Simple Living

Adventures in Minimalism: Packing


It’s a few days before the packers come to box up our life.  I’m roaming the house trying to figure out exactly what I’ll need without packing beyond our needs.  I’m overwhelmed.  I realistically have no real idea how long we’ll be living out of suitcases.  A few weeks, a month, more than a month?  How long does it take to secure a job, anyway?  But not just a job but a job, an apartment, a second car, our stuff out of storage from over 1,000 miles away all while perhaps starting the new job.  So, suffice to say, packing was a conundrum.

After much thought and multiple full packing experiments I was pretty impressed with my ability to get us down to just our needs.  My only “just in case” packing were outfits for a possible memorial service.  The date wasn’t locked down and I knew that if we happened to be around for that event, I didn’t have the money to buy full outfits for three people.  Otherwise, I tried hard to let go of any “just in case” packing that would take up space.

The just-in-case rule is also called the 20/20 rule.  It’s main premise anyone you can replace in less than 20 minutes for less than $20 can be left behind.

In the end, I think I ended up with about 8 outfits per kid plus 4 pairs of pjs.  Of course, some outfits used the same pair of pants twice but I figured laundry once every 4 days or so was realistic.  Your ability to do laundry, depending on your length of stay, makes a huge difference.

After living out of a suitcase for over a week now, I’ve realized a few things: 1) Only having clothes that I love and feel good wearing is amazing and I won’t go back to any clothes that I feel “eh” about again, even if I only have 20 pieces, 2) I’m glad I brought my one indulgence: my travel essential oil vaporizer.  At one point it didn’t make the cut but I added it back in and I’m so glad I did because it gives me a sense of home while I’m staying in other peoples’ spaces, and 3) focusing on need versus want was very valuable in keeping my stuff reasonable.

Here’s the breakdown of our bags:


  • 1 medium suitcase that holds all of our homeschooling supples, books, blankets/bedding for my son, shoes for kids, toys . . . all of that “other” stuff
  • 1 duffel bag on wheels that holds both kids’ clothes and whatever else I need to squeeze in there.


  • 1 backpack for my stuff – iPad, a notepad, makeup in checked bag gets on the wrong plane, some meds, some liquids like lotion/hand sanitizer (I tried to keep it fairly light and not stuffed) and water bottle
  • 1 messenger bag – backup outfits, airplane blankets, snacks, diapers
  • 1 child backpack – it barely held any of my son’s items because I wanted to keep it light so he had a couple of small stuffed animals, his Super Man doll, and both kids’ headphones, and water bottle
  • 1 child rolling suitcase (fit under seat) – both iPads were in there plus her blanket, Daddy Doll, Wonder Woman doll, and water bottle

The carry-on lot was slightly cumbersome but also doable. I knew I needed both hands free for the kids and I also didn’t want any baggage where they could make me check it at the gate if the plane was crowded or small, since everything in there was needed on the plane.

At this point, I’ve unpacked and packed it all once and honestly, I don’t see much, other than my kids’ toys, that I could have left behind.  (Seriously, why in the world did I pack toys at all?)

I’m curious: how do you pack for a trip with kids?  How many bags do you end up with?

Until next time,


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