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.
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.
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.
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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