Eva’s List: Traveling Light for Women

By SysBots and Eva Babauta.

When I wrote my 16 Essential Tips for Traveling with a Family a couple weeks ago, I had a ton of people ask the same thing: “I’d like to see Eva’s packing list!”

There’s an idea, it seems, that it’s much easier for a man to pack lightly than a woman. And while there’s some truth to that, I think it’s a matter of changing long-held ideas of what you need when you travel.

Luckily, we have my wife Eva to tell us what she packed, and what the experience was like for her. This is her first post on Zen Habits, and I’m happy to have her join me here.

Some context: Eva and I took five of our kids on a 3-week trip across southern Europe, in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Cinque Terre, the French Riviera (Antibes), and Barcelona. We brought only a small backpack each (no luggage, no roller carry-ons), and found the experience to be great.

Eva hasn’t always packed this lightly. She used to need a heavier carry-on duffle bag that I would usually end up lugging around for her (we have never traveled with big suitcases since we started traveling in 2008). But on those trips, she would begin to realize that there were a lot of things she brought that she really didn’t use or need, and slowly she has radically changed the way she packs, to my everlasting delight.

Small note: Eva & I share a toothbrush & toothpaste, both of which were in my backpack.

And now, let me turn it over to Eva:

Eva’s Packing List

By Eva Babauta

I definitely did not travel as lightly as Leo did. But, I think that I did a pretty good job of traveling light.

Here’s my packing list, carried in one backpack.

In my 15-inch packing folder were:

  • a pair of shorts
  • underwear
  • 4 thin comfortable tank tops
  • a pair of pants with adjustable drawstring hem
  • a bathing suit
  • a sports bra

In a small pouch I had travel size toiletries:

  • facial wash
  • moisturizer
  • contact solution and lenses
  • deodorant

I also packed:

  • a pair of shades
  • a book
  • my iPod shuffle and earbuds
  • camera with battery charger

When we left San Francisco I wore:

  • jeans
  • a tank
  • a light jacket/hoodie
  • my New Balance Minimus shoes — very comfortable and good for walking running and light hiking

While in Europe I realized that I really didn’t need the jacket I wore or the extra pair of pants that I packed so I left them behind in one of the apartments.

I was very happy that we were each all able to travel with just one small bag and it saved me the trouble of having to keep track of extra luggage and the added stress of standing around at baggage claim. We made it through customs easily and avoided the long lines because of this.

I realized that it’s OK to wear the same things over and over again. No one cares what you are wearing. They’re too busy having a good time to even notice.

Having a big family means lots and lots of dirty laundry. I am so thankful that our kids agreed to minimal packing. They each packed three t-shirts and one extra pair of shorts/jeans. It made washing and folding so easy.

Packing lightly means that everyone (including the little ones) can be responsible for their own things. Our little ones (6 and 8 years old) did a very good job of repacking when it was time to leave one city to go to the next. They were able to carry their tiny backpacks the whole trip without being tired. We each packed for ourselves and I didn’t have to pack anything extra in my bag or carry theirs.

Things I used to pack which I now realize I don’t need:

  • Hair straightener and product — I simply tie my hair in a bun which is perfect when it’s so hot.
  • Lotions shampoo conditioner toothpaste — just buy some when you get to your destination. They don’t have to be the brand you’re used to.
  • Extra pairs of shoes — find a pair that is comfortable and can be used for everything.
  • Fancy clothes/shoes — no need to pack these. You can buy a nice dress and pair of shoes if you decide that you’d like to go somewhere fancy otherwise there is no need.
  • Baby wipes or hand sanitizer — grab an extra napkin when you eat out and shove it in your pocket for later.

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