Packing Light: Five Days in Seattle

Thanksgiving with the family in Seattle. Highs in the low 50s, lows in low 40s, slight chance of rain, and of course a lot more humidity than I’m accustomed to here in Colorado. Besides celebrating the holidays, we’re going to swim, lift and visit a couple of museums.

I’m switching some things up for this trip. REI Quantum Messenger BagBecause this whole light packing thing is sort of a game, I’m going to try to do this trip with a single 23 liter messenger bag, REI’s Quantum Messenger Bag. I also just got a Kindle, and have managed to get a couple of books onto it.

Eagle Creek Specter Packing CubesI’m adding in my new packing cubes. I’ve never been convinced of the utility of packing cubes partly because the ones I’ve tried seem bulky and heavy and partly because I’m not trying to compress more stuff into less space. I’m trying to keep weight, not just volume, down. But now Eagle Creek has come out with these super-light Specter packing cubes, and I picked up a set of three that weigh a total of 2.2 oz.

On the plane:
Seattle 2013 - Plane Outfit
Thin purple cashmere sweater, lilac tank top, black skirt, black leggings, super warm wool socks, brown riding boots. Down sweater, gloves, pashmina.

In the bag:

The full cube contains 1 pair of black wool pants, 1 3/4 sleeve t-shirt, 1 grey merino cardigan, 1 swimsuit, and 1 rainshell. I could probably have stuffed some more stuff in there.

Seattle 2013 - Full Cube Unpacked
Seattle 2013 - Full Cube Packed

The half cube contains my googles, swim cap, hairbrush, computer and phone chargers. It’s not very full.

The quarter cube contains my non-liquid toiletries and medications.

In the bottom of the bag I have a pair of flat gym shoes stuffed with 3 pairs of underwear, a pair of thin wool socks, and another scarf.

Rounding things out are a small bag of wheelchair tools, including a spare tube, my liquids ziplock, containing toothpaste, sunscreen, and a small bottle of jojoba oil, my laptop and my new Kindle. The messenger bag, packed, weighs in at 13.5lbs/6kgs.

Seattle 2013 - The Rest

That’s how it’s packed, but when I read packing posts, my eyes glaze over at descriptions of individual items of clothing—what I want to know is how the selections work functionally. Here we go:

For outerwear, I’ve got what amounts to a 3 layer system that will work for most any temperature I can expect: rain shell, down sweater, cardigan.

I’ve got 3 bottom pieces: skirt, leggings, warm wool pants.

I’ve got 4 top pieces: tank top, 3/4 sleeve t-shirt, cashmere sweater, cardigan (can that count as both a top piece and an outer layer?).

For exercise I can wear the t-shirt or the tank top and the leggings. Most everything except the wool pants can be hand washed quickly and will dry overnight.

Briggs & Riley Travel ToteAlas, this light packing scenario remains wishful thinking for now. For the actual trip, I realized (thank goodness!) that every time I’ve stayed in someone’s house, rather than at a hotel, I’ve needed some sort of nightgown or dressing gown. Adding that tipped my stuff out of the messenger bag and back into my 32 liter tote bag. In the tote there’s enough room for my jacket and my purse-equivalent (a small bag I normally strap to the wheelchair) as well, which makes life a lot easier when getting on and off planes and buses.

I’ll try this again sometime when the weather is warmer (clothes take up less room) and I’m feeling less addicted to my laptop.



  1. libby selinsky

    Hey there!
    I was searching for MS blogs and came across your site. I have to say, I love your attitude! I also found myself interested in your Seattle blog because I lived on Bainbridge Island for a couple of years and I loved the area! I am in Ohio now, but living in the Seattle area was great for me and learning more about living organically and focussing on getting outdoors for exercise. I was diagnosed with MS in 2007 and I am only starting now at blogging about it. Here is my first stab at it:

    The main reason I wanted to reach out though is your drive towards traveling light. I started a company this past summer that creates handmade, 100% Natural and Organic personal care items. I have a pomade that I know you will love and I create it in travel size! You can find them here:

    Let me know if you would like to give them a try. They work great for men and women AND they are great on most all hair types! I would love to hear what you think of them.

    Libby Selinsky

  2. dawn

    Your posts are fabulous! You are funny and intelligent. Wow.

    1. Katja

      Thank you, Dawn, both for your kind words and for leaving a comment!


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