Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"How to live out of a ruck sack" - a traveler's guide to packing

this is a re post from the old Deringer Files - because it is summer and many of us are hitting the road.
Since I was a boy the idea of running away has always appealed to me, something about life on the road and unexpected adventures around the bend still calls out to me like the lines from a Kerouac journal.When I was young I had devised a plan to run away and join the circus, that never happened only because I had too many things I wanted to take with me, things I could not live without, mainly, my record collection. How was I going to hit the road lugging my record collection everywhere? I was a kid and couldn't even drive yet. My plan needed re-working. Well, twenty six years later, I've learned to pack light and thanks to the wonders of modern technology, in the form of digital music, I can even take along my record collection. I have run away several times as an adult and I am quite fond of the weekend get away, and I am always prepared and eager for a weekend jaunt to turn into a two or three week stint - the secret is all in the packing. Experienced travelers and adventurers will agree - take only what you require, only essentials. Take with you only what you can carry on your back I have learned, after years of running away and weekend trips, to pack the same way for a trip that may last a week or a few months and I carry only one bag, my ruck sack, sometimes, I may also take along my computer which will require me to take along my messengers bag. I hate traveling with my computer and only do so if I need to get some work done, but still, every now and then I will take my messenger bag - they are great for day trips and to store food and snacks and assorted gifts and novelties one might purchase or acquire on a journey, plus it's good for totting my sketch book, journal, pencils, and colors. For my own convenience and sense of style I abandoned the suit case, that bulgy plastic square Samsonite for a much more luxurious leather ruck sack with the look and smell of days from another time, and just slinging it over my shoulder makes me feel like an explorer of the world when it was still young, each and every time. Perhaps the biggest advantages of packing light, that is, traveling with one bag which you can carry on your back, is mobility. If you have ever traveled with a tour group or perhaps even on your own, you know that you will quite often find yourself having to carry your own luggage from one place to another, and these would be the times you wished you had packed light - regardless of the new convenient roll away luggage you may have purchased. Mobility is the name of the traveling game. You can take your back pack with you virtually everywhere and not have to worry about standing watch over it at airports, bus terminals, and train stations, and if you are passing through a town by train or bus and you want to explore the sight for one day, you can rent a locker and stuff your bag into it or tote it along with you, either way - you will not have to worry about your belongings. So, just how does one gain the mobility of traveling light on a journey that may last as short as three days and as long as three months? First we must keep in mind the place (and places) to be visited, what are your plans, why are you going, and what will the weather be like? If your plans are simply to go away for a few days and relax and perhaps do some sight seeing, then your wardrobe will be casual. However, if you are traveling on business, pack a couple of extra neck ties and wrinkle free shirts, and learn to coordinate your wardrobe accordingly. A great book to help you to coordinate your suits and wardrobe is "Chic Simple - Clothes" by Kim Johnson Gross and Jeff Stone, and do keep in mind the "simple" part, simple clothing for simple, easy traveling. Should you be traveling in the summer, pack a pair of shorts and light weight pants, cotton and linen are great and easy maintenance. Take along a good pair of walking shoes and breathable shirts. For travels in the fall or winter seasons, pack sweaters, I prefer dark colored turtle necks, wool socks, gloves and warm underwear, and regardless of the season, take along a blazer and a scarf, one must always be conscience of ones appearance for you never know where you will you find yourself.

WHAT TO PACK:(for the best mobility keep your bag under twenty pounds) 2 pants (with the pair you are wearing gives you three), 2 short sleeved shirts or T-shirts, 2 long sleeved shirts (wrinkle free), 1 dark sweater, 1 wind breaker or denim jacket, 4 sets of underwear and socks, 1 tie, 1 scarf. For winter traveling include: warm underwear, gloves or mittens,heavy jacket or coat, dark sweaters,extra socks.

BASIC TOILETRY KIT:(in small bottles) soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion,comb, brush, tooth brush, paste, floss, chap stick, shaving cream or soap,razor, grooming kit, Swiss army survival knife, *vitamins/supplements, aspirin, pain killers, alka seltzer, cold and flue pills,anti bacteria cream, small first aid kit, small sewing kit.

MY PRE-TRAVEL CHECK LIST: Clothing, pen, toiletry kit, photos of family, first aid kit, post cards from home, sewing kit, book to read, sketch book, money belt, pencils, colors, inks, guide book, journal, trains and bus schedules, camera, language dictionary (for what ever country you may be in) i-pod adaptors, address book, maps*

It has been a while since I have ventured to travel by plane, make sure to call your airline representative to be sure if these items will be allowed to carry on, or perhaps make arrangements for them to be checked on board for you. Now you should be set to travel like a foot lose gypsy. For some, this kind of ruck sack travel might take some getting used to, especially if you feel you can not do it, but once you have gone on your first full vacation trip like this, you will see there is no better way to travel, unless of course, you have your own yacht or jet and travel with an entourage to cater to your every desire. Packing light makes your journey much more carefree and convenient, yes, you may have to take some time to do a little washing as you go, but it is well worth it for the ease and mobility you will gain from it. Enjoy your travels and adventures wherever they may take you.


Chef E said...

I know what you mean...I always regret taking waaay too much on trips!

Isabel Martínez Rossy said...

Este post me ha resultado realmente curioso... Creo que se puede conocer bastante de alguien por el tipo de cosas que llevaría en un equipaje ligero (aquello de lo que no quiere prescindir)...Interesante...