Traveling Light: A Few Examples of Most Impressive Packing

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When I travel, my suitcase usually ends up within a half-pound of the 50lb weight limit, even on fairly short trips. I blame my heavy old laptop and all the local beer and coffee I like to bring for presents, but it could also have something to do with the 5 pairs of shoes I "need". A tip of my "totally necessary" straw hat to all the ultra-light packers out there... 

  • For her around-the-world-in-75-days trip, intrepid reporter Nellie Bly packed all the items shown above in Wendy MacNaughton's charming illustration. According to Brain Pickings, "Circumstances demanded of Bly packing so masterful and efficient that it would put to shame even today‚Äôs most seasoned frequent flyers", and so she traveled with only one set of clothes. Her long blue dress, warm black and white plaid coat, and Sherlock Holmes-style hat were chosen for practical purposes, but soon became her famous, signature look. Around the world with just a tiny carry-on!

  • Reporter Joan Didion's packing list made the rounds a few years back, but I discovered it on Keep It Chic, thanks to one of 101 Cookbooks' excellent Favorites Lists. Even taking into account the bourbon and the typewriter, her things must have fit into a very small bag, and the fact that she included a robe and slippers adds a touch of elegance to the often-uncivilized process of traveling. Do you ever travel with a robe and slippers? I'd like to start...

  • When cookbook author Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks travelled to India last year, her ultra-efficient packing humbled me. In the same size bag I need just to stay entertained and comfortable on a cross-country flight (books, magazines, extra sweaters, tons of snacks, who knows what else), she was able to pack for a trip halfway around the world. In addition to her space-consuming cameras and camera paraphernalia, Heidi packed just a couple of dresses, limited but luxurious toiletries, travel guides, ballet flats, and a cute lunch box of  sturdy golden potstickers and millet croquettes to eat on the long flight.

(Image: Wendy MacNaughton for Brain Pickings)