As a veteran traveler and someone about to get rid of everything to travel around the world, I’ve got some opinions about what is really necessary for a trip.
Most people don’t travel as light as I do, and that’s okay. But there are a lot of people who travel with so much stuff that it actually gets in the way of them – and their traveling companions – having a good time.
Unless you have your own personal Sherpa, there are some things you should consider leaving at home:
- Too many shoes: You do not need a new pair of shoes for every day of your trip or every outfit you plan to wear. I travel with 2-3 pairs of shoes at most, and that includes my workout shoes. Another tip: Make sure your shoes are comfortable. Nothing ruins a good trip faster than a foot blister.
- An arsenal of makeup: I’ve traveled with women before who bring full-size bottles of makeup, hair care products, and every kind of tube and container imaginable. Seriously, if the airline carryon regulations don’t make you think twice, think of all the time you’ll spend getting ready while everyone else it out having a good time. Or getting antsy waiting for you. Travel with the basics, use double duty products (a swipe of blush will work as a basic eyeshadow, tinted moisturizer for foundation, and tinted chapstick for lips), and focus on seeing instead of being seen. You’ll have more fun.
- Oversized bags: Nothing says “carefree” like a big old trunk. The airlines will make you pay for oversized luggage, and even without the additional cost you just don’t need that much stuff. Try laying out your clothes first and picking your bag next, instead of the other way around. If you start with a big bag, your natural tendency will be to fill it up, even with things you don’t really need (“oh look, I still have space for those orange platform shoes!”).
- Gadgets: I’m not going to preach (much) about the joys of having an iPhone, but there really is something sweet about having internet access, a phone, a camera, email, texting, music, video, and handy apps like Urban Spoon available in one small gadget. If you can combine your gadgets into one or two, or just take the ones you need the most, you’ll have less time worrying about bringing all the right cords and charging everything every night. Besides, your spouse might like it if you spent some time away from your laptop.
- Your Everyday Purse: When you travel, your needs are different than in your day-to-day life. You probably don’t need all the things you carry in your regular purse, and you may want to consider downsizing or finding a handy travel purse that keeps everything organized and easily accessible. If you keep your regular purse, consider cleaning it out so you have room to hold your water bottle, books/magazines, or other travel material.
Your family and friends will thank you for traveling lighter, and you will be able to focus more on the trip than on managing the stuff you brought along. And isn’t that what vacation is all about?
(So tell me, did I get it right? Am I way off base? What do you consider “non-essential” that most people can’t seem to live without?)