My 7 minimalist rules for happy travels

#10/11 in my "Joy of Less" journey of simplification: Updated after May 2017 trip

Once we’ve covered our basic needs, our happiness has very little to do with amount of stuff we own. Beyond this point, the marginal utility (satisfaction) derived from consuming additional goods diminishes rapidly, at what economist call the “saturation point,” it actually turns negative…That’s why “more” often fails to satisfy us – and in some cases, can even make us less happy.

– Francine Jay:  The Joy of Less, Chapter 9. The joy of enough, p. 55

STREAMLINE: My personal M is “Minimal Multi-purpose” and Limits

In the next week, in pursuit of balance we are taking our bi-annual family vacation to Yosemite  (for relaxation and adventure) and Disneyland for a bit of a fantasy and seeing family. Before we enjoy, share pictures and blog about our adventures, we have to pack.

Question: What is the ultimate test of minimalism?

My personal answer: Any trip when you need to plan for the sleeping on a plane, look good at the beach, river, gym/run, hiking in the snow, looking professional and wearing an evening outfit that doesn’t embarrass your 25-year old at her birthday party –  you gotta pack smart with clear limits and a multi-purpose minimalist mindset.

Benefits? Traveling light is much easier: lighter to haul, takes up less room, has fewer fees, choices, thus faster in/out, more confidence, more fun and and adventure ==> Happier Vacations!

My rules for taking “Joy of Less” concepts on our vacation

Category 1. The Essentials

Rule #1. Light, small and just enough that you really can’t live without. Bring only the lightest key items you can’t pick up on the way.

Personal Essentials: 

#1. All the people and credit cards I am traveling with will come back maximally relaxed and minimally damaged.

#2. Essentials I must have the entire trip: my tri-focal glasses, two credit cards, medicines, my ID, phone and computer (if I take them+ cords). Key attire: 2 pants, key outfits and matching warm/waterproof jackets in my size (typically XS), 1 bathing suit: Shoes: Running/hiking, dress and waterproof croc sandals.

Rule #2. Be prepared with finances & travel documents.

Personal: In addition to the 2 credit cards,  I also bring 1 check, $400 cash (distributed among others if possible),  AAA and AARP cards if you have them, medical cards,  duplicate of ID: passport if needed.

Rules #3. Travel with only carry-ons whenever possible.

  • Whenever possible I wear my heaviest clothes/shoes for travel. My carry-on includes and extra change of clothes, digital items, 1/2 of the $$, one magazine and one throw-away romance (before bed reading.
  • I pack all heavy items in the smallest rolling suitcase I can take and carry the lighter items and my coat.
  • I try to follow the airline size guidelines reLliquids, scissors/knives: bring food and water on the plane even if I have to buy it at the airport.

Rule #4. Plan worst-case scenario when backpacking in Yosemite/Skiing/Adventuring:

Personal: In my backpack I must carry extra light weight rain gear, flashlight, first aid/survival gear, backpack, small blanket, small towel, water, key bug/sun stuff and full set of extra clothes back at the tent in case I come home soaking wet and cold.

 See picture: The majority of essentials, including the key pieces I expect to come home with are in Tier #1 of my picture. This includes my fabulous suitcase, hiking books, and everything in my key bag/purse and a few hard-to-find piece of clothing in my size.

Tier 2. Everything else must be coordinated, multi-purpose & discardable.

Note that some of these items are key planned items, but I don’t consider them essential, because I expect I could buy them on the way. In the picture of what I’ve brought this includes everything in the 2nd and 3rd tier of the picture, but not my useful London Fog jacket or all-purpose travel bag because the are both over 10 years old and replaceable. 

Rule #5. Multi-purpose. Everything else that really takes up space must be necessary (used at least once), ideally multi-purpose, with only practical duplicates like washable workout/underwear.

Rule #6. Coordinate.

Except for sleep and workout wear look everything I wear must not embarrass my daughters or husband.

Rule #7. Apply the “In one: Out one” ; If you plan to buy than plan discardables while packing.

If you plan to shop for items  – then plan to drop some items.

This is Jay’s I in her STREAMLINE technique. Most of what I discard is matching but old shirts, workout, underclothes, socks. Note that while I was traveling for 6 weeks in Europe I did mail a large box of cold-weather stuff and gifts home.

Personal. This trip I’m sticking with my classic purple and browns, with one jeans skirt and a fun pair of boots that matches my purse.

  • Multi-purpose: Sassy warm boots; hiking boots/running shoes, nice closed flat shoes, and my “wear all day” water-proof croc sandals/bathing shoes/beach slippers.
  • Multi-purpose clothes: one cuddly jacket/pillow/blanket: 1 shawl/blankee; 1 yoga pant/sleep pant; 3 jog bras/bathing suit top; lycra shorts of various sizes/underwear; two vests/layer pieces; 5 shirts: 1 dressy long sleeve, 1 color flannel shirt, 1 sweater/cover up that matches dresses, 2 short-sleeve, bathing suits and tights; one lightweight dress that looks really good and can be dressed up/down; 3 additional light weight socks/underwear, and 2 hankies (one white/one dressing pink handkerchief); disposable extra shirts, underwear and jeggings.
  • Additional multi-purpose items: very light weight towels/blankets, 1 small, flat, insulated lunch bag (to carry cold food), 8 plastic bags of various sizes, 1 small thermos (hot or cold fluids), flash light, matches, and a candle.

Stay tuned for pics of the trip; notes on this plan and what I actually buy/discard.

Post-Travel notes

Because it was forecast to snow (and did at Glacier Point) I bought an extra suitcase with stuff for my daughter and husband. In this suitcase we actually used an extra jacket/vest/boots/socks for her and at least the extra boots for him. Most important lessons learned was that I should have just upgraded to larger suitcase with wheels!

Didn’t take: Most of the extras – should have take the orange jog bra!

Didn’t need: extra pairs of socks, 1  blouse, towel (but I would still bring it), shawl, paper, learning materials, candles, jegging, most of my first aid supplies, dress &  extra cover up (but I did look and feel good at pool party), shawl.

Had to buy in Yosemite: great new lightweight rain jacket (to replace my old one) and a small wool cap for my head (these two are now in the Essentials when it’s cold category). Bought at outlet: 1 Lucky shirt and 1` jog bra (1 outfit for daugher) in LA: Better slippers (so my daughter would have a pair at Disneyland). Also indulged in a great nail make-over after 5 of my nails were split/ripped/bleeding after the dryness at Yosemite.

Most valuable: Single page summary of my trip that I also took a picture of so it was on my phone: Small suitcase with wheels small wallet/ID, phone  for Google Maps and pics (+charging), 2 credit cards (i lost one!), 2 pair glasses, jean skirt, jean pants, vest, all 4 shoes, medicines and nasal rinse, little metal water bottle, loose jeans (wore 3 days), jean skirt (worn 4 days), 5 lycra workout shorts in 3 different lengths shirts, two foldable bags (one was a backpack), lotion, sunscreen and lip balm, discardable stinky workout shirts, small packs of trail mix: Only needed small bills, <200 cash.

Discarded along the way: 2 stinky workout shirts, 1 old/junk pair of wool socks, 30 year old boots (broken), broken slippers, 3 books: upgraded to better toiletries at Disneyland. Should have discarded the extra suitcase and extra old warm stuff we brought back!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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