Jen Rubio knows how to pack a suitcase. The co-founder of Away, the direct-to-consumer luggage and travel brand that’s redefined cool luggage since launching in 2015, Rubio is probably more qualified than your average traveller to tell you how to maximize your space, as well as what you get out of your travels.
“The way people photograph their travel has really changed,” Rubio explains. “It used to be that you went to Paris and took a photograph in front of the Eiffel Tower. Now it’s all about these really zoomed-in experiences; things that are unique or off-the-beaten-track. Image of the corners of hotel rooms make for a nice Instagram feed, but I’m not sure it helps you remember you were in Paris. On the other hand, small shops, cafes, and designers end up getting more exposure on a global scale than they otherwise would have, which is positive.”
Jen pauses. “I guess what I’m saying is that minimalism has become part of not only the way we pack, but also the way we experience travel as a generation. That’s really fascinating.”
Our conversation turns to how Away has facilitated that sense of minimalism in travel, and Jen takes a beat before responding, “I think that’s true in two senses. One, our design and aesthetic is very pared-down and minimalist. Our design team is always thinking about how to make things the most functional and the most beautiful; it’s got to be both. Two, we’ve created a full packing system. When you buy the various components of Away luggage, you’re making a choice about quality and price and aesthetic for sure, but you’re also making a choice about all these interlocking parts that makes packing easier and it feels more controlled.”
Jen, and by extension Away, is interested in simplifying packing so that you can enjoy your travels without giving a second thought to what’s in your bag; if that’s minimalist travel, then we’re on board.
Minimalist travel is possible with an Away suitcase and these tips from Jen Rubio:
Packing cubes! This is my number one recommendation. Entirely by accident, I discovered that using two different colored sets of cubes for two people’s items in the same suitcase is an amazing way to organize a larger case. I can imagine this would be very useful when packing for children. The cubes are, overall, extremely satisfying to use. They create space, they make things visually cohesive, and they make unpacking simple.
The most luxurious feeling is having something high quality and actually using it. Buy luggage and travel items that are nice, but that you know you’ll get lots of use from. That way you’re likely to buy only what you need.
You’re only as fast as your slowest traveller; you’re only as minimalist as your most maximalist traveller. If you know someone in your party is checking a bag, you might as well check a bag. It’s a good idea to be on the same page as everyone you’re traveling with, if possible, so talk about packing before you get to the airport!
Do what works for you, and leave the rest! Everyone has their own particular way of packing, and if you find that someone’s advice just isn’t cutting it for you, don’t force it. For example, I love the KonMari idea of going through your clothes, but I find the rolling of each item unappealing; it’s just not how I want to visually experience my wardrobe. So I use the philosophy and change the method to fit my needs. Packing should make travel as stress-free as possible, or at least not add stress, so listen to your intuition in terms of what works.
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