Next summer, Rich and I will walk out our door in Seville, stroll to the train station with our rolling luggage, and board a train to begin a journey that will last several months and cover thousands of miles. No reservations, just a Eurail pass and an iPad full of information about possible destinations. We'll wend our way by easy stages through Central and Eastern Europe, winding up in Transylvania and some of the more obscure Balkan countries, seeking offbeat side trips and adventures, passing through just about every type of terrain and climate Europe has to offer. So how are we packing for this? I'm glad you asked.
In the cult classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur and Ford take off into the universe carrying nothing but a towel and an electronic guide book, both of which come in extremely handy for them.
For our big trip next summer, Rich and I will be packing a towel and an iPad – which is strikingly like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy except that it doesn’t have “Don’t Panic” written across it in large, friendly letters (although I may add this along the way).
Like Arthur and Ford, we travel light. Rich always says: “The first rule of packing is to lay out all your clothes and all your money, then take half the clothes and twice the money.”
The second rule: choose the right suitcase. Not many people know this, but Rich has a luggage fetish. He adores shopping for suitcases, and even if we haven’t the remotest intention of purchasing one, he finds it almost physically painful to bypass a promising luggage shop anywhere in the world. In moments of extreme stress, I can always turn his thoughts to a more cheerful direction by casually remarking, “I saw a suitcase today that might interest you...”
When it comes to luggage, less is definitely more. We’ll constantly be hauling ours on and off trains and dragging it up and down stairs in hotels too old and quaint to boast an elevator. That’s why we’ve chosen ultra-light IT-0-1 suitcases from an Austrailian company called it luggage. It claims this is “officially the world’s lightest 2-wheeled case,” and I can attest it’s the lightest we’ve found. Mine (a slightly older model) is 54 x 34 x 19 cm (21 x 13 x 7.5 inches) and weighs a very modest 1.8 kilos (4 lbs.).
As to purses, I’ve gone from lightweight to none at all. In an effort to foil would-be pickpockets, I’ll be carrying my smaller necessities in a cunning black vest with 17 pockets, most of which are cleverly concealed on the inside. It’s amazing how much you can pack in one of these vests (Kindles! Water bottles!) if you don’t mind looking a trifle chubbier. My biggest problem is remembering what goes in which pocket. Luckily, Scottevest provides a diagram to get you started.
Rich bought Koyono’s Classic Genius Travel Coat. Although it comes with a mere 14 pockets, it does have a zip-out liner and lots of other cool features. Including its own video.
One pocket is specially designed to carry an iPad (or your Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and no doubt there is room in there somewhere for a towel or two. Rich has never been happier. Not only does he get to wheel around the latest in high-tech luggage, now he’s wearing it as well.
This post was written in response to the many questions we've been asked about how to pack for such a long and varied trip. Unlike some of our better-organized and more practical blogger friends, we haven't obtained free or discounted gear in return for promoting anything on this blog. We're just letting you know what products we consider to be the most useful for our kind of travel. Watch for future posts about the garments, gear and gadgets we'll be packing!
I'm an American travel writer based in Spain and currently living in California.
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