Clearing my (psychic) clutter, Day 5: Traveling light


One of my frustrations with traveling is this fear I'm gripped with, usually just before zipping the bag to go, that I'll:

  1. arrive ill-prepared for whatever climate (temperature and social) I'm traveling to
  2. arrive without some critical doodad necessary for my immediate survival
  3. arrive exhausted and disheveled from having to haul around too much

You can see how numbers 1 and 2 on the list might easily create a severe number 3 situation. (Ah, symbiosis!)

I've reflected on this conundrum quite often over the past couple of years, as my travel has inched back upwards and my desire to maybe-possibly do even more of it (or at least to be free to do more of it) has sharpened. I regularly grill the more well-traveled about hacks, tips and tricks that work for them: roll-y bag vs. duffel, FedExed luggage vs. haul-yer-own, specialized gear vs. off-the-rack, generic items.

The only truly common thread I get is to bring less. And so I put my mind to work on why I have issues with this and what I might do to correct them.

What I came up with were two main categories of fear that end up literally, by manifestation, weighing me down:

  1. fear of there not being what I need when I need it
  2. fear of spending adequately to ensure that doesn't happen, or happens as seldom as possible

Overcoming my first fear was all about holding it up to the light and seeing if it was the truth. And truthfully? There are very, very few places where what I need to survive isn't available for purchase, even if I don't have it with me, and I don't travel to any of them. My sainted friend, Brian Mullaney, who runs the amazing nonprofit organization SmileTrain, does go to a lot of those places, and he's still standing. Granted, he's also blessed with a more robust constitution, but again, I don't have to worry about what he does. They have SCD-compliant food, warm (or cool) clothes, and most personal care products at most every shitkicker hillbilly truckstop I could find myself in.

So it came down to overcoming Fear #2: spending a little to save a little. Sanity, that is. Because if you can coax an extra buck or two from your pocket, you can buy well-fitting clothes that match one another, clothes that are easy to create outfits from, rather than the usual thrift-store misfits you have to wrassle into forming some kind of ensemble.

Sometimes, the letting-go is psychic and there are physical acquisitions to be made. In this case, it worked for me. I bought a couple of nice pairs of jeans, moderately-priced, from the Gap, but still more than I usually spend on clothing from the rag bin. Had one pair tailored. Packed the lightest bag I've brought along on a weekend trip in 10 years, easily.

Next stop, who knows? Maybe traveling as light as airy sprite Havi, who buys herself needed items upon reaching her destination.

At thrift stores, of course...


Image by emmamccleary via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.