Pack it in!

Of all the things that I should be concerned with or focused on at this stage in my travel planning, packing is really the one that should be at the end of my priorities list – being that it’s almost the last thing I’ll need to do. But, just like last time, it seems to be preoccupying me far too much.

Whereas with South America the concern was how to pack for all seasons on the road, and not get sick to death of wearing ‘practical’ outdoorsy clothes, this time the question is how, HOW exactly, you pack for a year abroad, when you plan to work (probably settling in one place for a good few months) and travel, too? Will a 65 litre backpack suffice? Because the last thing I was to do is get involved with a method-acting-style representation of a mule, carting around everything (including the kitchen sink) and braying occasionally in dismay at the dismal luggage situation I have created for myself.

Laden mule - Packing light - Alannafreestyle

I never said I packed light.

So here are some ideas I’ve been toying with as potential solutions to my luggage ‘woes’…

1. Lighten the load

Don't forget your toothbrush - Travel packing tips - Alannafreestyle

Don't forget your toothbrush! Or your passport, for that matter...

THE CONCEPT: The totally impractical, but oh-so-inspiring concept of the No Baggage Challenge. Basically, I attempt to go one better than travel writer Rolf Potts: he spent six weeks traversing the globe, taking only a toothbrush, an iPod, and whatever extra clothing he could fit in his pockets; I would do this for an entire year.

VERDICT: NEVER going to happen. I would crumble within about four days, and then hit the shops, thus killing my budget for the rest of the journey. (My ‘four days’ estimate is based on previous experience of light packing for the Inca Trail. Any longer would have been hellish.)

2. One year, one dress

The Uniform Project - Packing light - Alannafreestyle

If at first you don't succeed try, try again...

THE CONCEPT: To be part of the revolutionary Uniform Project, wherein my daily wardrobe consists of the same little black dress that has to be worn every single day. This can be adapted with accessories and items I already own – the idea is related to being ethical, so you’re not allowed to buy new things. If combined with travel packing, my theory is, it saves space!

VERDICT: For the month that most featured Uniform Projects last (aiming to raise money for charities) I reckon I could do it. For a whole year? No way. Besides, you need tonnes of stuff for the accessorizing element, which defeats the principle of packing light.

3. Live the Good Life

Live the Good Life - Packing light - Alannafreestyle

Who needs to dress up if fruit picking's on the agenda?

THE CONCEPT: Forget the working wardrobe. Spend the year living off the land The Good Life style. That way, no one cares what you look like – because you’re a social outcast in any case.
VERDICT: Problem solved. For daydream purposes/ fruit picking necessities anyway!

Ultimately, if you blend these ideas together, you come out with the solution I had for travelling in South America, and which worked perfectly there: take a capsule wardrobe of items that all work together in different variations, and which can be dressed up or down. I might get bored, but it’s not like I’m going to the back of beyond. Shopping won’t be an issue… although, if I’m being honest, maybe that’s really my problem. I don’t want to end up splurging my skydiving savings on new clothes!

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About Alanna

...is all about seizing the day, Free Style!
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2 Responses to Pack it in!

  1. I just got back from 20 months in Europe and everything always fit in my pack. I found that when I bought a new piece of clothing, I gave away an old one. It worked great and I was able to change up my clothes to the local style! 🙂 My clothes kind of became my souvenirs. 🙂 Right now, I’m wearing my Icelandic socks, Albanian jeans, German shirt and Italian underwear! 🙂 None of them are expensive, but they’re a different style than home, so they feel more special! 🙂

    • I love that – I have a range of alpaca-based goods, lovely leather bags and some pieces of jewellery that I picked up in S America that I am ridiculously attached to, even though, as you say, much of it wasn’t expensive. Love it or leave it!

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