The handbag challenge


To be sure, to be sure …

We were in Dublin last weekend! Woo hoo! I love Ireland – I love the Irish humour, the accent, their general craic for life, the countryside, oh and their beer!

Packing (you know how I love to pack!) gave me the perfect opportunity to fulfill a personal challenge I’ve been itching to do for ages – travel with just my handbag as luggage. And I’m not talking about a giant sack of a bag, I’m talking about my everyday handbag – a small, short-handled nylon bag, which is perfect for me because it weighs nothing empty and has a cross shoulder strap.


Ready for the train from Bern to Zurich, then the flight to Dublin, and then the bus to the B&B … See why I was keen to carry as little as possible?!

We were going to Dublin to watch my cousin referee the Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy. The flight arrived at 21:30 Friday night, and we flew home at 16:15 Sunday afternoon, so the time was limited and no ballgowns were needed. We would spend most of Saturday at the match with family (over from Australia to cheer Angus on too), and Sunday walking around the city.


The bag. Klein aber fein, as they say in German. It’s about 25cm long at the base, the zip is about 33cm long, the height is about 20cm and the width is about 16cm

On the plane over, I wore pretty much everything needed for the weekend, with an extra t-shirt, spare undies and socks and another silk scarf packed in the bag.

Merino wool garments make this so much easier I think. They breathe well and don’t smell much, and dry quickly if you need to wash them.


Overall, it was a raging success but I could have lived without many things!!

  1. The red plastic wallet with printouts of boarding passes, B&B booking etc – I need to get with the times and put everything on my phone. Save a tree! Save space!
  2. The iPod mini and earphones in the gold pouch – didn’t listen to any music
  3. The grey pouch with the iPhone camera lens – didn’t do any fancy photo tricks
  4. Gloves – wasn’t cold enough. The temperature in Dublin was supposed to be around 13 degrees Celsius both days, which turned out to be true, thankfully.
  5. Beanie – wasn’t cold enough (although I was happy to have it on the 20 minute walk to the car when we arrived in Bern at 21:30 Sunday night).
  6. Umbrella – it didn’t rain
  7. Second scarf – although it was nice to change up my outfit with this, it was an ‘unnecessary’ luxury! But it was so small it was hardly a bother.

On Saturday, I wore a black long-sleeve merino t-shirt under a black and white cardigan with jeans, black leather ankle boots and one of the scarves.

On Sunday, I wore what I wore over on the plane – the long-sleeve merino t-shirt underneath a black and white polka dot blouse with cardigan, jeans, boots, plus the other scarf. And when outdoors, always the coat!

Total things taken: –

Worn: bra, merino singlet, black merino long sleeve t-shirt, black and white spotted blouse, black and white cardigan, coat, undies, jeans, socks, boots, watch, two rings, necklace, ear rings, belt, silk scarf.

Packed: merino t-shirt (which I wore to bed – the B&B was freezing), spare undies, socks, second silk scarf, umbrella, gloves, beanie, red plastic wallet, passport, wallet, phone, electronics pouch, plastic bag with toiletries, handkerchief, makeup pouch (plus two hard boiled eggs, an apple and two sandwiches for us to start the journey!)

Leo also packed very light – a small 18 litre backpack. Wish we could always travel like this! I can’t wait to do it again. It’s a giggle of a challenge, and works well if the weather works in your favour. Although, saying that, all bases were pretty much covered. The beauty of denim on such a short trip came to the fore too – while carrying a tray of Guinness back to our seats some sloshed onto my jeans. I washed it with water and it was all fine. The only problem travelling with jeans on a longer holiday is they weigh a lot and take ages to dry! But for something like this, a long weekend or what have you, they’re the perfect option.

But enough about the packing, here are a few shots from the weekend. It was Leo’s first trip to Ireland and I think he’s keen to go back, even though he’s not keen on Guinness! Ireland won convincingly and Angus did a great job on his first Six Nations call. It was so lovely to see so many family members too! Many tears were shed on goodbye.


Wishing you a wonderful day.

August 13: What I’m taking to London

Ok, here’s the boring post about what I’m taking to London for the five day trip. Once again, I’ve packed too much, because of that old “well there’s still lots of room” trap.

