I mentioned this briefly in my 4 Years Since Setting Off post is my packing habits. Of which I kind of have none. I can’t relate to people that actually have to limit what they take. I have a weird fasination with people’s packing posts, mainly since I can’t relate to them at all. How is this a big deal in anyway?
My only hard and fast rule when it comes to packing is that if you can carry it all in one trip, you are fine. If you need a cart to load your bags on, you’ve packed too much. If you need a stranger or even anyone to “watch your stuff” while you pee, you’ve packed too much. (This happened to me at the Melbourne bus station. A stranger asked me to watch their stuff and they took forever and my bus came. I left it. What else could I do? I would never ask anyone I didn’t know to do that!) If you need help lifting a bag anywhere, you’ve packed too much. Of course, with new airline rules, this has made people way better packers, which I think is the best thing about these new rules. Yes, you can live with less stuff, it’s fine. Just because you have the space doesn’t mean you should bring it! (Which is how people were with the “old rules”).
Another thing that makes me a good packer is I am not your typically girly girl. I don’t need to bring three outfits because I am not sure what I am going to feel like wearing 4 days from now. Pending the situation and weather, I can tell you right now what I’ll want to be wearing a year from now. Exactly what I am wearing now as I type this post. Jeans (or PJ bottoms, ideally, since I am at home and it’s like 7pm), slippers, whatever tshirt I have lying around and whatever sweatshirt that isn’t in the wash. And since I don’t have to dress up for travel, I could wear the same thing (though I am a stickler for CLEAN clothes) every single day. Which is why when I am just heading off for a weekend, or even a week or two vacation, I just pack the same thing for the amount of days I’ll be gone and be done with it. It also helps that I absoultly hate shopping and my closet and drawer are bare compared to the normal girls closet. Esentially I bring everything I own, if I am leaving for more then 2 weeks, so picking and choosing certain things isn’t even a big issue.
(How much do I hate shopping? One of my New Years resolutions to myself this year was to buy 1 (ONE!) item of clothing a month for 12 months. When my sister was in town at the start of February, we went shopping and I bought 4 things. My favorite part? Knowing I wasn’t going to have to force myself to do this again until MAY!!!)
But for my big trip, I had to put slightly more thought into it. I walked around in my everyday life for two weeks prior with a pen and paper in hand, just in case I remembered something else to pack. I didn’t reread my list every time, for fear when I would get to the end, I would have forgotten what I wanted to add so I ended up with a lot of doubles, which was fine. Better then forgetting something! I also starred next to certain items that were not must haves and only pack these items if there was space. I knew which bags I wanted to take, so the morning I was leaving (my plane didn’t leave until 9pm, so I had all day to pack, plus since I have such a small amount of stuff, I was using most of everything up till and including the day I left, so I actually couldn’t pack until that day), I did my laundry, dragged my bags out (1 large duffle, 1 small duffle and 1 backpack) and started throwing things in. Okay, rolling and bagging up most of it. I packed all my must haves and then started throwing in my bonus items such as my robe (what the hell?!) and my down blanket (double what the hell?!?!?). And oddly enough, EVERYTHING FIT!!!! I was in shock by this. I swore that something was missing, that I was going to get to New Zealand and be missing something vitial (well, not so vital that I couldn’t buy it, but still).
And surprise! I forgot nothing! I used everything I brought, threw some stuff away that fell apart, bought new stuff and tossed most of it before I even came home. I tossed my blanket before I came home. I tossed some jeans that were falling apart. I gave away all my books (kept my guide books) and shampoo and soaps. I had so much space in my suitcase when I was coming home, that I filled about 3/4 of my small duffle back full of TimTams and Lamingtons. I came home with about 40 packages of TimTams.
What helps is a big item that I don’t travel with. I don’t bring a computer and all it’s various attachment devices that I can’t afford to loose. All I bought was a camera, jump drive and ipod and all the wires involved with that and even that annoyed me enough! I bought my phone in New Zealand and sold it in Australia so that was a non-issue. I also don’t bring shampoo or conditionar when I travel and just buy it when I arrive. I love browsing shelves at local pharmacies and trying out the local brands, just makes you get out there and join the locals faster. You never know what you are going to discover with local brands! Seriously, take them out of your starting luggage and see how much weight you loose. I understand this is hard for the constantly moving travelers, but it helps when you are starting out.
Moral: I still make lists like the one I did for my big trip, even when I am going on short ones, but I don’t carry my lists around as long, maybe for a day or so. For me, my reccomendation would be that lists are key. I might not start packing until the day I leave, but I have been “mentally” packing for a week. Also, don’t forget, it’s just stuff. Everything is replaceable. My only must haves are: Passport, credit card and debit card. Everything else, just buy when you arrive. And hell, even those are replaceable, just a pain in the ass to deal with. (My sister and my dream is to one day, just get on a plane with our purses and buy everything when we arrive. One day!!)
(Sorry, I have no pictures of my bags or what I pack.)