How I Packed for A Week in Paris in an 18L Backpack


We’re headed back to Paris this week! Exactly a year ago we visited Paris for the first time and we immediately knew that we wanted to return. It’s a magical city. The architecture, the perfect little alleys, hot wine, the glow of the Eiffel tower at night, and so… much… art!

In true minimalist fashion, I packed like a boss last year and raved about how easy it was to maneuver with only a weekender bag. But, this year, I packed even lighter in an 18L backpack — aiming for true ultra-light packing! Check out our adventures via Instagram this week!


In the backpack:

  • 2 sweaters
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 1 cami
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Toiletries
  • Hairbrush
  • Travel guide
  • Small wristlet/crossover purse

I’m flying in: a pair of stretchy black pants, soft sweater, comfy black boots, back vest (not pictured, last minute addition), and coat.

The temperature in Paris in late November is cool but not unbearable (30-50 degrees), so layering beneath a shell coat is key. I packed a light shirt and leggings for sleeping and to be a base layer on chilly evenings. Rewearing clothes isn’t a big deal when the weather is cool and sweating is minimal.

To minimize crushing or wrinkling, I neatly rolled my clothes up like sushi and tucked the roll into the backpack. Items on the outside are less wrinkled than those in center of the roll.


Purse — During the day, I cary a small wristlet purse that perfectly holds everything needed for a day out; sunglasses, money, lip balm, portable phone charger, wall phone charger and international adapter, bandaids, ibuprofen for achy feet, ear buds to listen to tour guides, and phone. I’ve had a similar wristlet/crossbody from Target for years and love that it’s small enough to even wear under my coat.


Toiletries and Makeup — the real star of my ultra-light packing! Besides packing only the essentials, I found ways to reduce packaging, quantities, and give items a dual purpose to reduce space.

Here’s the full list of what fits inside my small cosmetic case:


Misc. items — we don’t leave for an international trip without a Lonely Planet travel guide! They’re packed full of tips and info about local life and are well worth the money and weight, especially when cell reception is spotty.

Additionally, I had a little extra room to pack a roller hairbrush — in terms of ultra-light packing, this is definitely a luxury item. Also, our Airbnb is equipped with a hairdryer; something I always look for in an amenities list.

Want to see some Paris pics and ultra-light travel in action? Check out our adventures via Instagram!

Your turn — I want to hear from you! What does packing typically look like for you? Do you have any tips for packing light? What’s your favorite packing must-have? Next year we’re headed to Athens, Greece so I want (need) your travel tips!


5 Tips to Simplify Gift Giving

Zero-waste gift wrapping with recycled craft paper and jute twine

Wherever you are in the pursuit of simplicity, we can probably agree that gift giving around Christmas can include occasional moments of stress. Whether it’s searching for the perfect gift, giving up and getting something — anything — just to cross it off the list, or trying to communicate that you want less this year, I’ve put together a list of five things that help ease Christmas prep and encourage mindful giving.

1. Communicate. Each year looks a little different for us in terms of how much we would like to receive, so we try to communicate our desires well in advance. It might feel strange to set a limit or make a request, but you’re in charge of how much stuff enters your space so there’s nothing wrong with letting others know what would be a blessing. There may be an adjustment period for family, so love what they give you, keep communicating graciously, and be patient with the process. Also, keep flexing that giving muscle! Giving feels amazing and can demonstrate love. Choose gifts from a wish list or give consumables or experiences.

2. Exchange gift Lists. It might seem like lists drain the creativity out of giving, but they reduce guesswork and encourage mindful giving. Feel free to request lists from family members — another way to foster communication. My requests are specific and include things that I know will add value like consumables, experiences, and things that will upgrade or replace for something I already own.

3. Consumables and experiences are great gifts. Who doesn’t love homemade treats, nice shampoo/conditioner, soap, flowers, wreathes, candles, lip balm, or essential oils? I request fancy baking vanilla every year — it doesn’t disappoint! Experiences like movie passes, date nights, or a trip to the spa, are great gifts and make memories. Instead of physical gifts for my 30th birthday recently, my husband gave me a day of events (private architectural tour and baking class at my favorite bakery with friends). I felt so loved and celebrated.

4. Keep an easy list of gift ideas. If I’m not prepared, it’s common for me to draw a blank when I need spur-of-the-moment gift ideas. So I came up with two easy ways to prepare myself for those situations: 1) take quick pictures of things my family members like while browsing and 2) keep a private Pinterest board and wish list to save gift ideas. When I need to come up with a thoughtful gift, I quickly scroll through my pictures or online lists for intentional ideas.

5. It’s ok to let go of unused gifts. What do you do with that gift you haven’t used? I highly recommend the practice of giving it away rather than letting it collect dust. The memories that surround it will stay with you long after the item is removed — so love it for a time, take a picture to help you remember the person or thought behind the gift, and let go of it. I typically let unused gifts stick around for 3-6 months and then donate if unused.

Let me know how you’re preparing for the season of giving! Do you use Christmas lists? What’s the most intentional gift you’ve received? Feel free to share your thoughts or ideas in the comments below! I’m always on the lookout for new ways to simplify Christmas and restore the joy and purpose of the season.


*This post includes affiliate links.