Veteran traveler Elisabeth Sowerbutts has recently released her new Vacation Packing List book.
Designed specifically for eBook readers – this is a book that is to the point – who needs to read through hundreds of pages just to figure out how to fit your entire wardrobe in your carry on? Yes that includes the girls too!
Chapter 1: Packing – A Travel Philosophy
Most books of this type will begin by explaining why you do or do not need a new set of matching wheeled luggage and/or arguing the merits of a soft bag v. a hard-shell suitcase. We will get to that, but let’s start with the important thing in this process: why you need to think quite carefully about your packing list.
My philosophy of packing is quite simple: less is more. Take what you need but no more. The trick, of course, is defining what you “need” with specificity.
Packing light isn’t just a matter of saving your back or saving some airline luggage fees; those are really just added benefits. Packing light is truly at the essence of how to make whatever type of trip you are taking more enjoyable. Why? Travel is all about experience, and packing light improves the experience.
The 20-somethings sitting on the Thai beach chatting to friends on Facebook on their iPhone are missing the moment – missing that they are at this very moment on a stunning beach in a fascinating country surrounded by some of the nicest people on the planet and totally oblivious to both the annoying beach vendor trying to sell them a tacky snow-dome of Patong Beach for 20 baht, the majestic sunset and the local families swimming fully-clothed.
Similarly, travelers who must relentlessly track and count their multiple suitcases and other bags as they enter and exit taxis and hotel receptions are giving too much attention to their luggage and missing at least a portion of the life and fun going on around them. At best, they are wasting time and effort which could be more pleasantly deployed – sampling the local beer in a pub, perhaps – and at worst, they are ruining their honeymoon dream trip because they’re worried about whether they’ve lost the cream-colored bag with the six pairs of shoes in it.
Now just to be clear: it’s obvious I now prefer to travel light, but I haven’t always had that luxury. I have experienced the alternative, tracking and counting seven bags shared between two adults as we schlepped between planes, buses and taxis. I’ve combined work with travel when I’ve had to carry a large case filled with a computer (yes, a computer, not a laptop), books, papers and cables. My personal record for weight carried without paying extra airline fees was 97lbs (44kg), checked between two of us, and each with a carry-on bag weighing about 22lbs (10kg).
It wasn’t fun. It was stressful remembering how many bags I needed to track and checking to ensure I had them. Loading and unloading those bags was hard on my back and my arms, and it was hard on my budget when door-to-door taxis were required because I couldn’t walk even short distances or manage the airport bus. I did it because I had to, not because I wanted to.
Perhaps you think you can’t travel light, reasoning: I’m older, I need to look good at the opera, I’m traveling for months from the snow to a tropical beach, etc. Then again, perhaps you’ve just made some of the best arguments of all for traveling with less instead of more!
Older people are, in general, less fit than their younger counterparts. They may indeed be traveling with medical conditions that require medication, but even a complicated cocktail of pharmaceuticals won’t require much weight (or space, if it’s packed right). Your age has no relevance to the rest of your packing list.
I personally love the opera and going to a ballet performance at Covent Garden’s famous theater was a personal highlight of a London visit. It didn’t require me to pack a tiara, travel iron and full-length evening dress, however. I wore black dressy slacks, a pretty silk blouse that weighted next to nothing and a less than sophisticated but quite waterproof (and quickly removed and checked) jacket. Sure, I didn’t have a handbag or makeup, but no one threw me out or even looked at me twice because of it. And, the ballet performance – the experience – remains a cherished memory I can carry with me for all of my days.
Traveling for six months needs more gear than traveling for a six-day vacation, right? Actually, no; quite the opposite, in fact!
In this chapter, I want to explain the WHY behind taking less than you think you need on your next vacation.
The author has created a website to complement the book: VacationPackingListBook.com.