My attempt at “minimalist” packing

Fernando is a self-declared minimalist. I don’t claim to be anything of that sort, but am trying to live lighter (it’s a process). But we’ve agreed that bringing only carry-on luggage is a positive thing for this trip of ours. For me, that means 1 carry-on + 1 personal item (my semi-large “Big Student” JanSport backpack). I had this backpack since probably 2001 (college) – I had to give it some TLC with hand sewing, but good as new. Fernando is only planning on bringing 1 SwissGear backpack…and 2 underpants (among a few other items).

I found on packing for South America to be helpful. I’m still working on paring it down,* but this is what I have so far for our ~6 week trip:


*After getting some good advice from Brooke of (thanks Brooke!), I’ve made some further reductions indicated in being crossed off – minimalism, here we come (or at least, get closer to)!


  • 3 2 shorts: 1 light linen, 1 green khaki-like, 1 jean cutoffs
  • 2 jeans (1 a bit looser for layering, 1 dark)
  • 1 skirt (cotton)
  • 2 black leggings (1 thicker, 1 thinner to be worn alone/layering)
  • 1 lounge/PJ pants
  • 1 sleep shorts
  • 1 workout pants


  • 6 tees: 4 casual tees, 1 “nicer” tee, 1 sleeping tee, 1 workout tee
  • 1 long sleeve tee for layering
  • 1 3/4 tee
  • 4 tanks (worn alone/layering) – these Gap ones are the best and wash well.
  • 2 1 light sweatshirt (1 for sleeping/lounging, 1 for layering)

Other clothes

  • 2 swimsuits (maybe just one? but we will be in Rio for 2 weeks…)
  • 4 dresses: 1 maxi dress, 1 can be layered with leggings, 1 that can also be a swimsuit cover up, 1 casual black
  • 1 hoodie (pink or grey, TBD)
  • 1 light jacket
  • 1 active/layering zip-up
  • 1 black cardigan
  • 5 undies, 2 bras, 1 sport bra, 4 socks


  • 1 sarong (for laying on beach)
  • 1 scarf (“pashmina”)
  • 1 straw/paper hat
  • 2 belts
  • 1 med. cross body bag
  • 1 small cross body purse
  • 3 earrings
  • 1 necklace
  • 1 bracelet (maybe)
  • 1 aviator sunglasses

Shoes (in shoe bags)

  • 1 Brazil Haviana Flip Flops – these are the BEST flip flops, last forever, so comfortable
  • 1 sneaker (Puma “Speeder”) – I’ve taken these on all our trips since 2006 (Paris, Spain, China, Spain again…). Just got them re-soled with Vibram rubber, so they are ready to go! Great for trekking and light hiking.
  • 1 Clarks Privo “Topset” sandals (comfy and cool) – for walking around the city when warm
  • 1 gladiator “nice” sandals – for going out (on the maybe list)
  • 1 black flats – for going out to dinner and pairing with jeans


  • 1 iPad 2
  • 1 Nikon D3100 DSLR
  • 1 Olympus point & shoot (can be dropped and go underwater)
  • 1 Nexus 4 smart phone
  • 1 foldable headphones
  • 1 non-electronic book (TBD)
  • Fern is bringing the Kindle loaded with FREE travel guide e-books for Peru & Brasil from the LA Public Library (go to Travel e-books)


  • 2 little face towels
  • 2 umbrellas (1 for me, 1 for Fern)
  • 1 trusty, foldable Envirosax reusable bag
  • 1 foldable tote bag (if we end up buying souvenirs)

Cut List – the following got taken out:

  • Red TOMS – comfortable, but 4 pairs of shoes already…
  • Thermal leggings and top – go for layering instead
  • Benny 🙁 due to airline travel restrictions

Luggage & Packing:

I’ve packed all my clothes in my new packing cubes, which I like already. Keeps everything organized. My carry-on, which is great but has been abused and hope it will last, is our spinner Samsonite (kinda like this one, but you can get at Ross for $70). Once you get a spinner, as in 4 wheels instead of 2, you can’t go back! This item is one of those things that I am glad I spent the extra $35 to get. We’ve had it since we went to Costa Rica for Tiff & Adrian’s wedding in 2009 and taken everywhere with us since. The other cheapo no-name-Ross bag I got died after that trip. Piece o’ junk.


I am a city girl and have my beauty needs, so I packed all my toiletries in the little <3 ounce bottles (that took a while). I read the TSA rule of “3-1-1” which means 3 ounces in a 1 quart plastic bag, for every 1 person. Well I have 2, so Fernando’s going to have to take one for me. I’ve got communal use stuff in there, so it’s only fair. I recall they were really strict about taking all your liquids out in Brasil. LAX doesn’t seem to care much. Fern got me these plastic bags that zip, which have been pretty useful. I also have a pared down manicure kit 🙂

We will be getting weather from 50s to upper 70s during our trip. We will have to layer during the cooler weather in Cuzco/Machu Picchu, to rainy weather (most likely) in Rio and São Paulo. We will of course have to do laundry during our trip, by machine or hand wash (I brought a bit of detergent).

Well I think that is it. Sounds like a lot, but all fits in the carry-on and some in the backpack. I’ll be wearing the bulkier stuff while in transit like the sneakers, hoodie, and jeans.

It feels weird to put it all out there, to you few readers, at least. Well, there it is. I’ll let you know how good or bad my packing goes on the trip! What’s the least you’ve taken on a long(ish) trip?

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