The Art of Traveling Lightly

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[Editor's note: Packed two full suitcases for BlogHer '11? Stop stressing out about luggage fees and start streamlining -- for lighter, greener, freer travel -- with these tips from simple living blogger Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens. - Siel]

 Five years ago, I was a one of “those travelers.” You know who I’m talking about, the person at the airport who is juggling large bags stuffed to the max and has to shove their giant carry-on suitcase into the overhead compartment.

I always packed a lot of stuff for any trip I took, whether the journey was long or short. I usually had a big duffel bag stuffed with clothes, a lap top case, a cosmetic pouch and a purse; that’s a lot of stuff to travel with and it’s a pain to deal so many bags, whether you’re flying or driving. Plus, I would always worry about my stuff getting lost, broken or stolen.

As I thought about my past packing habits, I had to giggle because it was so silly. Especially, since I didn’t use most of the stuff that I crammed into my suitcases. The majority of my clothes, books, and gadgets sat untouched for most of my journey. Or I’d waste an inordinate amount of time fretting over what outfit I wanted to wear to dinner.

Now my packing habits are completely different. Before I leave for any type of trip, I ask myself two questions:

- What will I be doing?

- What type of climate will I be in?

Answering those two basic determines what comes with me. Let me give you a quick example. Last weekend, Logan and I went on a small road trip. We drove down to Little Shasta to visit family and relax. I knew we’d be lounging around the house, helping out with chores, and eating a lot of amazing food. Also, the weather wasn’t going to be too hot or cold, but just right. Even though I’ve downsized my stuff, I’m still apt to pack my whole closet. To solve this problem, I put half the clothes I was planning on bringing along back in the closet. Most of my outfits center around my black dress. It goes with everything and it’s easy to mix and match with sweaters, shirts and leggings.

Here’s the final list of stuff that made it into my travel bag:

- Camera

- Computer

- iTouch

- Cords for my gadgets

- Phone

- One book

- One black dress

- Gray and black leggings

- Pajama’s

- Two Tank Tops

- Two sweaters

- One coat

- Walking shoes and flip flops

- A knitting project

- My journal

- A Hat

- My tiny cosmetic bag

traveling light

 

As I was writing out this list, I was a little disturbed by the number of gadgets that made the trip with me. I used all of them over the weekend, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s time to downsize my gadget collection.

Traveling lightly is an art because you have to carefully chose the things you are going to bring along. The more multi-purpose items you pack, the less stuff you have to carry. With less stuff to worry about you can focus on the people and places you’re visiting, instead of worrying about losing stuff or trying to decide what outfit to wear.

The same goes for all the stuff we use in our everyday life. A lot of folks don’t understand why we want to downsize our home or live with so little, but they always seem to understand why we’d want to travel with less. It’s easier to travel with less because there isn’t so much stuff to fret over.

In the end, it comes back to answering a few key questions:

- How much do I need?

- How much is enough?

Answering these questions isn’t easy. But once you figure out what works for you, traveling lightly becomes a metaphor for life.

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