Instead of the carry-on suitcase I took to Sicily (see what I took to Sicily for a two-week holiday here), I’m taking a lightweight backpack which is also water resistant. There will be rain this weekend! I wouldn’t want to carry this on a long walking trip as the straps don’t provide much support, but for the train and underground trips it will be perfect.

The idea is that most things can be layered. The long sleeve green top goes under the colourful sleeveless top, the black tank top goes under everything, the cardigan goes over everything (except the cream long sleeve top which is a bit full), the long sleeve green top goes under the cream long sleeve and so on and so on …

And so on we go!


My toiletries and make-up are pretty much what I took on the Camino and to Sicily, but this time instead of the blue travel case, I’ve just put everything into a medium-sized ziplock plastic bag, which you have to take out and show when you’re travelling with hand luggage only. So rather than have both bags, I’ve just packed one.

On the plane, I’ll be wearing the jeans, belt, black sturdy shoes and socks, black tank top, cream long sleeve top, black jacket, jewellery (with green earrings) and black and cream scarf. Everything else, except for the skirt which is a heavy jersey material, fits into a packing cube, including the hat!

Some people hate packing cubes, some love them. I’m in the love camp. Because my backpack has only one large cavity, it’s great to know I can put my hand in there and pull out the clothes bag, which has a handy handle at the top. Shame the black skirt doesn’t fit in, but hey …


All my clothes, except for the skirt, in the cube. You can see the spots of my hat

So in the bag will be the packing cube, a shoe bag with my sandals and two pairs of socks, my black skirt, the iPad, my toiletries ziplock bag and my handbag, which holds all the necessities, including the electronics charger. Oh yes and my wallet. Can’t forget that!

Leo is very kindly coming home to drop me off at Bern train station. Then it’s the train to Basel, flight to Gatwick, then train to central London for a very exciting and much appreciated long weekend with many friends! And a 20-year reunion! Time to get ready 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful day.

July 21: What I’m taking to Sicily

In the vein of Project333, I’ve decided to take three of the main things each on this holiday to Sicily. This isn’t the normal approach for Project333, but the founder, Courtney Carver, says you can bend the rules to suit whenever you want, so I’m altering them a little for this two-week trip.

We leave on Saturday, staying the night in Basel so we can be at the airport in time for our early flight on Sunday morning. I love packing, so everything’s prepared already!

Leo came home yesterday with a new carry-on suitcase for me, which was a lovely gesture. At 2.75 kilos, it’s probably heavier than something I would have chosen for myself, but I’m sure I’m going to love it.

Originally, I’d planned to take a 22-litre backpack, but it would have been a bit snug, and maybe, just maybe, I might buy something new while I’m there 🙂 (Update: I bought three small bars of soap. That’s it! And if you’d like to see what I packed for a five-day trip to London, click here.)

So, here we go!

I’m really sorry about the quality of the dress-up photos. The only mirror we have is attached to the back of a door which faces directly towards the window, so the light from behind makes everything dark.

For my toiletries and make-up, I’ll be taking something very similar to this previous post for our walk in May. Instead of the small liquid foundation, I’ll pack a compact face powder and some tinted sunscreen.

I know I have too much (I could get away with one dress I’m sure), but there’s still plenty of space in the suitcase, so much so that I’m taking that third pair of shoes! I never normally travel with heels, as they make me taller than Leo. Choosing the best shoes can be a real pain. Luckily mine are lightweight and hopefully fashionable enough for the Sicilian nightlife.

I won’t be the smartest dressed there, but hopefully what I’ve packed will be suitable. Comfort and practicality always take precedence over fashion for me!

Wonder if I’ll take anything out or add anything in between now and Saturday. Can you see anything missing?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Travelling Light: Toiletries and make-up

Finally! I can’t believe it’s taken me five months to write about what I take when travelling. I love to pack light – just love it! Some may look at this and think ‘that’s not light’, and I’m cool with that! Everyone’s different, so, without further ado, here’s what’s in my new toiletry bag.

