Minimalist Travel?

After our last trip to China, we decided we needed to make drastic changes in the way that we travel!  Mostly, the changes revolved around how much stuff we are bringing with us.  I mentioned it on Face*book the other day and it was suggested that I write a blog post about how we are going to do this.

I am planning on breaking up this post into a series as we prepare for our 9 day trip to Southern California a couple of weeks from now, so if your interested, please stay tuned.


Clothing undoubtedly takes up the most room in our luggage!  On most of our previous trips we have planned 3 days worth of clothing plus what we were wearing.  That meant that our suit cases contained 12 pairs of pants, 12 shirts, 12 pairs of underwear, 12 pairs of socks, etc.  Think about it and you’ll soon realize that takes more than one suitcase!  Then throw a Sunday into the mix and we have another entire day worth of clothing, including ties, hair bows and another pair of shoes. for. each. person.   Also, don’t forget pajamas, a must when traveling with a dad and 4 girls!

On our last trip to China we were in several locations where we didn’t have access to a laundry and where we didn’t want the added expense of sending our clothing out.   We ended up doing a lot of laundry in the tub/sink and hanging it to dry.  Because we had mostly jeans and t-shirts we learned that we had to plan well, esp. if we were moving to another location in the near future, because these items take a LONG TIME to dry!  T-shirts were taking 2 days, jeans sometimes three.  Underwear was pretty much dry over night and could be touched up with the hair dryers.  Socks….well, there were not just a few times that we stuck the hair dryer into a sock and just left it on the counter.  Matters were made worse when we were in Southern China because of the humidity!   If you haven’t figure it out yet, I’ll just tell you… this took up FAR TOO MUCH of our precious time in China!

As we began thinking about how we could be minimalist travelers our thoughts turned to the clothing situation first.  We decided rather quickly that we would make the financial sacrifice and invest in “travel clothing.”  Because this type of clothing is made of polyester it will dry over night (if not quicker). We decided that two outfits per person (I’ll talk about church later) was sufficient.  One outfit can be worn during the day, the other carried.  We could possibly go two days without doing laundry, such as on days that we are traveling overnight.

After some research we did not end up spending all of our money on “travel specific” clothing.  We learned that workout clothing was made of the same materials, and if chosen carefully could look just as nice.   We found excellent prices at  Da decided he did not want to wear running pants or baggy basket ball pants (who can blame him) and opted for pants from Columbia Clothing with a zipper that allowed him to have long and short pants!   Da also chose one running t-shirt and a tan colored button down that he could wear to church.  Marmee chose simple t-shirts in classic colors and pants by Mountain Hardwear.  Xuxu found two t-shirts that she loved and black running shorts, that had a crease down the front that dressed them up a bit, at a local running store.

Things got a little trickier when I started looking for clothing for the little girls.  (They are 4 , 7 and 10.)  Most sport clothing for their age was not appropriate for the kind of traveling we are doing.  I did not want my little girls in the short shorts or tank tops that were displayed.   Eventually I decided that I could take black knee length board shorts, pair them with a loose fitting rash guard and end up with a very reasonable looking outfit.  I was very pleased with what we ended up with.

We tested our clothing this weekend at a National Park.  We rode the shuttle bus, hiked around a bit and even took a dip in the river!  We do not plan on getting wet all the time, but we did this time to test our theory of “getting wet” and drying quickly!  The shuttle we took into the canyon was a 15+ minute walk from the water.  We were not completely dry by the time we arrived, but nearly so.


Everyone will be wearing Keens for summer travel.  (Winter travel is going to be another post!)  Each person will have one pair of coolmax (quick drying) socks.  Keens are super comfortable (wear like a tennis shoe), are wet/dry and can be washed in easily in a tub.  They don’t dry too quickly so be aware of this when traveling in cool weather.  We usually carry a small container of Gold Bond powder for smelly feet.  (Be sure to keep this in a zip lock bag!)

Read about Sunday Travel and Luggage here!

Update:  See the clothing in action at Disney Land!

5 Responses

  1. Jeannetta says:

    Mrs. Travelocity,I think you did well! Casual, but not sloppy. I need to look up “Keens”.

  2. Just Lara says:

    Fabulous!! Thanks for posting this! Where did you get the girl’s board shorts and shirts? I know I’m looking at the wrong time of year for these things. My older two girls have one outfit like this but I haven’t been able to find anything small enough for my two year old. I’ll have to try again in the spring. I ordered our Keens and I bought some silky jogging type outfits for my girls at Old Navy. I bought my son and husband a couple silky golf shirts with collars. I think they’ll be nice and even dressy enough for Church if we need them to be.

    I will be ordering some of my things here: because they have talls. They even have long stretchy/silky skirts which I’m excited about because I love to wear skirts.

    Can’t wait to read more! Especially where you bought your girl’s travel dresses.

  3. ?? says:

    Lara, I apologize for not posting your comment right away. It appears that my spam filter is being far to picky lately and I can’t figure out how to fix it! Anyway, I found the board shorts and rash guards at I also get my Keens from them because they do free returns and are SO FAST!

    Thanks for the link to Athleta. I will look into their skirts for sure because daughter #1 and I would prefer to wear skirts over most anything! I’ll be posting the travel dresses we found soon…and my solution for the littles.

  4. ?? says:

    Yes, Jeannetta, Keens are fabulous! I am devoted to them!

  5. Just Lara says:

    Thanks! I had a hard time getting the right sizes/colors for everyone so I bought our Keens from various places. I was happy to find them locally so we could at least try them on before we ordered what we wanted online. I had to take the boy’s shirts back because they were too snaggy. Since finding some great stuff for my son at the DI I think I will just keep looking there for them. The girls are a lot harder because the shorts at the DI aren’t modest/long enough. I will probably work some more on this project next spring but I’m eagerly awaiting your next post!