Tips from a resourceful minimalist packer

In a few days I will be attending the ProBlogger Training Event at the Gold Coast. Social media have been abuzz with tips on what to wear and how to prepare for this major gathering of bloggers. Until this morning I thought I was pretty organised. But then I attempted a practice pack and suddenly I am in panic mode! I have no shoes! Seriously. My trusted conference flats, my platform sandals and my absolute favourite boots suddenly died on me. All on the same day, without warning! Their soles have crumbled like a soft cheese. They have become a casualty of the Wet Tropics, it’s happened to many favourite pieces in my wardrobe. There is no time to drive two hours to the nearest decent shoe shop in Cairns. There is only the local op-shop and my own resourcefulness!


Saying farewell to my favourite shoes

So I gave my shoes a proper burial and decided to write a blog post about my sustainable wardrobe. As a travel blogger I need to be minimalist about my wardrobe and only pack what I will actually wear. As a resident of the Wet Tropics I have a naturally reduced wardrobe. Each year it becomes smaller. Piece by piece my city and winter wardrobes die, as elastics become brittle, stretch fabrics suddenly become several sizes too large, leather shoes become mouldy, and the glue in my shoes dissolves. I have given up on buying expensive pieces. What’s the point in owning a designer dress that smells like a wet nappy?


Emergency round-up for PBEvent: Havaianas, Keens hiking sandals, high heel clogs, high heel camper boots

Here is how my wardrobe works:


I like to mix tried and trusted pieces that comfort me with their stories like old friends and transient items I collect in second hand shops or inexpensive chain stores:

  • I buy essential basics such as skinny jeans from inexpensive shops like Zara or H&M.
  • Shorts and plain cotton T-shirts, essential in the tropics, from Target, Uniclo, Jeans West and even Kmart.
  • Second hand Lulu Lemon yoga pants and tops online on the local Buy Swap Sell Facebook page.
  • Smart pieces ie. blazers, blouses, fun tops and t-shirts, sun and cocktail dresses from second hand shops. It’s amazing what you can find if you spend enough time looking. As a traveler I get to forage all over the world. Buying pre-loved means I can afford to forget something, because it won’t cost the world to replace. It also means I don’t get too attached to my wardrobe and letting go of excess lugguage doesn’t end in tears. I’ll be bringing my favourite pieces to the conference.
Here’s a preview of what I will be bringing to the ProBlogger Training Event:

Day 1: The travel outfit

I don’t get to wear long pants very often in the tropics, so I am bringing two pairs of skinny jeans  in white and black.
Black jeans are best for travelling and a pre-loved plain silk blouse I scored for a couple of bucks at Savers in Honolulu. The khaki jacket was bought in Venice a decade ago. It’s been a faithful travel companion over the years. I’ll brighten it up with my favourite scarf, a last minute buy at New Delhi airport when I realised that there was no way to change my rupees back into another currency. It’s been with me on every trip since then.





Since I never get to wear boots in the tropics, I’ll have to give my last surviving pair of Camper boots a go, if only to see whether they too will crumble like ricotta cheese, in which case I will be in serious trouble. I’ll pair the boots with this comfy sleeveless Metallica dress from my local second-hand shop. I’ll reuse the trusty travel jacket and scarf, and off I go to meet fellow travel bloggers. And in case my boots don’t make it, they’ll understand if I show up in my hiking sandals.

Day 2:



White skinny jeans combined with a sleeveless silk top and this funky designer blazer at the Honolulu Dress for Success second hand shop for $5 a piece.That’s my all-time favourite second hand shop.

Shoes, well…still hoping to score something sensible at the local op-shop. If not, I’ll wear my wooden clog sandals, and bring my hiking sandals along, just in case the heels will kill me.





Evening: Ahoy

The occasion is an Ahoy-themed cocktail party. I’ve tried to look good in stripes, but have decided to re-use


Vintage Italian Navy Hat

my blue Metallica dress and just bring this original mariner’s hat, which has served its time 40 years ago in the Italian Navy. I’ll leave the navy stripes to my niece who will be my travel companion and looks so cute in her new dress.



My youngest blogging friend says Ahoy! Find him at Oscar’s kids guides.

Day 3

I’ve left myself a couple of choices here, depending on the state of my boots, the weather and how I feel. I’ll either wear my black skinny jeans again with a black and white second-hand Banana Republic silk blouse or a dress. Given my limited opportunities to wear mid-season dresses in the tropics, I’ll be extravagant and bring these latest pre-loved finds, each for less than $8!

Other Travel Essentials of mine:


    • My beloved cashmere scarf from Mongolia. It will keep me warm in arctic conference rooms and doubles as a blanket on flights.


      Best friends: Cashmere scarf from Mongolia and Rimowa suitcase Made in Germany

    • My trusty Rimowa suitcase. It looks sleek, it can travel as a carry-on and it has limited space, which means I can not take too much! It accompanies me on weekend trips as well on longer stints on the road and overseas!
    • My best friend, the oversized hand-bag, made from recycled materials in Northern Thailand. It fits my lap top, spare shoes and everything else I could possibly need. I pair it with anything, from smart silk blouse to blazer, and get away with it. After al

      The oversized handbag

      l, bloggers are creative people, right?

  • A small travel purse that I can wear strapped diagonally across my body. So far this has proven a safe way to carry valuables.
  • Comfy pjs and down-time gear, often these will double as yoga gear as well.
  • A collection of favourite accessories, including pieces by my favourite local Mission Beach artists. It makes me feel like taking a bit of home on the road with me.
  •  Whenever I leave the tropics for other climes, I pack a couple of my favourite Icebreaker pure merino items for layering. They are not cheap (try the Outlet Store in Melbourne for bargains), but they are worth every cent and last for decades (mine are coming up for their anniversary). Designed for endurance hikers they don’t carry odour and will keep you warm in freezing conditions and cool in hot weather (though they don’t really work in tropical summer weather). They can be machine washed and are quick dry. I always bring a black T-shirt, a singlet and my beloved hoody, which looks quite cool under the khaki jacket.

    Comfort accesories

    Comfort accessories including those made by my favourite Mission Beach artists






Kerstin Pilz

Author at Travelpilz
I am Kerstin Pilz, PhD, recovering academic, travel blogger based in Mission Beach, Far North Queensland.

2 thoughts on “Tips from a resourceful minimalist packer

  1. Eva Machnitzke

    Dear Kerstin,
    ich bin sooo stolz auf dich und freue mich riesig über deinen Quick Start. Der Termin an der Gold Coast passt perfekt und wird dir ennormen Schub geben. Freue mich von dir weiter zu hören. Alles Liebe

  2. Ashley Grisso

    Kerstin is one of the most fashionable people I’ve ever known. She not only taught me the the beginnings of how to travel, but how to dress while traveling. Plus, she convinced me to buy my first pair of Campers that are I’ve LOVED since 2008.

    Happy trails!

    Ashley in Arkansas (very small state in the US)

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