“I don’t understand how you can possibly take just a carry-on sized bag for two weeks in Europe.” my sister said to me on Monday. “I just need too much stuff!”
“Too much stuff” is an understatement. I’ve seen the luggage they use. The entire von Trapp family could have escaped Austria in it. No mountain climbing; just smooth, 4-wheel, 360 degree swivel action all the way to Italy.
I told her to pack less clothes. Wash things out in the sink. Or the bidet. She said she packs very few clothes. But she admits her husband needs a new outfit every day along with matching shoes. Seriously?
I’m a minimalist traveler and my packing hero is Rick Steves. My younger son told me never to trust anybody with two first names…
For those who don’t know, Rick Steves is a US travel guru/television host who has specialized in European travel for the past 35 years. He has hundreds of guidebooks/DVD’s not only about individual European countries but many specific European cities. Lots of American Baby Boomers are fans of Rick.
Or is it Steve?
But the true miracle that elevates him to near-travel god-like status is that he can go to Europe for an entire summer with only a back pack and a carry-on. Let that sink in. One back pack. One tiny, fits-in-the-overhead-bin carry-on. Mind blowing.
It’s like Jesus feeding the 5000 with one loaf of bread and one fish. Rick/Steve miraculously just keeps on pulling out clothes for a whole summer from that little carry-on!
I’m a Rick Steves packing disciple. I try to emulate him. And I’m getting pretty darned good at it.
So for those of you who travel who might want to get on the bandwagon (NOT my sister) here are AGMA’s top 10 reasons for minimalist packing for an overseas trip:
10. Speed. You can get though customs faster because you don’t have to wait for your bags. Okay, maybe only 5 minutes faster. But it feels like a win.
9. No worries about lost luggage. When your carry-on is in the bin above your head, you know you’ll be able to change your nasty, been-wearing-them-for 36-hours-straight travel clothes that have almost welded themselves to your body as soon as you get to your hotel room.
8. Accessibility. When your carry-on is in the bin above your head, you know you’ll be able to change your nasty, been-wearing-them-for 36-hours-straight travel clothes that have almost welded themselves to your body in the airport bathroom as soon as you get off the plane. Or in the airplane restroom. Or at your seat.
7. Saves money. Totally limits souvenir buying! There’s no room for that bulky Aran sweater or the three Belgian lace tablecloths or that impressive Australian didgeridoo. And buying another suitcase on your trip is cheating… Although my MIL did that once. No surprise there.
6. Simplifies wardrobe choices. People honestly don’t care if you wear the same outfit in Paris that you wore in Rome that you wore in London. Or if you wear the same outfit twice in the same city. Think about it. Nobody. Cares.
5. Mingle with the locals. Most cities and towns in the industrialized world have stores with the same stuff that you can buy at home. You don’t have to pack for Armageddon. It’s fun to meet new people while you shop for your Imodium or Pepto-Bismol!
4. Nimbleness. It’s much easier and quicker to get on and off trains, busses, ferries, etc. Or to carry your bag up to your 4th floor hotel room because the 3 ft X 3 ft lift is broken. It’s sad to see people struggling trying to get their three 70 pound bags up the steps onto a train or into their hotel. And kind of funny in a twisted way.
3. Avoid personal injury. See #4.
2. Avoid pity/ridicule. Especially the withering, smug, superior glances of AGMA and husband as they deftly and every so delicately whisk their light carry-ons onto the train or up the hotel stairs while you struggle with the von Trapp family luggage. See #4. Yeah – everybody is looking at you. And feeling sorry for you. Or snickering.
And the #1 reason for minimalist packing…
1. It’s cool. You’re friends will be awed and amazed that you only took a carry-on and a backpack for two weeks in Croatia. They now think that YOU are the packing travel god. Don’t tell them about Rick/Steve.
So that was all to say it’s time for this AGMA travel goddess to pack her minimalist bag and hit the road again. Back to the land of Guinness and Leprechauns. I’ve never actually seen a Leprechaun. Maybe I’ve never had enough Guinness…
I’ll really miss AGMA and writing and my WordPress family. But I’ll be sure to lift up a pint in your honor! Be back in mid-April.