Secrets of Packing Light
Gutentag from Berlin! I’m here for The Hive Conference where I’ll be speaking this weekend. I decided to come a few days early to get a lay of the land, and because tickets were cheaper. The catch with the low-cost carriers in Europe, however, is that your baggage allowance is slim to none. Ironically, I “purchased” a carry on for this trip (it’s cheaper to do it in advance than at the airport), but after doing all carry-on for 4 days in Budapest last week, I decided to challenge myself to 7 days in Berlin as carry-on. Both trips I had my computer with me.
The bag is a Timbuk2 messenger bag. Here’s what’s inside. [Note: this picture makes it look better – and lighter – than in reality]
(1) 15″ MacBook Pro (I keep my iPhone connector & camera cord in my padded laptop bag at all times)
(3) various powercords, camera charger & connectors
(2) dresses [that won’t get too wrinkled]
(1) long sleeve shirt that can be dressed up or down
(2) tank-tops that can be layered under sweater
(7) pairs underwear
(2) pairs of hose
(1) PJ top & bottom
(1) swimsuit, cap, goggles
(1) compact quick-dry towel (great find at sports stores)
(1) make-up bag (with small jewelry sack)
(1) toiletries bag (shampoo, conditioner, body wash in small MUJI bottles)
(1) pair of flats [I love my black Tom’s for travel]
(1) pair of no frills slippers
(1) book (1″)
(1) sketchbook/journal (1″)
(1) Canon G10 camera
(1) purse that can be dressed up/down
(2) tote-style bags (one is neon orange, the other is gold – have fun!)
[wearing] jeans, long sleeve shirt, sweater, jacket with pockets, strappy heels that can be dressed up/down
- Color coordinate your clothes so everything matches. This is a tip I learned from my friend Margaret (see her Boarding Pass for a peek!). She’s working on a guest post. But for reference, for Berlin my color scheme is peach/neon orange, grey, gold, and with an army green jacket. In Budapest my colors were black, creme and gold. As an aside, I only travel with pockets; in fact, I’ll only buy a jacket if it has good pockets, at least for my phone.
- You need far less than you think you need, and you can always wash things by hand if need be. (Or buy something). However, as I learned in Budapest, it’s always a good idea to bring a sweater of sorts, even if it’s just for the airplane. Clothes you can layer are always a good idea. Get creative with your wardrobe!
- I’m not going to lie, the bag does get heavy, especially with the computer. For flying these low-cost airlines the trick is everything has to fit in ONE bag (they do provide size dimensions, which aren’t particularly big). Typically I’d carry my purse or computer separately, but at least to go through security and onto the plane, it needs to all fit. Getting my purse crammed in is not the most beautiful feat. However, once on the plane, I take my computer out and put it and my notebook and anything else I need in a separate tote to put under the seat in front of me, and the main bag goes overhead. In a way I compartmentalize my bag so I can easily separate it; this also helps when going through security. When I leave the plane, I exit with 2 bags, which helps distribute the weight and keeps people from punching me, because I’m sure they’d much rather get off the plane than wait for me to re-stuff a bag.
- The reality is that with my travels typically I’m on the move a lot, or navigating stairs and escalators in the metro, so I don’t want something that is going to over-power me. I like doing carry-on because it gets me in and out of the airport that much faster. (I love my airport time, but not spent waiting in lines). Furthermore, when I get back to Paris I always have to keep in mind I have a 6 floor walk-up to look forward to, so I find that to be a very motivating force to keep it light.
RECAP: Only 2 pairs of shoes total (wear one). All clothes fit within a 4-color scheme so everything matches. Each trip gets its own color palette.
Don’t miss my guide to packing for Paris for more helpful travel tips!
Image: Me in Paris Orly airport yesterday waiting in line to board my flight – on Instagram.