A few months ago I accepted the imaginary challenge to go personal item only for six weeks…and I basically haven’t looked back.

I say basically because sometimes I unfurl a tote bag and thus have two personal items. But usually one of those personal items is full of snacks. We all have our priorities.

Since I’ve been making regular passes through New York and Toronto, where I have a few things stashed away, I have the luxury of swapping out a few things as the weather changes. However, a normal person would probably just donate what they no longer needed and buy a few new things as appropriate. Or go to a free market, if that’s more your style.

Regardless of the impression Instagram might give you, no one cares what you wear.

So long as your outfit isn’t so wildly inappropriate (or awesome) as to draw attention, no one really notices. What I wear doesn’t really matter to me, as long as things are clean and comfortable. I’ve worn those jeggings from Uniqlo to a hilarious array of events in the past year and no one gave me a second glance. Jersey knit dresses roll up into nothing in my bag and also work for pretty much any occasion.

Any time you’re stressing out about clothes is time you’re not enjoying the moment.

Figure out the layers you’ll need to be comfortable. Think about how often you’ll have a chance to wash things and how long they’ll take to dry. That’ll let you know how much you need to pack, minimally. Throw in an extra of the items you’d be miserable without or would be hard to pick up on your travels. All of that will probably fit into a personal item.

Add in the essential toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, whatever else you need. Yes, maybe you prefer a certain brand, but does it really matter? It almost never does. Other things are harder to replace. I’ve been carrying around contacts (and contact solution) for months and have worn them only once or twice.


That was easy, wasn’t it? What did I have all that other stuff in my bag for?!