Last Updated:
Live out of a suitcase

How To Live Out Of A Suitcase

There are several instances when you might experience living out of a suitcase, such as being on vacation. But what if you could downsize your life to such a level of minimalism that you could live out of a suitcase?

Live out of one suitcase
Could you live out of a single suitcase? - source - Unsplash


You could have just gone through a divorce and want to start over again in another city, another state. Or you could be a fugitive from something, always on the move at a moment's notice.

Or a traveling salesperson, or out of state looking for another job, or doing a vacation somewhere, on the cheap while couchsurfing. Think about the money you could save by living like this for a set period of time.

Figure that the average room rents in major cities across the continent are pretty much the same with a decent one costing about $4-600 a month.

One could easily get their living expenses down to under or around $1000 a month, which most can make even working a minimum wage job.

Get a better paying job or moonlight and crank the income up to $1500 a month and you are saving $500 every single month! After a year or two of living like this you would have a pile of cash to either rent a bigger apt, pay a mortgage downpayment, move to another country, etc etc..

If you have a need, curiosity or desire to pack up and get out of Dodge and live a minimalist or nomadic lifestyle, then lets look at building a barebones list of essentials to take with you.


  • Pack two weeks of socks and underwear to keep on a 12-14 day laundry cycle. Take a pair of shorts which can also double as swim wear for lounging around. Also, for lounging around or working out, a basketball trainer top is perfect.
  • About 10-12 t-shirts, and 3-4 pairs of pants would do for spring/summer attire.
  • 3-4 Pairs of Pants. A good pair of jeans, a pair of casuals and two pairs of cargo pants with lots of pockets is what I would pack.
  • Two Pairs of Footwear. Wear your heavier footwear, such as a pair of hikers for unseasonal weather and have another pair of smaller joggers/trainers packed away.
  • One good jacket. Preferably a multi layer windbreaker and a small folding umbrella.
  • Two hoodies. Two of these hooded sweatshirts are indispensable for being out on cooler days. It goes without saying, try to color coordinate your clothes, maybe using earthtones, like greens and browns (olive and beige?)
  • Eye protection. One pair of good sunglasses or high quality lenses will protect your eyes from harmful UVB rays.
  • Backpack. On top of a good suitcase, a backpack will come in handy for short day trips.


  • Leatherman Multitool. This grandaddy of multi tools is all you need for any small repairs, and it can also be used for self defense as well (its best to carry "everyday objects" for that purpose anyways).
  • Repair Kit. A small sewing kit will come in handy one day!
  • Scissors. Again, Leatherman makes the best folding ones.
  • Knife. For my money, the Spyderco Delica or Para 3 is the best bet for around $100 USD. It is 4 1/4" long and has a "round eye" design with a hole in the base of the 3" high carbon blade for quick, one handed openings. Some other good knife makers include Cold Steel, Benchmark, Gerber and CRKT - you can't go wrong with any of them. Perhaps the best bang-for-buck is the Ontario Rat.
  • Smallware. Several stainless steel plates and cup with flatware set is essential. A can opener, good serrated kitchen utility knife and kitchen scissors will handle most food prep jobs.
  • Thermos. If you drink a lot of coffee like your's truly, save your money and make your own and carry it in a thermos. The savings will add up.
  • Lock. A good padlock is invaluable when travelling.

Small Electronics

  • Notebook. A laptop computer like a refurbished Thinkpad running Linux is all you need to stay connected and stay abreast of news, updates, as well as staying connected to your people. With an HDMI port and an HDMI cable, and you can stream anything to a flatscreen TV! Never pay cable bills again!
  • iPad or other tablet. All you need for reading e-books with multiple different formats, with a back-lit screen for reading at night. Various related on screen tasks make navigating easy and intuitive.
  • Portable external HD. Use this for backup of all your files and storing your movies or music collection. Many have quite a large capacity and can hold several terabytes of your files.
  • Mobile Phone. All you need for keeping in touch and for emergencies. Get a pay-as-you-go plan if you want to be anonymous.
  • Small Alarm Clock. One of the smaller digital clock radios or tiny battery powered alarms is vital if you have problems with waking on time.
  • Digital Camera. A small pocket sized digital camera can be had for $200.


  • Medication. Keep any prescription medications or supplements you need handy.
  • First Aid Kit. Keeping a small kit with some anti-inflammatory pills, some painkillers, Polysporin, antiseptic, gauze, bandaids, and that sort of thing will be something else to keep on hand.
  • Ear Plugs. Traveling around from couch to couch or room to room, its more important than ever to ensure a good night's sleep.
  • Toiletries. A small "shaving kit" style bag can contain everything you need: trimmer, razors, nail file/clipper, tweezers, etc.
  • Set up a "Mail Drop". Its very easy to use a mail forwarding service to re-route your mail on the fly to different addresses.
  • Documents. Take your passport and ID with you and any important papers or certificates you might need. Medical records or prescriptions as important as well. Keep any invoices or CC records with you too as well as any other papers you might need. Some examples of documents are:
    • Birth Certificate
    • Marriage License
    • Drivers License
    • Education Degrees/Diplomas
    • Divorce Papers
    • Social Security Cards
    • Passport/Green Card/Visas
    • Naturalization Documents
    • Will/Living Will/Power of Attorney
    • Mortgage or Real Estate Deeds of Trust
    • Vehicle Registration
    • Tax Returns
    • Property Tax Statement
    • Personal Property Tax
    • Bank Statements
    • Credit Card Statements
    • Retirement Accounts (401K, TSP, IRA)
    • Investment Accounts (Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds)
    • Recent Pay Stubs
    • W-2's
    • Government Benefits
    • Alimony Income
    • Child Support Income
    • Appraisals of Personal Property
    • Rewards Accounts (Frequent Flyer Programs, Hotel Rewards)
    • Mortgage Statement
    • Lease Agreements
    • Utility Bills (Electric, Water, Gas)
    • Car Payment
    • Student Loan
    • Alimony Payments
    • Child Support Payments
    • Property Insurance
    • Rental Insurance
    • Auto Insurance
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance ID Card
    • Record of Immunizations
    • Disabilities Documentation
    • Dental Records
    • Resumes
    • List of important phone numbers
    • Web browsers bookmarks
    • Encrypted USB key containing passwords and sensitive information