I wish I had the skills of another traveller.
Maud Parrish (1878-1976) said in her book, Nine Pounds Of Luggage, that she travelled around the world with approx. 4 kilo of luggage and a banjo. How did she do it – I’m just glad to have reduced mine to around 12-kilos.
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.
Items that seemed absolutely essential on my first travels are no longer necessary. Things that individually weigh little, collectively add huge weights to your case and make getting from A to B unpleasant.
It’s the extras that weigh so much. Necessary extras such as toilet-gear, books, glasses/contact lens, and 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.
What can you jettison – well just 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. Film canisters are great for keeping things such as hair gel rather than carry a years supply.
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 just for a change.
Bank cards are my preferred 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 local currency. Only once did I have a problem with using a card. Leaving Zimbabwe I was expected to pay my departure tax in US dollars which of course I didn’t have. After much pleading and hysterical laughter on my part they finally let me pay in local currency from the ATM machine. I really thought I was going to miss my flight, the next one was in a week – a problem as my ticket expired in five days!
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 are, weirdly, 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, if still using film send photos home once they have been developed (negatives in a separate letter for safety) and for the rest of us on digita, take lots of cards, memory sticks etc to back up off your camera.
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.