“He ain’t heavy, he’s my suitcase!”
Packing Light – especially on an itinerary where you will be moving and changing
locations a good bit – cannot be underestimated. In fact, it can be the difference
between an enjoyable vacation and a miserable one! You will never meet anyone
who says “I wish I had packed heavier” when they return from a journey.
Rick Steves, the Public TV European travel guru, only allows the members of his escorted tours to bring 1 carry-on size piece of luggage per person...even when the tour is 3 weeks
long! Can it be done? Yes it can...and it should! I've schlepped all over London and Paris with a large suitcase.....never again! Did you know that not all underground and metro stations don't have elevators? They DON'T!!
Admittedly, I was ready to make a big bonfire and burn the clothing in that suitcase
when I returned home from my journey, and I learned my lesson-pack lighter!
Every morning I would dress quickly in whatever outfit was clean and appropriate
for the day. I started thinking of my wardrobe as my “travel uniform”. I was there to experience everything these destinations had to offer...not worry about what I was going to wear. Doing a little laundry along the way won’t kill anyone – in fact, it can be a real
1. We could move quickly from place to place....If I had a carry on only, there would be no worries about big suitcases and where we would fit our luggage on the train or bus or taxi. A lot of European hotels have no elevator, so lugging heavy bags up and down stairs
can be a real bummer. Remember what I said about underground and metro stations....
2. Having too much luggage “marks” you as a typical tourist. Con artists figure
you’re helpless and you become a serious pickpocket or scam target.
3. We would have saved enough money in checked luggage fees to treat ourselves to some
special “extras”. We could've also saved time by not having to wait around at luggage
carousels in strange airports. We could also have been off and starting our adventure while
everyone else was standing around waiting for the bags to arrive.
4. Here are my suggestions for cutting back on the amount of “stuff” you think
you need on your next trip:
- Spread out everything you think you might need on the living room floor.
Pick up each item one at a time and ask yourself “Will I really use this
enough to justify carrying it over the Swiss Alps?” (or wherever you are
heading) When in doubt, leave it out!
- Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario...Pack for the best-case and buy
yourself out of any jams along the way. Risk shivering for a day rather
than taking a heavy jacket. Buy a cheap umbrella from one of the many
street vendors who "miraculously" appear when the drops start to fall. If
you think it “might come in handy”, it should stay home.
- Pack exactly the same whether you’re traveling for three weeks or three
months. Rather than take a whole trip’s supply of toiletries, take enough
to get started and replace them along the way. Believe it or not,
Europeans use toothpaste, lotion, hair gel, soap and (sometimes)
deodorant! It’s fun to go into a general store and stock up on local brands
on the fly!
- Invest in a good quality piece of luggage that fits your needs, that are reasonably priced and come with or without wheels. If you are healthy enough to carry your bag, do it...suitcases on wheels don’t get along with cobblestone streets very well....
So weed out the unnecessary, pack your bag and go walk around the block a few
times to get a good idea of what you will be dealing with. You will thank us later! Here's another blog we did on how to find the best luggage for you. Check it out and ....
Remember, in your travels, you’ll meet two kinds of tourists – those who pack light
and those who wish they had! Which will you be?