This post is by my friend and reader, Amanda, who is off on an amazing adventure! Here’s her story about packing light in the long term.
A couple of months ago, I asked Xandra about packing for a long trip, which ended up being a post on the fabulous blog you’re currently reading.
My reason for asking this was my upcoming trip to New Zealand and South East Asia. Being an aspiring minimalist, I wanted to challenge myself to pack like one.
The Accidental Backpacker
A backpack wasn’t my first choice. I’m one of those who adore rolling bags. They’re easily moved around and easy to store, as long as you don’t stuff them too much. Unfortunately, it would turn my backpacker bliss into a bratpacking bonanza, if you know what I mean. Not minimalistic at all, no siree…
After some googling, sleepless nights and heavy-duty meditating, I went with the backpack. I decided I want to be mobile and easily packed up, ready to go on another adventure. Don’t you just love when you’re able to make up your mind about something?
The backpack, which I borrowed from a friend, was one of the “lighter” kinds. This basically meant it had a limited set of straps and zippers. It also came with a smaller backpack you could zip to the bigger bag – a great idea in theory, not in reality. Xandra wisely pointed out the fact that containers tend to fill up, and when they do, they weigh more. Not so good for a minimalistic backpacker. On the other hand, borrowing stuff – like backpacks – is minimalistic. They are usually very expensive, and I’m sure you’d rather spend your pennies on skydiving, right?
Amazing packing cubes?
A lot of backpackers seem to love those packing cubes you can buy on Amazon. The theory of packing cubes is brilliant: Separate things, like underwear and shoes, to make them more easily accessible!
I didn’t have any time to wait for these apparently amazing items to be delivered, and I also thought they were a bit expensive (skydive, remember?). So instead, I pulled out some of the lighter bags I could find in my closet (think: beach bag.)
I have no opinion whatsoever on packing cubes, but my home-invented beach bag-system did NOT work. To make a long story short, my bag filled up big time.
I decided to let go of the YouTube, travel blog-inspired way to pack. My trip wasn’t like anybody else’s trip, so why bother copying an ill-fitting concept?
I ended up changing my bag to another one. Actually, I changed both of my bags (big backpack and day trip-backpack.) The sizes of them were the same, though, so I don’t count that as a change-up! Instead of packing cubes, I ended up buying very cheap vacuum bags to pack my clothes in. That way, they take up less space, keep clothes nice and fresh and they are also transparent so you can see what you’ve got! Just make sure you take the ones not requiring a vacuum cleaner…
The hardest part with packing is choosing what to bring. Xandra recommended making a list for minimizing stress levels, a tip I think is great and have used since many years back. Travelling for a long time will mean a lot of unpacking and repacking, so a list is handy to make sure you don’t leave anything behind. It doesn’t have to be a boring one! When I went to Florida last spring, I drew small icons of everything I brought with me. Fun and very handy, since putting together outfits was just a blink away.
Another recommendation Xandra made, was making piles. I didn’t make a pile, but I did lay out everything on the floor and organized it in tops, trousers etc. The next challenge was to sort out the extra clothes I actually won’t need. This is also one of the tougher parts, but I really don’t like dragging stuff around. Less physical stuff to carry means less stuff to worry about, which essentially leads to inner peace and focus on having an amazing time. Find your motivation to make the cuts!
Xandra also urged me to be honest about my activities and pack accordingly. I will spend my time in countries in full summer bloom, with temperatures ranging from 15-30 degrees C, so thankfully, I could narrow down my list to summer clothes only.
Packing for activities
My activities will range from hiking to sunbathing. Packing for this is a bit trickier, but I focused on bringing versatile items to be prepared. I also made sure not to forget detergent!
Putting things in perspective…
Finally, I asked myself: What is the worst that can happen to me?
Well, it certainly isn’t the fact that I left my blue top at home.
Tomorrow, my journey will start and I literally can’t believe what’s happening. I guess it will hit me at the airport. Or maybe when I arrive in Auckland after three (!) days of travelling. Thank you Xandra for providing some great long-term guide lines and thank you, dear reader, for your interest! Hopefully, I will be back for another post when I come back home again.
My packing, by the numbers:
1 change of bags
2 Lonely planet-books, South East Asia on a Shoestring and Discover New Zealand. The first one weighs about 1 kg, but my instincts tell me it’s all going to pay off…
3 dresses: One maxi dress and two lighter ones. All of them can be used for looking dashing or just hanging out on the beach.
4 bras. You don’t need more.
5 pairs of trousers: three pairs of shorts, one pair of leggings and also a pair of loose fitted jeans.
6 pairs of socks. I hope I don’t have to use them too often.
7 gadgets, like chargers and a camera.
8 tops, ranging from a breezy blouse to a work out-shirt.
If you would like to follow my trip, I will update on my progress at www.bucketlistly.com/users/amanda
Thanks, Amanda, for sharing your story! Real life heroines: if you have a story to share, send your idea to me at firstname.lastname@example.org :)