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RETREAT PACKING: Carry-on Tips & Tricks

It's happening! The retreat you booked months ago is at your doorstep and the time has come for you to pack. For some this can be a seamless event that requires rolling out your carry on and throwing what fits in and be done with it. If you're anything like me, it requires meticulous packing skills that I've learned to hone over the years. Whether I'm leading a retreat or attending one, I pride on the fact of being able to do carry on, at least on the way there. Why? Because I've had the good fortune of being exposed to lost luggage upon arrival on 3 different occasions: once in Rome, another in Maui and then locally on a trip to Ontario. After the first incident I decided to always carry extra clothes in my carry on if I was required to check my bag at any point. Even though we put on a brave face and surrender to the situation as best we can, it still can dampen the most positive Souls. It for sure teaches us about patience, kindness and trust to name a few. People are very generous with lending clothes and the reunion of when the baggage finally does arrive is filled with elation that only people who've been separated from it can understand lol!

So after all that ramble, I have taken it upon myself to create a tight system for my packing list. Especially now that travel has increased exponentially the following tips and tricks can hopefully give you more ideas on how to approach the start of your journey that begins at home.



After year's of doing carry on duffel bags, I finally went for a roller suitcase. Standing in a long customs line in a hot country can get a bit painful when your carrying everything on your back and arms. The tote bag is brilliant because it's design is 2 fold from over the shoulder to backpack should you need it. It also nestles perfectly on top of the North Face bag making any lines easy to navigate.


  • TRY OUTS is the term a friend of mine uses to describe the preliminary packing. Lay out everything you think you need for your trip so all your items get a fair chance at the game. Over the following days leading up to your departure start separating them into teams. Do you really need 5 pairs of shoes for your week away? Maybe. Maybe not. I have found it extremely helpful in the past to Google or Pinterest What to bring for a 1 week away to _____' For example check out Italy ideas here: You'll end up finding some fascinating tips like 10 items for 10 days.


  • If this is new to you, make a list for future trips of all the items you brought. And even more helpful is to go back AFTER you're travels to see what you used and what you can leave at home for next time.


  • I recommend bringing an extra bag/tote in your carry on. Especially if you're travelling the distance and know you'll be bringing back souvenirs or specialty items. Places like Marrakesh often have big zipped up Ikea looking bags to sell in the market. You can always consider buying these BUT when you leave be sure to have them specialty wrapped at a vendor in the airport otherwise the desk clerk may shake their head lol! (Speaking from experience here). Also taking a photo of your item too in case it gets lost on its way home, you'll need a clear description to pass along to your airline provider.


  • I've started bringing only conditioner for my hair. I find that many places have shampoo so you can save some space in your plastic ziplock for another liquid.


  • Speaking of liquids, gels etc. I would do yourself a solid and put everything in the little baggie that is given to you when entering security. On more then one occasion I've seen people juggling their toiletries and trying their best to stuff it all in while the line up gets deeper by the minute. It'll avoid any stress on your part too. I travel with an Epi-Pen plus liquid Benadryl and keep that separate from my toiletries as you can board with them on their own. Of course each airport is going to be slightly different with their leniency but the above advice goes for most of them. BTW 100ml or less has to be stated on the bottle, tube or jar if it's a brand your trying to pass security with. (Travel bottles and containers are typically to size). To avoid a minor melt down and security claiming you're half full, expensive, 250ml sunscreen, put the remainder of it before you go in an appropriate bottle size. It doesn't matter how much is in the tube at the time they'll go off the amount shown. And yes, this has happened to me and its always when you're tired and discombobulated.


  • If you purchased your airfare with your credit card check your policy because many of them have travel insurance. You may want to buy extra for Covid related incidents but I would definitely check.


  • Depending on where your traveling to, I typically take out money from the airports ATM machines. I would go for a larger amount as it lessens the fees. Check for a little padlock icon/logo on some of the ATM's for security purposes. For places like Croatia they recommend using only those with the icon.


And lastly here are some of my must haves when traveling aside from your main travel needs like passports, credit cards, etc...


  • A mini carabiner that attaches to my tote bag that I can clamp onto my zippered wallet. ( The Lily Bag above has some fixed in already)

  • Reading material, water bottle, headphones, ear plugs, essential oils from Sage

  • Journal,Writing and watercolours




The art of packing is just that -

a beautiful lesson in what do we really need, decision making and acceptance. It's one of my favourite things about traveling. Because let's face it, I only end up wearing and using half of what I bring, so let it be carry on and enjoy the ride!


Happy Travels and see you soon,


Mindy xo






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