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What you got in that bag? What in the world's in that bag?

When I was twenty-five, I went on my first backpacking trip. Three girlfriends and I hiked for four days across Glacier National Park in Montana and by the time we reached Canada, the seeds of minimalism were planted.

Fast forward ten years.

When it came time to leave the van and pack up for the next phase of the trip, I was dedicated to traveling with only carry-on baggage. Nothing to get lost by the airlines, nothing to slow me down as I trekked around the world. I packed and re-packed and re-packed again and ended up with one main backpack and second smaller backpack. Success!

Um...yeah. Not so much.

I didn't notice my overpacking on the trip from Maryland to upstate New York nor from upstate New York to New York City. We were in a car, after all, and the amount of time that I had to carry my bags was quite short: house to car, car to house, house to car, car to hotel.

And then we left the hotel, Jon's parents and their car and my perspective changed. Actually, that's not really descriptive enough. My world imploded and my head blew up.

You may or may not know it, but it is hotter than the sun in NYC right now. I know, I know, all of you Arizona people want to strangle me for saying that because it's like 180 degrees there. So pleasant. I KNOW. But it is hot and humid here and I don't exactly hold up well under extreme heat. Add lots of walking with two 5000 pound bags to that equation and it makes for a very cranky Ellen.

Two hissy fits, taxi rides and bag re-packs later, I am now down to one small bag:

I may do some more purging as I go along but I feel like I am closer to owning my possessions rather than them owning me. I WILL NOT let them ruin my experiences! I will board that plane tomorrow with what I need to get by and without an anchor that will hold me back from making the best of my trip.

So wish me luck as I explore my next phase in minimalism, embarking into the world without so much as a pair of high heels or jeans!


For those of you curious what exactly is in my bag, here is the complete list:

General Items

Clothing and Jewelry



  1. 1 eylash curler?!?!?!? I don't even own an eyelash curler!!!

    and, what? no red dress?!?!?!?!

  2. lol!! I know, the eyelash curler is kind of ridiculous. There are several things still in my bag that I could do without... :) Leaving the red dress was a suuuuuper hard decision but it was kind of bulky with the shoulder pads and felt like something I might not wear all of the time. But it is so awesome. Dangit, now I am totally regretting my decision... argh!!!!

  3. i love the "pack of gum". Fantastic exercise in minimalism. You're inspiring me as we speak.... Your flight takes off in just a few minutes, i hope you got to JFK alright, and can't wait to hear more about your adventures as they continue into foreign lands...xox

  4. I have yet to catch up with Ellen on the minimialism, but I think I'm doing pretty well for a pack rat.

    We made it through all the way to Amsterdam! Thanks for your help with airport directions. I'm not sure we would have made it in time without them!

  5. How did you ever get down to one little backpack, Ellen? Congrats!

    We are glad to hear you made it safely to Amsterdam.

    M&D in NC

  6. I'm with Maribeth on the eyelash curler--really?

    So fantastically cool to be in Holland during the WC final.

  7. @Ma and Pa Boeke - I highly recommend dragging your things around in extreme heat to sharpen the focus on what is really necessary for travel!

    @Rachel (and Maribeth) - I have actually used it already for Henk Jan's wedding and could probably jettison it at this point but it doesn't take up much space. I'll probably keep it - who knows when I will want to curl my eyelashes again?? :)


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