There is nothing worse that lugging a big suitcase around on holiday. We’ve all done it – stuffed that huge black bag to bursting and regretted it. Those who travel well, travel light. They are minimalist in their approach to packing and excessive in the rewards they reap. No dragging the heavy case up flights of steps, missing the train, battling on escalators and getting in and out of cabs. Hotel on the top of a hill? Not a problem at all! Mostly, we over-pack because we’re trying to control the uncontrollable. We want to account for every eventuation. An outfit for every occasion, every season, every moment – we don’t want to be caught short or not looking our best.
But, isn’t that exactly why we travel? To be taken by surprise? To give life the opportunity to deliver the unexpected? For a monsoon to rain on our heads, a sunrise to take our breath away, a dance at twilight on an island beach. When we pack too much, we lose out.
I will never forget dragging 27 kilos in a backpack around Italy. It got so bad I sat down on stone steps in Venice and cried. Or the time I moved to New York with 65kgs, wearing three jackets and smuggling belts and shoes in my laptop bag. I had all my things, but those things ended up suffocating and weighing me down. Instead of travelling light that year, I felt weighed down. Through that experience, I learned a valuable lesson: to always pack a suitcase so I can carry it in my arms if I need to, run with it (slowly!) if I have to and accept a lift graciously without having to excuse my oversized packing disaster that won’t fit into the boot of a car. Never again will I get that embarrassing florescent ‘heavy’ tag stuck to my travel bag.
Two other things have inspired me in my quest for lightening my luggage. First, reading how models pack. If you don’t know, it goes like this – running shoes to stay fit in any city, some black t-shirts, some white ones, one pair of jeans, boots, a jacket, yoga tights, undies, socks, ONE bikini not five, a comfortable sweater. Imagine a tiny little bag, not bursting at the seams, maybe even a little room inside. Second, my cousin told me about a book she read by Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Apparently if you pick up each thing you own and if it doesn’t fill you with instant joy, get rid of it – give it to a friend, donate it, clear it out – and this will change your life, and in this case, your packing.
When you travel, be okay with surprises. Take the essentials so you can survive comfortably, look and feel good, but still be light on your feet because blisters on your hands and a sore back from overestimating the number of dresses you just had to take on holiday are never worth it. Especially when a storm hits and you spend seven days locked indoors reading and napping in pyjamas. Life will always throw curve balls when you travel, you may as well just go with it and remember to laugh when the airline loses your luggage.
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