It’s All in the Bag

After almost three years of continuous packing and unpacking, I have finally come to terms with less being more. It wasn’t easy at first, for the temptation to pack my entire wardrobe was great. The “what if’s” long held sway over the reality of carrying and/or dragging excess weight.

However, after paying careful attention to what I didn’t use on a trip finally resolved my decision to see just how little I could get away with, and still look vogue and not vagabond.

For this month’s stay in Viña del Mar, and subsequent commute to Santiago for my Master’s classes, I realized that what was packed was all that was needed, and probably would have sufficed for more than my five day travel. Better yet, all was contained in the space of 22x14x9 inches, namely a regulation carry-on. How liberating!

Given the airlines’ current greed and excessive charges for checked luggage, traveling light has gained greater relevance to any mile-weary traveler. So, to help other packing-challenged, like myself, I will endeavor to include my personal list of what to pack, at least when traveling to or around Chile, from a woman’s perspective.

It isn’t necessary to bring everything to look presentable. Half a dozen shoes (my personal downfall) to match every outfit are not necessary.  More important to remember is that there are shops at your destination point, and you could save space and “excusable need” for shopping.

The beginning of March is a time for transition from Summer into early Fall, which meant that the weather would be changeable. Also, Viña is much cooler than Santiago, which can be a boiling pot during the summer. So, taking both environments into account this is what I wore for travel and what my carry-on held:

Travel Wear

Black military jacket w/ matching mini skirt

Black/tan striped long sleeve top

Black tights

Black ankle boots

Pendant necklace and watch

Black handbag (the only one!)


Black jeans

Blue jeans

Lavender cotton sweater

Knit sweater/skirt set (teal sweater, black top, teal skirt)

Lavender Polo dress

3 Sleeveless tops

White cami top

White tank top

Grey t-shirt

Slip for sleep

Lightweight white jacket with hood


Panties, bras, socks, stockings

Black high heel shoes (1 pair)

Cream sandles

Black flipflops

Makeup in ziplock bag

Moisterizer, make-up remover

Shampoo, conditioner

Towel, washcloth

Prescriptions and Ibuprofen

What I didn’t use, do to cooler temperatures

White cami top

White tank top

Polo dress

What to substitute or add

For an extended trip, I probably would have added a sleeveless, basic black dress. Although I would have liked my black dress for going out to dinner (there were still “stars” in Viña, one week after the annual music festival), my black jeans with top and military jacket still sufficed. Last minute, I had removed a second knit sweater/skirt set, which could be added back into the case. I could have also added a large silk scarf to act as a shawl or to add color to an all-black outfit.

Of Special Note

The important things about what was packed were the flexibility in combining and layering clothes, and the compactness in which they could be folded. Also, I wore and sometimes carried the military jacket, which would have taken up valuable packing space, while traveling.

All in all, I was amazed by how everything worked together, and fitted so easily into such a small bag. I used to read articles for packing, but nothing clicked for me until this trip. While I’ll never be like the traveler who only takes what is worn (male, of course), I look forward to future trips without all the excess baggage!

Leave a Reply