Updated: April 11, 2017.
Pssst. Over here. Come a little closer, for I have a terrible secret to admit.
I was once one of them. Sometimes I even still am. If you’ve spent time in a train station in Europe, or various tourist destinations around the globe, you’ll know who I’m talking about. Remember the girl who was struggling gamely to lift a pack bigger than she was? That guy swearing and cursing as he hauled a massive suitcase up another flight of stairs?
They were fully paid up members of the ‘kitchen sink’ club — the people who just don’t know when to stop putting things in their luggage. Everything but the kitchen sink goes in.
I’ve been as guilty of this as anybody else, but I only realised it after purchasing a new backpack recently. My old pack had finally given up the ghost after a decade of being dragged around the world, and as I laid my shiny new one on the bed to fill it up with the ‘essentials’ it suddenly occurred to me how just how much I was putting in.
That third pair of trousers. Half a dozen travel guides and other books. A toiletries bag so full, I had to start putting things in plastic bags. Here was me, supposedly an experienced traveller, fighting with the zips on my backpack. Every item had a perfectly good justification for why it was included, but unless I also planned to pack a donkey to carry it all for me, I just couldn’t take it all. And yet I still tried.
There’s a few other little things I’d put in if there was room –- travel umbrella, washing line, etc — but I think the above is pretty much my minimum requirements. Given pretty much anything can be bought at your destination, even in some of the most remote parts of the world, and packing for six months is really no different to packing for a week, I’m trying for the ‘less is more’ approach.
I’m sure not everyone’s needs will be the same as mine, so I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the list above. Still too much? Too little? What have I forgotten, and what can I live without?