packing

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

Make-up:
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.


Toiletries:
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!

Backpacking in Europe: what I'm bringing by Jessica Lee


I'm heading to Europe for a classic backpacking trip and this is what my life is going to look like for the next two or so months.

I tried to keep it as simple as possible, following with the theme of minimalism

Of course, travelling to Europe during the winter is going to be a little more difficult than in the summer because now I'll have to bring heavy jackets, boots, scarves and heavy sweaters. In the summer, I wouldn't need all of that, which would cut my packing essential list to about half the size.

For my trip, I'm bringing a 30 L backpack and a small day purse. At weighing time, the pack came to just over 12 kilos, which isn't terrible, but not as light as I would have liked my pack to be.

The point of packing light is so I can hop out of each airport/bus station/train station and just get on with exploring the city without ordering a taxi or first dropping off my things at the place I'm staying at. I want to be mobile and efficient.

Here's what I'm bringing:

Clothing:
1 pair of pants, dark blue and quite functional- matches with everything 
(I plan to do laundry frequently throughout the trip)
1 grey hoodie
2 cardigans
3 dresses (all very versatile, can be work to a professional environment or a casual environment, or even worn to go out to nice places)
2 pairs of wool socks (necessary!)
2 pairs of tights
1 t-shirt for sleeping in
3 casual tops
1 pair of combat boots (my main choice of footwear, as it will be snowing)
1 pair of flats (in case it's warm. The flats I chose are black and match with everything. They are also two years old (purchased in Australia!), and somewhat worn in. If I need to make space in my pack, these will be the first to go)
1 pair of lounge pants (for sleeping in)
1 scarf
1 pair of gloves
1 swimsuit
1 microfiber towel and one face cloth
1 pair of flip flops (for walking around hostels or hotels)
1 winter hat
1 rainjacket
Underwear


Professional gear:
Besides, experiencing European culture, and visiting friends, the purpose for this trip is to take photos and develop my portfolio. I do plan to travel light however. My photography kit is minimal, which will force me to be creative. 
I am only bringing:
1 Mark 5D SLR (and charger)
1 24-70mm lens
1 tripod (which was purchased specifically for this trip)

I have a nice, quality tripod which I use in Toronto on professional shoots and for events. I can't bring that one though because unfortunately, it's built well and quite heavy.

This Polaroid tripod I bought for the trip was only $20 on Amazon and made of really light materials. It's broken on me twice already just while I was packing it in my backpack. I don't mind though as it still works and because of the cheap price, it means I can throw it away at any point during my trip if it becomes too heavy. It was mainly purchased so I can get good Northern Lights photos.


Personal care:
I packed essentials such as shampoo, face wash, lotion, body wash, toothpaste, etc.
An item some may find strange is a 100ml container of tea tree oil beauty mask.

The story behind the beauty mask dates back to 2012, on my study exchange to Sydney, Australia, where I met my housemate Myra. We started doing these masks together as a girly way to bond and now since I'm visiting her (she's doing a study exchange in Sweden), I had to keep up the tradition.

Make-up for this trip is also minimal. Everything fits into a small pouch. I have basics such as lip balm, foundation, black and brown eyeliner, mascara, lip stain... and for those days I'm feeling wild, shimmery violet eyeliner (purchased in Korea) and gold eyeshadow.
I also brought lots of bobby pins and hair ties.

I packed all liquids in a plastic bag for easy airport security access.


Odds and ends:

2 notebooks (one journal, and one travel planner)
2 language guides (French and German)
1 small London guidebook
1 tea tumbler
1 day purse
Lock and keys
Pens
Smartphone
Wallet



Entertainment:
This section started off with three books, but I couldn't close my backpack initally, so I took out two. I plan to exchange books with people I meet or buy a new one and drop off the finished one during my trip now. I have a E-reader, but I'm still not comfortable with it and it would be another thing that I would worry about getting stolen.

1 mp3
1 book (Richard Florida's Who's Your City, which I find fitting since I will be travelling to so many)
1 laptop (for blogging, work and keeping in touch with friends)
1 harmonica, which I plan to get really good at playing during my trip



What do you think? Would you take any items out? Put anything in?

Minimalist packing for my road-trip by Jessica Lee


I'm heading out on a Jack Kerouac-styled road trip very very soon!

I wanted to show you how my packing-style has changed since this fiasco:


Above is the crazy amount of stuff I thought I could carry with me throughout Australia and East Asia. It was a lesson well-learned as I had to rely on cabs and the kindness of strangers to get me and my stuff to places.

You would be surprised to know that I could carry all of the above by myself though. I just moved like a tortoise.

Eventually I realized it was stupid and shipped everything home. Here is a photo of me in Yogyakarta, Indonesia with less stuff (I eventually shipped the large blue backpack on my back home too).


