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My life in a bag

Well, it’s several bags actually. Let’s not be dramatic. But “a bag” just sounds better for a title, yes?


Agreed. Moving on.


I started packing in my mind for my 13-month adventure long before it began. Partly this was because I knew I’d have to research, buy a few things, and hone my packing list through several iterations. But it was also because it made me feel like something was happening. A result of impatience.


I remember looking at lightweight suitcases and backpack duffels over Christmas 2020 as I quarantined with my brother and his family. I also discovered packing cubes and considered the utility of vacuum bags. Hours of websites and discussion.


I would be changing locations several times and I’d have to bring everything with me. I didn’t want each one to be a new nightmare of navigating from this place to that. I wanted to stay as agile as possible.


Everything became about space and weight.


Even my choice of destinations and timing had to do with packing. I didn’t want to pack for winter. Boots, coats, hats, scarves, gloves. Love them all when I live in the mountains…not so much when carrying them through a tube station with no lift.


Still, with all this in mind, my first run-through with my “ideal” packing list was laughable.


Turns out, it’s not so easy for a person who enjoys clothes and shoes and has quite a few of them to whittle it down to the bare essentials but that’s what I needed to do. I had to push myself after that first try to make some tough, tough decisions – did I really need that third pair of jeans or one more pair of boots? Sometimes I went back and forth. Sometimes it kept me up at night.


Of course, I’m being slightly facetious here although also slightly not. For me it’s clothes and shoes, for others, it might be beauty supplies or books or something else. We all have stuff we’re more attached to than we’d probably like to admit. We all have stuff we’d hate to live without.


But in the end, for me, it was still all just stuff. Stuff that no matter how much I thought I might “need” it, was not stuff I wanted to lug around the world for a year.


That changes your perspective.


And, since several people have asked, I’m pleased to report as I wrap up my time in city number one, I did pretty well. I have only a few items with me that I haven’t really worn and don’t really miss any items I didn’t bring. And besides using up and replacing a few things, I have added very little.


Also, because I’ve been asked, if you’re interested, I’ve included my packing list below, which, other than a few odds and ends, is fairly comprehensive.


Final packing list leaving the U.S.

2 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of leggings, 2 pairs of pants, 1 pair of shorts

7 T-shirts, 1 short sleeve top, 2 sleeveless tops, 1 long sleeve top

3 dresses, 1 romper

2 pajama sets, 1 pair of yoga pants, 1 pair of slippers

4 regular bras, 2 strapless bras, 2 sports bras, 18 pairs of underwear

2 jackets, 2 wrap around sweaters, 1 hoodie

3 scarves, 2 pairs of tights, 8 pairs of socks

2 swimsuits, 2 cover-up short sets, 1 hiking outfit (shorts, tank, half-zip)

2 pairs of sandals, 2 pairs of tennis shoes, 2 pairs of boots, 1 pair of flats

Toiletry bag, makeup bag, nail polish, flat iron

Jewelry, 2 watches, 3 pairs of sunglasses, 1 belt

1 mask, 1 umbrella, 2 collapsible water bottles, 1 reusable grocery bag

1 small, zippered pouch, 1 small, folio wallet

Ear plugs, travel pillow, sleep mask

4 notebooks, 1 book, 1 cross-stich kit, 1 Sudoku book, 1 small notepad

iPad, MacBook, chargers, electrical converter set

1 medium/large suitcase, 1 45L duffel, 4 compression cubes, 1 tote/backpack


Items I have added

1 short sleeve top – specifically to go with leggings

3 tank tops – didn’t bring enough casual summer clothes

1 pair of yoga shorts – because well, yoga in the summer

1 pair of jogger pants – because as it turns out, 1 pair of comfy pants is not enough

1 collapsible desk fan – which saved my life during England’s hottest day on record

1 crossbody sling bag – for around town and to flout the plane's two personal item rule just a little



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