It’s a three-zippered number from deuter, with a capacity of 1.2 litres, weighing 50g when empty.* Until recently, I used a single zippered lightweight case from Eagle Creek (which I can’t find on the internet), but I’m loving the organisation options of the new bag – three compartments for easy access!


The old … (pen is for size reference)


… and the new

We’re (hopefully, depending on the weather) going hiking/walking for five to six days next week from Constance to Einsiedeln in Switzerland, which is basically the first third of the Swiss Camino.

We don’t know where we’ll be staying along the way, so I have to assume that some nights may be in youth hostels or basic hotels, where no toiletries are provided.

Sample or travel sizes are your friend (most of these were free!). Here’s what I’ve packed for one week:

  • Toothbrush (very lightweight and slim)
  • Toothpaste (I have two small toothpastes 25ml and 30ml, each about a third full, so will take them both to use them up)
  • Floss (mini)

Dental things

  • Shampoo (sample/travel size, 30ml)
  • Conditioner (sample/travel size, 30ml)

Shampoo and conditioner

  • Body and face moisturiser (in orange GoToob, 60ml)
  • Deodorant (spray bottle, 30ml)

Moisturiser and spray deodorant

  • Contact lenses
  • Contact lens case
  • Contact lens solution (15ml)

So I can see the pretty scenery!

  • Soap (for face and body, 40g)
  • Toner (love a refreshing spritz of toner, 10ml)
  • Perfume (a sachet and a small sample size (1.5ml) – nice for a few evenings!)

Soap, toner and perfume samples

  • Tablets (hayfever, vitamins, headache, penicillin (for tonsillitis), gastro-stop (the last two are for just-in-case moments) in a small plastic ziplock bag
  • Cotton buds
  • Toothpick
  • Bandaids
  • Hotel-size sewing kit (for dealing with (hopefully no) blisters). The past four items are all in a small ziplock bag)

Tablet bag and cotton bud bag

  • Hairbrush (foldable with a mirror inside)

Folding hairbrush

  • Foundation (sample size, 7ml)
  • Eye and cheek powder (silver duo compact)
  • Eye and cheek brush (small)
  • Eyeliner (mini)
  • Mascara (very thin, light and short)
  • Lip balm

Make-up items

When it’s all listed out, it looks like so much, but I’ll use everything (except possibly the make-up) every day.

Now it all goes into the three pockets of the washbag:

  • Back zip: Brush, make-up
  • Middle zip: Soap, shampoo, conditioner, toner, moisturiser, deodorant, contact lens things, packet of tablets, packet with cotton buds etc
  • Front zip: Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss

Back compartment (without the brush)


Main compartment, with ziplock bags and soap flat at the bottom


Front compartment

And this is what it looks like when it’s all zipped up. There’s still a bit of room in there, and will gain more as the tablets get taken.


All zipped up and ready to go. Total weight 620 grams

I’m pretty happy with that total weight, just over half a kilo, and if I didn’t feel the need to pretty myself up at night, I would ditch the make-up completely.

But wait? What about sunscreen, I hear you say! I wear a wide-brimmed hat, neck scarf, long-sleeved top and pants to avoid sunburn (damn thee fair, sensitive skin!) and carry a small sample-size sunscreen, about 7ml, in the pocket on the waistband of my backpack for easy access and regular cheek and nose applications. The lip balm (which also has sunscreen in it) lives in my trousers’ pocket.

So there you have it. In a dream world, where I had 20/20 vision, my skin wasn’t dry and sensitive and I had short hair, I think my toiletry bag would look very different. Eventually, I’d like everything to be eco-friendly plant or oil-based items, but because I have these things already, and most of them were free, it would be crazy not to use them. I’d love to travel with one natural soap for everything, one oil as a face, body and hair moisturiser and bicarb soda as toothpaste and deodorant. One day! One day! (I look forward to writing that post too!)

What toiletries do you like to take when travelling? Do you use sample sizes or take the lot?

Check again soon for posts about my backpack, walking clothes, casual clothes and sundry/miscellaneous items.

* As always there are no affiliate links on this site. I’m just providing you with information and receive no perks or money from the companies and products mentioned, giving me free reign to say if I like them or not.