The secret to travelling light

imageOf all the inane things to be wasting my time googling in preparation for our upcoming holiday to the UK, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of travel and fashion bloggers’ packing tips. Somebody. Kill me.

I’m a practical person, and I’ll willingly admit I sometimes verge on the edge of OCD with habits like needing the volume on the TV to be on an even number and grouping my washing into categories when I hang it out on the line. I’ll also admit I’ve already written multiple packing lists for my trip – clothes, toiletries, other items. It passes the time during boring meetings at work and I’ve always found that planning for a holiday is at least 30 per cent of the fun.

I’d like to say I’m a ‘sensible packer’. My travel partner and I will give each other smug looks at the baggage carousel as we casually convert our carry-on bags into backpacks and walk past people balancing suitcases that could carry three children on trolleys they’ll have to give back as soon as they get to the exit. We also trot nimbly up and down stairs in train stations and roll our eyes impatiently as people struggle to haul their bags on and off of public transport.

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That’s right people, no dogs and no ducks.

That’s not to say I’ve never got it wrong. I once spent a week in Tokyo at the beginning of spring with only a light cotton coat. It snowed. I froze. Knowing I had a very nice warm winter coat at home I was too stingy to buy another one. I sucked it up and bought a beanie as consolation. Here’s a free tip, beanies do not a winter coat make.

Perhaps with this experience in mind and too much time on my hands until departure, I’ve become obsessed with unlocking the secret of what will make one month’s worth of winter-weight clothing fit into a carry on. After reading something like 30 posts making this very claim, I have to admit, I’m none the wiser. In fact, both gratifyingly and disappointingly, I’ve discovered I already pack less than even the most savvy packers.

So, what’s the secret I hear you ask? Well, the only way I can sum it up is this: pack like a 70s feminist.* No make-up bag that even after being brutally culled still takes up the same space as a small dog. No hair products or tools. No high heels. That’s it. You may feel a twinge of disappointment at how flat your hair is every time you look back at your photos, but you will travel light.

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My trusty Cons are already on my packing list.

* By way of explanation: As an Arts undergrad studying women’s writing I read Germaine Greer’s ‘The Whole Woman’. Her calculation of the amount of time/money/headspace women spend on beauty products compared with men, not to mention her explanation that high heels are a patriarchal ploy to keep women unstable and vulnerable (much like gazelles waiting to be taken by a lion) ruined these things for me, therefore I rarely use them. I understand that 70s feminists also frequently burned their bras. For the record, I don’t consider this a valid tip for travelling light. The analogy has its limitations.

4 thoughts on “The secret to travelling light

  1. Haha, enjoyed your post. As a 1970s feminist I never pack heels and I have no make-up. I didn’t read that Greer book but somewhere along the way I decided that I had better things to spend my money on than make-up and expensive hairdressing. (Oh and I did burn my bra for 20 years until age and gravity made me think a certain level of decorum might be appropriate!!)

    However, hubby and I do tend to pack one suitcase size bigger than the carry on size. I truly don’t get the obsession to not have to wait at a baggage carousel, for the sake of a little convenience of being confident you have the clothes and shoes you need. (I know there’s the risk of loss and we have had bags separated from us for half a day or so once or twice but we’re happy to take the risk). Our bags are never full but I just feel better knowing I can fit in one more thing if I suddenly want to (or need to buy it). The size we carry is still manageable on buses and trains in, say, Japan. Our first trip to Japan – it was late autumn – we took bags another size up again and suffered. It had been sometime since we’d done an overseas trip of that sort. We learnt our lesson! From then on, a size down, and we managed stairs, escalators, baggage storage on shinkansens etc. We did buy one of those bag-backpack things for a European trip in 2013 but we checked them through!

    Winter is a b****r to pack for!

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    • Thanks whisperinggums. I must admit that I considered going for the next size up on this trip, but am hoping a compromise of small suitcase (checked) and every-day back pack will work. There might still be a last minute dash to the luggage shop!

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      • That would probably work. You are allowed to carry a coat on board aren’t you? Though I must say that never appeals to me because it means you’ll probably always be carrying it!

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