A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Packing Light for a Family Vacation. Plus, an Announcement

It is a personal goal of mine to pack as little as possible when we go on family vacations. I used to pride myself on taking anything and everything we could possibly need for a trip. But now I get excited with how small our bags are and how empty the van is when we leave.

Our family is at the beach this week. In the past we’ve carried so much stuff with us that everyone was cramped and loading the car took forever. This time, the van was so empty on the ride here that the kids could actually lay the seats all the way down to go to sleep!

So what made the difference? I decided to handle all the packing myself. As a mom, the bulk of the packing typically falls on me anyway. It only takes one trip of a kid forgetting underwear that you realize you have to oversee the clothes packing process fairly closely.

Instead of looking at packing for the family as a chore, I now see it as a big advantage. Maybe doing all the packing seems a little control freakish, but here are some of the reasons why I enjoy it:

Advantages to Packing for the Entire Family Vacation:

  1. I pack fewer clothes. This year we are gone for a nine day trip but I only packed three outfits for everyone. As the minimalist of the family, I’m bound to pack the lightest for all of us.
  2. I make sure all outfits are mix and match. I don’t like to do a lot of laundry on vacation but I’d rather do laundry than over pack. Making sure every shirt goes with every pair of shorts I pack for the kids, there is sure to be something clean they can wear on any given day.
  3. I pack fun and educational activities. In the past, we’ve traveled with video game systems and all kinds of toys to keep the kids busy. This year my husband and I decided to skip the games, but I made sure to bring some fun things along like books, movies, and card games that didn’t take up too much room.
  4. If I don’t pack it, they’re less likely to miss it. When I used to turn my kids loose with the directive of “Go pack your bag for our trip,” the sheer volume of what they wanted to bring was overwhelming. Despite me gently trying to explain that six stuffed animals was a tad too much for one week long trip I was inevitably met with a sad face and an argument. By avoiding the situation of having to put back things the kids want to pack, I can skip the arguments altogether.

Once you’ve been on vacation with just a handful of necessities, it really shows you how little you need to be quite comfortable on a daily basis. This little realization always helps to revive my minimalist mojo and gets me in the mood to think of new trips to plan.

I know I’m certainly not the most minimalist vacation packer around. What tips do you have to share for traveling light with your family?


Announcing: My Menus

On a slightly different note, while we were on vacation this week, our first iPhone app went live! I am so excited to share My Menus with you.

My Menus is an app I created for organizing your favorite menus. I am always looking for ways to simplify menu planning. All the apps and systems I tried made things way too complicated or gave me a list of recipes I’m was never going to use. My Menus is the exact method I’ve used on paper for years and I turned it into an iPhone app.

Some of the features of My Menus include:

  • Simple, easy to use method for organizing your favorite recipes
  • Sorts menus by protein type, cooking method, or cooking time
  • “Surprise Me” random menu option
  • Offers a text box for menu notes or side items
  • Keeps track of where a recipe is located

I hope you’ll try it out and share it with your friends if you find it useful. A free version called My Menus Lite is also available.

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Article originally published on 06/05/2012

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