2018-packingpurse10

Packing for an Overnight in my Tom Bihn Co-Pilot

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.

2018-packingpurse10

Packing for China: Clothes

We leave for China tomorrow, which means that today I get to play with one of my favorite things: packing cubes! I have to admit, I’m slightly obsessed with how such a simple tool can make such a big difference in keeping my luggage compact and organized. For this trip, we managed to pack clothes for three weeks in three cities in one packing cube each.

Of course, before we pack our clothes, we first have to decide which clothes to pack. I try to think about these three factors when making my selections:

  1. what kind of activities we’ll be doing — in this case, we’ll be visiting family, attending a party, touring big cities, and hiking up mountains.
  2. what the weather forecast looks like — for our springtime trip to Chengdu, Xi’an, and Beijing, we expect temperatures ranging from the mid-40s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit.
  3. when we’ll be able to do laundry — my aunt and uncle in Chengdu have a washer, as does our AirBnB in Xi’an, but laundry might be less convenient at our hotel in Beijing.

Once we make sure we’ve chosen clothes that match our activities, weather, and laundry situation, it’s time to start packing. On this trip, we’ll each be using a Clean Dirty Cube from Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Specter line. They’re double-sided, lightweight, and one side is water-resistant, and they’re my favorite packing cube. I own the smaller half-cube version too, which is great for summer travel, but for this trip, we’ll be using the larger full-size cubes.

My Clothes

Packing Cube, Side 1

  • 1 sports bra
  • 2 tank tops
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 skirt
  • 3 pairs of pants
Packing Cube, Side 2

  • 3 bras
  • 1 cardigan
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 3 pairs of socks
Extras

On the plane I’ll be wearing:

  • 1 bra
  • 1 tank top
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 down jacket
  • 1 pair of underwear
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 pair of sneakers

Outside of the packing cube, I’ll also have:

  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 Buff (a tube of fabric that can be worn as a hat, scarf, bandana, and more)
  • 1 peshtemal (a Turkish towel that can be used as a scarf, towel, or small blanket)

His Clothes

Packing Cube, Side 1

  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 dress shirt
  • 4 pairs of socks
Packing Cube, Side 2

  • 4 pairs of underwear
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 3 pairs of pants
Extras

On the plane he’ll be wearing:

  • 1 t-shirt
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 down jacket
  • 1 pair of underwear
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 pair of shoes

Outside of the packing cube, he’ll also have:

  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 Buff
  • 1 peshtemal

And that’s it!

Here they are, all zipped up and ready to go into our backpacks.