Packing light; the bag

I am heading home to the Land of the Long White Cloud in a few weeks, traveling alone this time, and planning to travel lighter than ever before. Usually I travel with hubby and we each check in a bag, although it’s usually a size we could carry on if we wanted to. This time I’m carrying a laptop and a flatbed scanner which necessitate a certain type of carry on bag, but I’m determined to carry very few clothes.

Why be minimal this time? What’s different?

When I realized that I would be traveling alone, I joked with hubby that I could finally do proper minimalist trip packing since he wouldn’t be bugging me with his “be prepared” tendencies. I also won’t be in a lot of pictures so who cares if I’m wearing the same 3 things for 10 days? I assume my family doesn’t care what I wear. Especially since I only make it home every second year. It’s summer down there, so I can bring lightweight things, I will have access to laundry facilities, and hubby will be taking me to and from the airport in the car so I won’t need my usual hat, coat and gloves for the freezing midnight walk home from the shuttle stop. NZ is very beach casual and there’s no one there I need to impress anyway! So it’s a perfect trip to try taking very little.

Of course I don’t ever need all that many things. Last time I went home was documented here (clothing) and here (carry on items). I took several dresses and a few tops and shorts. I didn’t pack excessively, except perhaps overpacking shoes. My check in bag weighed between 18-23 pounds, which is within Hawaiian Airlines’ carry on limits (although not within Air NZ’s).

And I’m always finding inspiration for traveling well with less. Miss Xandra Bee’s post here about what she packed for her 6 night Seattle/San Francisco trip caught my attention. Her list was very clothing-minimal, but her clothing is so distinctive and her. No zip off travel pants here. She does not dress like a tourist. She wears her favorite clothes regardless of where she is. Even though I don’t dress like her, I found that very inspiring. I have also been looking at Travel Fashion Girl’s packing lists and although the minimalist list (6 clothing pieces) looks like way too little, it got me thinking about what might be possible. The essentials list (10 clothing pieces) seems quite reasonable. I will probably decide on something between these 2 levels.

Why are you bringing a laptop & scanner? That’s not minimal!

I’m bringing my laptop and scanner so that I can digitize and color correct my old family photos, a project I hope to be able to share with you all. I plan on spending a significant part of my time on this project while hanging out with my family.

I got a new bag to carry them. It was a bit of an extravagance, Vera Bradley, although I did get it on sale, about 40% off. The price has gone up again but you can buy it here. The “mocha rouge” color is “retired” but I like it a lot better than 90% of VB’s designs.


the light is drab here today! but my bag is cheerful!

Wait, another bag?!

Yep. Another one. It is a TSA “checkpoint friendly” fold-flat design, which means that you don’t have to take your laptop out at security. You just unzip one section of the bag and run the whole thing flat through the scanner. Everything is still securely enclosed. It’s a really great, hard to find, feature. As long as you don’t put anything else in the laptop section they can get a clean scan and you’re good. Not having to take the laptop out means no risk of forgetting the laptop or getting it stolen, and that means one less thing to worry about. There’s already enough to juggle, between toiletries-out and jackets-and-shoes-off and getting radiated or patted down!


checkpoint friendly: open & ready to be scanned at security

The flatbed scanner fits perfectly in the other side of the bag and leaves plenty of space for some clothing and personal items. I’m going to have to be fairly careful about what I bring. I don’t know if Hawaiian is in the habit of weighing carry on bags on trans-Pacific flights like Air NZ does. We have been burned before when Air NZ weighed our bags on the NZ-US leg and made us repack even though we were only slightly over their 7kg/15lb limit. But Hawaiian has a higher weight limit (25lb) according to their ticketing website. Fingers crossed, because the laptop, scanner and empty bag weigh 9lb without adding in any power cords or clothing. I’m not sure I’m even going to be able to bring my luggage scale! Even though I doubt that my bag will be weighed (because it doesn’t look big or heavy) I’m going to try to keep it underweight, for peace of mind and just to avoid feeling weighed down.

Don’t you already have a VB bag with that laptop feature?


my Disneyland luggage

I did buy a matching bag from VB last year. I used it when we went to Disneyland (pictured left), and on our last trip to Hawaii, trips I neglected to share with you here. It’s a wheeled bag, which is great, but that structure adds weight. Since I am worried that I’m not going to meet the weight limits on this trip I thought a smaller shoulder bag would work better. It will protect the scanner better. Plus it’s not the kind of bag that looks big, that an airline will force you to check in if things are getting full. It slips easily under the seat. It’s much more of a computer bag than luggage and I can truly say it holds electronics that can’t be checked in.

And anyway, I wanted it…! I’ve had this bag on my Pinterest wishlist for more than a year.

So you’re just bringing that one bag?

I recently found a great lightweight purse that will be perfect for my day-to-day needs while I’m away. (Yes, another bag! I have a problem! I have a post I’m working on about that.) I haven’t completed my test-packing yet but I’m hoping to take my new purse as my personal item, if I can fit enough in my main bag. I might have to do what other people do and “maximize my personal item” – in other words, bring a giant purse. I don’t want to. You all know how I feel about overdoing the bags! (well, you do if you read this bag theory post.) I want to carry as few bags as possible and I want them to be as small as possible. But we will see.

I will lay out my proposed travel wardrobe and photograph some outfits for you. I’m hoping that will help me make some final decisions about what to bring. And we will see what I can fit in the bag, once the non-clothing items start to add up… all those chargers and cords and things…

Thanks for stopping by today! I really appreciate it.


PS. if you really like carry on packing posts, there’s a very detailed video from Organized Like Jen showing the wheeled bag I have here. I don’t pack the way she does, but this is how I found out about these awesome VB checkpoint friendly bags :)

This entry was posted in less, linkage, photo, stuff, wanderings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Packing light; the bag

  1. Xandra says:

    Jo, I was so flattered to hear such kind words about my post! Thank you for reading, and for sharing your experiences! Looking forward to hearing how your minimal trip goes :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s