They say the most exciting part of a trip is the planning/packing stage. It can also be the most painful. But luckily for me; being a veteran of long-term travel and vagabonding, I have had many opportunities to hone my skills. I like to think of myself as a packing ninja! Packing super light! Do I sound like a nerd? Who cares! Listen, my back pack weighs nothing. When packing the key thing is to ask yourself this question:
“What do I really truly need that I can’t buy from the place I am going?”
And when asking yourself this question you must be ruthless. Not ‘what will come in handy?’. No, you must ask, what do i truly really absolutely NEED.
And when you do this, you realise, to much surprise, that you don’t really need much. It’s a bit of an eyeopener actually. The thing is most of us tend to over-plan and overthink stuff. We imagine scenarios where stuff will happen to us and we will need certain stuff to mitigate that stuff happening.
Am I making any sense?
We live in a global marketplace so most things these days are easily acquirable. There are few places in the world left today where you can’t buy your sun creams and your shaving foams and razors and your Coca Cola’s. Where there is Coca Cola – there is also likely to be Lynx deodorant and all the other essentials. Yes – that’s right – I am not taking along any deodorant. Nor any shower gels or shampoos or shaving foams. Will I smell? Probably – but who cares. Hell I’m not even taking a toothbrush. Don’t need toothpaste or a toothbrush – sorry, too heavy – these are staying behind. No way am I taking my toothbrush on a mountain trek. In Northern Pakistan there is a peculiar tree, whose bark is used by locals as a toothbrush. It also has antiseptic properties. You see? My toothbrush grows on trees!
So what exactly am I taking then?
Here is the complete list of items in my bag:
T-shirts x 2
Long sleeved shirts x 2
Polo top x 2
Merino wool underlay (super light)
Merino wool overlayer
Micro fleece (super light)
Wind and rain proof lightweight jacket
Combat trousers x 2
Lightweight walking shoes
Socks x 3 (or 4!)
3 piece suit with shirt and tie (in case I end up in a classy restaurant…)
Sorry, that was a joke
Sony a7 RII camera with 3 lenses and 4 spare batteries and Neutral Density filter
Ricoh GR point and shoot camera that neatly and snugly fits in my pocket
Ahh yes, laptop (and charger)
Contact lenses (approx 4 months worth)
Some toiletries that I can’t buy from Pakistan
That’s it. Simplicity personified.
That is all I have. Admittedly there are a few ‘gadgets’ in my bag. For example you must be thinking why am I taking two cameras? Let me explain this bit. The Ricoh GR is a small high quality point and shoot that I can use in dodgy dark street corners or anywhere where photography is frowned upon. It is super stealth and has this ‘snap’ function which allows me shoot with my eyes closed. Seriously. The Sony A7RII however is a little bigger – but still smaller than my Canon DSLR. Photography is a big part of my trip – it helps me connect with people and the world. The camera almost forces interaction with people and the world which is great. The laptop…I would LOVE to leave it behind. But alas I will need it for my image editing. Besides it will remain in my hostel. The only time I will be lugging it around is between hostels and on and off buses and trains and, even if it got stolen, I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s rather old and grumpy but has been a loyal friend to me on many trips.
The fewer items you take with you, the freer you are, and the less you worry. If you have a bag full of crap, you worry about your bag full of crap. And i don’t want to worry about anything.
Travel is about letting go, of everything. Of freeing yourself of your shackles, your possessions and so called necessities. It teaches you to simplify your life. Your existence is suddenly not attached to the things that you own and you feel more connected with not only yourself but people. There is so much garbage in our lives, so much excess and fat, so much that we don’t really need.
Everything you possess, in turn, always, possesses you.
I depart on the 3rd.