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.
So here are some ideas I’ve been toying with as potential solutions to my luggage ‘woes’…
1. Lighten the load
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 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
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!