Carry-on or checked bags
Oh ho (as in hi-ho, not hi you ho), this is a subject that has been done to death among travel blogs, but I’m going to put in my two cents. I am very much for doing a carry-on only traveling lifestyle. For weekend trips I’ve been known to go with just a day bag. My friends would occasionally think I was a bit odd for it. One pair of trousers two pairs of socks, two pair of underwear, and a couple of shirts and you’re pretty much set. That even feels like over packing for me. I understand that isn’t as feasible for women, but I’d counter that women’s clothes don’t tend to take up as much space per item.
I have a couple of special needs for my carry-on. I just went back on the road and got a <href=http://www.tortugabackpacks.com/>Tortuga Air. It’s an awesome bag, but I forgot to factor in my CPAP (machine for my sleep apnea. It takes up almost 1/4 of my bag. In retrospect I kind of wish that I had grabbed the full size Tortuga bag, but c’est la vie.
On this trip out to Australia I’m planning on being out here for a little while, so I brought an extra duffel with me. I grabbed the duffel bag when I was at REI because it collapses down to almost nothing and there were plenty of times on my last trip that I wished for another bag to make a quick trip somewhere (laundry, groceries, etc.). So I landed in Brisbane after about 24 hours on the road and they lost my bag. I’m not going to call out the airline because I heard that they found it and got it delivered to the house I’m going to be staying at in the same day almost. So props for them. However it made me re-evaluate what I put in my carry-on vs the duffel.
I’m pretty paranoid about airlines losing my bags when I know I’m going to be on the road for months, and potentially a year+, so I tried to make sure that everything in my duffel was disposable. I was a little stressed about it when I continued thinking about it the next day, so I made a list of everything in that bag that I could think of. A bit of it was clothes that are duplicates of ones that I already have but in smaller sizes. I tend to drop weight pretty fast when I’m on the road (always a plus), and I wanted to have some clothes around that I liked. If I lost those I’d be mildly irritated, but it happens. Interestingly the things that I would have been most irritated by were things that would have been inconvenient to replace. My Northface rain jacket that I got in Nepal (otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford it), as well as my hiking sandals from Nepal. I brought my flip flops in my carry-on, which was kind of stupid. Do you think it would have been hard to find a pair of cheap flip flops in Australia? Of course not.
Oh well, I’m going to do a serious audit of my bags, which I was already planning on, but I thought I’d do it here in Australia. I guess this is a lesson from the universe about procrastinating.
My general feeling is that carry-on is a better way to travel for me. I don’t really need much. It sounds like a self-congratulatory statement, but it’s true. I’d even go so far as to say that you don’t need that much either (yeah I broke the fourth wall and went all second person on you, deal with it punk). It was drilled into me when I was traveling the first time and my traveling companion, and very old friend, took my bag, on my request, and started throwing stuff out.
I had an entire separate first-aid kit. It even had that stupid red cross on it. It was huge. Almost all gone. So were my stash of thumb drives, and half my clothes, and a bunch of adapters, and tons of other stuff I don’t even remember. We threw it out and horrified the poor manager at the hostel in Nepal. I hope he grabbed the stuff and sold it.
I also had a 35L or so day bag and a 50L hiking pack. Granted that was everything I owned, but still, looking back it seems ridiculous to me. I had that very particular travel turtle look you know if you’ve been to many hostels. I didn’t even have any cold weather gear. I feel bad now with having a baggy of band-aids (plasters for my European friends) in my toiletry bag. I’m going to do a complete breakdown of what I have packed and then what I threw out. I think it might be good for people to see.
It also will show that even people that have traveled quite a bit are still prone to accumulating dross (also known as junk, but I like to sound fancy, FANCY!!! /with jazz hands). I’m not really a pack rat like some of my family, but I do like being prepared. There was a bit of kit that I wish I had on my first trip and I think I went a bit overboard when I came out this time.
The one thing that I missed having the first time was a good wireless card for my laptop with an external antennae. You don’t think it’s a big deal until you’re on the third floor of a hostel trying to get work done and they don’t have any wireless repeaters set up. Your options at that point are not to work, or try to get work done in the lobby where they are playing drinking games and blasting the stereo. I don’t know about you, but my willpower isn’t that strong and I invariably would end up playing the games and being merry. I mostly tried to get my work done during the day, but with time zone differences that wasn’t always feasible.
I’m finishing this post quite a bit after I started it (a bad habit to be sure). I got my bag back, and immediately threw out everything I didn’t need. Not really, It’s been two months and I still have too much stuff. However I hope to be back on the road again soon and it’ll necessitate me throwing out quite a bit of my junk. I’ll do a postmortem on it when I’m done.
Cheers and remember that you never really need as much as you think. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Wait, that might have been for something else.
