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Keep Calm and Carry-On: What Paris Taught Me About Packing

Keep Calm and Carry-On: What Paris Taught Me About Packing

I arrive at the Bir-Hakeim station in Paris after nearly tripping three elderly gentlemen on the Metro. I fumble up the steps onto the street, my bag almost twisting over sideways every time I make a sharp turn, then round the corner to find my Airbnb host. I go in for a hug while he attempts faire la bise and it’s all a disaster, but that’s not the point. We walk down the street to his apartment only to find that there isn’t enough room in the lift for all three of us (my luggage being the third). So I go up with my suitcase and wait for him on the fourth floor. “Why did you bring such a big suitcase?” he asks, baffled. The thing is, my suitcase really isn’t that big, but in France, where minimalism is key and most apartments don’t even have a lift, having “more” is simply more of an inconvenience.

Parisians also have that amazing appreciation for classic pieces, natural hair, and minimal makeup, which always inspires me to decipher between what I actually need and what I assume I do.

Needless to say, I learned a thing or two about fashion, packing, and proper greetings that week, and now I’m here to share the wealth! Well, about the packing part at least. As far as greetings go, do not hug a stranger unless they are trying to hug you…oof.

Anyway, grab your favorite carry on bag, play some upbeat music to get you in the packing mood, and let’s get started!

  • A great way to begin is by checking the weather forecast for your destination. If you know it’s going to be cold for the entirety of your trip you simply don’t need to bring along your collection of crop tops, babe. You just don’t.

  • Plan out one outfit for each day (making sure to include pieces that can cross over to outfits for other days, minimizing the amount of bulk). Once you’ve done that you’ll only need an accessory or two that can transition the ensembles to evening looks, as opposed to packing an entirely new outfit. One trusty pair of heels or a fun jacket to throw on top always does the trick.

  • I know you’ve heard it before, but seriously, roll your clothes.

  • A little spray bottle of Downey is a lifesaver.

  • Bring a larger tote as your personal item and put a smaller crossbody bag inside. You can add to it whatever doesn't fit in your carry-on, then use the smaller bag when you’re out and about at your destination.

  • Wear your bulkiest items on the plane. It saves you space and planes are always cold, so you’ll appreciate the layers. On the rare occasion that the plane you end up on isn’t cold, strip on the flight and put the excess in your tote.

Bonus tip!

Since you can only have one bag of liquids, I soak cotton pads in my toner and seal them in a ziplock. You’ll have exactly the amount you need, and you’ve saved yourself some space for the rest of your toiletries.

Whether you have a big international trip planned, or a quick domestic jaunt, we hope these tips and tricks help you live your best minimalist life. Bon Voyage!

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