How Does a Minimalist Pack? A Quick Retrospective on a 1-Day Business Trip

Anything I do more than once I expect to get better at. Traveling is one of those things. My job has me traveling a fair amount and each trip is an opportunity to perfect the way I do it. I also like challenging myself to pack as lightly as possible.

This trip was for a quick 1-day sojourn to Chicago from New York City. It would have me leaving Wednesday evening and coming back to NYC Thursday evening. I spent the vast majority of Thursday at the client’s office delivering a workshop.

Let’s take a look at my first stab at packing for the trip:

  • Slacks, undershirt, grey button up shirt, socks, underwear, athletic shorts
  • Mittens & scarf
  • 12” MacBook Retina & power cord
  • iPad Air 2 w/ charging brick and cord
  • Apple Watch series 1 (not pictured) and its ridiculously long charging cord
  • iPhone 7 Plus (not pictured) and Lightning EarPods
  • Medium size Moleskine notebook & pen
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, pomade, contacts, comb, NightGuard (dentist’s orders…), glasses & case, sunglasses & case, dopp kit
  • Wallet
  • 15 The Ready Vol. 1 magazines (not pictured)
  • A stack of post-it notes (not pictured)
  • A handful of sharpies (not pictured)
  • 100 ping pong balls (not pictured)

Not being happy with my first attempt at anything I took a look at everything laid out on the table and decided to see if I could make another attempt at removing the nonessential.

I decided to not bring:

  • Mittens & scarf (I was only going to be there for a day and would spend most of it indoors anyway)
  • Sunglasses (landing at night, spending the whole day inside, and then flying out again in the dark)
  • Comb (I don’t actually have a hair style that requires a comb — I dunno why I grabbed it in the first place)
  • iPad (since I was bringing my computer and my phone and the flight was short I figured I didn’t have much use for a third device)
  • Athletic shorts (realized I wasn’t going to have time to workout)

After removing those things, this is what was left to go into the bag:

A couple things to note:

  • I decided to only bring the iPad charging brick (as opposed to my iPhone brick and/or Apple Watch brick) because it would super charge my phone and watch and I didn’t necessarily need to charge both of those things at the same time.
  • At the last second I decided to bring my Beats noise cancelling headphones but not the charger and cord. My reasoning was that the flight was short and that I should be able to get there and back without needing to charge them. I was right.
  • I definitely could have worn the same pants on the plane and then to the workshop the next day and it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Although, I guess I’d really be rolling the dice on keeping them stain-free for two days in a row (I have a magic ability to somehow always get food on myself).
  • I regret not bringing my scarf and mittens. It was 19 degrees at one point and I walked from the hotel to the client’s office (roughly half a mile).
  • I forgot to grab an adapter (USB-C to VGA) at the office before I left so I had to buy one when I got there.
  • If I didn’t have to bring workshop material (magazines, ping pong balls, post-its, and sharpies) I probably could have just brought my backpack and not needed my carry on as well.

Overall, pretty solid attempt. Didn’t really bring anything that wasn’t used and didn’t leave much behind that I really wish I had with me — which is generally my metric for determining whether I did a good job packing.

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Sam Spurlin

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