30 Day Challenge: One Suitcase

It's an eye-opening experience to physically carry everything you own.

When I was in college, I spent two summers traveling all over the western part of the U.S. and Canada, singing with a choral group.  I took the ferry from Seattle to Victoria BC, saw snow falling on hot springs and geysers in Yellowstone Park on July 4, toured the amazing Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico, and hiked the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Fall in Yosemite, as well as singing concerts in nearly 150 venues.  I lived for ten weeks each time out of a single suitcase (and a garment bag for concert attire).

I learned to love the minimal completeness of packing for travel.  You can be weighed down by multiple pieces of luggage that have to be checked, hauled around, unpacked and repacked, or you can enjoy the agility of a single rolling bag. 

Of course, you have to consider carefully which clothes you'll need, which toiletries and accessories.  You might include a book or a journal; you'll surely bring your phone and charger.  But you have only what you've chosen to take with you.  It's the ultimate in decluttering.

There's something very freeing about living with only a fraction of your possessions.  You have mindfully curated a collection of the things you use and love the most, and in my experience, you still have plenty!

For the month of September, I've decided to metaphorically live out of one suitcase.  (I'm not considering kitchen items, my bed, or my couch.)  My "suitcase" will hold ten items of clothing, plus underwear, nightwear, and basic toiletries.  It holds my laptop and cords, my current crossword puzzle book, and a zipper bag with my current embroidery project.  I'll also have my purse and its contents (including my phone, on which I have several unread books).

FYI, the ten items of clothing include 

  • a pair of black jeans
  • a pair of dark-wash blue jeans
  • a black and white dress
  • comfortable black leather sandals
  • six tops.  

I've limited my colors to black, white, dark denim, periwinkle blue, moss green, and rosy orange (a sort of deep coral).  I have one necklace and my wedding ring that I wear every day.

This is what I might take on a long holiday (although I'd probably include some sturdy athletic shoes too).  In fact, when you're not loaded down with the contents of a packed closet and dresser drawers, or a hobby space, an office, and a library, life can feel like a vacation.

Do you want to join me?  Take the challenge and see what you learn from it – what you miss or don't miss, what unexpected events or challenges arise, how fewer clothes impact your laundry situation, if getting dressed every day is easier or not, whether this is crazy or actually doable, and more.

And if ten items in your suitcase seems too confining, try twelve or sixteen items.  The purpose is to try living with a limit – the actual limit you choose can be different from mine.

As with so many other categories of possessions, it's estimated that most of us wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.  My bet is that you'll be happier with fewer wardrobe choices than with whatever is cluttering your closet right now, but you won't have a chance to realize that unless you test it out.

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash


  1. My everyday wardrobe only consists of 10 pieces of clothing plus socks and underwear plus outerwear depending on the season. I only wear slippers in the house and Crocs when I go out. I would also need to pack my laptop and charger, tablet and charger (with its massive library), and phone with charger. Plus I carry a backup flash drive in my pocket at all times. I have to pack more medicine than toiletries but that's because I am old and my body no longer serves me well. Which also means I would need my electric scooter with its batteries and charger as well as my cane but none of that, except the charger, goes in the suitcase. Fortunately my TravelScoot is small and lightweight so I can gate check it at airports. If I ever travel again. :)

    1. Linda, it sounds like you've got everything down to the essentials! Thank you, as always, for reading and for your comment. Be well.


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