Thursday, September 22, 2011

Minimalism: What's in my suitcase?

While I've been in Canada, I've been hanging with my family. On the weekends, the kiddies and I go to grandma's house. My sister or brother-in-law pack a bag for the kids. All weekend long, my mom and I have a constant refrain:
"Where is the bunny/diaper/cream/blankie/toy/kitchen sink?"
"Look in the bag."
The bag is the nucleus of the weekend. It's the apex. The center of our weekend universe. The entire contents of their weekend life can be found (hopefully) in that bag.

As a minimalist in the making, I've managed to get the entire contents of my life to into one suitcase, too. It includes:
  • One pair of jeans
  • Yoga pants
  • Tights
  • A small pile of t-shirts
  • Three thin sweaters
  • One thick sweater
  • Five dresses
  • Flipflops
  • Flats
  • Running shoes
  • Dr. Scholl's insoles (GET THESE... walking on clouds)
  • High heels I never wear
  • Undies
  • Bikini
  • Makeup bag 
  • Corkscrew... There is nothing worse than arriving at a destination after a long day and wanting to settle down with a glass of wine just to realize you can't.
The rest fits into my bookbag:
  • MacBook Pro
  • Kindle
  • iPhone
  • Camera
  • Cords for all four for constant recharging
  • Wallet
  • Two Burt's Bees lip balm
  • Hankie... I went old school and can't go back to scrounging for little packs of tissues anymore
  • Sunglasses
  • Pens
  • Journal
  • Vitamins... A Canadian brand whose fantastic tag line is: A special formulation for a special population.
  • Allergy pills
  • Gravol... Canada's secret sleeping pill
  • Noise canceling headphones
  • Itinerary
And then I wear one travel outfit that includes:
  • Boots
  • Jacket
  • Dress
  • Cardigan
  • Scarf
  • Necklace
My niece who is a toddler saw me packing my bags today and decided to pack her Dora the Explorer knapsack. She included:
  • Bunny
  • Barbie clothes without Barbie
  • Sippy cup filled with milk
  • One pair of her sister's undies
  • Bowl
A minimalist in the making. I'm so proud. Though I wish I would have noticed the full sippy cup earlier.

I'm so delighted to live out of my one suitcase that even when I decide to stay in one place, I'm going to make sure I keep the contents of my life minimal. I never have to scrounge to find anything. I love everything in my suitcase. And it keeps me from buying clothes just because they are on sale or am feeling bored, sad or off in some way. Now, if I want to buy a sweater, it has to replace the sweater I already have, which means it has to be better than the sweater I already own. And if it's not, I don't buy it.

I also don't have big decisions to make when deciding what to wear. The entire contents of my wardrobe are memorized in my head, which is easy because there isn't much to remember. I also have found a great pleasure in wearing my clothes to the point of wearing them out. Then I take great pleasure in replacing them. The hunt for the best has made shopping fun.

Before my minimalist life, I found shopping overwhelming. I found dressing rooms torture chambers. I found the cost of clothes always too much. But now, if I'm in a dressing room and the dress doesn't exactly work, I don't hesitate. I put it back and walk away. See, I've got a suitcase of dresses that fits me perfectly and a new dress has to fit me as good or better than the dress I'll be replacing it with. If it doesn't, I don't buy into these illusions anymore:
  • It will look better in my own mirror at home
  • It will fit better after I wear it a few times 
  • It's such a great deal that I should just get it
Insanity. Minimalism is kinder to my wallet and my body image. I only buy what makes me look fabulous.

Packing my suitcase isn't stressful either. I grab my small pile up my clothes and toss them in the suitcase. It doesn't take military precision packing to close it either because my suitcase must be under the 21 Kg weight restrictions for EasyJet, the most stringent of all cheapy European airlines. I always see people sweating in line at the ticket counter, wondering how much their bags weigh, concerned that they'll be dinged with an overage charge. Meanwhile, I'm singing pop tunes in my head all the way to the conveyor belt, weighing in at an easy-to-carry 19.4 Kg.

When traveling alone, one must be able to carry one's own luggage.

Minimalism is kinder to the planet, too. All that consuming is raking our resources into uninhabitable landfills.

Living out of one suitcase was the best move I ever made.

Now I've got to zip it closed. I've got a flight to catch.


  1. Jan what a delightfull blog it made me smile it just goes to show how how little you need to survive and still look fabulous like you always do .I am so proud of you as the old saying goes "it is all in the upbringing"

  2. I am a wanna-be minimalist. I want to live out of a suitcase and travel! I am jealous. In fact, I am going to start purging now, so when I can be like you (when the last kid hits the road), I wont have so much to get rid of.

  3. The sippy cup's a good idea- then you could ditch the corkscrew. We've been throwing things out like crazy for the past year, but it doesn't seem to make a dent. I hate that yucky feeling of having waaaaay to much stuff tucked away in different places. Happy flying!

  4. Love it! I seriously just heard your voice in my head a few days ago saying, "Live beneath your means." I definitely think about downsizing after I have to fold a boatload of's a pain. You're an inspiration. :)

  5. Dressing room = torture chamber « my thoughts EXACTLY!!! While I don't live out of a suitcase, *yet*, I'm still a proud minimalist!!! I do not buy anything unless its replacing something. Its a GREAT way to live for sure!!
    You are an inspiration to many (and that includes your little niece). She's lucky to learn first hand that "its all in the upbringing".
    Can't wait to read what's up your sleeve next!!!!!!!! Safe travels, travel writer and friend.

  6. Excellent!
    Thanks for sharing, Janice! I enjoyed the visit.

  7. Are you heading this way soon? Can't wait to see you!

  8. Brava Janis! You are a heroine.
    I review everything I didn't wear at the end of every trip and swear I won't pack as much the next time. Somehow it always repeats.

  9. OK, I'm hooked! I keep re-reading this and translating your stuff into man stuff. I think I can do it.

    I've spent years reducing the typical bulging mans wallet. I'm down to a small size wallet (3.5"X4"), 2 credit cards, 1 insurance card, license, and cash.

    Now on to the suitcase... I know I can do it!


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