Honey, should I pack the kitchen sink? I will be the first to admit I got a little confused while I was researching what to pack, how to pack, what to pack it in…
Not because there wasn’t enough information on the topic. My god, there is a truck load of information out there about preparing to travel long term. Its just that these packing tips and such were designed for a young 20 something backpacker.
Now, I’m about to drop a bomb here: I am not 20 years old anymore. (Yikes! It sounds horrifying when I say that out loud!) As was a woman who is closer to 40 than she would like to admit, I found some of the information irrelevant… for my age group.
What’s more, they were all targeted at “backpacking” (I did try to find information for the “Over 35’s – couples travel – penchant for fancy hotels but understands the tiara must be vaulted and motels are more in their budget”… There just isn’t a lot out there on that specific genre!).
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the backpacking method of travel, not at all. In fact, I wish I had backpacked in my 20s like so many people are doing today.
But like most people our age (be a dear and pass me my walking frame), we prefer to drag our luggage on wheels, not carry it on our backs (alright, that’s just me. Michael is more than happy to prove he is a strong masculine man; “Me man, me carry backpack”).
And because I was reading so many books about backpacking, I developed multiple personality disorder (ok, so I just added another personality to my existing MPD) and found myself buying the items recommended for these young backpackers.
Twelve months into our nomadic life and we both still carry the backpacks I bought on a whim. BUT, we carry it by the handle, not on our backs! If I could go back in time (besides choosing the winning lotto numbers) I would buy a suitcase for our travels, not a backpack. Because, we are not backpackers. It’s that simple.
I would also not have bought the many items found in all these books such as universal sink plugs (we’ve used it twice in 12 months), pocket knife (never used it), fancy first aid kit (the basics is really all you need), silk bed sheet (did I really buy that??), quick dry towels (quick dry…who are they kidding!) and many other useful (to backpackers!) items.
Another thing that stumped me was the actual packing lists. There are lists galore on what you should pack. While I am the queen of lists, I am also a grown woman and I know how many pair of underwear I should pack.
Again, I am not dissing these lists! These lists are great for those who are new to travel or are young and unsure. But for me, I felt it strange to have a stranger tell me not only how many bras to pack but what color they should be!
I’m not going to tell you what to pack, or discuss your underwear with you. I’m going to presume that you can figure this out for yourself. But I will say this; Pack comfortable clothes. Don’t pack things you will wear once a year. Don’t pack your favorite ball gown. And think about the climate you are going to.
If you are off on a world trip and you will be covering many climates, I suggest this; Take the essentials and buy cheaply on the way, as you need it. If you pack a nice big expensive coat for your 2 weeks in Alaska, on a 12 month trip, you have 50 weeks of carrying round a useless and very bulky item. Instead, buy something cheap on the way and donate it to Goodwill at your next stop.
Layering is your best friend in cooler climates. I cant tell you how many times I’ve looked like the Michelin Man because I’ve had 5 layers of shirts on. But it kept me warm and I didn’t need to waste space in my very small pack with a coat. It’s not a fashion parade, who cares what you look like for those 2 weeks in the cold?
The thing is; Unless you are going into the Amazon Jungle for your whole trip, you will pass shops on a regular basis – Yes, they are everywhere… something about retailers wanting your hard earned money… So if you forget to bring something with you just buy it! No need to jump on a flight back home because you forgot your favorite Jersey (you know, the one that nanna knitted you that you say you hate but secretly love cause its sooooo soft!).
You are about to embark on an amazing adventure, whether it’s a 2 week vacation to Bora Bora (can I come please??) or a new nomadic lifestyle, so forget the stress about what to take, how much to take and should I take the kitchen sink… Have fun and don’t forget, send me a postcard!
What do you always pack when you travel? Do you have that one item you can’t live without?