Moving to Montreal: Here is my minimalist packing list by Jessica Lee

One of the things I discovered while I was backpacking is that I can definitely live with less items than I realize. I have so much stuff in Toronto, but actually, I think I only use about 5 percent of all I own once a week. This is because I have a lot of books and movies and CDs that don't get a lot of use. So in true minimalist fashion, I'm moving to Montreal and I'm only bringing these few items with me.

I think I'm under 100 items, which is pretty exciting because for the first time, I'm a true minimalist.

The idea behind having less stuff is so I can spend more time and money on things that matter to me. For example, because I have so little luggage, I can carry all my things with me walking everywhere instead of spending money on a cab to move things if I need to move. Also, it takes less time to pack and to keep track of.

Anyway, here is my list:
1. Shorts x2
2. Long sleeved shirt
3. Tank top
4. Lounge shorts
5. t-shirt for sleeping in x2
6. Dresses x 5
7. Swim suit
8. Hoodie
9. Lounge pants
10. Microfiber towel
11. Sweater that goes with my entire wardrobe (see how functional it is?)

12. $10 sneakers purchased in Australia (these will be discarded when they get old and grungy, making room in my luggage, but absolutely necessary because I need close-toed shoes for swing dancing and also for hiking to climbing sites)
13. Red flats (matches with my entire wardrobe and professional enough for office life)
14. Birkenstocks (comfy and somewhat more polished-looking than flip flops for days when I want my toes to feel the wind)
15. Flip-flops that I will throw away when they get old but essential for gross showers, swimming and camping

I kept make-up simple but only brought things I would use on a daily basis. I don't usually travel with a lot of make-up but since I'm staying in Montreal for a while, I do want to have fun sparkly things to put on my face when I go out and I don't want to buy new things when I have make-up already.

I brought big-sized toiletries since I won't be moving around a lot. What's important though is that everything fits inside a hanging toiletries bag for easy mobility.

Climbing gear: I'm going to be spending a lot of time climbing in Montreal and surrounding areas like Val David, but I'm only going to be bringing one climbing outfit because laundry machines exist and because I want to be as light as possible.

For entertainment and other gear, I have one book, a leather-bound journal, a lap top and charger, cell phone and charger and DSLR and charger. And of course, my wallet and passport.

Everything fits inside these three bags. The knapsack will be handy if I decide to get a bike in Montreal and the black purse will be my day bag. I'm also bringing a sleeping bag because I will be camping for a few days.

I've never had this little stuff before while transitioning to a new city, but I will let you know how it goes. Part of me feels like I don't have enough, but I also hate carrying around too many things.

Also, I know there's lots of cute boutique/vintage shops around Montreal so I'm probably going to shop a little, especially to replace my favourite rainbreaker from Simons which got stolen in Copenhagen that I bought in Montreal last year.

Gear Update: Minimalism and Strategy 2 months in by Jessica Lee

It’s been two months since I started my journey and I keep reflecting about how I can improve on packing for the next trip. I agree with the 80/20 rule in that only 20 percent of the stuff you pack you end up using 80 percent of the time. Therefore, the next time I backpack anywhere, I plan to cut my packing down into half of what I’m bringing- only the useful things I use most of the time.

I’ve found that carrying stuff can seriously limit what I’m able to do. For example, I wanted to make a day trip to Pisa, Italy, instead of staying there but I couldn’t walk with all my things to the attractions and then hop on the train to the next city. If I were able to pack everything onto a daypack, then that would be perfect.

The flipside of having so little things of course is that you can’t go shopping. There were many times I saw beautiful leather goods in Morocco but I always held off on buying things because of the agony I would endure carrying belongings from town to town.

I think the solution is a balance between minimalism and strategy. What’s weighing me down right now are books that I’ve finished reading but won’t give away and a jacket that I have no use for because I bought a warmer one along the way. On my next trip, I plan to bring only things I can part with and one set of clothes that will stay with me the whole way. And all of my electronics so I can process my work. This trip, I brought things that I could part with (like a pair of sweat pants I regretted saying goodbye to when I found out it was cold in Malaga), and that made more room in my pack as I bought new European things.

I’m lucky because I’m meeting a friend from home who has kindly offered to help me bring some of my things back home so I can travel lighter the rest of the way, but I know I won’t always have friends who travel during the same time as me, so for next time, I will have to be smarter with what I’m bringing.

Of course, I’ve definitely improved with my packing since two years ago when I couldn’t even walk 300 metres to my hotel in Indonesia with my luggage and had to get a taxi. These days, walking 1 km with my stuff is possible. One can always improve though- hopefully I will be a packing pro by the next trip!