minimalist packing

laptop bag packed for trip

I’m taking a week-long trip to Toronto and Montreal soon, and my mind has been consumed with the idea of trying to fit all of my things for the trip into one small laptop bag. This has been partly inspired by the fact that my train ticket won’t allow me to check my luggage (so everything will have to be carry-on); and partly by my ongoing fascination with simplifying my wardrobe. Plus, I hate over-packing for trips. I hate big, heavy luggage. I hate lugging around a bunch of stuff that I’ll never even use.

So, Saturday I suddenly decided to do a trial packing, to see if I could achieve my goal of one-bag traveling. (This will also serve as a packing list for when I actually get around to the real trip.)

Above is my laptop bag – it’s pretty simple, very small (considering), and can only be worn over the shoulder (i.e. it doesn’t have a pull-out handle). In other words, it needs to be light and not too over-stuffed. I also hate rummaging around for things when I carry only one bag, so it needs to be packed so that things I need access to while traveling are right on top, while other things that I’ll only need at my destinations need to be tucked into out-of-the-way corners. The easiest way for me to do this is use zip-loc baggies. Large freezer ones are my favorites.

minimalist packing for week-long trip

Here’s everything that was stuffed into the bag at the top of this post, plus the clothes that I will wear while traveling on the far left, and below.

clothes to wear on trip

The weather in Toronto and Montreal will (hopefully) be pretty mild. For outerwear I’ve got a sand-coloured trench coat, striped blue rayon scarf (that doubles as a wrap or sarong), lightweight navy gloves just in case it gets chilly, and taupe suede walking shoes with black bamboo anklet socks. I’m taking just one pair of pants – lightweight black dress pants in a loose, stretch blend. I’m also wearing one lightweight merino sweater in dark purple, plus a lightweight navy cotton t-shirt.

(And no, I’m not packing any of the hangers – I just used them to organize the photo shoot.)

packing extra clothes for trip

This is my extra change of clothes, plus extras: a lightweight purple t-shirt, a bikini and flip-flops, very lightweight knit rayon pajama bottoms, a navy tank for a pajama top, two changes of underwear, and two changes of lightweight black socks. I plan on handwashing things every night or morning, depending, but for the travel days I may need the third pair of undies or socks just in case.

packing toiletries and supplies

Finally, here’s everything else that I want to take (that I can think of so far), counter-clockwise from the top right:

  • My laptop, cord, and mouse (missing)
  • Some business cards and stickies
  • A pencil case with pens and office supplies
  • My wallet (I may not take this, depending – it’s pretty heavy and has a lot of stuff in it that I won’t need on the trip)
  • My camera and two extra memory cards (I’m really looking forward to taking some photos in Montreal… and darn it, I just realized I’ll need to take the camera charger as well.)
  • A lightweight purple fold-up tote for shopping or carrying stuff during the day
  • My homemade garment deodorizing spray, which can double as glasses cleaner (it’s made from vodka; I guess it can also double as a nerve tonic)
  • Baking soda, which I use as a deodorant, and can double as a toothpaste
  • A small bottle of Nature Clean lavender dishwashing liquid, which I’ll use to handwash my tops and delicates between wearings
  • A small bottle with various painkillers and anti-emetics that I may need (in case I get a migraine or two)
  • A comb
  • A few hair elastics
  • Concealer (the only make-up I wear, and then only to cover blemishes) (missing: I should probably take some facial moisturizer… let me think about that)
  • Nail clippers
  • Personal lubricant
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream (which can double as a lip balm, although I’ll probably take a lip balm as well – missing: lip balm)
  • A toothbrush in a travel case (I really like brushing my teeth, so I usually don’t take a travel toothbrush – they’re too flimsy and never the right softness that I like, hence the full-size brush here)
  • Earplugs
  • Sunglasses and glasses case
  • iPhone cords (I’ll be taking both my personal and work iPhones, so double the cords – bleah! Why did Apple have to change the charging cord on the iPhone 5?!?)
  • iPhones (missing: my personal iPhone, which was taking these photos)
  • A small journal I just bought this past weekend, to take on the trip for jotting down impressions and quick sketches (mostly of Montreal – I want to do some people-watching).

Some other things I’m thinking of taking:

  • My laptop mouse and camera charger (as mentioned above), plus camera USB cord
  • My facial moisturizer (Neutrogena Moisture for sensitive skin) and a lip balm (my favorite is Burt’s Bees grapefruit)
  • A very compact fold-up umbrella (it’s in my car right now)
  • A can opener (so that I can buy and eat some cans of fish for quick protein while I’m away)
  • Dental floss
  • Some jewelry (which I’ll wear all the time)
  • A bra (also wearing)

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Do you have any killer packing tips? Could you travel for an extended period of time with only one bag?

Bonus photo: What my guys were doing while I was writing this blog post…

cats helping with packing