Tuesday, January 19, 2010

0 Travel Tip Tuesday: Packing Light

When the woman working security at Charles De Gaulle Airport asked us how we managed to travel for six months with only our small carry on luggage, she didn't mean it in a friendly way. Though she was grilling us (and we were fairly intimidated), I couldn't help let slip a little smile of pride. Weighing in at 7kg each, our little backpacks had lasted us the whole trip.Before the trip I was asked, "How do you even begin to pack for six months on the road?" We made some good guesses, learned some lessons, and here are some basic principles in summary:
  • It's a careful balance between too much and not enough stuff. You want enough variety that you a) don't go bankrupt paying for laundry every few days, b) smell all the time, and c) be wearing the same thing in all the pictures you will obviously be taking. That's just embarrassing. But you also can't pack a two week wardrobe. What ended up being my survival kit was one pair sneakers, one pair flip flops, four T-shirts, one long sleeve T, one fleece, two pairs shorts/capris, one pair jeans, and enough undergarments to last me a week without washing. The biggest mistake was not packing enough socks--they take forever to air dry if you are washing them in a sink and they hardly take up any room in your suitcase. We did machine laundry about once every two weeks, which meant that we washed clothes by hand in between and also wore clothes often that were not freshly clean. I had to get over that pretty fast and honestly it isn't that bad. Now that I'm back, I'm finding it difficult at the end of the day to remember that no I don't need to save that T-shirt for another wear.
  • Pack for the trip you are taking. You may have noticed that missing from my survival kit was anything resembling formal attire. That's because realistically, I knew that we weren't budgeting for fancy dinners or the theater. Sure there were times I wished I had something a bit nicer, but it wouldn't have been worth carrying heels around for six months for the four times I would have worn them. Think about how when you go on vacation you normally pack a variety of outfits for different days and possible occasions. "I might just need this sequined top if we go to a nightclub..." Then think about how you end up wearing the same few items again and again because they are the most comfortable/weather appropriate/whatever. At least I do. So just pack only those items.
  • Don't be afraid to leave things behind. It's always nice to be prepared for every scenario, but the truth is that wherever you are going, people live there too. And they need T-shirts and toothpaste just like you. So limit yourself to the essentials. I wasn't sure if we were going to end up in a wintry locale so did not bring a jacket heavier than a rain shell. Obviously Poland in January was frigid, but since it is, there are plenty of very warm coats for sale! And in almost every case things were cheaper outside our native USA. My new winter jacket cost me about $17 USD. You can always shop to supplement your wardrobe for the unexpected events--and those new items will make the best souvenirs, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails