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Minimalism

by VM Brasseur on January 30th, 2007

On Sunday I fly out for a week of fun and frivolity as the Albertellis and I finish packing up all of their stuff, make sure it gets onto a truck, then hop into two cars with two dogs, two cats and a tortoise and drive across country to their new home in Palo Alto.

Ever since that terrible trip to Japan where I over-packed, over-bought and under-thought, I’ve made sure to keep my stuff-lugging to a minimum. My typical packing modus operandi is to pack a small-ish bag of clothes, a bag of hardware (laptop, etc.) and then use the bag which passes as my purse for anything else I might feel like taking. The sum total of luggage is low enough to allow me to avoid having to check anything so I can get in and out of the airport as quickly as possible while avoiding the hell of getting my stuff sent to Kuala Lumpur or some other exotic and unexpected locale. While packing the answer to any “Should I take…” question is a very definitive “NO.” The only “just in case” things I pack are spare batteries and spare contact lenses. Everything else is either a necessity or it’s staying at home.

For this upcoming trip I think I’m going to try to pare things down even more. Instead of separate bags for clothes and hardware I’m just going to take a single bag plus my bag/purse. No, the single bag isn’t larger. If anything it’s smaller than even one of the other two bags I’ve been accustomed to use.

This is an idea which came to me the last time I was backpacking. Big bag, lots of stuff in it. Even with the filtering of the “Should I take…” question though I still ended up toting about a number of objects and items of clothing which did not see the light of day the entire week we were in the woods. Let me tell you, that sucks. You do not want to carry more than you need to when you’re trekking up and down mountains, so why should you subject yourself to it while running across the airport?

I just don’t feel like lugging around a ton of stuff, ya know? And the cars are already going to be overflowing with stuff, so I’d rather not contribute to that. What to ditch? The laptop and related gear can’t be spared as I need it to get work done while on the road. The music? I’d sooner stay at home than travel without it. The clothes? Well, that’s a different matter…

I’m not planning on being anywhere fancy, so I don’t need nice clothes which need to be treated kindly. I’m not even really planning (much) on seeing anyone aside from Guy and Megan. They don’t care what I look like or if I wear the same pair of jeans for a bunch of days in a row. If it gets to the point where I feel like I’ll simply die without a change of clothes or shoes I’ll just go buy some. But only if I need them.

Now, before you start going all, “Ewww!” on me, please keep in mind that I have no qualms about taking all the underwear and socks I’ll need for each day of the trip. All I’m going to take aside from that, however, will be the clothes I’m wearing when I leave and a spare set in my bag. And a jacket of some sort. It’s cold out there.

That’s the general plan. We’ll see how well it works in execution. Pretty well, I suspect.

From → Main, Simplification

7 Comments
  1. JoiseyGirl permalink

    I’m not saying “eww” – but then again, I’ve spent multiple days in the woods with you without changing clothes or bathing, so who am I to talk?

    As far as taking the “just in case” stuff – I hear you on the minimalism, but I sure appreciated that adhesive tape you lugged along on the last backpacking trip. It was awfully handy when I needed to tape my toenails back on. (all together now – EWWWW!)

    Have a good trip!

  2. If I were you, I’d take more than a jacket – have you seen the negative digits being enjoyed by large parts of the midwest lately?!
    Good luck and safe travels to you and the Albertellis!

  3. My jacket is actually the liner to my Columbia gortex. It’s this thick warm thing which I’ve taken to Michigan a number of times now. It’s never let me down and I’ve never been overly cold. So it’ll be OK. I think. I’ll find out, anyway. And like I said, if something really does get to the “neeeeeeeed this!” stage and I don’t have it I’ll just buy one. But I’m really gonna have to need it. Stopping to buy clothes slows down the high-speed/low-drag drive back across country and I don’t want to do that.

  4. JoiseyGirl permalink

    need is very different than neeeeed

    for example – I need groceries and gas, but I neeeeeed cute shoes.

    Never let need get in the way of neeeed.

  5. It’s cold here, but I have plenty of sweaters if you decide you need one. Washing machine and drier are also still functional here in case of emergency ewww.

  6. Ah, so there’s need and then there’s neeeeeeeeeed need. It’s so much clearer now.

    Hey, that’s right! I can borrow stuff if I get completely totally frozen. Brilliant! If nothing else I could always look like a big dork and walk around wrapped in an afghan. I’m sure they’d love that at Zingerman’s.

  7. suomynona permalink

    We do have this nice red afghan…

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