Packing light is one of my proud achievements. Manageable luggage makes me feel youthful and adventurous. I feel competent, a woman of the world. I recommend it for everyone, and especially for older travellers.

I'm on my way to Melbourne!!
I’m on my way to Melbourne soon

It probably has to do with being in my fifties before I left Australia for the first time. I used to feel deprived – as if I’d missed out on travel altogether. But as a single supporting mother of six kids I had other priorities. Travel got pushed to the bottom of the list.

Camping trips were the only holidays I could afford. Camping certainly taught me one kind of packing light. There was limited space in the old Holden station-wagon borrowed from my brother. By the time I got six kids and the essential equipment into it, there was no spare room for luxuries. No one seemed to mind. Camping was fun. .

Years later, I regularly managed to fit two school-aged grandchildren and camping gear for a fortnight into a Hyundai Excel. If more children wanted to come it was up to their parents to drop them and pick them up. Everyone welcome!

Packing light was one of the topics covered in a wonderful University of WA Extension course in the 1990s. The practical part of the course was a back-packing expedition in Nuyts Wilderness in the south-west of the State.

Each person had to carry their personal luggage. We also had to carry a share of the food and camping and cooking equipment. We were taught amazing tricks to lighten our load. To this day, I can’t bring myself to cut the end off a toothbrush to save weight.

Overseas travel
Overseas travel

My first overseas holiday was to my sister’s apartment in Bangkok. I had no idea about packing light for ‘proper’ travel. My big case bulged with things I didn’t need. I loved the markets and the street stalls. Packing to come home involved ditching some of the things I’d taken to make room for my purchases. Even so, it took two of us sitting on the lid to close the case.

My lust for travel  was well and truly ignited by my first trip to Thailand. Bangkok was my favourite destination. I never again carried more than I needed. I brought back very little as well.

Now I am lucky enough to travel quite often. Of course I pride myself on packing light. My luggage for six weeks in Europe in autumn fits into a small case and weighs no more than 11 kilograms. That and my handbag are all I can manage comfortably up stairs to apartments and on the underground railway.  With so few clothes, dressing is not a problem. There’s very little choice.

Packing light for Melbourne
Packing light for Melbourne

I’ve planned my clothes for two weeks in Melbourne. My bag will weigh no more than eight kilograms. I’ll take my credit card in case I’ve forgotten something.

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8 replies on “Packing light – travel made easy”

  1. I don’t know how you do it Maureen! You tell me you take black tops and lots of scarves to ring the changes. I can’t even go a week with only one perfume – I need variety. BUT I usually find I don’t wear half the stuff I pack. Ummm I’m really going to concentrate on taking less next trip.
    I’ll let you know how I go.

    1. Elizabeth, This time I’ve changed my tune! Black pants and skirt, and a bit of colour for a change in tops under long cardigans. But they all mix and match and layer. A couple of scarves, LOTS of earrings. A jacket. Doesn’t feel at all boring.

  2. I’m with Elizabeth. I always take more than I need, just in case. You make it sound fun, Maureen. Perhaps I’m too vain. And one can never predict the weather. When I came over to Perth last May for my son’s wedding, it was freezing, the winds were biting, and I’d brought nothing warm. I had to borrow clothes from the friend I stayed with, and I was only there three days.

    1. It is fun at least for me, Christina. I lived in Albany for a few years. Bitterly cold from the chill factor of wind from Antarctica taught me about layering – even stockings under tights some days. The first Christmas I went to Perth I packed the track suits I’d been wearing in Albany. Packing error! I mostly get it right now. I did have to buy a pair of thick gloves in South of France in a cold snap.

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. And you also. Enjoy George’s wedding in Canberra. Xx

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