Before we left on our big trip, we talked about packing light for a trip and at home. We're glad to report that packing light totally paid off and has committed us even more to the idea that small is cool.
I was able to carry my bag onto most flights around China (which at my last tally was 10) and only had one scare that it might be lost forever. Then I realized that though I didn't want to lose all the stuff in the bag, I would survive. And then I got it back.
I packed as though I was going on a trip for 3-4 days in 2 climates: 2 pairs of pants, 2 light sweaters, tank tops, a skirt, a jacket, sneakers and a pair of flats. Then a journal, camera stuff, socks, underwear and toiletries (which I dumped half of because they have a strict no liquids policy on domestic Chinese flights).
Having such a small bag made moving between places so much easier. The packing was easier and the carrying (or rolling) was easier. I could keep track of exactly what I had, and after I dumped the toiletries I became much more resourceful in hotel rooms. Decisions about what to wear were rather simplified, and all of this left me more open to the experience in front of me.
Moving around with so little became a game. Each time I packed up, I would evaluate what I had: Do I really need to keep these magazines? How many pairs of socks are truly necessary? Can I pass along a book I just finished? I became a little obsessed with editing my luggage since it felt so good to keep it small.
Upon returning home I immediately have purged a bunch of 'stuff' that I haven't known what to do with, let go of more of my inherited clutter, and cleared out cabinets so that they could hold things more efficiently. I realized while away how many of the things I keep around I don't actually need. So unless I love them, it's time to let them go. Sometimes it feels as though we keep things around for comfort, always losing sight of the fact that life feels good when there isn't a lot of extra crap lying around taking up space.