4. Indulge – it may not always be good for the waistline but it’s always
good for the soul. I’m not a fan of health food impostors that masquerade as their indulgent counterparts – your brain is fancy enough to recognize the difference between a sugar-free gluten-free raisin “cookie” and a gooey melted chocolate chip cookie from Levain. Life’s too short to be skinny and miserable, so indulge (in moderation) in the foods you most love.
In the fall of 2012, I was living in Madison, Wisconsin and had received a very late acceptance to grad school in Germany. I had exactly 10 days to quit my job, figure out what to do with my belongings, move half way across the world, and find a place to live in a foreign country. I wasn’t particularly attached to any of the furniture adorning my studio apartment as I found all of it besides my mattress in dumpsters around town. I ended up selling the free furniture on Craigslist which paid for my international flight, and packed all of my clothes into a large suitcase. My last day at work was on a Friday, I flew to Germany on Saturday, and I started classes on Monday living out of a 4 bed hostel. That was the precise moment I realized how owning so little and not being tied to “stuff” made a spontaneous move across the world incredibly easy.
Since then I’ve traveled only once with a suitcase too large to carry onto a plane (when I moved to Portland for 1.5 years). Every other time I’ve boarded a plane I’ve fit everything into a carry-on and backpack, even when traveling for months at a time to winter and summer destinations in between work trips that require business casual attire. Over the course of the last 5 years, I’ve packed and repacked this amazing little suitcase about 650 times. Here are my tips on packing your life into a carry on bag regardless of how long you’ll be away, or the weather you might encounter.
Pack your necessities first – this means your travel documents, cash, medicine, phone, camera, foreign power adapters, underwear, and socks (those ankle breaking heels you’ve only worn once are not part of this category). If you have access to a laundry machine, you can pack the same way whether you’re traveling for 1 week or 1 year. And if you don’t, you most certainly have access to a sink or shower – this hand-washing bag is magical. I pack a few laundry detergent pods so I can do laundry on the go, and I wear my heaviest jacket in-flight. I stick dryer sheets in between clothes so they smell nice even when I’ve worn them 10 days in a row (not that I would ever do such a thing). There are certain toiletries I never leave home without (my memoir will be called Purple Shampoo: The Tough Life of Being a Bottled Blonde), but the rest I tend to buy when I reach my destination. I pack a lot of dresses because I’m both too lazy to coordinate two pieces of clothing, and it’s an entire space-efficient outfit in one. Boys, apparently man-rompers are very in these days.
Roll everything, and stuff into packing cubes – Rolling your clothes both prevents wrinkles and is more space efficient than folding. These packing cubes can fit a deceptively large amount of clothing, and they keep everything neat and organized. While some people swear by compression and vacuum seal bags, I don’t like to use them because you can easily go over the weight limit.
Checking a large bag pretty much guarantees you’ll be inconveniently lugging around more stuff than you’ll need or use, and comes with the potential headache of lost luggage. Remember that you’re traveling to see the world, not for the world to see you! Nobody is going to care (or remember) what you wore, as evidenced by the time I wore the exact same outfit to a work go-live 4 days in a row, but with a different jacket over it. Besides, fancy scarves and cover-ups do wonders when you don’t want to look like you’re wearing the same outfit in every photo.
You can have a closet full of clothes and a room full of stuff and never feel like you have enough, but just packing for one trip will make you feel feel like you have too much 🙂
I’ve taken quite a hiatus from blog-writing, mostly due to laziness and…well, that’s my only excuse. But my recent trip to Madagascar made me want to run up to everyone I know and rave endlessly about this incredible country. At 60 million years old it’s the oldest island in the world, and 90% of its plant and animal species are found nowhere else on earth. So here are 8 reasons to make Madagascar your next destination!