This past weekend, we woke up before 4am to bring our European guest to the airport. It had been an extended stay and after arriving in the states many more items were acquired which required some creative packing and several suitcase weighings the day before. It reminded me of the benefits of packing light.
The idea was to push the weight limits to see what was possible. One of the most stressful things while traveling is opening your bag in front of the ticketing agent counter and trying to repack and juggle things between carry on and your checked luggage to avoid often heavy fees for overweight or additional bags.
There is nothing better than traveling light and not having to lug too much around during your travels. While traveling abroad you end up moving around with your luggage more than you think.
On our first trip to Europe, we didn’t follow this advice. We bought new full sized bags and also had a carry on size suitcase. It was winter and we were traveling over the holidays. We even had gifts hidden in piles of things we thought we needed. Our connecting flight was cancelled due to winter storms and our only option was to figure out how to travel by train through three countries in order to make it to our destination. Our luggage was too much, but we managed wishing we had less.
The second half of the trip was just two of us and I was lucky to be able to send most things back home and travel with a small backpack and carry-on sized suit case. It was a real blessing in Venice Italy walking in the dark to find the bus stop. It seems every bridge big or small has steps going up and down and there are many bridges.
Rick Steves has some great information on packing light and even has packing lists one can download. I have made a couple adjustments and I have had great success traveling light. You can travel over a month with a small back pack and a carry-on sized bag. Even while leading tours in Europe, I have been able to bring the materials I need for the group and all I need to wear.
You can get your laundry done along the way and I always carry some detergent fabric sheets. You just cut off a strip of detergent sheet to wash items along the way and hang them on a small clothes line. It works! You really don’t need a lot of extra things and still be clean and fresh.
Having too much luggage marks you as a tourist and con artists see you as vulnerable. I remember my first time in Prague and this beautiful city had a larger than normal snowfall. It was great to be carrying all I needed, as I watched other pulls heavy suitcases down the center of snow covered slushy streets and over many snow piles.
Traveling light is often less expensive and it helps create a free traveling lifestyle. Adjusting plans or changing locations is simple and it is much less stressful boarding a crowded bus or train and trying to find an open seat with nowhere to put your bags. Remember to pack light and don’t be like many other travelers, who wish they had.
Here are links to the Rick Steve’s Packing Lists. I like to look at both lists as I am packing:
Photo also from the Rick Steve’s site.