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what to pack and what to leave

September 18, 2009

What to pack or not to pack that is the question.

  • Maud Parrish (1878-1976) in her book, Nine Pounds Of Luggage, said she travelled the world with approx. 4 kilo of luggage and a banjo.
  • I travel for a year with less luggage than my friends take for a weekend!
  • Carrying possessions on my back ensures I pare the weight down to the least possible and still have a change of clothes.
  • It’s the necessary extras that weigh so much – toilet-gear, books, glasses/contact lens, footwear.

So what can a woman with a passion for travel and adventure tell you about what to take?

  • Travel lightly, in spirit as well as in luggage; wear the world like a loose garment as an old saying suggests but pack lots and lots of enthusiasm.
  • Take less rather than more – a lot less, there very few places that you cannot improvise or buy a needed item of clothing. Remember, most of the people you meet will never cross your path again so there is no need to impress with different clothes each day.
  • So what can you jettison – everything you take ‘for just in case’. Soap is on the out list; body shampoo works well on hair too and saves carrying two items. Disposable shavers will keep your legs just as silky as the designer ones and half empty containers of toothpaste and deodorant from home last for ages. Old film canisters are great for keeping things such as hair gel rather than carry big containers.
  • I love BIG bath towels! However travel has taught me to dry myself on a well-worn, soft, small one.
  • Think about where you are going when you pack your clothes.
  • Be respectful in your clothing, even if you don’t approve of, or understand the cultural norms that require you to cover up.
  • Remember you went to that place because of it’s difference, if it was the same as home you may as well stay at home, it would be easier and cheaper!
  • Jewellery, take the absolute minimum as insurance cover is expensive, and looking after them is just one more worry. I wear small earrings and a gold chain, and of course, like most travelling Kiwis, my bone carving or greenstone.
  • Sometimes I buy a couple of cheap fun pieces in the county I’m in for a change.
  • Bank cards are my way of travelling, with a few small travellers’ cheques and a little cash, hidden away for emergencies. Most airports have an ATM ensuring that as soon as I arrive I can get some local currency.  Only once did I have a problem with using a card – leaving Zimbabwe
  • On a practical level, check with your bank about charges. It may pay to put your credit card into credit then use it as a debit card to reduce charges. I carry two different cards that I keep separate in case of loss or theft and make sure the expiry date doesn’t fall in the middle of your holiday!
  • Traveller cheques (get rid of the covers) are still  used by lots of people so check the exchange rate, often those offering no commission pay a lower exchange rate. Once again, talk with your bank to get current, and correct, advice.
  • Soft covered journals weigh less than others, swap your reading material along the way, send photos home once they have been developed (negatives in a separate letter for safety)
  • Most of all throw out all your worries and problems about yesterday and tomorrow, they weigh far too much to be of any use to you today.

FINALLY:  if it’s in your bag for –  “just in case” –  leave it at home!

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