Experiences / Travel

Death Valley/Vegas, Part I: Ultra-Minimalist Travel

The first time I went to Vegas, I packed 5 pairs of shoes, multiple dresses, a variety of jewelry, as well as other things into a large rolling suitcase. The second time I went to Vegas, I packed 3 skirts, too many shirts, hot rollers, as well as other things into a slightly smaller weekender bag. This weekend, I went to Vegas and I packed everything I needed into a medium-sized cross-body purse. I had the clothes on my back, a few beauty essentials, and my camera. And that was it.

For my dude’s birthday, I purchased us tickets from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. I arrived in his home of LA Thursday night, gave him the tickets–up until this point, all he knew was that he needed to save this weekend–and told him, “Let’s figure out how to get to Las Vegas!” This sort of sounds like a way to plan a trip without having to plan it, but I promise it’s not! It was inspired by a totally rad couple that met on OKCupid and decided to spend their first date traveling for 21 days. They purchased an outbound flight overseas, and then an inbound flight three weeks later from a different city located countries away.

They had no set itinerary or definite place to be, other than at the final city for that last flight. Not only that, but they traveled without luggage of any kind–both with just the clothes they put on for the flight, a small purse for her, and for him, whatever could fit in his pockets. The article resonated with us both, so I tweaked the idea a little–just a weekend instead of 3 weeks, and a closer location than Hungary.

The thought had also crossed my mind that my man would want to head out sans luggage, and sure enough, he suggested we travel in the true spirit of the article we read and not bring a bunch of stuffs with us. It sounded like a fun enough challenge to take on. I’m generally not too fussy, don’t ever pack a ton of stuff with me anyway, and I figured since we’d only be gone for 2 days it seemed like a perfect way to get my feet wet with ultra-minimalist travel. I was in!

On the road near Death Valley. No luggage needed.

For Part I of my road trip/Vegas adventure, I wanted to reflect a little bit on minimalist travel, about what I wore, what I brought, and my experience overall. So, here goes:

What I wore:

I ended up deciding on a jersey material sleeveless dress with tights. I put on some black booties, which are literally the most functional and comfortable type of shoe known to man. I was either wearing my sunnies or they were resting on top of my head, and I wore some cat earrings for fun. As for a coat, I’m pretty much always cold, so I couldn’t forgo that in the interest of traveling with less. I wore a light, sporty jacket, and over that a warmer military-style coat. I threw on a scarf–not a knit one, but more like a keffiyeh. And with that, I had achieved the ultra-minimalist traveler clothing trifecta: comfort, versatility, and temp-friendly.

This actually ended up being kind of a perfect outfit for the weekend. It helps big time that I’m just head over heels for the dress itself, so I want to wear it all the time anyway. Also, comfort cannot be underrated in this instance–stretchy things are like heaven all over your body when you’re sitting in a car or plane or train for hours on end. They also give more when you eat too much at the Wynn breakfast buffet. Ahem.

The only thing I would have done differently would be to wear footless tights. There’s something about sweaty socks that makes you go, Meh, I’ll wash ’em in the sink. But there’s something about sweaty tights that makes you go, :(. So I’ll do myself the favor and next time I travel with just the clothes on my back, footless tights will be my friend.

What I packed:


These are the non-beauty items that I was going to bring with me no matter what.

* Fossil Purse (not too big or too small)

*Wallet and keys (duh)

* Phone charger and iPhone (duh)

* Travel journal and pen (duh)

* Instax camera (big, but worth it!)

* Vapur water bottle (hydrate, people)

* She-wee (because public restrooms be nasty)

The only thing I should have thought to do was remove only what I needed from my wallet and bringing just those items. I would have saved a significant amount of space since I have a big honkin’ wallet with a bunch of discount and member cards. Other than that, all of these essentials were used, and I wouldn’t travel without them.

The start of the journey.

Beauty Items:

* Toothbrush/toothpaste (travel size highly recommended!)

* Face wipes (I pulled what I needed and put them in a ziploc bag)

* Baby wipes (same for these)

* Deodorant (so fresh and so clean)

* Makeup (My basics: pressed powder, eyeliner, mascara, blush and blush brush. Lipstick for when I wanted to fancy it up, lip balm for always)

* Contacts, saline, glasses (duh)

* Nail file (brought on a whim)

* Oil blotting sheets (little tiny miracles)

While the importance of some of these items could be debated, most were mandatory for me. The only ones that I would consider items brought for comfort are the baby wipes, nail file, and oil blotting sheets. Baby wipes are a luxury to travel with, so I’d be hard-pressed to not have them (because if I didn’t pack them, I’d just buy them along the way). The nail file and oil blotting sheets went unused, so I would think twice before packing them again.

The ceiling at the Bellagio sort of matches my scarf.

My Experience:

As my boyfriend and I sat in the terminal at McCarren International Airport, waiting for our flight back to LA, he said to me that not once over the weekend did he wish he had brought something else or something in addition to what he had. He didn’t miss anything, and I felt exactly the same way. In fact, I sort of wish I could have traveled with even less.

Ultimately, he and I had slightly different experiences. While he was able to travel with literally just the clothes on his back and whatever he could put in his pockets, I carried a purse with me which, honestly, is not an unusual feeling. I carry a purse all the time. We both got to experience the same kind of free-as-a-bird sensation, but it was probably a little less striking to me since my Fossil purse goes so many places with me all the time.

Regardless, I still got a sort of giddy feeling as we left LA and I literally was about to embark on an adventure to Nevada with just my purse. As we waited to check in at the hotel, I noted all the people in front of us with large suitcases and oversized bags. It took me less than 10 minutes to pack up my belongings at the hotel before we checked out to go to brunch (which was for the best because homegirl was hungry). The whole weekend, I felt more mobile, and like going anywhere was more of a possibility because nothing at all was weighing me down.

Do I want to try ultra-minimalist travel again? Hell yes, I do! It was fun and liberating, and I didn’t spend 20 minutes at the start of my day figuring out what to wear. It’s not the only way I’ll ever travel, but it is definitely a great way to hop from place to place on one trip. I could see myself doing this for 5-7 days and getting to experience more of that “anything is possible” feeling that I’m already craving again. I just have to figure out where!

More road trip/Vegas photos to come in Part II! I’ll go into some of the details of traveling without an itinerary.


(Oh, and if you’re interested in that article that inspired my travel this weekend, here it is!)

4 thoughts on “Death Valley/Vegas, Part I: Ultra-Minimalist Travel

  1. Pingback: Wanderlust Cinema: Online Adventures with Craigslist Joe | Tremendous Times

  2. Pingback: 10 Pieces of Travel Advice You Won’t Find in a Guidebook | Tremendous Times

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