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New post on Zen Habits: Teaching Kids to Pack Ultralight.
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Leo Babauta's profile photoChel Hamilton's profile photoRyan Emmett's profile photoBenny Rebergen's profile photo
22 comments
 
Love reading your posts, keep them up!
 
Something adults (me included!) should learn, too.
 
Great idea! If we're going away for a week, we usually pack clothes for a week and a half. I might try being a guinea pig on our next trip and see if all that time doing laundry is more annoying than lugging half my wardrobe around with me.
 
It is nice that the kids were directly on board. Packing light shifts the trip's focus to the experience of the trip -- rather than 'where the hell is my luggage?!'

I'm 'on board' on that as well for a few years now. Feels great light ;-)
 
I'm not this extreme. but we don't check in baggage. we usually have one bag for all the kids and one carry on for ourselves
 
As much as I hate dragging a big suitcase around with me, I hate the idea of trying to wash clothes while I'm on holiday even more.
 
Challenging when it comes to kids but so worth learning this lesson early. Liberating for sure. I'm in! Thank you for the inspiration, Leo!
 
Thanks for the great idea Leo. When I go to England for a week this summer I'm going to try this!
 
+Patrick Rauland - make sure you have a good waterproof layer with you - our English 'summer' weather can sometimes be unpredictable! :)
 
Coudn't agree more. My husband, our (then) 8 month old daughter and I travelled to Barcelona, France, Italy and Southern Spain for three weeks last summer. We had no more than a backpack each and it was superb. We carried some light clothes, a sweater/sweatshirt, bathing suit, a toothbrush each and diapers. My husband also had his computer because he attended a conference in Barcelona. People say 'I have to bring so much stuff for my baby' or 'travelling with a baby is so hard', but it's not true.
 
Wonderful post! Leo your site is great. I love minimalism and we try to live like that. We just came back from a one week trekking holiday with our two kids (15 and 4). Backpacking in the forest, with a small tent and all the food for one week. For sure not light, but very minimal.
We traveled around the world with very limited stuff, and yes, as more light you are more free and independent you can travel.
My travel thought from my blog http://areyouhere-areyouthere.blogspot.de/2011/05/travel.html
 
Great post. I already travel very minimally (my family always makes fun of me for how little I take on a trip). But I'd like to pare it down a bit more. Since I don't normally have access to a washer and dryer, I find that washing clothes by hand isn't always practical... because they won't be dry for the next day (even when using quick drying clothes--they often take two days to dry, which doesn't work so well if you're taking a road trip and moving place to place). Any thoughts on how to deal with this?
 
I have a question. If you only pack a T-shirt, shorts, and two lots of undies and socks, what do your kids wear after their shower/bath every night? If you don't pack PJs, do you all sleep naked? I'm not trying to be silly. I really do wonder.
 
This will be useful advice for the short trip I am about to take with the kids, although I think with younger kids it may be necessary to take some additional emergency supplies...
 
Ruth ... we sleep in shorts and a t-shirt.
 
Okay...but I'm still not getting it. If you only pack one t-shirt and one pair of shorts and you wear them to bed every night, that means you only have one other set of clothes to wear during the day. I'm only interested because packing light seems like a great idea, but I don't see how it works if you have nothing to wear to bed except your day clothes.
 
I wear jeans and T-shirt1 during the day, then wear T-shirt1 and shorts to bed. The next day, I wear T-shirt2 and the same jeans, and repeat. If for some reason T-shirt1 is dirty the first night, I'll wash it and wear T-shirt2 and shorts at night.
 
I LOVED this post! I am doing a month this summer too - Glasgow, Paris, and South of France. Hardest part of packing light for it will be the average 53F lows to 85F highs! (hoping some well planned layers, a multi purpose sarong that doesn't look "beachy," and a 6oz Marmot windbreaker/rainjacket will do the trick!) Any other suggestions TOTALLY welcomed in advance. :)
 
Okay, Leo. I see how it works now. I thought you had some amazing way of washing and drying your clothes super fast so that you always had something clean to put on for bed or for day wear. I was looking forward to learning your secret.

Your packing light idea is so great in theory. I was really impressed until I started thinking about the nuts and bolts of how it works. But now I don't think it does work. Not if you have to wear dirty clothes to bed (and wear undies in bed as well?). And what if you want to go to the beach? How do you swim if you don't have any swimming togs with you? Or beach towels?

We always pack one suitcase for us and one for the kids. It might be a bit more of a hassle when flying, but once we get to our destination, we have the luxury of swim wear, night wear and clean clothes. But I've always loved the idea of travelling light so we don't have big suitcases. Thanks for explaining.
 
Ruth I'm going to chime in and hope Leo doesn't mind... I see your point and of course a small suitcase works if you are going to spend a week in one hotel. :) but if you are going to be moving from place to place or staying someplace (like a hostel) where u don't want to leave your stuff alone all day then being able to comfortably carry everything with you all day long does become key.

I solve the sleeping issue by tossing in a cotton camisole and cotton undies (day wear undies are 2 pair of microfiber ones) and my big piece of plaid cotton material I use as a sarong also doubles as my "lounge dress," beach coverup, and beach towel. Of course guys might prefer to take a little microfiber towel to dry off with if needed. A tank and boxers take up no extra really and make great guys sleep wear. Solving the dirty clothes to bed issue - which I totally agree with you on! :) 
 
Thanks for your input Chel. Interesting to read a woman's take on this. I love the sarong/lounge dress/beach coverup/beach towel idea. I might take that one up myself. That is sheer brilliance!

And with 5 kids in tow, I assumed Leo would be staying put in one place on holiday. But I understand the hostel problem (never stayed in one though) if anyone is holidaying there.

This has certainly been an interesting post. I never thought of taking holiday packing to such a minimum. Enjoy your summer in Europe and don't worry about feeling the temperature differences too much. I usually find a bottle or two of Chardonnay takes care of that. :)
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