“He who would travel happily must travel light. – Antoine de St. Exupery”
The suitcase is on the bed waiting to be packed.
You look at the pile of clothes and other stuff to be loaded into it. You look back at the suitcase.
It’s like watching a tennis match, back and forth, back and forth. Your mind is trying to comprehend how in hell are you going to fit that pile of clothes into that suitcase?
Well, let me tell you if I can pack light so can you?
It is not something that happened naturally, that’s for sure. But I did get there, finally. Thinking back to my first big trip with my family, it’s hard to admit how long it took me to finally learn the art of packing light.
But I am proud to say I eventually got there, and I will never, ever be crossing back to the dark side again!
Why bother Packing Light?
You’re back, shoulders and neck will thank you.
You will be safer in busy tourist hubs like airports and train stations because you won’t be busy wrestling too many, or heavy bags. Pickpockets look for people who aren’t paying attention.
You will never have to worry again about finding a spot for your bag on a train.
And your trip will be the focus, not your wardrobe.
I can’t tell you how much easier it is to travel with fewer clothes, ones that all mix and match, and not struggle in the mornings deciding on what to wear.
I love the freedom of packing light.
Stop packing for “Just in Case”
I know what you are going to say. I might need all that stuff.
What if it rains?
What if it’s dressier than I thought?
Does this conversation with yourself sound familiar?
“I definitely have to put in some heels. Maybe a few pairs because I don’t know what I will wear and one pair won’t go with everything. I have to take ALL my toiletries from home because I couldn’t possibly do without them. And I couldn’t possibly wear that same jacket for the WHOLE trip! Let me throw in a couple, oh maybe three.”
OK, so hold on tight while I burst a few bubbles and I apologise ahead of time if I offend anyone. I have been known to be a little direct and dare I say, blunt.
Time to get Real
If it rains – it’s called an umbrella. Buy one. A cheap, umbrella. Bring it home or leave it behind for another traveller to use.
Better use one of the complimentary ones a lot of hotels offer their guests or buy one of those special looking garbage bag type ponchos (not a very good look I admit but good for that random rain shower).
Or be smart. Make sure that your one jacket (yes one and only) is also weatherproof and as boring as it might be, go for a black or navy colour (or another neutral colour) that will be good for all occasions.
If it’s an awesome bright colour that compliments all your clothes, even better!
Next, if you get invited to a night out, or like us it was an Art Exhibition Opening, or something similar, people understand you are travelling.
They will not expect you to be dressed up. If you have packed a nice pair of black (or navy, or brown, or grey – yes something neutral) pants, with a cute pair of ballet flats, and a lovely top, teamed with a gorgeous little cardigan and a delightful piece of blingy, but costume, jewellery you will look amazing!
All those pieces of clothing can be worn over and over again throughout your trip. AND if you really do think you need something a little dressier here’s a huge revelation. There will be shops!
You can buy something if you really need to. It will be a lovely memento to bring home. Imagine on your next night out at home, wearing that gorgeous dress and someone says, “Oh I love your dress” and you say, ”Oh thank you, yes I bought it in Italy” (insert smug smile here).
Nix the Shoes
The same goes for shoes. Stop filling your suitcase with shoes that you will not wear or at best will only wear once or twice on the trip.
I digress for the minute but just go with me.
A number of years ago and on a street in Boston, I was walking down the road with my then-husband and two kids heading to the local pub for dinner.
Yes, the pub, very glamorous don’t you think? And there I am, teetering down the street in this horrendous pair of pinky coloured high heel shoes that were pinching my feet like there was no tomorrow.
Now, why would I be wearing these stupid, ridiculous, hideous shoes down the street to the local pub? Because I had packed the bloody things! We were on a month’s holiday in the USA and I had packed them because they would go with some of my outfits (none of which I had not worn either because they were also ridiculous and packed for “just in case” outings) and I was determined to prove they had been a mistake.
Well, I wanted to cry and I’m pretty sure the family were trying to disown me.
So stop packing all those shoes!
One pair good for lots of walking and one comfy (but cute) pair for evenings. That’s it. Done.
Now onto your makeup.
Do not even think of taking all of it. I don’t even take my toiletries bag anymore it just takes up far too much room. It’s Ziploc bags all the way for me.
And it goes in my hand luggage. Yep, all my makeup for my entire trip fits into my liquids bag which I take on the plane.
So what’s in it? A small travel size bottle of moisturiser, a small travel size bottle of cleanser, one lipstick (doubles as blush), one lip balm, one eyeliner (the sort I can smudge and make it look like eyeshadow if I want to – or at least that’s what I think it looks like), mascara and foundation.
I confess I don’t usually spend a lot of time on my makeup most days but I do always wear makeup. So I am not one that will travel without any at all.
I carry it all in my hand luggage, in case my suitcase disappears in transit, I still have my makeup. Otherwise, you would see a total meltdown. For the same reason, I carry a change of clothes in my hand luggage as well.
What you think will happen and what really happens
Let me run through a typical morning on holidays as opposed to the imaginary one you think will happen.
Usually jet lag has you in its grip for a few days and you stagger out of bed feeling like your head is stuffed with cotton wool.
You usually find you have slept later than you should have (because you’re on holidays and you can AND you were awake most of the night from the time difference) so it’s a quick bolt to the bathroom, a quick cold shower because you haven’t worked out how the bloody hot/cold tap thingy works.
You slap some makeup on your face, scrap a comb through your hair or in my case, scrunch it up in something that looks like a ponytail, and race out the door to either meet your group or for to head to whatever activity you have planned!
Then at night when you think you will be off having a glamorous dinner, you end up running in from a huge day of sightseeing, run a comb through your hair again, slap on some lippy and bolt out the door once again to find something to eat.
The world is very casual. And no one bats an eyelid that you didn’t dress up. No one is laughing in the corner that you are still wearing the same clothes that you did all day. And certainly, no one cares that you have not carefully and artfully applied a full face of makeup.
The same goes for all your toiletries. I don’t bring anything with me other than my toothbrush and toothpaste, some hair ties, comb/brush and a small travel hairspray and a small travel bottle of my favourite (for sensitive skin) body wash.
I use the hotel’s hairdryer (if you really can’t take the chance then invest in a small travel hairdryer) and I use the hotel’s shampoo or buy some when I get there.
If you really can’t leave home without your shampoo and conditioner then decant them into small travel bottles.
Have I convinced you?
Yes, you can wear that one jacket your entire trip.
If you packed clothes you can layer, your outfits won’t look the same. You might feel like burning them when you get home because you are so sick of them, but that’s OK.
What you will remember most are the memories, not your outfits. Connections with people and things you did together. Not which jacket you wore.
In fact, you will look at that jacket when you find it buried at the back of the wardrobe where you hoped it would never to see the light of day again, and all those memories will come flooding back.
Travel is precious. It brings depth and richness to your life, and special moments you could never buy.
It changes you.
Not because you packed every item in your wardrobe and you looked stunningly stylish every day, but because everything you know is stripped away, your “normal” life doesn’t exist, and you are you without any fluff and trappings of your daily life.
Travel lets you be you.
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