Recently my husband and I traveled to the east coast to visit family. It was a short trip – we arrived on Thursday, departed on Sunday. In the past my husband and I each have taken a carry-on sized bag. When we discovered we would have to pay an additional $50 to do that, we decided to see if it was possible for us to travel with only one personal item each.

Airline travel regulations are ever-changing these days.

I remember when one could check two full-sized suitcases per person and have one carry-on person at no extra charge. That changed, and fees for checked bags were instituted, but one carry-on bag and one personal item were still free.

What has become more standard as of late is charging for any kind of baggage except one personal item. Different airlines define the size of a “personal item” slightly differently, but the one I traveled on dictates a size limit of 17 x 10 x 9 inches.

Bags used to be a clutter weakness of mine.

I used to have lots and lots of different kinds of bags – purses, backpacks, satchels – of all different sizes. In years gone by I have clutter cleared many of those bags. I wrangled in on the ones I like the most and are most compatible with the activities I like to do.

One of the bags that I have kept over the years I had during college. It wasn’t my school work pack though, it was the bag I always had packed and ready to go out of town at a moment’s notice for the weekend. I often road tripped all over the Midwest during my college days, mostly in search of a rave with a good dance floor. That back pack was pretty much always with me when insanely good times were had. It was also the back pack that I had with me when I traveled through Europe for three weeks twenty years ago. That back pack had that fun spontaneous spirit still attached to it, so it seemed like the right back pack for our trip. Conveniently, it also fit the airline size requirements.

I like to be challenged in life, and this packing challenge was a perfect fit. I must have packed and repacked in my head a million times the days leading up to our travel. When one travels so lightly, every single thing that goes in the back pack matters. All clothes must coordinate with all the other clothes – space saver bags are a life saver. One pair of all-purpose shoes – must be waterproof and good for urban hikes yet stylish enough for a semi-fancy dinner. Snacks enough to get a restricted-diet person (me) through days of travel if other options are not available. All entertainment (books, audio, etc) must be on phone only, no room for the computer or physical books.

Freedom comes through simplicity.

Somehow, it all fit. The level of freedom that came from traveling with this incredibly minimal amount of stuff was amazing. No fussing with overhead compartments, no waiting for checked bags. Everything else we could have needed would have been accessible when we arrived at our destination, so why fret?

This was an extremely helpful challenge for me to look at the real value of every single item I take with me on a trip. Sometimes what we think is impossible is not only possible, but can lead to greater levels of freedom, flow and ease.

Ready to cultivate greater freedom in your life? Join me for a Community Clutter Clearing session soon.

Receive the weekly newsletter,

it's FREE!

Fill in the form and I'll send you my latest articles and other decluttering-related information.

Success! You've been subscribed!