My new packing regiment is more stream-lined. I would be able to walk to and from the bus station to my residences with my gear on my back.

For a month and a half's worth of travel, I am only bringing:
1 pair of pants
2 sweaters
1 hoodie
1 rain jacket
1 pair of sneakers
1 pair of flip-flops
1 pair of flats
2 pairs of shorts
5 t-shirts (two are discardable, i.e. I don't care about them and they will be thrown away to make room for other things I may pick up)
5 summer dresses (what I plan to wear daily)
a week's worth of underwear
2 pairs of PJ shorts
1 pair of lounge pants
3 pairs of socks
one towel
discardable cheap sunglasses


Toiletries (again, this is very minimal)


-Sunscreen (both for the face and for the body)
-body butter (pretty much empty and the case will be discarded once everything is used)
-shampoo and conditioner, body wash, face wash freebies I picked up once and never put to use (see above photo)

-a facial travel kit from The Body Shop. According to the sales associate, the amount of product in there will last for a month. If she is correct, then great! If not, then I can easily buy more face stuff where I'm headed. The kit has face wash, toner, and a day and night cream. (see below)


I'm also going to be bringing along a small bottle of Pantene shampoo I picked up for $1 at the supermarket in Indonesia. It has Indonesian writing on it as you can see, so I'm a bit hesitant to part with it.


The blue Reef sunscreen was bought in Australia, so I'm a little hesitant to part with it as well. It's an Australian brand not sold here in North America.

I'm also bringing hair gel because I'm currently in that awkward short-hair growing-out phase. (see below)

I feel like this huge tube of hair gel is too big for back-packing travel but at the same time I don't want to go out and buy a smaller one since when I have long hair again, I won't need to use hair gel ever again! Thus I am throwing it in and hoping my back doesn't break from the extra weight (it all adds up).


Here is my make-up kit:

It all fits into that silver mesh bag on the left!


It contains:
a small tube of BB cream picked up in Hong Kong
under-eye concealer
regular concealer
mascara
black eyeliner
dark brown eyeliner
brow brush
liquid eyeliner (for those Audrey Hepburn days)
lip stain

Then for fun I threw in purple glitter, gold eyeliner, white eyeliner and shiny violet eyeliner.

If I need anything else, it can be easily picked up for CHEAP at Target as I am going through the States.


I also plan to bring about a month's worth of tea and some honey so I won't be tempted to pop into a coffee shop. They're all tea bags as loose leaf would mean bringing along a steeper too. And since these are all consumables, they will make extra room in my pack when I'm done all my tea!

I'm packing a tea tumbler and Nalgene bottle as well to be nice to the environment. Before I leave, I plan to fill the Nalgene bottle with my favourite drink, cranberry juice- just in case cranberry juice is ridiculously expensive in the states. Cranberry juice is more expensive in Australia than Canada- something I didn't account for in my budget when I went over to study-abroad.


Other items I am packing include my notebook, my laptop and charger, a day purse, my camera, laundry detergent, a novel... and possibly my rock climbing gear and ukulele...

Check out how thin I was able to condense my wallet!


Readers: How much luggage do you travel with?

Aspiring for natural holes in my pants by Jessica Lee




I wrote the following back in July, after my road trip through the East Coast of Australia:
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Living with two guys out of a campervan for the last few weeks has been eye opening. It’s in the smaller details where you will find out more about a person, his values, and the way he lives.

After the trip, I was hanging laundry for one of the boys when I noticed some small holes in his jeans in a part that was obviously worn in, but not noticeable while the jeans were worn. This is one of the pairs of maybe two to three pairs of pants this guy owns.

I think it’s great he can be so simple. As I like to constantly improve myself, I make it a habit observe the way other people are, then try to pick up their good traits and incorporate them into my own life.

I realize now how ridiculous the amount of clothing/luggage I’m carrying around with me is. One of my resolutions for 2012 was to be more minimalistic, but obviously it didn’t work out.

I still buy loads of things and acquire items. I am also sentimental about the items I own, which is terrible for traveling, as it’s much easier to travel light.

I once read a book about a person who only owned 80 items, which I find amazing. Even if he was given something, he didn’t keep it unless he parted with one of his previous items. Items included clothing, electronics and toiletries. It was fictional, but I’m sure there are people in the world who do this as well. I liked the message of the book as it commented on the materialism of the world.

I don’t think it’s possible for me to buck down to just 80 items (come on, I have way too many interests), but one day, I would like to be so committed to a pair of pants that they develop natural holes in them.

For me, natural holes in clothing mean 1. Adventure 2. Being able to have a favourite item of clothing to fall back on 3. Focus, as opposed to being lured in by fancy store windows 4. Contentment in what you have 5. Environment conservation and being earth-friendly.

What are some strange details you love related to traveling that other people might think would be weird?