Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Packing Light?

My bag's like this one, except blue, and I love it very much because it's huge. Almost huge enough to curl up inside, and it's light and has wheels. When I face a big trip, as I do now, I haul it out and consider what to put inside. 

I'm a minimal packer. I hate dragging around stuff as it is, so I refuse to take anything that might be surplus to my needs. Why such a big bag then? It's truly one of the biggest I've ever seen. I'll get to that.

What goes in? Clothes - maybe 20% of my space, inside a smaller bag with a few sections to keep things organised. Jeans, dress pants, tights and trackpants - one of each. Shorts and skirts - 2 each. Swimming togs and a small towel. A few T-shirts, a dress and cardigan, a couple of fleece hoodies, a merino, a crinkle blouse (no ironing!), and a tailored blazer, just in case I end up on TV. It's happened before. Add a warm jacket and raincoat and I'm as clothed as I ever need to be. Even looking at this list it seems like way too much! Hmm, maybe I'll rethink...

A bag of cables for all my technical gear - phone and camera chargers, spare batteries, a wind-up torch, USB stick, extra memory chips, international power adapters, various cables. Blegh. Too much junk, but I need it to stay connected. A bag for hygiene items. A compact sleeping bag, a fleece blanket, and hot water bottle to ensure warm nights wherever I end up. A couple of pairs of shoes.

That's about it really. Then why all the extra space?

Well, I like to be flexible. There will be maybe a box of my books that I part with along the way; other things I pick up as I go. Also, when moving about cities or airports with all my gear in hand, I like to stow my small backpack inside the large bag so I only have one item to wrangle.

And I guess, as much as I hate carrying too much luggage, there's one thing that's worse: not being able to fit everything in on the way home!

There's another kind of minimising that happens along the journey for me. In the act of leaving home and living out of a bag so very much smaller than a house full of things, it's like I can throw off the cares of the world for a while. No familiar home to find security in - although my friends will welcome me - no family nearby, no cat (though I may borrow some in places!), and no excuse to sit around in my PJs all day, ever... Ahem.

Away from nearly all the things I'm sometimes tricked into thinking make up the fabric of me, I'm reduced to the bare bones of a soul in the world. Just me and wherever I happen to be. It's risky. It's scary. But it's also freeing. In between my times of living in an established place, my months of wandering allow me - no, force me to stand alone, without reliance on circumstances that might otherwise provide comfort, rightly or wrongly. I guess it's just me and God, if you like. And I love it.

Here's to minimising our baggage, physical AND spiritual!

Grace Bridges - Hitting the States in August.


  1. Thanks for this look at packing, Grace. It brought back some poignant memories--like the time I took one suitcase to the States and brought back two. Why? Because a fantastic writers group there collected 32 kgs of writing books for me to bring back to South Africa. Now THAT was a challenge!

  2. You're so wise, Grace. :) I need to leave space in my suitcase because I always end up with way too much luggage. Good spiritual reminder as well.

  3. When you're at my house, you can sit around in PJs the whole time if you want.