Digging in the archives ~ Day 250 Reducing your Travel Clutter

I think I deserve a break during the holiday season and if I don’t I am having one anyway. So for your entertainment, I have set up five posts for this week with articles from the archives. That is I am going to share with you some old post that you may not have seen for some time that you might find interesting and helpful all over again while I take my break.

I received some unexpected help this week with choosing which articles to use from Lena who has been reading through the archives since she discovered my blog not so long ago. Got to love her dedication, especially since it has assisted me to be lazy for a week. Thanks Lena your timing was perfect.

One more thing. I may or may not be replying to comments it just depends on whether I have the time. A break is meant to be a break after all. I am sure though that I will not be able to resist checking what you folks are up to while I am not looking. Please feel free to chat among yourselves if I am not here. Equally please take a break from me and my incessant declutter nagger for the week yourselves. I will not feel deserted if you don’t drop by. So without further adieu here is the first of this weeks archive posts…

Day 250 ~ Reducing your Travel Clutter

A guest post by my husband

You’ll never meet a traveller who, after five trips, brags: “Every year I pack heavier.” ~ Rick Steves – Travel Writer

These words echo in my head every time I pack for trip, whether business or pleasure, reducing the amount of stuff I carry always makes for a more enjoyable time. Whenever I travel with colleagues, they are amazed by my small bag and unable to imagine how they could do it. Packing light is easier than they think and anyone can reduce their luggage to a manageable size with some planning and preparation.

Colleen and I are committed to only take as much stuff as can be carried onto the flight; a 9″ x 22″ x 14″ bag weighing no more than 7 Kilos (15 lbs) plus a smaller bag for personal items like a camera. We use a convertible backpack/suitcase with zip-away shoulder straps that is lighter than your average roller bag, and easy to tote across town to our hotel. How do we do it? Well, my bag contains the following items:

  • Rick Steves ~ Classic Back Door Bag

    2 collared shirts

  • 2 t-shirts
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 pair of shorts/swimmers
  • 4 sets of underwear
  • 4 pair of socks
  • 1 jacket
  • Vibram Five Fingers
  • small toiletries kit
  • first aid kit
  • 1 small towel
  • journal/pens
  • sewing kit
  • guide book/maps
  • phrase book (if needed)

In my camera bag:

  • DSLR plus 28-135mm zoom
  • 50mm lens
  • iPod Touch
  • battery charger
  • spare battery/compact flash drives
  • Archos 604WIFI (used for photo storage and charging the iPod)

I used to carry a laptop but an iPod touch provides me all the computing power I need except for an ability to upload photos from my camera so I carry the Archos 604 *. Despite carrying two devices, I still save more than half the weight of your average 12-13 inch laptop or netbook.

The main advantage of this small uncluttered travel bag is mobility. While most people are waiting for their bags, we are heading to the hotel. We can easily change planes, trains or buses when a delay occurs because everything is with us. Sure we have to do some washing along the way but it is often no more expensive to use a fluff and fold service than to do the laundry yourself. We also use lightweight wash and wear clothes that can be washed in a sink if necessary, and air dried over night.

Virtually nothing in our bag is there because we might need it, we will use every item continuously throughout our travels and when those one-off occasions arise we just buy what we need at that time. Plan for the best and be prepared to spend a little money if needed, why ruin a vacation lugging a huge bag of stuff you never use to save a few dollars. Travelling light is an awakening that can open your eyes to how little you need in your life, try it on your next vacation.

For those who cannot imagine travelling with one small bag, check out Rolf Potts’ No Baggage trip.

* We no longer carry the Archos 604 as we now have two 8gig Compact Flash cards which hold and awful lot of photos, so there is no need to upload photos as we go.

Today’s Declutter Item

Somethings accumulate and because you use them all the time you don’t think to deduce the number you have. These two trays are just that sort of clutter item. Yes they get used but while they are used two others remain idle. They can’t all fit in the oven at once so there is no need to keep them all. One was so old and worn that I sent it to the recycling while the other is off to the thrift shop.

