Yesterday I arrived home after a four-night break abroad. Here are my insights from the trip and how you can vacation more minimally too. I went to a European capital but if you’re going to the middle-of-nowhere outback, please pack sensibly.
- Furoshiki: thumbs up. I used my scarf as a light blanket on the cold flight. As a cape to cover my shoulders in the sun. I soaked it in water and wore it as a scarf for coolness. I tied it as a shoulder/shopping bag for water bottles in the museums where backpacks aren’t allowed. One piece of fabric (that goes with all my outfits) – major stylish usefulness quota. It’s easier for men in Europe, where it is totally acceptable, than in North America. Learn a few basic knots and find a square of fabric that suits you. Use it as a belt if you don’t like to wear a scarf, or tie it around your hat while not in use.
- A small, convertible day bag: thumbs up*. I use my Jupiter Freedom bag as an arm-band wallet around town. On this trip my arms were bare and the pickpockets were many so I converted it to a gorgeous belt pack instantly. On a night out I removed the ties and had a stylish clutch bag. No switching bags. No heavy backpacks. I carried a map, ID, money, hotel card, space pen refill and lipbalm. One bag – major stylish usefulness. Decide on the absolute minimum you need to carry. There are no what-ifs here (no bandages, hand lotion, hair brush, books, notepads, mp3 players, etc). Find a small hands-free bag with maximum conversion options. Do bring hand sanitiser if the hygiene options are limited.
- Thumbs up for packing light. One small** tote and a monk satchel. I had no worries about luggage carts, waiting for (or losing) suitcases, maneuvering stairs or escalators, or lugging armloads around busy and seedy streets. Read onebag.com for how to.
- Being present is great. I think I took in my first opera as much as I possibly could have: orchestra, sets, lighting, singing, atmosphere. It was amazing. I missed my children back home but concentrated on the sites I was seeing and my sweetheart. As a result, four nights away seemed like ten. It was short but completely refreshing and relaxing, and the time seemed to go on and on. I would need books to cover everything, but the gist is: focus your mind on what’s going on right now. Use your senses to take in everything. It takes practice to be present for longer periods of time, but it’s worth it because you’ll feel much more alive.
- We usually need less than we think. I still brought too much! A little research would’ve revealed my day outfit was perfectly suitable for the night out (one less outfit + shoes). I brought two little bottles of sunscreen but that stuff is available on every corner pharmacy (one less bottle). The most suitable top I had would’ve lasted with a wash each night, and I wore it more than I planned (three less tops). I poured a little hair gel into a tiny ziploc but it was still too much (less cosmetics). I brought a small bag of almonds but didn’t eat any. A handful would have sufficed (less snacks). If you’re vacationing in an urban setting, odds are you can find anything you’ll need. Avoid the just-in-case syndrome and go lighter!
What are your travel adventures and how do you plan to make it better next time?
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*My husband carried a backpack for his camera so we put a water bottle and two plastic spoons in the side pocket. That’s all we took on our daily outings. If he hadn’t taken the camera I would carry my own water bottle and spoon.
**Size: 44 x 31 x 23.5 cm / 17.3 x 12.2 x 7.5/9.3 inches, Capacity : 23 L / 1,403 inch³