Traveling Lightly

Last November I took a 10 day trip to San Diego and Mexico. It was my first big trip after I had walked 580 miles on the Camino that summer. The Camino taught me the beauty and simplicity of traveling lightly, so I set out to see how little I could get by with, while still having everything I needed.

We were going for a casual meditation retreat in Ensenada, Mexico, with temperatures ranging from 40-90 degrees Fahrenheit and I’d need to do some walking.  So how did I do with keeping it light, but not suffering to do so?


This is me with all my stuff for the 10 day trip!

I got everything I needed into a 17 x 9 inch duffel bag.  I also choose to wear the heaviest items on the flight (jeans, 3/4 length gray cotton top, jackets, and sandals with socks).  OK, so the socks with the sandals are not very fashionable, but they kept me warm on the trip to the airport and on the plane.  I LOVED having my hands free and the ease of carrying my items with me during the flight.  And I got a nice laugh when my friends said “where is your luggage?”


Close up of purse and duffel bag.

My small duffel bag is very light.  It can expand to hold quite a bit or it will contract if not filled fully.  It fits over my shoulder with an adjustable strap, so it is very easy to carry.  I also brought my trusty purse with all the basics I carry in it day-to-day.  I took digital photos of key documents such as my passport and flight details and I uploaded them to my cloud as back-ups in case I lost my originals.


This is what was inside the duffel bag – Clothes in the top 2 sacks, toiletries in the 2 smaller sacks, charging cord and blue daypack that folds into its own sack.

I love the Eagle Creek sacks for organizing and compressing my items.  They are made out of parachute material and weigh almost nothing, yet they hold a lot.  These sacks allow items to stay folded, organized and somewhat compressed.  I like that they are different colors, so the large white sack is for my tops, the green large sack is for my bottoms.  The small white sack is for daily use toiletries and the small green sack is for items used less frequently.


Eddie Bauer daypack

This daypack takes up very little room, while allowing me to expand my carrying capacity when I need to.  It also stores nicely into it’s own built in sack as seen in the photo of all the sacks (above).  I ended up purchasing chia seeds, lentils, nuts, quinoa and rice in San Diego and fresh produce in Mexico.   This allowed me to cook most of my meals as a way to save money and eat healthy vegan meals while south of Ensenada.  All of the bulk items fit nicely into the daypack.


Spicy Lentil Stew topped with Fresh Cilantro and Avocados that I made during the retreat

Here is my list of items for the trip:

  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of black pants that convert to shorts
  • 1 pair of jersey shorts (to sleep in)
  • 6 tops (2 tanks, 1 sleeveless, 1 short sleeve, 1 ¾ sleeve and 1 long sleeve)
  • 1 athletic jacket
  • 3 pair of underwear
  • 1 bra
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 purse
  • 1 daypack (that folds into a smaller sack)
  • Toiletries & Personal Items: (Glasses, glass case, contacts, contact solution, sleep mask, wash cloth, bandana, headband, elastic hair bands, benzol peroxide, shampoo and conditioner, toothbrush, tooth powder, dental floss, Schmidt’s deodorant sample size, coconut oil, eye-shadow, eyeliner, make-up brush, hairbrush, sample soap, rescue remedy, and Imodium)
  • 1 Charger cord for iPhone

Here are the clothes I packed into the 2 large Eagle Creek sacks.


Toiletries that went into the 2 small Eagle Creek sacks.

 Some of the fun highlights of the trip:

  • Having the items I needed, but not more.
  • A mini-reunion with friends at Ki’s Restaurant in Cardiff, California.
  • Attending the 2nd Annual San Diego VegFest (which accidentally happened to fall on the day I arrived and which was walking distance to a Whole Foods and the friend I was staying with).
  • Getting to relax and be at the beach.
  • Meditating and learning more about myself.
  • Mama Bear’s vegetarian pizza and yummy salads!
  • Not lugging around a heavy suitcase.
  • No lost luggage risk.
  • Being able to wash clothes at Kathleen’s about a week into the trip.
  • Seeing old friends in San Diego and at the retreat.
  • Being in the sunshine!

My dear friend Penny and her daughter, Christina.


My buddy Kathleen and I at the Self Realization Fellowship Gardens.


Me and Penny in Ensenada, Mexico.


Punta Banda, Mexico (just south of Ensenada). So peaceful and beautiful. The perfect spot for a meditation retreat. A perfect opportunity to travel lightly!

So my experiment in going lighter than usual really worked well for me.  Let me know how you travel lightly and any tips you wish to add in the comments below.

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