Two Baking Pans

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Day 250 Reducing your Travel Clutter Another guest post by my husband. You'll never meet a traveller who, after five trips, brags: "Every year I pack heavier." Rick Steves - Travel Writer These words echo in my head […]
  • Day 95 Going to Extremes While cruising the Internet looking for inspiration on the topic of decluttering I found a few interesting articles that take downsizing and minimalism to greater extremes. I am not […]
  • Day 87 Replace old habits I heard somewhere recently that it only take two weeks to start breaking out of old habits. The idea being, if you can persevere and ignore the cravings to continue in your old habit for […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Have a great break Colleen, yes a true break break.

    Quiet Chrissy here and l am glad to say no clutter to be found.

    l say no pressies for me and l got none 🙂 – a thoughtful box of choccies from a neighbour but that is it.

  2. Yes, Colleen, enjoy your break. Felicity, I can relate. No gifts were exchanged at our home either. We had a lovely Christmas dinner and a beautiful day.

  3. Well done Anita. Nice to see l’m not alone on that one. 😉

  4. that was meant to be a smile there 🙂

  5. A well-earned break, Colleen and Cindy both! We had a very happy day, very quiet (as planned), and today (Boxing Day)’s meals have been the left-overs. Presents – not planned – turned out to be light, and very much as I would have chosen, if I had asked: a cheque from my mother, shop voucher from my sister, toiletries (which I was needing) from my daughter (packaged in a basket she already had, with a ribbon), and a promise for my next blouse that I want to buy, from my husband. I actually took a photo at the end of the day, of the rubbish that came from the family’s (3 people) parcels: a very small pile of sticky tape! Wrapping papers could be reused or recycled, depending on condition, nothing was overwrapped – and none of the sticky tape was mine!!
    Funny really, to think back to the days when there would be piles of paper on the floor and stuff everywhere…

  6. Thanks for the re-runs, Colleen. I think it’s a good idea to recycle your articles and hope you will continue to do so from time to time. This one is particularly appropriate for us as we are getting ready for a trip. We will never get quite this streamlined in packing but we’ll cut back a bit more again this time. As retirees we do get the occasional odd look as we jump on local buses with our backpacks and daypacks but we are free to travel wherever we wish. The odd corners of the world are where REAL life happens.

  7. Would love to read what Colleen packs for a cabin bag only trip. I just got back from Thailand and had planned to take as little as possible and still took way too much stuff in the end, but we were travelling with our four kids (12 – 22) so had to accommodate stuff for them too, medical etc.

  8. I just returned from a trip and when I saw the title of this post I was immediately interested. But it turns out I am objecting to a different type of travel clutter as I can usually pack light.

    What I noticed throughout this trip was the amount of garbage we accumulated. Even though I took my shopping bags, the clerks were unfamiliar with the idea and would add plastic bags. Many items that you want to buy in small amounts because you are travelling come in lots of excess packaging. Even when we ate in restaurants it seems the things these days is disposable plates and eating utensils. I have taken my cup to the coffee bar only to have them make my tea in a paper cup before pouring it into my permanent one.

    I was appalled at the amount of trash. We did manage to find recycle bins for some of the plastic and glass. This was in the southwestern U.S.

    I would be interested to hear from others about minimizing packaging and the like when travelling.

    • Hi Delores,
      I know where you are coming from. When we travel we often buy cold drinks that come in plastic packaging but we tend to use the bottles over and over for a couple of day as water bottles. And then we find somewhere to recycle them. The sad part is that we often find, like in italy where they go to a lot of expense to provide recycling bin at railway stations and the like, that people don’t pay any heed and mix trash with recycling anyway. How frustrating it is. Even when you can’t read the labels on the bin (different language) the pictures are clear enough to tell which bin is which. Check out this link to a story about eliminating trash in the Cinque Terre in Italy. I find it hard to believe that tourist would go out of their way to seek out a beautiful place like this and then trash it. It is a crime.