The Packing Conondrum

What do you get when you combine a budding ultra-light backpacker with a 4.5-month trip? A frantic series of repacking attempts. Over the last two weeks I have repacked my suitcase at least five times, and altered my packing list even more more.

My original goal was to take only luggage that could be taken as a carry-on. It’s not going to happen. I have ended up with a fairly small suitcase worth of stuff, spread out into a bit larger duffel bag (so that I have room to bring souvenirs back). In addition to my carry-on backpack, which will have my electronics, notebooks for school and entertainment for the flights.

Dividing my stuff into two bags offers a couple of different advantages. If my duffel bag gets lost, I can buy new clothes fairly easily. However, if my backpack is lost, I will lose a couple of electronics (laptop, GPSr, Palm and cell phone) that contain irreplaceable information. I do have backups of the information, but it will be a continent away, and thus inaccessible until I return. As my carry-on, my backpack will remain with me at all times, and thus will be easy to keep track of.

I was able to get down to a single suitcase fairly easily after realizing that I only wear a limited amount of clothes on a weekly basis anyway. In all reality, if I did laundry every night, I would only need two outfits. One to wear and one to wash. Since I won’t be doing laundry every night, I need to take enough clothes for a week (my normal laundry schedule). What a coincidence, I need a week’s worth of clothes and I normally wear the same clothes week to week. It’s perfect!

In order to get the most use of my wardrobe, I chose clothes that I can pair together in a number of different combinations. I can wear any of my t-shirts individually or as undershirts. My dress shirt can be layered under my sweater for warm dressiness, worn casually with jeans, or simply worn with my dress pants when needed. By packing clothes that can be layered I am actually able to pack less. My warm-weather clothes double as baselayers, so my meager suitcase-worth of clothes will function for any seasons that I might encounter while traveling.

Since I was able to limit myself to only the dufffel bag and backpack, I will have everything that I need, but will be compact enough to remain mobile. I should not have any problems carrying my luggage whether we travel by bus, plane or train. While the urges of the ultra-light backpacker have not been fully satisfied, an acceptable compromise has been reached. I should only have to re-pack another time or two before we leave. 😀

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