Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Running Away: A story of minimalist travel

That headline makes this post seem much more dramatic than it actually is.  As you may have noticed if you've read some of the other posts on this blog, I've been feeling a little worn out, a little overwhelmed.  I had what *should* be my last real estate exam this past Saturday (assuming I passed, fingers crossed) and I had been getting antsy from being on the ground so long (haven't flown since the end of March since things are so slow at the airline).  One of my closest friends, we'll call her E, calls Edmonton home and my sister and a few other friends live in Calgary.  I used to see these people fairly regularly since I could pick what flying I did and would opt to have layovers in those two cities.  Since I lost the ability to choose my schedule when I took the Service Director position, I haven't seen them for long time and I was *not* enjoying the time apart.

I had contacted E and Sis and told them if it was at all possible, I was going to be flying in for a whirlwind visit this past weekend.  Since I was couch surfing between several people, 2 cities and would potentially be spending a lot of time on my own, carrying everything with me while waiting to meet up with my next host, I knew I'd want to pack light...even lighter than I normally do.  I made a list of what to pack and then edited it down to what I thought were the essentials for a 3-4 day trip.

What you see in the above picture is EVERYTHING I brought with me (except for 1 thin paperback which I left behind at a thrift store since I had finished reading it and my iPhone which was being used to take the picture).  I apologize for the quality of the pic but I'll list everything here and then comment on how this packing experiment worked out for me.  

What's in the pic (even if not perfectly visible):
  • Jackets: Spring-weight knee length jacket, black, lined blazer
  • Tops: long sleeve quick-dry style athletic shirt with a paisley design, plain white t-shirt, black tank with sequins
  • Bottoms: skinny jeans in a dark wash, black knee length jersey skirt, yoga capris
  • Intimates: convertible bra, flesh toned, sports bra and 4 prs undies (packed away in the black bag you see *under* the bra in this pic)
  • Hosiery: 1 pr black tights and 3 prs thin socks
  • Accessories: light, pashmina style scarf, black belt, sunglasses, beaded cuff bracelet, watch, claw-style hair clip
  • Footwear: flat, knee-high leather boots and black ballet flats
  • Travel conveniences: water bottle, travel mug (there were tea bags tucked into the travel mug), 2 paperback books (I left the one I finished behind, it was good but it wasn't one I was going to bother reading again), purse-size umbrella, phone charger, ear bud earphones, luggage lock, eye mask
  • Travel necessities: wallet (containing the standard wallet stuff), passport and security pass (since I work for an airline, travelling with my security pass gives me access to extra seats that the public is unable to use), 2 pens
  • Makeup (non-liquids packed into a tiny makeup pouch): powder foundation, 1 blush with travel brush, 1 lipstick, 1 cream eyeshadow, 1 tinted moisturizing lip gloss, 1 eyeliner (I've had it for awhile so it's basically just a stub now), 1 tube of mascara
  • Personal care: 1 sample size deodorant (super happy I found that in my HBA stash), 1 travel size toothpaste tube, toothbrush,  1 bar of soap (gentle enough to use on face as well as body), 2 sample pouches of shampoo/conditioner (only ended up using one), hair brush, tweezers, compact mirror, 3 hair elastics, razor, medicated ointment (for my psoriasis...boo, packed a bit in a sample container instead of bringing the normal tube), hand lotion, pill box containing ibuprofen, tiny bottle of dish soap
  • Black purse and LeSportsac tote
Some comments on the items:
  • The yoga capris and sports bra functioned as my PJs while sleeping at my friends' places and, had I been able to spend more time with my sister, would've actually been used for a yoga class (along with the long sleeve top I brought)
  • Notice the boring colour scheme (black, white, grey and denim)?  It was deliberate...everything went with everything else.  This just happened to be what was in my closet (I LIKE black, white, grey and denim!) but sticking to the same colour group when packing will achieve the same thing.
  • My makeup looked the same everyday and that's perfectly okay!!
  • Visiting Alberta always means pack for a wide range of weather possibilities; the longer black jacket, white scarf and boots (instead of just black shoes) were all packed because I was keeping that in mind.
What I'd edit further in the future:
  • Tiny bottle of dish soap - I carry that as an FA to use in a pinch if something (travel mug, clothing, etc) needs to be washed.  Staying at friends' places means it wasn't necessary since I had access to laundry facilities if something got dirty or if I was extending my trip.
  • Travel mug - again, this was from my FA habit of always carrying a travel mug so all I need to do if I want tea is find hot water.  As I walked through Calgary, I *welcomed* the opportunity to step into a cafe to buy a tea and relax for a few minutes.
  • Water bottle - this IS an essential for me since I try to avoid bottled water but I wouldn't mind having a smaller sized bottle if I can find one.
  • Footwear: if I was making this trip again later in the Spring, I'd switch out the boots for a pair of black heels and leave the longer jacket at home.  The scarf is handy on the plane since wrapping it around exposed skin helps keep you warm if you feel a bit chilled so, since its so small, it still would've made the cut.
  • Little things: bring 1 book instead of 2 (thought I'd do more waiting around!), leave the eye mask and bracelet at home - I didn't really need them.  I did use the hair clip but, if pressed, could have left it behind and just stuck with ponytails and messy buns while I was travelling.
  • Personal Care:  I really did have the option of leaving behind the shampoo/conditioner/toothpaste and just asking to use what my various hosts had.  If every ounce of weight was critical, that would've been done but it clearly wasn't terrible to carry around the samples I had found at home.
I wouldn't say I'd choose to do all of my travel with a minimalist packing style but it was certainly a different experience to be able to put ALL my belongings under the seat in front of me during a flight.  It was actually very freeing to not feel bogged down by a lot of stuff (and I usually squeeze everything into a carry-on suitcase so I wasn't packing excessively to begin with).  I spent one day walking around Calgary on foot (yep, I walked from just north of Prince's Island Park to Richmond & Sarcee in the SW) and although, it wasn't ideal carrying everything with me, it was completely doable.  However, if your trip involves having to trek around with all your belongings, I would suggest using a backpack instead of a tote so you can carry the weight spread across both shoulders instead of having to carry it all on one side, alternating every so often.

So now I'm back home, feeling more refreshed after my adventure and very happy to have been able to see my loved ones, even if only for a short time.  I'm back to the office tomorrow (probably should have gone in today) but am looking forward to the next time I can run away.


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