I was reviewing posts that I had written, but not put up yet. This one was blank. All my stuff is pretty much gone now.I also arranged to sell my car. I sold my guns (emo tear), and my guitar, and all of my gaming stuff, and my computers, and about seven years of dross, as Thoreau would put it. Most of it I just tossed away. That includes clothes, furniture, electronics, and all manner of minutiae that I didn’t even know I had. The oddities I had surprised even my friends that were helping me clean out my apartment.
Everything I own now will fit into a two backpacks and a suitcase, minus the knife collection and the violin I have to send to my brother for safe keeping, and the other violin I need to sell.
It’s pretty freeing to know I’m not leaving things behind while traveling. Of course we always leave things behind when we leave, but those things won’t fit in any bag. My nephew’s second year, my brother and parents. I’ll stay in touch, but Skype can’t compete with the quiet of my family spending our evening doing what we love best, sitting around eating ice cream and reading.
I just got back from the last family visit I’ll have before I leave so I guess I might just be a tad melancholy. Whenever I write something I worry that I come across as too wrapped up in my own head. I tend not to be, at least to my reckoning, but I’m sure if you just read my internal monologue it might seem so. I also am generally considered pretty funny, but that rarely is seen in anything I put down on paper, or in this case a LCD. I suppose time will tell.
The more you get rid of the less you care about what remains. I care about the utility of my remaining possessions, but I am not particularly attached to them. I left a small box of stuff I’m emotionally attached to with my mother, and my grandfather’s gun with a friend. However even those things could be lost and I wouldn’t lose too much sleep. I suppose there is a lesson in attachment there. Once you start freeing yourself from material wealth and goods it just gets easier.
I’m going to throw away my clothes and trade them out for traveling shoes (other types of clothes too, but stay with the metaphor… of shoes) to blaze a trail with my traveling companion. That isn’t for a little while though.
My father once told me when we were doing yoga that the yogis had a name for our mind, it was Brother Sloth. He was referencing how when we wake up in the morning we don’t want to work out, or do yoga, even though intellectually we know we will feel better for the entire day if we do. I have been thinking of this recently. I have been struggling with a couple of health issues and I know that I just need some meds to alleviate them.
I have been thinking of Brother Sloth; it almost seems like an inertial force keeping me sedentary. When I was younger I used to be more high strung then I am now and much better at making snap changes. I suppose this speaks to my growing maturity, but say what you will adolescents are very good at changing their behavior suddenly. These changes don’t come as readily to me as they used to. I worry that it’s because I check out of my daily life too much. We can accomplish much on auto-pilot, but in the end we are only reducing the visibility of the life we lead to our mind’s eye. If you, like me, can’t handle being mindful in your everyday life then you should look to change your circumstances, and that’s not to say it’s easy. It’s much easier to slip into Brother Sloth’s easy rhythm: Work all day, TV all night, and drink all weekend.
I’ve taken steps to change the way that I live my life in a fairly large way. I know what needs to be done, but Brother Sloth whispers in my ear,
“It’s six whole months away.”
“One more time eating out won’t break the bank.”
“Stargate SG-1 for six hours is totally time well spent.”
“You can get to the doctor and start working out next week, give yourself a break. You’ve been so good lately.”
These are of variable truth, and none are particularly wrong. I include the SG-1 comment as well, because I love that show (free on prime right now). I used to combat this inertia (caused to some extent by the medical issues I mentioned before) with super doses of caffeine (3-4 Amps a day), but apparently “That’s not good for you,” and it’s pretty expensive.
I was just thinking that I should make a pact with myself to slap myself every time I start to slip, but that seems excessive. Actually to be honest I don’t find it excessive, but I’ve been accused on occasion of being an excessive person. The Dali Lama says that all love comes from loving oneself, and that it is easier to forgive others for their weakness than ourselves. I am starting to believe that these self-destructive tendencies we all seem to have, myself definitely included, come from a lack of love for ourselves. I have done a great many things in my life that I am ashamed of. I’m not sure that I’ll even ever forgive myself, but a long time ago I decided that you can’t change the person you were, and can only work on becoming a better person. I think I still see myself as that person though, and that person was hard to love. Instead of self-flagellation (the slapping agreement I mentioned earlier), I commit to myself that whenever I’m slipping that I will tell myself this, “You are one of the Goddess’ children, and worthy of the life you’ve chosen. Choose your path with open eyes to the consequences, both good and bad.”
I think that the secret is mindfulness in our decisions. Driving home on auto-pilot and getting McDonald’s is easy and fast, but would you do that for someone you love? Would you get your sick mother McDonald’s for dinner if she was hungry? You probably wouldn’t and neither would I. If you take the time to ask the questions the answers present themselves. You are worth the few breaths it takes to ask.