When I’m trying to pack light, I’m reminded of the old saying, “If I’d had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter,” which is variously attributed to just about every author who ever lived.
My version: “If I’d had more time, I would have packed a lighter bag.”
Packing lots of heavy bags is easy – just throw everything in. It takes far longer to pack light, so I usually start a week in advance by throwing in everything I might need and then taking things out, one by one. It reminds me of editing: cut, trim, delete.
This used to be a point of pride with me. Now, with airlines charging for checked luggage — and losing bags at alarming rates — it’s more of a necessity.
Take my trip to Turkey this past February. I was determined to bring just one carry-on bag, despite the demands of the climate on my wardrobe. We were planning to be in Istanbul, where the weather was springlike, and in Cappadocia, where there was still snow on the ground. Adding to the challenge, we were going to visit the outdoor museums at Goreme and Zelve, which meant I needed boots for the snow and mud.
What to do? First I packed the boots, which took up about a third of the bag. I mitigated this by stuffing the boots full of socks and underwear. Knowing that I’d have to wear the same clothes in Istanbul and Cappadocia, I threw in a full set of thermal underwear, top and bottom.
In Istanbul I could walk around in my black travel pants, a long-sleeved shirt and my leather jacket. In Cappadocia I could wear the same outfit with the addition of a hoodie sweatshirt under the leather jacket, the thermal underwear under everything, the boots and a pair of lightweight liner gloves.
Of course it’s necessary when traveling this way to accept two things. You’re going to spend some time washing clothes in the hotel room sink. And if you’re not going to win any fashion awards.
But then I figure that what I get to look at is more important than what I look like.