How do you pack light for a two-month trip that will take you from the city of Buenos Aires to the cool mountains of Patagonia to the hot beaches of Barbados?
Eric and Lee Miller managed to do just that, bringing just one 21-inch suitcase each for their eight-week sojourn. “We each took just two pairs of underwear, one to wear and one to wash,” says Lee Miller. “Everything we took could be rinsed out each night and would be dry by the next morning.”
The Millers bought lightweight, packable, wash-and-wear clothing for their trip from travel gear Web sites like Magellan’s, TravelSmith and Scottevest.
“Everything I packed was a neutral color,” Lee says. “You need separates that all coordinate. And it’s OK if you wear the same clothes day after day.” After all, she points out, when you travel you won’t be seeing the same people.
Lee brought just four shirts, two pairs of shoes, one skirt, one cardigan and four pairs of pants—white, black, khakis and jeans (the one exception to the quick-dry rule). She had two tankini bathing suits and got double wear from the bathing suit tops by wearing them as shirts. The one change she would have made, she says, was to bring a second skirt in lieu of one of the pairs of pants.
“Everything had to be able to be worn anytime, anywhere,” Lee says. “You kind of have to know the culture of where you’re going, but the fact is that the world is casual these days. There’s nowhere a man can’t go wearing blue jeans and a white shirt.” Instead of a sport coat, Eric brought a versatile and packable zip-up black cardigan.
For their excursion to Patagonia, they brought along hiking boots and down sweaters that they shipped back home after they completed that portion of the trip.
Lee is an avid reader, two to three books a week when she’s vacationing, and she didn’t want to haul a suitcase full of books with her. So, despite her previous aversion to electronic readers, she purchased a Kindle. “I absolutely loved the simplicity of being able to get books anytime, anywhere,” she says.
Lee even got a new wash-and-wear hairstyle before the trip so she didn’t need to bring a hair dryer or styling products.
Keeping their luggage to a minimum was essential for a trip that had the Millers moving every few days (or even more) on the South American half of their trip, when they took various forms of transportation including public buses. Now that they know the freedom of traveling light, they say, they’ll never go back to their old ways of packing.