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.

Coffee, trust and thieves: Saturday photo editing by Jessica Lee

I was in a coffeeshop in Barcelona, Spain, editing photos like I am now.

I always like to go to coffee shops to edit photos because I like sitting around other people who are working, it's a motivating atmosphere and I like tasty drinks that I can't always make by myself at home.

I'm quite relaxed in coffee shops. I pick a big space, spread my stuff around and get to work. Inevitably, after the second coffee or so, I need to use the facilities. I usually have no problem leaving my things (even my computer) lying around for the two minutes I'll be gone because I rationalize that usually, other people who go to coffee shops are well off enough to spend $3-5 on a coffee, they probably aren't the type of people who would be interested in a computer. Besides, there are usually other people around who will notice if someone is stealing your things.

Anyway, during this particular session in Barcelona, when I came back, the barista approached me.

"Where are you from?", he asked.


"That's great, but around here, you can't leave your computer by itself! You're lucky it isn't stolen."

I thanked the guy and continued working.

I've haven't had anything stolen from me yet while travelling, but I am more aware these days. I still go off on my intuition, but I realize now maybe I am more lucky than intuitive.

I once left for a five minute bathroom break on a bus from Essaouria, Morocco to Casablanca, Morocco, and came back to find a local woman had boarded the bus and was staring at my things. I think the only reasons why she didn't make off with my stuff was because 1. I had two bags, so it would have been difficult for her to carry both 2. It wouldn't have looked like her things, and thus obvious that she was stealing (I had a new backpack that you can't buy in Morocco. It definitely looked foreign) 3. There were other passengers who were watching her. She asked me for money when I got back, possibly because she felt I owed her something since she didn't take anything. I said no. I don't like to be guilted into anything.

It's a difficult dilemma for solo travellers. When you leave for a bathroom break, do you carry all 10 kilos of your things? It seems silly, doesn't it?

I still leave my things lying around in Canada at coffee shops. Perhaps I am too open and trusting for someone who has experienced so many close calls with theft, but I genuinely believe people here are good. I'm not naive either. I choose to live as an open person rather than a person full of fear and distrust. I think there's more opportunities to experience by living this way and more people to meet. There's also less stress in your life.

I don't do stupid things like leave all of my possessions to someone I just met for an hour (that is creating more stress), but I take reasonable risks like leaving a library book I don't want to carry to a job interview with a retail worker, whom I know will probably still be in the same spot after an hour. It feels good when you trust someone and they turn out to be a trustworthy person. You can usually reverse situations early on when you don't feel comfortable anyway. I was in Indonesia once, and a local I had just met said he would carry my wallet for me (because I took really long fumbling for change), but I didn't feel good about that, so I asked for it back (after much awkwardness of course, but very rarely do you get an ideal situation in real life, you just have to do the best you can).

Readers: How much do you trust the strangers around you? Share some stories!