Packing light

logoLong before airlines started charging for checked baggage, Richard and I carried less luggage than most travellers. On our recent 17 day trip to Nova Scotia, we shared one large suitcase. Our carry-ons included a backpack which doubled as a day pack when we went hiking, my computer bag and my purse.

The first questions to ask yourself when packing for any trip include: Where am I going? What kind of weather will I likely encounter? and What is the purpose of my trip?

Average daytime temperatures in Nova Scotia in October tend to be mild, ranging between 12 and 15ºC (54 to 58ºF) while nights are cool, between 3 and 9ºC (38 to 48ºF). Though we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary the first weekend we were there and planned to  dine at one of Halifax’s finest restaurants, most of our vacation would be spent visiting friends, sightseeing and hiking. We packed accordingly.

So, what was in my half of that one large suitcase?

  • 8 tops – 2 long sleeved, 4 three quarter sleeved, 2 short sleeved – mostly neutral colours – most were casual, but if you look closely you’ll see my black lace and my animal print, both suitable for dressier occasions


  • 5 pairs of pants – 2 blue jeans, 1 green jeans, 1 lightweight khaki pants and one black dress pants


Just think of all the combinations that could be created with those 13 items! To these basics, I added

  • 1 cardigan that could coordinate with many of the items shown above
  • 3 camis for layering – 1 black, 1 white, 1 khaki
  • 1 dress for that special anniversary dinner
  • 12 panties and 12 pairs of socks – I didn’t actually need that many, but I wasn’t sure exactly when we’d have access to laundry facilities (we did laundry once on the trip)
  • 3 bras – those I wash by hand so 2 really would have been enough
  • 2 pantyhose and 2 knee high hose – again, more than I needed, but they don’t take up any space and I like to have extras in case I snag them
  • 4 pairs of pyjamas
  • 1 skimpy negligee – it was our anniversary, after all!
  • 1 short, very lightweight kimono
  • 1 pair of cozy slipper socks
  • 1 swimsuit which didn’t come out of the suitcase, but I rarely travel without one
  • 1 ball cap for hiking and walking in the sun


  • 1 toque which I didn’t actually wear until we arrived back in snowy Alberta
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 hoodie and 1 lightweight jacket that could be worn individually or layered for extra warmth


  • 3 pairs of shoes –  I wore my Merrell walking/hiking shoes on the plane and the other 2 pairs fit into the outside pocket of our suitcase along with Richard’s dress shoes – I always stuff socks or other small items inside shoes when I pack them to save space and to help them keep their shape.


This list actually includes what I wore as well as the change of clothes that was in the backpack in case our suitcase didn’t make it to our destination at the same time as we did. In addition to clothing, my side of the suitcase also contained toiletries, makeup, medications, sunscreen, jewelry (packed in a hard shell eyeglass case), a travel size blow dryer, a straightening iron and a travel alarm clock.

What about you? Do you travel light? What can’t you leave home without?


7 thoughts on “Packing light

    • One of our best travel investments was a small hand held luggage scale that travels with us. Our suitcase weighed 49 pounds when we left the Calgary airport. One pound to spare!

      We bought very little on this trip, but since we didn’t take our full allotment of carry-ons (one larger and one smaller item per person), we had space to bring something home if we had wanted to.

  1. I have always packed light. We went to Scotland and Ireland with one suitcase and one carry on for 21 days, for the 2 of us. Took along a small tote for daily use. I also take a small container of laundry soap to wash small items out and therefore take less.

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