27th Dec, 2017

Leave that shit at home

I suck at traveling. I’m okay in making plans, but then I’ll show up everywhere way too early, be anxious about missing my train/flight all the time and just hate the whole process of traveling.
I especially suck at packing. I tend to take way too many things with me. One time, when I still owned a car, I even took an Xbox and a TV to my parents over Christmas. I take all these things with me because I think they may come in handy at some time. Possibly.
Here’s, for example, what I used to take with me when I was visiting my parents for a few days:

  • My iPhone, my iPad, my MacBook and my Kindle. Of course I’ll need my phone. And my MacBook as well, to get some work done. In my free time, I’ll read a book on my kindle. But what if I want to catch up on my Instapaper or RSS feeds? Sure, would work with my phone or laptop, but it’ll be much more convenient with the iPad. I better pack that as well
  • A physical book. Yes, I know, I packed the kindle, but I started this book a while ago and the trip might be a good time to finish it.
  • My Camera. My parents live in a nice area with lots of nature. I may go out, and I may want to take pictures then. Yes, I already have my phone, but those pictures can’t possibly as good as the ones I’ll take with my SLR. I also better pack some lenses then, just to be safe.
  • A spare part of every kind of clothing I already had packed. Because, what happens if my pants get dirty? Or all my shirts? I better bring a backup pair.
  • Comfortable clothing. Even if I’m just there for one evening, I may want to have some comfortable clothes for the evening. Sweatpants and a cozy zipper!

There’s a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” in the packing list. At the end of the day, I did not even use half of the things I brought with me.
For a while now, I put some effort into minimalizing my life. Mostly, by getting rid of physical things I don’t need, but also in other areas, like my digital life. So when I traveled to my parents over the holiday a few days ago, I tried to involve that minimalist mindset in my packing as well. Here’s what I went with for a 5 day stay:

  • 4x underwear and socks
  • 2 Shirts and 2 Sweaters
  • My MacBook, my Kindle, my Headphones and the matching rechargers (2 cables)
  • My (paper) Notebook
  • Bathroom stuff

I used all of the stuff I packed this time and did miss nothing. I even felt better because I did not have to think about what I want to do and what not so much. I already made that decision when I was packing.
Following are some takeaways.

  • With having packed less, I was able to travel with just my Backpack where I had to take a weekender and often times also my backpack. This makes traveling as a process more comfortable. I have free hands and do not have to look after so much stuff all the time.
  • Cotton sweaters take up loads of space. Even though I’m rolling all my clothes, cotton sweaters take way more space than shirts. That’s just logical, but I did not think about that too much while packing. I’ll probably try to pack more shirts the next time, to save some space.
  • I did not use my kindle. Thats mostly due to a new book I was gifted for Christmas and in an effort to minimalize it as soon as possible, I started reading it right away. In general, packing a Kindle instead of a paperback sounds like a good idea, because you can have all the books in the world with you on one device. On the other hand, it adds a new decision. When you have only one book with you, well, its that book that you’re going to read.

With having packed less, I felt way better than the times before, both during the travels and during my stay. In some way, it’s really a nice way to try out minimalist living for a few days. I’m looking forward to also have that feeling of space when I’m at home.

© 2024 Chris Jarling