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I recently traveled to downstate Illinois for 10 days.  This was a perfect opportunity to try out a new piece of luggage – the Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote Pack.  The trip included airline flights, a transfer to light rail, walking to the train station, and finally a trip via regular rail to my destination.  What better way to show off how minimalist travel makes it easy.

Ultralight Travel with the Patagonia 22 L lightweight travel tote pack (16 L actual)

This trip was fairly simple as far as packing goes.  It was summertime, so I didn’t need any extra thermal clothing.  The area was rural and most of the activities were casual.  That meant I only needed a skirt and nice top for formal events. With that in mind, I decided to push the limits anyway. I decided that I would simulate a summer European trip.  I took three pairs of shoes.  I brought an extra power pack. I brought the bathing suit (rash guard).  Could I still travel with a smaller bag?  Yes!

The contents of my pack

I need to point out that while the Patagonia lightweight travel tote pack is advertised as 22 liters, the actual size of the main compartment is 16 liters.  The bag dimensions are 16.5 in h x 10 in w x 6 in d.  That comes in at 990 cu in, no matter how you do the math. I’m not sure where Patagonia gets the 1343 cu in that they claim.  Maybe the rest of the bag is in an alternate universe. I’m calling Patagonia out on this one.  It’s false advertising.  I also noticed that they are now hiding the bag size in their descriptions.  For shame! I expect more from such a great company. With that said, I bought the bag based on its dimensions, not the claimed volume. I have been looking for a smaller under seat bag and this one was near perfect.

I took 2 pairs of pants, a skirt, 5 tops, 2 camisoles, and a light weight sweater.  This included what I wore on the plane.

Summer Capsule wardrobe

I decided to use a 2nd shirt as my “sweater” for the airplane ride.

Airplane outfit

This was my airplane outfit. I used the chambray shirt as an extra layer.

Now for the stuff you really care about – What I packed and how I did it! Here is a picture of everything that went into my pack.

Contents of 22 L pack Here is everything I took in my 22 L pack. Top row: packing cube with under things, packing cube with clothes, water bottle, rain coat, and ultra-sil travel tote. Middle row: toiletry kit, electronics, liquids bag, makeup bag, jewelry bag, spare baggies, purse. Bottom row: travel comfort kit, 2 pairs of shoes, eyeglass case, wallet. Not pictured: smart phone.

And now for more painstaking boring detail…

Underwear cube:

  • 4 pairs of underpants
  • bra
  • silk long john top
  • 2 camisoles
  • rash guard
  • swim tights
  • 1 pair socks
  • pack towel

Clothing cube:

  • skirt
  • capris
  • 3 shirts
  • sweater

Electronics Bag:

  • power pack
  • micro-USB synch cord
  • Apple fire USB synch cord
  • Fitbit synch cord
  • dual port charger
  • headlamp
  • Conair mini-you 2-in-1 styler
  • shrieker alarm

Liquids bag:

  • hydrocortizone cream (allergic reactions)
  • night cream
  • day cream
  • liquid CC cream in a contacts case
  • toothpaste
  • hairspray
  • contact lens case with contacts
  • eye drops
  • contact lens solution

Rolling my clothing resulted in wrinkles and bulk. I decided to bundle wrap my clothing instead. I folded up my purse and put it in the bottom of the bag.  This was followed by the packing cubes and shoes.  There was just enough room to put the electronics along the side of the cubes.  I jammed makeup, jewelry, and the sling bag into the corners. I added my toiletry kit on top of that.  I put my comfort kit and scarf near the top of the bag where I could get to them if needed. I stuffed my raincoat into the back part of the bag where the backpack straps were stored.  I put my liquids into the front pocket, and my wallet, glasses, and phone into the internal pocket near the top of the bag. The water bottle went in the side pocket.

The execution

This is what I looked like on travel day.  The bag material is translucent so you can see the liquids peeking through the front of the bag.

img_7454 Traveling lighter with an under-seat bag. It looks like I’m wearing high water pants. Let me assure you that they came down to my ankles.
Patagonia 22 L tote under the seat My bag easily fit under the aisle seat, which is usually the smallest space
small bag on train I didn’t bother putting my bag into the overhead bin when I was on the train.

Due to the train schedules, I had extra time in Chicago while I was heading home. My pack was so light I decided to visit some tourist sites before heading to the airport.

corn and pack I reconfigured my pack so I could take home some fresh sweet corn. This put the straps in a strange place. I actually took my purse out of my bag and repacked it with the sweet corn inside. This was much more comfortable.
water bathing in Chicago I arrived at Union Station. From there I walked to Giordano’s for deep dish pizza. Then I walked a mile toward Millenium Park. The day was hot, and many people enjoyed the water at Crown Fountain. I admit to splashing around the water myself.
Lady Light at the Cloud Gate Where’s Lady Light? My pack was so light I could get silly in front of the Cloud Gate sculpture.
Lurie Park A prairie in the city? You bet! The Lurie Garden even has cone flowers.
Orange line to Midway Time to take the orange line to the airport. Minimalist packing makes travel easy.
sweet corn I even had room for souvenirs! There is nothing better than fresh sweet corn. For corn gourmets this is 276A Xtra tender Xtra sweet. Yum!

What I would change

It was several degrees cooler than I expected.  I found out I don’t like using a shirt as a jacket.  I’m a sweater gal.  I bought a 2nd, heavier sweater because my ultra-light sweater wasn’t enough.  I had extra room in my pack so there was no problem taking it home.

I didn’t like taking things in the two smaller half-cubes. Clothes ended up wrinkled and squished.  I think next time I’d take a single full size packing cube and pack the bag differently.

So there you have it!  A summer trip with a small bag.