Unpacking was "brutal" says Hilton
Paris Hilton just brought 19 suitcases with her for a month’s visit to Spain – providing yet more proof that she and I are not twins separated at birth.
Not only don’t I own enough clothing to fill 19 bags, I wouldn’t want to drag that much stuff around with me, even if I had a fawning entourage to do the heavy lifting. I like to travel light. Whatever I bring has to fit in one small, carry-on suitcase that’s just 54 x 34 x 19 cm (21 x 13 x 7.5 inches). But – and here’s where it gets tricky – I also like to be comfortable and, if possible, appear reasonably presentable in a wide variety of social settings and weather conditions. So as you can imagine (and regular readers of this blog know well) I’ve spent a fair amount of time considering exactly what I should pack for three months on the road.
If you’re ever packing for this kind of lengthy journey, let me offer you four pieces of advice.
Step 1. Lower your fashion standards. I’m willing to be seen in the same dress a dozen times in a month, pair the same sweater with every outfit, and wear nothing but practical, neutral-colored shoes. Those frilly silver sandals and my new hot pink sneakers are sitting it out in the closet.
Step 2. Be prepared to do laundry constantly. I’ll wash clothing in the sink a few times a week and clean individual garments (my one dress, for instance) as often as needed. When practical, I’ll send out clothes to the hotel’s laundry service or use a laundromat.
Step 3. Take only stuff you’re prepared to part with. By journey’s end, chances are some garments will have been lost, stolen, left behind, ruined by the hotel laundress, given away in a moment of tipsy bonhomie, and/or self-destructed under the strain of constant use. You’ll be heartily sick of them all, so you won’t miss them a bit. (Another good reason I’m not taking my favorite filly silver sandals.)
Step 4. Buying anything means throwing something else away. And that’s OK. (See Step 3.)
So what am I bringing? I just finished my test pack, and I was thrilled (and a bit relieved) that everything fit, including my chunky Joya walking shoes. The total weight is 10.3 kilos (22.7 pounds). I put in all of the following, minus the slacks, shirt, vest, and shoes I’m wearing on the train. Here’s my packing list:
2 pairs of slacks
2 pairs of light pants for yoga, beach
2 tank tops
1 long-sleeved t-shirt
2 collared shirts (one long- and one short-sleeved)
Socks & underwear for 5 days
Rain jacket, reversible (leopard & black)
Waterproof flip-flops for shower, beach
Flats for dressier moments
Cheap, fake wedding ring
Health & Grooming
Toiletries & personal care items
Spare glasses, reading glasses
Hard drive for backups
I’m pleased I managed to squash it all in, and have already earmarked a few items to throw under the bus if I spot a must-have t-shirt or scarf along the way.
Of course, when it comes to paring down to essentials, I still have a long way to go. Ryanair, the economy airline we often take between Seville and London en route to California, recently announced it’s thinking about charging for carry-on bags. Rich rather likes the idea, as he has long dreamed of going on a trip with nothing but a toothbrush and a passport, and he thinks this could be his chance. But I’m holding firm on the need for a suitcase. Because once you start classifying luggage as a billable travel extra, it’s just a short step to charging air passengers for wearing clothing on board. And if there’s one thing I’m definitely opposed to, it’s nude flying. It just doesn’t bare thinking about.
I'm an American travel writer based in Spain and currently living in California.
As we journey through the pandemic together, my blog provides a regular supply of survival tips, comfort food recipes, and the wry humor we all need to lighten our hearts on dark days.
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