I’ve been away since late May; about four-and-a-half months. I’ve been hiking and working and writing between LA, New York, London, Scotland, Cornwall, Crete, Paris, Slovenia and Slovakia. For the bulk of this I’ve carried a small backpack that weighed in on various flights at 8kg (I did also have a case of work materials that I had with me in London and that travelled home with me). This enabled me to fly carry-on, to move between places on foot with ease and to travel via moped (with all my worldly possessions on my back) when I needed to.
Many of you have asked how I did this and what was actually in my pack. I oblige…
How do I live with only 8kg of possessions?
Easily and happily. Most of you know I have lived nomadically for 8 years, out of two suitcases. So it’s not much of a stretch to reduce down from such a small base. However 8kg does entail a more extreme flavour of efficiency, especially when you’re combining work commitments (I did TV, magazine interviews, presentations across Europe, UK and the US while on the road), a 50th fancy dress party and hiking (including high altitude, requiring thermals and sleep sheet). But to the details…
I gave into wearing the same thing every day, as I do here in Australia. I honestly don’t think people notice or care. I have a signature look, is how I see it.
I researched the lightest and simplest multi-day pack (light enough to be a day-pack, too) on the market. The reviews revealed the Southwest Ultralight backpack was the one to go for. And so I went for it. It’s also the most waterproof and has the least number of added bits. This video here explains the gist. That’s the bag below on my back. I’m on my way from Crete to Paris (with takeaway coffee in a real cup!).
I only wear things I love and that make me feel comfortable. This is because I only buy stuff I love and feel comfortable owning.
I wear things out. My good white shirt became my hiking shirt by month three. I thought I’d replace things as they did wear out. But, actually, I didn’t. I couldn’t be bothered and instead just worked on making down with a substitute. Thus…
I came home with less stuff than I left with.
I handwashed smalls in the shower at night. So only carried two pairs of undies for the trip.
I took a bunch of white things. Mad? No. It meant I could justify a “white wash” regularly.
I live in silk and light woollen and synthetic things; they scrunch up tight and weigh little.
I wear sneakers with dresses very happily. I also took a very flimsy (thus, light) pair of heels for fancy stuff.
I wear heels with leggings very happily, too.
What exactly did I take?
The whole lot looked like this:
From top left (not including stuff you can work out for yourself): denim jacket (second-hand, GAP; I wear this in transit as it’s too bulky to go in my bag), silk wrap ra-ra skirt, denim shorts (you’ll recognise them from pictures of me in all three of my cookbooks); bag of “fancy things” (two silk singlets/shell tops, gold dress I wore for party, see below), Gortex jacket, heels, headband/eyemask; Saloman hiking shoes (my silk inner sheet stuffed into one of them), undies and bra, I Quit Sugar market bag (very old and faded); white things (Bassike pants, linen shirt, Bassike singlet; again all three seen in most of my books and press pics); leggings; shirt I pulled from a friend’s rubbish bin that I use for hiking but did, in fact, lose in Slovenia; sports bra; cap given to me by my mate Paul at ArtPark in Byron; thermal top, striped singlet, hiking shorts.
The gold dress:
Not pictured (because I was wearing it to take the pic): black sneakers, white slightly fancy tee, silk shorts (actually that’s the ensemble in the photo up the top where I’m holding the coffee cup). Also missing: grey singlet, which had already worn out by the time I took this photo and my black bikini… which was in a side pocket of my bag and I forget to pull it out.. This is the grey singlet here:
You can check out my beauty and makeup kit, all of it toxin-free, here (and buy the lot at a discount if you like). That’s it all in the 4 x Qantas inflight bags, next to the laptop.
At this point I should also confess: I did lug a laptop with me most places, too (leaving it in safe places when I hiked). This adds an extra 1-2kg. I looked into getting an iPad (ironically, I write ebooks for a living but don’t own a tablet of any sort), but couldn’t justify the doubling-up of technology.
Books. I always have a book with me. When I’ve read it, I give it away before buying another.
Notebook, pencil, passport, credit card, an I Quit Sugar satchel (for hiking and toting things day-to-day).
And it all fitted in this bag:
I’ve arrived “home” and am living nomadically from the same bag of stuff in an Airbnb. I’m still deciding if I’ll settle. And where. And with what.
That said, I’m heading to my storage shed to grab some more underpants and my cooking gear on the weekend.
If you want to see the rest of my travel images, and how I “worked” my capsule wardrobe, head to my instagram and look up tags #sarahwilsonhikes #sarahwilsontravels