As reported in this space earlier, I engaged in “extreme packing” for my trip to San Francisco earlier this month.
The untold story behind this (and, to be honest, unrealized truth for me until I arrived there) is that when I was 14 and traveled around the U.S.A. with my father by Greyhound Bus, I overpacked, and was forced to lug way, way too much luggage around the country. For example, I carried not one, but two transistor radios with me. It was the latent memory of this lugging, I think, that got me on the extreme packing plan.
And, of course, there was no small amount of street cred establishing at stake, what given that I was traveling aside my young compatriots/landlords from upstairs.
My usual traveling kit is an American Tourister soft-sided briefcase that holds my laptop, assorted chargers and papers, passport, etc. along with a Jack Wolfskin pack that we purchased to go to Thailand that carries everything else.
For this extreme packing trip, I slimmed down to fit everything inside a smallish Targus knapsack/laptop case. Here’s what I did to shrink down:
- In in addition to the clothes on my back, I carried only two additional changes of clothes, and arranged to do a laundry midway through the trip. I had clean clothes every day, but only needed to carry half as many as I usually do.
- I took lightweight clothes, and I rolled them up tightly to pack them in the least amount of space.
- Rather than carrying a complete toilet kit, filled with every possible toiletry need, I carried a small collection of essential items in the pockets of the knapsack.
- I didn’t carry any bulky books, presents, or other space-sucking items.
- I restricted my gift purchases to small items only.
As a result, I was able to handily fit everything inside the knapsack, which I carried on rather than checking.
While things were still perhaps 2-3 pounds heavier than I would have liked, the effect was rather dramatic: I felt much more mobile, much less tied to my luggage. While I did leave my knapsack at my hotel after checking out on the last day, I could have easily carried it with me.
Here’s a complete list of the contents of my knapsack:
- Two each of shirts, socks, underwear.
- One pair of pyjamas.
- Toothbrush, mini-toothpaste, mini-deodorant, comb, electric shaver.
- Apple iBook, with charger.
- Canon PowerShot S100 digital camera, with charger.
- Nokia 3285 cell phone, with charger.
- 4 feet of telephone cord.
- One copy of Harper’s, one copy of The New Yorker
- Two pens.
Compare this to what Tom Peters carries in his luggage, which includes an eighteen-pound bolt-cutter, and an Australian cricket ball but, oddly, only T-shirts and ball caps for clothing. Hmmmm.
I’m off again in April for another bizarre trip (Charlottetown — Montreal — New York — Boston — New Hampshire — Boston — Phoenix — Denver — Boston — Charlottetown), and I’m going to take another crack at this. Stay tuned.