Tuesday, April 03, 2012

My quest to pack light. Last weekend I went away on a much-anticipated seaside holiday from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon. I was determined to pack light. This is always my quest every time I travel, and every time I always pack too much.

What I wore on Friday:

1 x short-sleeved black, pale green and pale red floral top
1 x pale green handkerchief-hem mid-length skirt
1 x black T-shirt bra
1 x underpants
1 x silver pendant necklace
1 x contact lenses
1 x sunglasses
1 x black sandals

What I packed:

3 x underpants (Saturday, Sunday, Monday)
2 x black socks (1 anklets for wearing with skirts, 1 crew-length for wearing with pants)
1 x red canvas sneakers
1 x two-piece aqua swimsuit
1 x towel (pink and white stripes – chosen to look beachy on the beach but is actually a bath towel)
1 x black and white striped T-shirt
1 x grey and black spotted singlet
1 x red and black striped cap-sleeve T-shirt
1 x black cotton three-quarter-sleeve jumper
1 x coral cotton cardigan
1 x wide-leg black pants
1 x black and pink short-sleeved, knee-length floral dress
1 x grey and dark pink floral T-shirt-style pyjama top
1 x raspberry cotton jersey pyjama pants
1 x sleeping bag
1 x pillowcase
1 x hand towel
1 x toiletries bag containing: glasses, 2 pairs contact lenses, soap, face cleanser, deodorant, body moisturiser, sunscreen, tweezers, hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, moist wipes, hair clip, chewing gum (?!?)
1 x plastic bag for separating wet/dirty clothes in bag

What I wore on Saturday

When I woke up: pyjamas
To go to beach: aqua swimsuit, green skirt, sunglasses, sandals
After beach: underpants, bra, floral dress

What I wore on Sunday

When I woke up: pyjamas
To go to beach: aqua swimsuit, red and black T-shirt, green skirt, sunglasses, sandals
After beach: underpants, bra, black, green and red floral top, raspberry pyjama pants

What I wore on Monday

When I woke up: pyjamas under black jumper
After shower: underpants, bra, red and black T-shirt, green skirt, glasses, sunglasses, sandals

Yes, I put my sunglasses on over my glasses. Reviewing 3D films has taught me to be used to this. Also, you couldn't really see the glasses underneath the sunnies.

Items I did not wear:

Black and white striped T-shirt
Grey and black spotted singlet
Coral cardigan
Black pants
Either of the pairs of socks

Items I wish I had brought

Shampoo and conditioner
An extra pair of contact lenses
Cotton buds

The Best in Show items were clearly the pyjama pants and the green skirt. I recently bought the pants as 'freelance work pants' for $5 from Big W. The green skirt I have had for years; I remember wearing it to Rottnest Island in 2004 not realising we were going to cycle around the island, and having to tuck the pointed hem into the waistband so it wouldn't get caught in the bike chain.

I returned from my trip determined to learn from this experience and to pack only the bare minimum of items needed on future trips.

I have been fascinated with the travel packing informational writing genre ever since the 1980s when I would read Maggie Tabberer's tips to that effect in my mother's Australian Women's Weekly magazines. I would fantasise about a two-week resort trip requiring a black maillot (translation: black one-piece swimsuit), a sarong which could be tied several different ways from poolside to cocktail hour, and gold strappy sandals. Or a high-flying business trip in which I could remove my padded jacket and don a sparkly top to create a glamorous evening ensemble.

Here are some of the tips I have absorbed by osmosis:

– wear your bulkiest stuff en route, or layer several things, to save space
– stuff shoes with socks and underwear
– roll clothes rather than folding them
– collect the free shower caps from hotels and use them as shoe covers

Here are some more tips from a seasoned traveller.

A while ago I was obsessed with this slideshow about a flight attendant who packs for 10 days in a carry-on bag; however in my opinion, she packs too much clothing for 10 days. As I showed you above, even packing for three days I managed not to wear lots of the stuff I packed.

This guy packed for a month in a carry-on bag:

I like the way he layers his jeans and T-shirts and then folds the ends back in.

But I have to say that what I like best about my pack-light fantasies is figuring out how I can create the maximum number of outfits from the stuff I've brought, and be ready for various weather conditions and activities. I brought the sneakers and socks because I thought I might do some walking last weekend, but as it turns out the weather was good and I went to the beach every day. Also, I didn't bring makeup or accessories (except the necklace I wore on Friday) as I was just going to be hanging out with a group of friends in a house rather than going out.

Have you seen Joan Didion's list of what she packed to travel as a journalist? I can't remember which of her books it's in. Maybe I'll use it as the guide for my Easter packing.
I have to say I have a knee-jerk hatred of Joan Didion and avoid all her works, based on the slavish adoration she tends to attract.

See also: Aaron Sorkin.
Thank god I checked the internet before setting things out to pack for Easter. A well timed blog post, Mel!

I am going to find it hard, as we're away for 6 days and the weather is going to be both rain and shine, and the weather forecast varies hugely depending on what site you use (i.e. Thurs will be 22 and stormy or 16 and bright).
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