Part of the beauty of travel–true travel–is paring down your belongings to the bare essentials: a few items of clothing, a pair of comfortable walking shoes, a camera, and some toiletries. Add in optional jewelry, a spare pair of shoes for fancy, and makeup, and you have much more than you need.
Why is it, then, that people pack so much?
I once saw a family fly in to an international terminal with a wheeled cart full of baggage. It was unbelievable. They must have had eight suitcases; the big ones. I know people who check no fewer than two bags, and they have a carry on and backpack to boot. Why? Is it fear of what they won’t be able to find on the other side? How many clothes, gaming systems and other toys does a person truly need?
These days, I travel with a lone, hard-sided, check-in size roller bag. It doesn’t make me better, but it does make more sense. It ensures quick entry and exit from airports and airplanes, it’s cost-effective, and it minimizes what I have to carry, or roll around, when we touch down.
Yet the greatest value in the paring down of belongings is that at last you achieve perfect understanding of how little we as humans need. You may realize it because there is more spring in your step (heavy bags come at a high price when traveling, and I don’t mean the airline charges).
Or you may realize it because the people with which you commune when traveling have so much less than that with which we surround ourselves, and seem somehow happy, nonetheless.
Besides, I’ve always believed there are very few problems VISA can’t solve. So you forgot your toothbrush or shampoo; people in other countries practice personal hygiene too, and you’ll get a cultural experience by shopping where they shop.
As a bonus, you may have an extra two inches for a prized bauble found at quaint little market. You can take the girl out of the consumerism….but you can’t take the consumerism out of the girl.