Sunday, 19 January 2014

Packing Light: A Guide

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I once read a story about a famous person travelling, and while they were waiting for their bag to come out at the baggage claim they started to see underwear circling along the conveyor belt. As more and more pairs of lost garments circled, their stomach sank realising that having the same underwear as the poor, unfortunate soul who's delicates were currently floating around the arrivals terminal could no longer be a coincidence. It was their laundry that was literally being aired out in public, and it was thanks to a busted zipper.

Packing is a skill. Some people are naturally adept at doing it well, like you may be at painting, singing, or building things. Others see it as an overwhelming battle to fight any time the words "trip", "vacation", or "getaway" are uttered.  And then there's me, stuck somewhere in the middle. I won't say I'm naturally adept at being a good packer, but I have had the opportunity to travel a lot in my life time and overtime I've honed this craft so that I can now face it without a well of dread forming in my stomach as I think about busting the zipper of my weekender bag before eventually giving in and going for an all out suitcase.

And so, to help those who just can't quite get it, I've developed this guide. This is almost exactly what I will be taking on my next holiday a week from now.  This will get me easily through about 2 weeks of travel.

1 - 3  I'm all about layering, especially when I travel, so a long sleeve tee is a must, as are regular tees and tanks.  I like to bring solid colours or simple patterns in a coordinated palette so I know I can wear anything, anytime.

4. A zip-up, waterproof, lightweight jacket is my best friend.  I have one that I bought at Mountain Equipment Co-op 4 years ago and it has travelled the world with me. A jacket like this is handy not only because you never know what the weather is going to do, but it's also a lifesaver in drafty airports and chilly airplanes.

5. A big scarf - easily my most used item on every trip. This becomes an impromptu blanket, pillow, towel, sarong, and so much more. It's rare that I leave the house without one in my day to day life, let alone when travelling.

6. Jeans - classic, comfortable. You can't go wrong.

7. Hiking pants are not always the most stylish things to done on a holiday, but our trips always include some level of hiking, trekking, or some similar excursion so they are always included. Bonus tip: if you'll be visiting anything remotely jungle-y make sure you have hiking pants, not shorts. They'll protect your legs from the brush as well as the critters!

8. Comfy, casual shorts are an obvious choice. If i'm going away for 2 weeks I'll likely throw in a second pair.

9. An infinity dress may not seem like your standard choice, but when you're trying to pack light, you're thinking about multi-tasking items and this baby takes me just about anywhere I wanna go.  It's perfect temple hopping where more conservative hem lines are often required (read: no short shorts! this and a long sleeve tee or button up are day trip go-tos).  I own one of the classic A-line dresses from American Apparel (in a light, quick drying cotton) and it's gone from Paris to Thailand and back again.

10. You'll be needing a day pack. Backpack, cross-body, tote ... whatever it is, make it big enough to hold all your essentials for the day, small enough that you'll actually be willing to carry it, and soft enough that you could toss it in your bigger bag if necessary.

11-13. Shoes! My favourite part. I've become good at keeping this area quite limited, despite my ever present desire to throw in just one more pair, for just in case. Flip flops have a guaranteed space in my bag, no matter what, because again these are multi-tasking bad boys. I can wear them out and about, in and around, and everywhere else I dream.  I'll also have a good pair of hiking shoes (because again, there always seems to be this element to my travel), and a pair of walking around shoes.  If I knew I definitely wouldn't be hiking, I'd probably swap these out for a pair of cute flats. Bonus tip! When packing footwear, make sure you pack items that are tried and true - you don't want to tromp around Montmartre in some spiffy new kicks only to be cursed with mega blisters for the rest of your trip.

EXTRA TIPS!

  • Pack travel sized shampoo and conditioner and always pack it in a plastic bag.  There is no need for you to carry around a half litre of shampoo, and if it leaks in your bag, you won't ruin all of your stuff!
  • Roll your clothes when packing them. It takes up less space than the traditional fold, and prevents wrinkles. win-win!


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