Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Perfecting minimalist travel - How I Pack Light

Stop agonising over packing and you'll be this happy. That's a fact.
In both daily life and travel, I pretty much try and keep a capsule wardrobe - I create uniforms for myself so I don't have to agonise over what to wear every day, and it's usually super simple stuff. For travel, everything just fits on a carry-on - then there's no waiting around for luggage, it doesn't get lost on tight connections, and if you're getting out of the airport on a train or metro etc., it's just less of a hassle lugging it around (I have painful childhood memories of lugging bags up/down/around the subway/train in Tokyo).

I didn't think it was anything special - after all, if you like to (or have to) travel, you want to be on your way quickly and efficiently as possible, right? - but I realised I might have nerded out a bit more than usual when even frequent travellers started saying I was an efficient packer.

So, to spread the ultralight gospel further, I thought I'd share some of the travel essentials that help me pack light. (I could go on forever, I love nerding out on this stuff).

1. you cannot be a fashionista (if you are one, look away now)
2. you have to wash your clothes in the sink or in the shower every second day or so* (so most of these things I'm listing are quick dry, but don't worry, they won't make you look like you're hiking.)

Rohan Essence T
There are loads of quick-dry shirts on the market, but they're all fluoro and slinky and make you look like a hiker. I'm continuously searching for things that are made out of technical fabrics but are suitable for wearing in the city - this tee is one of them. It looks and feels like a regular cotton white t-shirt.

Patagonia Barely bra
Never thought I'd be talking about underwear on my blog, but here goes. Another quick-dry fave (take the inserts out) and it's super comfortable. It comes in decent colours too, so you can layer it with peekaboo yoga tanks and the like (especially when it's really hot and humid outside). Not sure how it fits for more busty girls who need more support - but go try it out, the material is pretty strong and in true Patagonia style, very durable - my oldest one is probably 3 years old and still going strong.
Rohan Leeway Shirt
As much as I want to live in t-shirts, sometimes you just need to bring something smarter for business meetings or fancy restaurants - I just found this on a recent pilgrimage to the Rohan store in London - a basic black shirt, kind of drapes like silk, except it's also moisture wicking and quick dry, and doesn't need to be ironed. (Rohan is currently one of my favourite shops for technical wear for women that's suitable for city travel - unfortunately their smallest size is UK 8 which means most of their pants are out of the question. I'm still on the search for great washable travel pants.)

Uniqlo Ultra Light Compact down jacket
It packs into the size of an orange, and you can layer it under other jackets if it's really cold without it looking bulky. I've worn it under a leather biker to Niagara Falls in the winter, and it worked a charm. A great mid-layer.

winter capsule wardrobe
Uniqlo heat tech turtleneck/crew neck
When I get cold, it's always around the neck, so I go for turtlenecks, although I have a couple of crew necks for skiing when I sweat more. They're super thin, light and very affordable. This, a thin sweater (another thing on constant rotation is Grana's merino wool crew neck, but it looks like it's not available anymore), the down and my leather biker are basically my go-to layers for most city winters.

Nike Thea Airmax Ultra Flyknit trainers
The Flyknit series is pretty great because the upper almost folds flat, so you only have to deal with the thickness of the soles. Thanks to the whole athleisure thing, I can wear them as city shoes as well as to the gym.
The Original Salt-Water Sandal (tan)
Was just introduced to these recently and tested them out in the rain. The soles are pretty good at being non-slip, and the style is super classic. It's good for the beach and wet days, and the straps fold down really easily. I went for the tan colour because I wear black and white a lot, so I thought I'd offset it with a warmer neutral.

Muji Gusset Case packing cubes (M) 
Two of these fit exactly in my carry-on - keeps stuff organised, and if I have to open my luggage at security, no-one sees a bunch of undies.

From in-flight amenities kits - I use them to hold plugs, cables, USBs etc. so they're not just tangling themselves up in everything, and they're easy to find. Speaking of plugs...

Lifetron Pro Travel 4-Port USB adapter
Small, has all the plugs, no additional adapters needed. (Except for non-USB things like a camera battery or a laptop - although I use a 12-inch Macbook with USB C which does allow for charging with just a USB cable - it's not as fast, but it works in a pinch.)

Ampleur Luxury De-Age Power Mask
Skincare is another topic for another day, but I thought I'd throw in just one thing. This is a magical saviour of a mask that makes you look awake and presentable despite jetlag/a rough night (you know what I'm talking about). I like that you can also use it as a sleeping mask - no washing till the next morning, yay! (I'm super lazy). If the air is dry, you can just layer some aloe vera gel on top and go to bed - if I'm packing super light and don't pack a night cream, this and aloe are what I'll bring. I also use it on the plane sometimes. In HK, you can buy it from the Ampleur counter in Mannings on Queen's Road Central.

Aloe vera gel
See above. Also a good multitasker for anything from insect bites to after-sun.

Folding duffel 
For anything you end up buying on the trip. Just make sure it's secure and sturdy enough to be checked in for the flight home if your shopping goes overboard (I let myself check in on the flight home - if the luggage does get lost, it's much less of a hassle in HK.)

*Washing tips:
- Bring a bit of washing powder
- To dry out clothes more quickly, after you wash an item of clothing, roll it up in a towel like a Swiss roll, then twist the towel. That way the clothes don't deform and it's halfway dry by the time you hang it up.

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