Traveling Light and the Magic of a Tiny Tree

In September and October while traveling to Europe (three countries), plus schoolbooks and sailing gear for four weeks we were challenged to ‘pack light.’ The kids and Tony went carry-on though of course, I required two bags: one for my clothes and the other for books. My carry-on bag was comprised of the family computers, plugs and a few art/school supplies.

The same mantra is needed while living on our 40′ Huckins. It is remarkable to me that our family of four lives happily in such a small space.  As this is our second year living onboard, we have become quite efficient in our living space. We take care not to over-buy or bring anything on board unless we know exactly where it can be stored. We are used to making the most of small spaces and no-one seems to mind the tight quarters. As a matter of fact, when we are in a larger space (say, visiting a friends home, for instance) we will find ourselves all squeezed onto one chair or in one corner of the sofa… I find this hysterical!


Organized space means that things are always put away. This way, Sophia has space for ‘floor homework’.

I love this quote I found in a book I recently read:

“In portaging from one river to another, Wabanaki (Indians) had to carry their canoes and all other possessions. Everyone knew the value of traveling light and understood that it required leaving some things behind. Nothing encumbered movement more than fear, which was often the most difficult burden to surrender.”

-Bunny McBride, Women of the Dawn (excerpted from the Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline)

The fear part is my reality and my burden.  Usually, I over-buy and over-pack to safeguard myself against the horrifying (to me) concept of un-preparedness. It is a MOM’s JOB to have band-aids, snacks, extra clothes and wet towelettes in zip-lock baggies at the ready. I pride myself on being able to fix any boo-boo or hunger pain with a flick of the wrist into my shoulder bag.


Books organized in a tidy reading nook above the v-berth.


A small clothes-line hanging in the stern cockpit is a great place to dry damp clothes and hang extra reading lights.

Our traveling has challenged me in a big way, as this ‘travel-light’ concept has never been a strength of mine. Luckily I married a man who is a master at packing light, needing little and yet is always prepared. How does he do this? I watch, I listen, I learn. Eventually some things stick.

Our current boat and airplane life is ONLY possible with expert planning, so I have compiled a short list that may be helpful to anyone interested. The ability to travel light comes down to a combination of a few things:

  1. Organize. The more organized you are, the less you need. I use clear plastic bins and zip-lock bags, well labeled for many things in the boat’s lockers. Labeled clear bags are essential for air travel too.
  2. Minimize. Pack only what you really need. And with clothing, don’t be afraid to re-wear the same things more than once! Really, no-one cares. And you can do laundry pretty much anywhere. This is hard, I know…
  3. Be Brave. (This I learn daily from Tony) Have the courage to be caught out. Prepare for everything, but know that it is OK if you are missing something. You will make do and will probably be the better for it. Do not let fear or nervous travel-energy add to your baggage!


With best intentions, preparing for the holidays while traveling either by plane or small boat – already tight on space – can cause a conundrum.


Oliver’s bunk area is neat and tidy, which also makes a nice quiet- time space for him.

Agh, the extra stuff!  We have been in this mode for the last month or so – wrapping and hiding presents where possible, making homemade decorations and hanging things everywhere.  We have been max-ed out in terms of free wall and counter space. Now we can start the clean-up and re-packing of the Christmas do-dads, whoo hoo!

I have to say, the holidays are pretty darn special when the hustle-bustle and shopping frenzy is not an option. When on the water, we maximize our family time together and spend a LOT of time in the ocean, pool, dinghy, on paddle-boards and with nature.

At the same time, we are grateful for all the love and gifts which have been sent to us from family and friends. For, what would Christmas be without those? We feel lucky and blessed.


Re: Christmas 2015 … We loved our teeny-tiny tree.

Though there is nothing like a gigantic Blue Spruce freshly cut and smelling like Christmas incarnate.

Perhaps next year…


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Niki Gerard says:

    Love your travel light instructions which in spite of my trying all these years have not achieved although I do travel with almost every thing in transparent labeled bags. Continuing my reading of your wonderful letters with great pleasure. ,, All my warmest wishes to all of you for2016 . I know it will be another year rich in new experiences and discoveries.

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Lynne Rey says:

    Thank you Niki! We are very excited to keep the dream going as long as we can. We love hearing from you! xx


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