Secrets of the Minimal Packer: One Backpack Challenge

One week. One backpack (a carry-on!). That's all I had with me on my Europe vacation.

I had a long layover in Boston, so my parents and sister paid me a little visit as I made my way back to Atlanta. My mom was shocked that the only piece of luggage I had was a backpack. Over the years, I've perfected the art of not over packing. While you're heading out out town for the long holiday weekend, keep my minimal packing method in mind:

DRESSES: To help save room in your bag, dresses are a no brainer. As opposed to packing a top and bottom, dresses are one piece. I always start raiding my closet with dresses first! They are easy to dress up (for a nice dinner) or down (for a casual day).
summer maxi dresses

TOPS: For a one week trip, you only need five tops. I repeat.. you only need five tops. This is including the, "Well, I'll pack an extra one just in case," mentality. Make sure one of them is a light 3/4" length to stay cozy and comfty. I like to pair my 3/4" shirts with shorts for summer nights.

PANTS: Two pairs (3 MAX!). My favorite dark denim jeans (1..) and white skinnies (2..) are my go-to bottoms. Since you'll shower, just re-wear. Add a casual pair of shorts (..3!) if you want to show off those legs you've been working out at the gym!

OUTERWEAR: During the summer, pack 1 light hoodie or sweater for the night time breeze. If weather is in the forecast, do pack a rain jacket. It isn't a bulky piece, so you won't be sacrificing valuable space, and you'll be thankful in the long run!

SHOES: No heels (be realistic!). I used to always bring a pair of nice heels with me "just-in-case" and it always proves to be wasted space. When I'm on vacation, I always manage to stay active, and sassy heels just never make it into my itinerary. Pack your favorite sandals that go with everything, walking shoes, and wedges only if you must.

PJ's: You only need two bottoms and three tees to sleep tight throughout the week.

ACCESSORIES: Be selective. I always stuff a scarf in my backpack, and some key jewelry pieces. My jewelry rule: 1 statement necklace, 1 simple necklace, tri-metal dangles (go w/ everything!), and a pair of studs. Don't forget to take your shades out of your car before you jet set!

Lastly, try every outfit works, take the time to try every outfit on to make sure it's a keeper.

Motivate Your Workout

If you are struggling to stick with a workout routine or want to add something new your current one, nothing drives motivation more than a group workout. Every wednesday a handful of my coworkers meet at our local park for an hour of sweaty torture fun.

The best part of this motivational workout is it's free! I bring with me a handful of exercise equipment, like jump ropes, but if you don't have any on hand, you can make up routines using your own body weight. Start with a warm up, then create a workout station for each person. Using a timer, each person works their station for 45 seconds, with a 15 second break to move to the next station. Repeat 2-4x! Follow it up with some cardio and a cool down.

The workouts can be completely customizable. Choose to focus on one body part like shoulders and back or do a full body routine. 

I love my TRX - it really is a portable gym. Here I am using it to work my back!

Get creative with the outdoors. We used the park bench to create an intense version of a push up.

Combine movements to get an even better workout - jump squats with an 8lb ball for oblique twist.

or add intensity by only using one leg for balance.

Either way, everyone can make it their own. I know I push myself harder when I see these guys giving it their all. And don't even think about bailing on workouts once you have a core workout group - it really isn't worth the guilt :)

and always keep it fun!  This may be my favorite photo, not sure Gavin is always this happy during the workout!