Travel, Uncategorized

Packing.

There is a truism about traveling the globe, I think. That truism is that you are always going to come back with more stuff than you left with. It habit, especially for us first world people. You buy cool stuff found along the way. You pick up gifts for people back home. Lets face it, nobody can resist that souvenir T-shirt from the street vendor. It’s a fact of travel. That being said, I like to leave space in the backpack to allow for newly acquired stuff. Not a lot of space, but enough so I can come home with one bag the way I left home.

Backpacking is a style I have been employing so long, I can’t remember another way. Well, that’s not completely true, I used to take a large blue hard-sided suitcase to summer camp as a kid. I held everything I needed for the week at camp and was basically indestructible. I think it was one piece of a set my mother picked up when she was young. It was old and showed the signs of many, many places. But camp was a learning experience. So, was the military. You go into the army ad they give you a fancy green backpack. You put all your stuff in it, and then you put it on your back. I learned fast during those days that LESS IS MORE. if you don’t have it, you don’t have to carry it around.

I have never forgotten that lesson. I still travel that way today. Still, less is more. Whether your in Cairo or Paris, Lima or Honolulu, if you need to find something you usually always can. Dragging around a lot of “Maybe” items doesn’t happen. You can rent gear or find a place that sells it. It’s a great world out there, and they have stuff.

As far as my individual travel style, I pack for a week. If I’m going out for a week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, I pack for a week. 7 days worth of pants (shorts and jeans), 5 days worth of shirts (I will have bought a couple by the time the week’s out) and 10 days worth of underwear and socks (Cause sometimes you don’t actually find the laundry mat where you think you will). It’s really that simple. It also takes up surprisingly little space in your pack. Extra space is god when you’re on the go. It allows for the rest of the crap you need to pack.

My standard packing list is pretty much like this:

Kelty Backpack (2600)

Rip Curl drawstring bag

Journal with extra pens

A cloth Royal Crown bag containing toiletries, Zantac, and Imodium

A small backpacker first aid kit

A small cloth zippered bag with passport, shot records, travel itinerary, diving cert card and log book (If Required)

A couple of trash bags for the odd rain event

5 shirts, 2 shorts, 1 pair of jeans, good long sleeved shirt, 10 days underwear and socks, hiking boots, Tevas sandals, a rain shell, and a hat (usually bought along the way)

Multi-country electric adaptor

Apple phone charger

Camera battery charger

digital camera

and an external battery for the iPhone

That’s really about it. That amount of stuff will fill the backpack about 85 % full. The drawstring bag can be used to carry stuff onto the plane or as extra storage. I pull the drawstrings full out and tie them off to the carry loops on the backpack. Sometime, you just end up buying extra crap.

I know it doesn’t seem like a lot of stuff. It’s not. It’s what I need to get around wherever I’m at. If something really comes up missing, I go buy one. To be completely honest, the only things you actually need to travel are a passport and a good credit card. The rest of it is just stuff. Back in the days of the tall ships people went abroad with just the clothes on their back. They all had a good time. You can too.

I can just images the thoughts at this point. I can’t go on vacation with just that little bit. I have to have changes of clothes. I have to have extra shoes. I have to have my computer and my dvd player and my big thick book (Okay I admit I drug a copy of On the Origin of Species all over Europe one summer). The truth is , you don’t. You don’t really need it. You certainly don’t need to be dragging it everywhere you go. Trust me, your back will thank you if you don’t.

This is the way I roll. I understand that other people don’t roll this way. I have lots of friends who have multiple bags all the time. If that is what you need for a security blanket, then do it. I have found a way that works for me. It may or may not work for you.

The one thing I absolutely do recommend is leaving a little room in your suitcase or backpack for the stuff you pick up along the way. The first time you find yourself in Heathrow, watching a bunch of shocked people trying to stuff all of the crap they brought into one piece of baggage because the customs people at Heathrow will only allow a single piece of baggage through x-ray with you, you start pack less. You also laugh when you get to the other side of the x-ray line because you only brought one bag and breezed right on through. Just sayin.

Try less. Just a little less. You find it’s not that bad.

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What’s in the pic, It’s all you REALLY need.

 

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Travel

Stuff part two. The small stuff.

This section of dealing with stuff is based around the smaller stuff in your life. You will also find that it requires easier decision making paradigms.

If you have decided to keep your house, condo, apartment while you are away traveling around the globe, well then, this decision is easy. You leave your stuff right where it is. See, that was easy!

If you decide to downsize, some more relevant decisions need to be made. First question, do you keep anything? If you’re like me and have been a bunch of places, the answer to this question is yes. Realistically, by the time that you have made it to the middle of your years, you have collected a certain amount of things that are not disposable. However, you’ll be amazed at just how little stuff this actually is. Seriously, it’s not as much as you think it is.

It needs to be noted at this point, I hate junk. I hate clutter. It’s probably left over military living or something. Maybe it’s a side-effect of 20 years of traveling for work. Stuff that doesn’t have a specific place and need is junk. Junk needs to be disposed of. It is my opinion that if you are going to traveling, even domestically, for any amount of time, you need to develop a less is more strategy.

For most people, separating themselves from piles of possessions is much more of an emotional issue than it is anything else. It is a capitalist mantra that people need stuff. People that have stuff are well off. More stuff is more good. That way of thinking is, once again in my personal opinion, a bunch of rubbish.

Once of dispose of your home’s furniture, there will be a big pile of stuff leftover. That stuff, is the stuff we are talking about. The furniture in any home can basically be replaced with no great loss of equity later on. It is also a good source of extra travel money. If you have family heirlooms, or antique pieces of furniture, that is a different matter altogether. On that specific note I would say store those items for later on. Usually, antique furniture equity cannot be recouped later on and should be retained. Otherwise, dump the furniture.

That pile of randomness left in your apartment or house is what now remains of your life, to date. You will find that probably 20 percent of that pile is actually stuff that says something about your years on this planet. The other 80 percent is just stuff. The stuff, that’s what you want to be separating yourself from. This point, right here, is where many people emotionally fall down.

Everybody has that friend. That friend that has a house full of stuff. Fancy painted signs on the wall, little stuffed do-dads in every corner. Different sets of dishes for different days of the week. Travelers are NOT these people. Don’t attempt to be these people. If you are honest with yourself, you’ll understand that all of this “stuff” is junk that can be expunged from your life. If you truthfully, emotionally can’t bring yourself to part with your knickknacks, you may want to rethink a traveling and adventurous lifestyle. It’s probably not for you.

For the rest of you, Trust me when I say that a well appointed two bedroom house will fit comfortable in a 10-foot by 10-foot storage unit when you’re down downsizing. I know it will. Personally, I think 10×10 is a little too big, but it’s a standard size in the storage unit business.

As far as disposal goes: I say either list it or just give it away. You would be amazed how many of your friends will take knickknacks from you. (More stuff is more good.) The listing side is also easy. There’s Craigslist, Facebook, A dozen stuff selling apps, and the newspaper want ads for starters. Once you cut the emotional cord, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to actually get rid of.

Moral, less is more. The emotional freedom of not having to look after your stuff is worth the effort made. Less is more. Experience will always outweigh stuff. Always, and every time.

That’s my two cents.

Now, go on. Get out there.

 

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One house in a 10×10. Probably should have dumped the bike, but we can’t all live by our convictions, can we?

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