I don’t travel a lot. I’m a bit of a homebody and day trips are more my speed anyway. So, when I do travel, it’s almost always for work.
In fact, I’m actually at a week-long conference for work this week. Which means, I’ve dusted off my ancient carry-on and written a packing list so I don’t forget anything important.
Want to see what the inside of a minimalist’s carry-on looks like? Let’s do this!
Since I kicked my shopping habit a couple of years ago, my day-to-day wardrobe is fairly small. That makes packing for work even easier because I really only have a handful of items to choose from.
I’m very much a “details” person. So, before I pulled out my work clothes, I make an itinerary of activities for every day I will be away. For this week, that looked like this:
I’m even more specific when I make my list (aka I account for as many hours in a day as I can). But, this gives you the general idea.
With the itinerary complete, I go through and make an ‘outfit’ for every day of the trip. This includes clothes, shoes, jewlery, and accessories. If I have multiple activities that require multiple outfits, that gets noted as well. As an example, this is what yesterday’s (aka flight day) outfit(s) looked like.
This might seem repetitive, but this way I know exactly what I need and which days I need it. It also helps me visualize what the outfit will look like so I can decide if it will pass professional muster.
I’ll be honest. I have a bit of a complex when it comes to business clothes. This is because I look younger than I really am (I was once mistaken for a high school student the year I started my Master’s Degree). Therefore, people have been known to not take me seriously (what happened to don’t judge a book by its cover?). To help combat this problem, I steer clear of certain kinds of clothes that accentuate my ‘youthiness’. Aka, no ruffles, pleats, bows, peplums, bright patterns or colors. These are not inherently ‘young’ attributes of clothing. I’ve just noticed they make me look younger than I would like.
That was a terribly long-winded way of saying that my business clothes tend to be staple colors in classic designs, save for a few prints. This is the rundown of what I packed, clothes-wise, for this trip.
- 1 pair of dark denim jeans
- 2 pairs of dress pants (one black, one blue)
- 1 pair of yoga leggings
- 1 camisole (white)
- 1 t-shirt (white)
- 4 blouses (white, green, blue elephant print, and floral print)
- 1 cardigan (black)
- 1 blazer (black)
- 3 pairs of shoes (heels, oxfords, flats)
- 1 short chain necklace
- 1 long chain necklace
- 1 pair of dress socks
Does this seem like a lot for a four and a half day trip? I honestly can’t tell. If this was a normal ‘work from home week’, I would have no problem wearing the same leggings and t-shirt ALL WEEK (gross, I know).
But, at an event like this, I sweat. A lot. Partly, I’m sure it’s genetics. I’m half Scottish, half German and 100% Canadian. We’re not known for our dainty sweat glands.
The other reasons I need multiple tops and bottoms is because social situations give me the heebee-jeebees. Aka, I stress sweat, like a bawse (I’ve been binge watching Lilly Singh on YouTube – can you tell?). Since each day will have an education component as well as a networking component, I’m erring on the non-minimalist side of caution. That being said, my current outfits per day list has me wearing each item at least once, if not twice (or more).
The Red Herring
I actually packed a couple of items that I’m not 100% sure I’ll wear.
Wait, what? Doesn’t that go against the minimalist ethos? Yes, it probably does. But, I’m using this week as a test. If I don’t wear the Red Herring items I packed, I will donate or sell them at the end of the week. Think of it like a clothing boot camp. Maybe they’ll make the cut and maybe they won’t. But, I don’t know until I’m on my flight home on Thursday night.
Yes, it probably does. But, I’m using this week as a test. If I don’t wear the Red Herring items I packed, I will donate or sell them at the end of the week. Think of it like a clothing boot camp. Maybe they’ll make the cut and maybe they won’t. But, I won’t know until I’m on my flight home on Thursday night.
The Other Packables
Obviously, clothes are not the only ‘things’ I pack in my carry-on. I’m also bringing:
- Makeup Bag (moisturizer, shower products, foundation, concealer, lip balm, eyeshadow, mascara)
- Hair Tools (brush, straightener)
- Briefcase (computer, headphones, phone, water bottle, other work-related items)
- This isn’t going in my carry-on, but, it still counts!
The Packing Process
I’ve written before about KonMari and while I’m not 100% on board with everything she says, I do prefer using her method for packing. The results, I think, speak for themselves.
I really enjoy this method of packing because it makes it easy to see everything all at once. And the tight packing makes me feel accomplished somehow. Like, I didn’t just throw everything in my suitcase and hope for the best.
In the process of packing up our apartment in August, I also came across a perfectly new set of packing cubes. Now, I’m cube crazy! I don’t know how I ever packed a suitcase without them. Well, I do know how I packed without them. Aka, not very well.
Here’s another quirk of mine. I’ll pack, unpack and repack my suitcase at least five times before I leave. Three cheers for pre-travel stress!
So, this is what my minimalist carry-on looks like. It’s not perfect, and I’m sure I could manage with bringing less stuff. But, whatever I don’t use will serve as a lesson for my next trip!