Sitting on the floor at the airport, suitcase wide open, there I was. Why was I unloading all my belongings? Was this in preparation of an airport flash-mob dance sequence? Nope. Unfortunately, my bag was too heavy, less important but still slightly disturbing was that all my unmentionables seemed to be at the top of my bag, visible to any passer-by. I was 22 and headed to France for a year.
Travelers are airborne hoarders. For some reason it takes extreme efforts to avoid “bag creep” and stay light. I myself have noticed that the more I travel, the less clothes I take and the more “stuff” finds its way into my bag.
Multi-purpose items or outfits are the best – layers are your friend. Monochromatic (gray and black) clothes work well for day or night events. OneBag.com is dedicated to helping folks get everything into just one bag. Their method can be boiled down to three parts (which I will be paraphrasing):
- Packing Moderation: You don’t need all that crap. Really.
- Weight Reduction: Lose the heavy stuff, get lighter stuff instead.
- Bag Optimization: Find efficient and effective luggage.
Women – #2 means taking makeup samples from stores instead of your normal makeup kit. See Lois Joy Johnson’s blog for more tips on traveling light AND fashionable.
If you’re feeling even more extreme, Tim Ferriss shares his 10lb pack list – which I will be trying out this April on a ten-day jaunt to Europe with my father re-tracing my grandfather’s steps in WWII. Look out for the after-action report.
Advice from Lonely Planet on what to take in any situation. My favorite? The umbrella – for some reason it reminds me of Douglas Adams talking about always having a towel…
“…any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”
Seven things I never travel without:
- Tennis ball, AKA: Portable massager. This is the best travel advice I’ve ever gotten. Spent 10 hours in a plane? Can’t sit up straight any longer? This is your lightweight solution.
- Light is right: Sea to Summit offers an entire line of lightweight solutions. Be careful here of “gear for gear’s sake”. Is a clothesline worth it when you should already have Para cord?
- P-Cord or ParaCord: Second only to DuctTape in versatility. I take it, EVERYWHERE.
- Wicking gym clothes: If you work out less than every day you only need one gym outfit. Wear it, wash it in the shower and by the next time you need it, it’ll be dry. I take two outfits: One to wear while the other dries.
- Ex-Officio: I left the Dar and walked around the windy coastal city of Essaouira in a completely wet Ex-Officio shirt, pants and underwear that I had washed that morning in the sink. By the end of breakfast I was dry.
- Travel Towel: This thing is lightweight and portable, dries quickly and is fairly absorbent. Used it as my towel for several days in southern Jordan.
This post is starting to resemble my luggage on my first trip; way too much. Packing smarter will allow you to enjoy the trip without lugging heavy suitcases all over cobblestone streets and give you more flexibility to see out-of-the-way sights.