In 2009 I packed a suitcase, a small backpack and a carry-on and left my native country to live a life with no fixed territorial boundaries, indefinitely. In 2010, I realized, maybe two suitcases would be a good idea. Essentially what those suitcases and carry-ons contain is all that I own, other than some remnants in my parents’ basement and that which I buy / need at any given location and that which can be disposed of / given away before I embark onwards. I believe in contemporary airport terms, this could be expressed as, at any given point in time, I have to condense the belongings of my life to approximately 66 kgs or 144 lbs of stuff.
In no specific order….
17 Essential Oil of Lavender
This multipurpose essential oil can be used to clean cuts, assist with (sun) burns and neutralize skin irritations/allergic breakouts. Lavender oil is one of the safest essential oils and can be used full-strength on the skin. It also has calming properties and can be used topically as a sleep aid, for example, a small dab under your nostrils. If you’re sensitive, mix with a carrier oil (almond, coconut, sesame, olive, etc). If you’re into the fragrance, it also works as a perfume. Try diluting it with some water in a travel sized spray bottle to act as a hair mist and room spray. Its anti-fungal and antiseptic properties will help rid your bed of foreign smells and who knows what at new hotels/guesthouses.
For some of you, traveling with a specified brand of shampoo and conditioner is essential, even in large doses, particularly when traveling to an area where products formulated for your hair type are scarce or unavailable. Unfortunately, shampoo and conditioner packaging tend to be heavy. On large trips I either move each to empty water bottles which are made of lighter packaging (and easily recycled in a number of countries) or Ziploc type bags. Small Ziploc type baggies, (i.e. reused medicine sized) are great for shorter trips and can be disposed of on location which lessens your load enroute home. Don’t forget to place the above in a plastic bag to avoid potential spillage all over your bag/luggage.
19 Cut It Off
My OCD but effective tip which surprisingly adds up when traveling with luggage (as opposed to backpacking). Cut the tags and excess fabric pieces from your clothes. As crazy as this sounds, it’s effective. Ever show up to a flight counter to have your luggage be over 0.25 kilo and the person working the desk insist you get rid of something or pay an additional $50 USD? The little things add up. This includes the extra inches off a pair of jeans you’ve been stalling on getting hemmed. Get rid of that which you don’t use.
20 Pitch What?
Having a difficult time condensing? If I’ve stayed at one particular location for a great length of time (i.e. six months to a year) and have amassed belongings, I group them in the following order: 1) absolute must haves 2) possibles 3) to donate. I find it streamlines the process and maximizes efficiency. At the very least, it makes you conscious of everything you put in your luggage and where your money is going.
21 Relish What You Own
Really love and enjoy what you have while you have it. Own less and use it often. Launder more. Keep things light. I recently looked at myself in the mirror (literally) and thought, Who the hell am I? Or rather, Who have I become? I had been wearing clothes that I thought were okay but were purchased or accepted as gifts due to their practical nature and potential long-term use. What did this do? It made me miserable and subconsciously cringe whenever I saw someone post a Facebook pic of me. For years. I just got used to it. I buried one of the things I actually love, fashion. And for what? I realized, I wasn’t saving more money doing this, I was probably spending more in a subconscious attempt to feel satiated. I’d look in my closet and see a stack of black t-shirts. How many did I really need? This began when I was living in Toronto. One of the sacrifices I made to create this life was cutting time for what I thought was the extraneous, and that meant being concerned with what I thought were shallow reflections of the ego. At the time, it allowed me the mental space to organize and the physical time to work more hours. It served its purpose, but when the necessity of it was over, I continued to do it, like a bad habit I didn’t realize I had. Long-term effects? Passing moments of feeling like someone else. Passing moments of feeling like the creativity had been sucked out of my life somehow. So whatever your thing is, travelling light, when approached this way, allows you the opportunity to really consider what’s materially important to you, accept it and enjoy it in the present.
Cellphone cases, cases for sunglasses, anything that can be hardshell or loaded with a zipper but doesn’t need to be…all of mine are straight fabric ones.
23 For Small Trips
On small / short trips from any base I have, I pack clothes I plan to leave behind, if I have any. It leaves me room should I decide to buy anything and lessens the weight dramatically for the trip home, should I decide not to.
24 Horde With Purpose
I have a bag of travel sized shampoo hotel bottles and the like currently sitting in the back of my closet. On a previous post I mentioned my love of baggies for specific products. The shampoo bottles are for transporting whatever it is I can’t stick in a baggie. Downsize. Downsize. Downsize. When it’s time to haul everything you have to a new location….place everything you have in the smallest bottle, baggie, whatever it’ll fit into. All that extra packaging adds up.