If you are packing in a backpack, it is nice to keep things from flying all over the pack, especially small things like the shirts. I probably wouldn’t recommend larger cubes for a backpack, because they are not the right shape. A lot of people swear by them – I haven’t used them enough to know yet!

  6. July 28, 2011 12:18 pm

    I am always satisfied when I can pack minimally. I hate packing and unpacking so why over do it?

  7. August 5, 2011 1:47 pm

    Love that dress that’s front and center… the one with the flowery design near the neckline.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: