ART OF PACKING

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” – Susan Heller
My childhood memories of travel were of dragging heavy suitcases and trunks along railway platforms, bargaining with porters, and keeping a close watch over all the belongings including food. It did not matter if the vacation was for a couple of days or a month.

We Indians are notorious over packers. If we are on a trip for even one week, we take with us at least of ten shirts and pants. Footwear would include three sets of shoes, one formal sandals and one rubber slipper. It is the same case with toiletries. We pack in new 500 ml bottles of shampoo, new bars of soap, including washing soap or powder, new toothpaste, a set of shaving cartridges, and not to mention, packed hot food for your journey. Moderation is not a virtue for Indians when it comes to packing.

Travelling in Europe is best enjoyed traveling light. You will need to lug your luggage through cobbled streets in Europe. Most of the smaller hotels and B&Bs may not have lifts. Don’t be surprised if you have walk up three stories to reach your room. Also, more than it being about saving time or money, traveling light is about traveling in style.

Hence, my advice to all of you planning a trip to Europe would be to carry no more than one piece of baggage!!! Pack light and the key to packing light is to pack very little.

Spread out everything you think you might need on the living-room floor. Pick up each item one at a time and scrutinize it. Ask yourself if you really need it and if it is worth lugging around in Europe for three weeks.

On my recent trip to Europe, I saw a young couple lugging two huge suitcases each and having the worst time of their life. It is not just them, but almost all of us have been guilty of over-packing. On my first trip to Europe, I carried just one suitcase, but it weighed 30 kg. I was restricted from packing even more because I would have had to pay extra baggage fees, else, I might have piled on more. And trust me, I have never forgotten that trip, because of all the bad experiences I had due to that big fat bag.

Carrying excess luggage also marks you as a vulnerable and miserable tourist. If you are no longer the smart traveler, you are an instant attraction to pickpockets and thieves. The joy, happiness and pleasantness that you had expected out of your vacation will vanish. Travel will become a chore and a pain. But with less luggage you are up on your feet and gone in a jiffy.

It is better to pack for the best-case scenario than for the worst-case scenario. Pack layers of clothes rather than take a heavy coat. Think in terms of what you can do without and not what will be handy on your trip. When in doubt, leave it out. The world is getting really small. You can get almost all items and more in European mini marts. Colgate paste, Gillette razor, Nivea Cream. You name it and it is available in Europe.

Go casual, simple, and very light. Remember, in your travels you’ll meet two kinds of tourists — those who pack light and those who wish they had.

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