"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Now, if you'll excuse me...

See that carefully packed, compact, light-weight luggage over there?  All ready to put in the truck and head for the airport.  All carry-on, no luggage fees? Suitcase weights only 25 pounds.
Yeah, well, I unpacked it all today.  Every little bit, unpacked, paid out on a dusty rose colored sheet, and photographed.  And it's all Carlene's fault, who never goes anywhere, but thinks it would be cool to know how one packs light anyway.

On a three-week trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji a couple years ago, or maybe it was the three-week trip to Russia the next year, I was utterly astonished at a woman who traveled with only a carry-on bag.  When I asked her how she did it, she, a frequent traveler, said she wore two colors:  black and khaki.  Actually, she said stone, but they looked khaki to me.  Anyway, she was very well put together the whole trip.  Everything coordinated.  

I struggled with keeping my large suitcase under the international weight limit, plus I had a carry-on.  And a big, stuffed "purse."  I hated carting all that stuff around, much I which I didn't use. I abandoned a semi-large stack of stuff, including a folding travel iron (!), in Australia, along with a note stating it was abandoned.

I've mailed packages home, stuffed with things I didn't need, and often the postage was more than the contents were worth.

During my recent three-week trip to China and Tibet, I again had a large suitcase, a rolling carry-on, and the purple bag, while several people had only a carry-on bag and a handbag.  Think about it--your checked baggage doesn't go to Reykjavik  while you're heading to Beijing.  No baggage fees.  No suitcase wrestling.  No 800 lb. gorillas using your suitcase as a trampoline.

Time to get serious about packing light.

Carlene thought that might be an interesting blog post, so I laid it all out.  I balked at ironing the sheet, though.  Ironing, like sewing, gives me sinus headaches and allergic reactions.  Or, as I am fond of saying, I get cross looking a needle in the eye.

First, the bedroll.  Remember when airlines used to leave a pillow and blanket on each seat?  The good old days?  Now I carry a neck pillow, a small fleece travel blanket, and a pair of warm socks because my feet get cold on those long overseas flights. The fleece blankie is a relatively new addition because the airport in San Francisco, where I tried to take a nap in a quiet corner during five hour layover in the wee hours of a rainy night, was cold. 

Then, the purple shoulder bag that I always take on trips because it's so darned handy.  I got it a few years ago at the lavender farm on Maui.  It has an internal zipped pocket and a cell phone pocket in the strap that closes with Velcro.  I recently sent photos for the owner of the lavender farm of all the places the purple bag has been with me:  Russia, China, Tibet, Grand Canyon.

Just in case someone gets snooty about three pieces of carry-ons, the bedroll will fit in the purple bag.

Also in the purple bag:

From left to right,back row:  Small laptop (2-1/2 lbs.) with neoprene slip case,  neck pouch for easy access to passport and ID, passport case, moistened wipes, see-through plastic toiletries bag so they're all in one place (folding toothbrush and small toothpaste, small nail clippers, hand wipes, hand lotion, eyeshades, and ear plugs), Kindle and soft slip case.

The jumble in the front:  pouch with extra battery and flash card for camera, small notebook and pen, reading glasses in hard case, hand sanitizer, chap stick, Listerine breath strips, eyeglass lens cleaners, jump drive for computer, travel clock with alarm, and cell phone.

Plus, my constant companion, the "Explore" token.

And for the carry-on, suitcase, which has a handle and four wheels:

Left to right, front to back:

First row:  Brown corduroy slacks,  light blue jeans, turquoise "dressy-for-Moose-Pass"  overshirt, 7 pairs of smart wool sox plus one fluffy white pair to wear to bed if need be (strictly a luxury).

Second row:  white cotton pants for lounging in my room or in case the bathroom's down the hall, red tee for sleeping, a cloth tube for emergencies--it can be contorted into any number of things such as a baclava, hat, neck scarf, etc.--a black long-sleeved tee, and brown, purple, and black short-sleeved tees.

Third row:  behind this jumble in the front are a lt. aqua sun shirt, a neck scarf with absorbing pellets that can be soaked in water for cooling, a long sleeved black fleece pullover, a North Face lt. blue rain jacket with hood that folds into the collar.  Somewhere in all of this is a mini-umbrella.

Beside the rain jacket are a fleece scarf with gloves and headband in case it's cold, a pair of Teva light weight water resistant shoes (slip-on), the white things in the shoe are pantie liners (by using these I can wear the same pair of underwear for three days), then a white dressy sweatshirt-like sweater, a blue visor, and five pairs of panties (remember the pantie liners?)

Now for the jumble in the front. left to right, front to back and around in a circle:

The AC changer for the laptop goes in the purple Crown Royal bag.  Behind that are a small pair of binoculars, two shopping bags that fold into self-pockets, clip-on sunglasses in hard case,  a plastic, see-through hanging toiletries bag (SOOOOO handy!!!) with small containers of deodorant, toothpaste, hand cream, hand wipes, more lens cleaners, hair gel, shampoo.  I considered leaving out the shampoo, but we'll be staying in pensions, and I don't know if they supply shampoo.

Then there's the red zipped bag that holds:

Two small zip pouches with camera batteries and flash cards (one goes in the purple bag for day outings), an extra camera that uses the same battery.  This was a hard lesson I learned in Australia when I left my camera in the seat back pouch on a Qantas flight.  For the same reason, each evening I download my photos to the laptop.

Also in the zip bag:  a wireless mouse for the laptop ( so much easier), spare AAA batteries for mouse,a clip-on reading light that can double as an emergency flashlight, a surge protector/electrical adaptor for charging the laptop, cameras, and Kindle, charging accessories for the cameras, a DSL connection cord, minimal camera lens cleaners,and an AC cell phone charger.

Off to the far right side of all of this are an empty Zip-loc bag for whatever, and two plastic folded-up shopping bags for laundry.  The lime green thing at the far right is an index card with my name and contact information, and on the back is my itinerary with the dates names of places I'll be staying.  Not pictured are some folded, very soft paper towels.  I use them instead of Kleenex. 

If you actually managed to read through all this, can you tell me what I've forgotten?

I'm intentionally leaving behind the DSLR camera.  It's too bulky and I don't know how to use it well enough yet.  I'm relying on point and shoot digital cameras.

So you see,  I have lots of stuff, but still have room for improvement and lightening the load.  If I'd been to Europe before and knew what to expect, I could probably reduce it a few pounds.  After this trip, I think I'll make up a checklist in M/S Excel.  Then I can print that out for future travels.

Of course, if I left behind the laptop and the cameras, and didn't have a blog, I could realize an immediate weight saving.  But, shoot, sharing it with y'all is half the fun of traveling.

Now that I have to repack all of this, there are a few things I'm thinking about jettisoning, like the small bottle of hand sanitizer (I have individually packaged wipes), the DSL cord (surely I can find wireless somewhere), and maybe the umbrella.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go pack.  Again.

Thanks to Carlene.

1 comment:

  1. I'm totally impressed that you can get all that in one suitcase and a purple shoulder bag! You will be my inspiration as I pack for two weeks to Hawaii with one carry on and my shoulder bag. I was already planning to include a pair of socks in the shoulder bag cause my feet always get cold. Blanket, prob not. Have a great trip!