I have always been a minimalist when it comes to packing. This began when I was a backpacker and whatever I needed was carried on my back. I am a tallish, thin woman, not Charles Atlas and did not want to tote around 35 pounds of gear, it leeched my stamina and left me at the end of the day with a headache. My solution was to learn ultralight backpacking and when I gave up that activity after my sons grew beyond scouting age and our Old Farts group disbanded, the practices I learned spilled over to suitcase packing. For the three years that Jim and I commuted across the state to see each other every few weeks, the travel to visit and help out with one of our kids, our annual ski trips and most recently, our cruise and then the trip to Mexico have been in one carry-on suitcase. My preference is a small hard side suitcase except when skiing where I carry a two compartment case that holds my boots, two changes of quick dry ski wear from skin out, ski pants, gloves and helmet. Incidentals on those trips go into another case shared with Jim.
As the process has evolved, there are items that live permanently in the case, a small stuff sac with a USB charger port that holds 4 cables for phones, tablet and camera; a travel clock, book light/flashlight combo, a hand wash clothesline. Also there is a quart zip bag with a bar of my handmade soap that is used for body and hair, a Toob brush that is a toothbrush with a small tube for toothpaste or toothpowder inside, a widetooth comb for my long hair, and a deodorant stick, none of this needs to be removed for TSA checks. There is a pair of folding ballet flats for slippers and a fleece that rolls compactly. When I am ready to pack, the climate is considered. If laundry facilities are in question or will cost, quick dry layers are packed that can be hand washed and hung overnight to dry. Rarely are there more than 3 under layers and shirts packed, one change of pants, a skirt if dress up is needed and a sweater.
With this bag I carry a leather tote with my tablet, phone, wallet, a shawl or scarf to be used as a pillow, blanket or shoulder cover on a train or plane, or as a shoulder cover in a restaurant, a solid lotion bar, my knitting project and my camera.
When the northern Virginia trips are scheduled, half my case is packed in doubled insulated grocery bags of frozen chickens and venison for their freezer.
My minimal packing allows for the packing of these supplies for their family and I returrn home with a lighter case.