Pack Light and Travel Happy
No matter where I go, or however long I go for, I can usually fit all my things in either
1) a carry-on with a purse and/or a small back pack; or
2) a 60L pack
I like to bring the carry-on with me for ease of accessing my things, especially if I am staying at the same location (i.e., hotel or hostel) for a few days. Even if all my stuff could fit in a back pack, I would hate to pack and re-pack all my things. I find that my stuff magically expands throughout my trip, and they never fit as snuggly as when I first packed them.
If I will be back packing or moving around constantly, I prefer to bring my 60L pack for ease of mobility. I often feel like a snail (with my home on my back, literally). I did this when I was traveling around Germany and Egypt. It was a bit of a pain to pack and re-pack so much, but it would have been a bigger pain wheeling around a carry on through the desert, or the streets of Cairo.
This is what my carry-on usually consist of (now):
- 2 – 3 tops with 3 – 4 tank tops to mix and match
- 1 – 2 cardigans (usually I wear one on the plane)
- 1 – 2 bathing suits (usually a one piece and two piece)
- 1 scarf/wrap
- 1 dress (or other fancy outfit )
- 1 pair of jeans (usually I wear this onto the plane)
- 1 belt (usually I wear this with jeans onto the plane)
- 1 pair of leggings and/or tights
- 1 pair of shorts and/or skirt
- 1 set of pajamas
- 3 – 4 pairs of socks
- 7 pairs of panties and 3 bras
- 1 hat
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of sneakers (usually I wear this on the plane)
- 1 pair of quasi dressy shoes (sandals or heels)
- quick dry, travel towel
- lip balm
- acne medications
- contact lens and solution
- make up remover
- tooth brush and tooth paste
- make up bag: primer, powder, blush, eye shadow and eye liner
Even though I know most places carry shampoo and conditioner, I am a little picky when it comes to this, so I pack my own in 50mL containers and sealed in a ziploc bag. I don’t really care about soap, so I just use whatever is there, or buy something there.
- cellphone and charger
- digital camera, charger and extra memory card(s)
- plug converter adapter thingy (if required)
- driver’s licence
- VISA card
- debit card
- itinerary and boarding info
- some cash
I usually keep this stuff on me at all times in a waist wallet that I stuff in my pants.
- a reading book (usually one is enough)
- the travel book for our destination and sometimes a phrase book
- a moleskin notebook for my thoughts
- a few plastic bags/ziploc bags
This wasn’t always the case
I admit, I was not always a light packer. In fact, when I first started traveling, I was a very heavy packer. Take my exchange term to Singapore, for example. I packed 2 large checked baggage (we’re talking 1970’s heavy luggage that parents brought from Hong Kong to Canada), 1 carry-on and a back pack. I was staying for four months. Yikes.
The taxi cab driver asked me if I was moving to the country. When I explained I was here for school for only four months, he exclaimed, “What is such a little girl like you need with four big bags?!”
He was right. I brought way too much crap.
Things that I should have known not to bring:
- my wool winter jacket
- three pairs of jeans
- too many sweaters
- too many shoes
- too many clothes in general
- shampoo and toiletries
- my old textbooks and notes
Someone once told me to bring half of what I pack and twice the amount I budget. Although not ideal, this piece of advice was pretty close to the truth, sometimes.
Why I like to pack less
I like to go to a new place and enjoy it. I like to soak in the culture and pretend to be one of the locals. I want to eat where the locals eat. I want to enjoy the city the way a local does. I want to learn the nooks and crannies of a new place.
Even though I like seeing sites, mostly I enjoy walking around the city. I like taking public transportations as opposed to hailing cabs. I like reading in local parks and enjoying street food. I enjoy people watching and seeing how they interact. I enjoy a day out on the beach, eating local foods from the markets.
When BF and I were in Paris, we would buy brie and fresh baguette and sit along the Siene river watching all the “tourists” in their big boats, as we dozed between reading breaks. It was so blissful. After we got tired of sitting, we’d walk to Notre Dame or the Arc de Triumph or catch the subway to Sacre Coeur. We’d walk for probably 8 to 10 km a day, sometimes 🙂
We could just pick up our stuff, get on the subway and go to the airport. It’s a lot easier traveling and moving around with less stuff.
What I am adding to my list of stuff to bring:
Even though I have stayed in countless hostels and hotels that were not quite up to par in terms of cleanliness (I was a student! 🙂 ), I have never encountered the wrath of bed bugs — until Paris.
BF and I were bitten badly – all along one side of each our bodies! It wasn’t even at a sketchy hotel (trust me, I’ve stayed in some sketchy places!). It was awful, and I am just so glad that I didn’t bring it back home with me to Canada.
How do you like to pack? What are your pointers on packing lightly or traveling happily :)? Did I miss anything?