This weekend, I set off for a quick overnight jaunt, and I’m pretty proud of my packing job: usually I think I’m traveling light if I manage to fit everything I need in a backpack, but this time, the only thing I brought was my Tom Bihn Co-Pilot. Measuring 12″x10″x5″ and holding 10 liters in volume, this bag has been my primary everyday purse for over a year now.
My dad and I were flying Spirit, which restricts you to a single personal item if you don’t want to pay baggage fees, and we were heading straight from the airport to my sister’s performance of Beauty and Bach with Avant Chamber Ballet, so packing light was a priority. My Co-Pilot turned out to be the perfect fit for my first-ever one-night plane trip, and this ended up being the lightest I’ve ever packed for any travel anywhere.
The main trick? In the decade and a half that I’ve owned laptops, I’ve never before traveled without my computer. This time, though, there truly was no point. We went straight from the airport to the show to a late dinner. By the time we finally checked into our hotel, it was past midnight, and I only managed to catch a few hours of sleep before we boarded our shuttle back to the airport for our early morning flight home. As I predicted, my phone and Kindle were ample to keep me entertained and connected.
Computer aside, I was also careful to eliminate other things I typically bring when I travel. Among the things I cut from my usual packing list: a change of clothes (apart from extra underwear); flip flops to wear in the hotel (although they would have fit); soap, shampoo, conditioner; cotton pads and facial toner; makeup; my travel pillow; an eye mask; ear plugs; and a more comprehensive first aid kit.
Here’s everything I did bring and how I packed it all:
In the first side pocket, I had my toiletry bag and a Clif Bar. The toiletry bag contained my toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, face wash, moisturizers with and without SPF, deodorant, hand sanitizer, lavender and peppermint essential oil rollers, nail clippers, and a tiny baggie with two cotton swabs in it.
The front center pocket held a small reusable water bottle. I packed it empty and filled it in the airport once we passed the security checkpoint.
In the second side pocket, I packed a pouch containing the aforementioned extra underwear and an emergency menstrual pad, a spare battery to recharge my electronics, my Tangle Teezer, my ChicoBag Vita (which I used once we landed in Texas to carry the winter jackets we needed in New York), and my electronics bag. The electronics bag held a 2-port USB wall charger, a Micro-USB cable for my Kindle and spare battery, a Lightning cable for my phone, the pair of earbud headphones that came with my phone, and a small lens cleaning cloth.
In the main pocket of the Co-Pilot, I carried my phone, my Kindle, my passport, my boarding passes, a pouch for my glasses, and my Tom Bihn Sidekick. The Sidekick contained tissues, assorted wipes (stain removal, antibacterial, insect repellent, lens cleaning, oil absorbing), a couple of pens, my mini first aid kit (a container of assorted pills and a baggie of assorted bandages), a coin purse, my Filofax (which doubles as a wallet and a planner), my keys, my standard safety kit (a mini flashlight, a whistle, and a compass), and extra hair ties.
And that’s it! It felt almost criminally indulgent to walk through airports carrying so little weight: I kept thinking that I was forgetting something. But I had everything I needed for my overnight trip, and it all fit in my purse with room to spare. I could get used to traveling this minimally.