From the Archive: Packing Light

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Packed bags for 4 months in France

I am not, nor have I ever been, very good at packing light. I like choices and there’s nothing worse than getting to your chosen destination and feeling completely annoyed with your clothing options. The above picture is from way back when right before I did my semester-long study abroad in France. The duffel on top is the size of what I would consider a normal size duffel bag, the bottom is a super large rolly duffel. This lasted me for the four months I was in France from late summer to early winter. I purchased another duffel in France that became “my carry on” on my way back home because of all of the stuff I had acquired while there (mainly books! quelle surprise!). My bags were also SUPER overweight on the way home but the delightful attendant for Air France let them go without a charge when I spoke French to her and responded that I had been there for months and was sad to go home. SPEAKING FRENCH is always a good idea on Air France…they give you extra wine.

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Flash forward to Summer 2015, ten years later, when I was on my way to Italy for six weeks. The same two large and “normal” duffel bags made their appearance again (there was a little more room inside and seriously, guys…LL Bean stuff is made to LAST) and here we have a 9lb cat in the shot for size comparison. In those bags, I think I had an entire American pharmacy and SO many clothes all for one season. I only checked the big duffel so I had to run from Gate 25 of Terminal D to Gate 4 of Terminal C (basically the entire length of two terminals) with that stupid bag. I literally thought I was going to die. Luckily for this trip, I was staying in one place. There wasn’t a lot of moving around to be done.

This trip will be OH so different though. Hauling around this ungainly, heavy large duffel for six weeks is a TERRIBLE idea, one that stressed me out a lot. Even my less ungainly large spinner suitcase would be too heavy for the heaving up and down train stairs continually that would need to be done for me to get where I am going. I knew I needed to make a change. I think I decided a couple of months ago that this trip would be done with nothing more than a carry-on sized suitcase, a backpack, and a purse. And that scares the hell out of me.

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This is my suitcase for the Eurotrip 2016 on the right in both pics with my large duffel and large spinner cases on the left. 

It’s just so small compared to what I’ve traveled with before! And it needs to last me for six weeks. I’ve got some great tips from one of my BFFs Ashley,  who is currently doing her own Eurotrip with similar baggage constraints, on how to get this done and be sane.  I tried to isolate exactly what freaks me out about travelling light.

I don’t like the idea of needing something and not having it. I understand that all of the countries I am visiting this trip are developed and have resources, but I just flashback to my 2004 trip to France when my camera broke (this was pre cell phones) and I couldn’t find a disposable. And then to my 2005 trip to France when I got the WORST blisters on the back of my heels and the French bandaids sucked and there was no neosporin or comparable substance to be found (my mom mailed me some bandaids, neosporin, and tennis shoes). And then to my 2015 trip to Italy when my eyeballs decided that they were allergic to the city of Rome and my eyedrops were insufficient to handle whatever crazy junk was happening and EVERY TIME I tried to go to a pharmacy, it was closed.

I need to get over it though. I will be fine. For every one thing I brought and used and was glad to have, there were probably 5 things I did not use, and then 3 things I wished I had that I had not packed, but did just fine without. After making the decision to pack light, I could feel my stress about moving around so much dissipate, somewhat.

Another thing that freaked me out was access to laundry. I LOVE clean clothes. My favorite (yes I have a favorite) chore of the week is to do laundry on Sunday. I love having all of my clothes clean and ready to go and the idea of maybe having to re-wear clothing that was to my (perhaps slightly OCD) way of thinking was dirty, made me cranky. But thanks to friend Katie’s suggestion, I found what I think will be a great solution. Woollite has sink packs…complete with a sink stopper, and travel-sized clothesline that doesn’t require clothespins. None of my airBnB’s have a washer, so this seems to be a perfect solution.

I’m going to do a test pack in a week or so just so I feel prepared and can adjust my expectations if I need to (likely). Does anyone have any travel tips for packing light while gone for an extended amount of time?

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