My first overseas trip is probably the best example I can give of my over-packer mentality. It was the middle of 2001, I’d only just become comfortable with the college lifestyle (for the Americans I’m referring to the 2 years prior to university) and my parents agreed to send me on a school trip to Japan something I was incredibly eager to do. Of course this being the first time they’d sent one of their children overseas my parents ensured I’d have everything I’d need whilst over there, and I really do mean everything. I managed to lug 2 giant sports bags around with me for the entire trip which contained nearly every article of clothing I owned. Whilst it was nice to not have to do laundry I think the ridicule I recieved for my rather ludicrous amount of baggage was well deserved.
The habit didn’t die there unfortunately, managing to cement itself as something that I’d do instinctively throughout all my travels over the years. Indeed this became something of a running joke of whenever I’d go to visit friends as they’d often wonder why I was waiting for checked baggage only to break into hysterics when they sighted my brimming luggage trundle past on the carousel. When travelling overseas it was a little more defensible, although my recent visit to the USA did have me questioning why I needed to bring along as much as I did. This, combined with my casual interest in minimization (I love things like those tiny, fully featured houses people build), has led me to shed much of the cruft that I used to lug with me and I’m quite happy with the results.
I’ll admit that the catalyst for it was my Sydney trip last week where I was only going to be staying a single night. It really didn’t make sense to check in baggage for that, even if my back pack felt a little swollen with clothes plus laptop, and the experience of getting off the plane and being able to head straight for a cab was something I felt I wanted to repeat. Thus I set about seeking out the biggest sized carry on I could find and was surprised at just how much I could get away with.
I settled on an Antler Cyberlite International Cabin Suitcase and to my surprise it’s plenty big enough for me to fit up to a week’s worth of clothes and other supplies, more than enough for any business trip I’ll find myself on. I was a little worried that it might be a little too big but I had no complaints from the cabin crew this morning and indeed the amount of space in the overhead locker seemed to dwarf my supposedly huge carry on. In theory it’d be enough for pretty much anything then although I don’t think I’ve shaken the over-packer bug for everything just yet but at least I won’t be lugging around a massive bag for short domestic trips anymore.
I’m sure there are those out there that can take it further than I have, indeed many of the people who scoffed at my over-packing previously would routinely show up in Canberra carrying nothing more than a single backpack, however this feels like a happy medium. It still allows me to have a little fat in my packing (I’ve brought along an extra days worth of clothes in this round) whilst also giving me the advantages that I didn’t know I was missing out on before. Going any further would be quickly met with diminishing returns and I’m sure I’d end up sweating what I forgot.
But I’m weird like that 😉