12/03/2017

Packing light: make the effort now, enjoy later

I’ve always thought packing light was an easy task for me. Unless many other girls my age, I don’t feel the urge to carry around huge makeup bags or 10 different outfits for two nights out, so small luggage space has never been a problem. That until I started my Erasmus, and found myself: 
  1. facing 5 floors with no elevator and 4 bags weighing about as much as me;  
  2. heading to Lapland with 15 kilos luggage for only five days.

After the traumatic experience of having to push that last amount of clothing up to the top of a snowy hill during a snowstorm, and ending up using not even half of what I packed, I decided it was time to put things down rationally. So, here are my tips to pack light (or lighter than you would otherwise do); they all come from my own experience of female undergraduate student strolling around Europe, and I intend to update them from time to time. Tips from you will be super appreciated – so to avoid any other Olympic experience...

Know your destination
Wheter you're heading to a tropical forest or to a sunny island in the Mediterranean Sea, be sure to check climate informations and weather forecasts before you leave. That will itself draw a line between what to take with you and what to leave home.

 Get a good backpack...
I'm still relying on my old high school rucksack for this purpose. Even if you have all the bags in the world, a backpack - or two - is the best option for travelling, because it leaves you with both hands free and distributes the weight on both shoulders instead of one.

 ...and a suitcase of the perfect size
The only flaw of backpacks is that you have to carry them on yourself. All. The. Time. So, if you don't have to carry around your luggage a lot, a good suitcase may be good as well. Being always careful not to spend too much, I usually go for a hand luggage, that airlines are usually willing to carry for free. Mine is 50x35x20 cm and fits in almost all companies' measures. 

Take clothes you can use more than once
I mean clothes you can wear, for example, both visiting a museum and having a drink in the evening. Like jeans, plain T-shirts, dresses made of wrinkle-free fabric. Plus, pijama and underwear. 

One good coat is all you need
Depending on the season, it can be a jacket goose down (they look so thin, but keep you hot in every weather. Best Christmas gift I've ever received) or a weather jacket. But one is enough.

No more than two pair of shoes
Trainers for the day, something slightly more elegant - but still comfy - for the night. Nothing more. Except maybe for a pair of flip flops (mine are made of cork and never get wet).

Makeup? Stick to small essentials
If you're a woman, you may be tempted to take your whole beauty case with you. Don't! What's necessary is: hand cream, coloured cream (idrates and covers at the same time), a chapstick (good for either hot and cold weather), an eye pencil, a mascara and, if you absolutely can't do without, a small eyeshadow palette. Add to this the essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste, all-in-one shower gel) in travel size and you're done.  

 Always take a "security towel" with you
You can't know where and when you'll need to get dry. You may end up under a storm, or find out your hostel reservation doesn't include such luxury items - both situations happened to me. 

Roll up your clothes. I swear it works.
I've never believed in the necessity of rolling everything up before leaving for this adventure, but a) leaves your clothes without a single wrinkle b) allows you to make more stuff fit into your luggage.

Bonus: bring food
You will be hungry. You may not find what you want or at the price you want. So, pack a couple of sandwiches and some fruit, you won't regret it. 

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