Now that I've started to pack up my apartment here in Jinju, trying to minimize items for storage and sort through books and shoes, I am finding a lot of hidden treasures. Today I found an old copy of Gwangju News from this time last year. I wrote an article about packing light with appeared in that issue, and I have posted my article here for your perusal. Light packers unite!
Why Lighten up?
Packing light is the best gift you can give yourself when you travel. A light backpack or suitcase is easy to walk with and easy to lift. It also makes your journey more relaxing and less stressful.
Choose souvenirs carefully – Instead of buying a fridge magnet – which was probably not made in the country you’re visiting anyway – opt instead for a handmade piece of clothing or something else that you can use while you travel.
Don’t bring an umbrella – Though planning for inclement weather may make you feel well prepared, it’s not necessary. In most places you’ll visit, it’s easy to find a shop where you can pick up a cheap umbrella if the need arises. Don’t even bother with those little plastic excuses for raincoats, cause you can always use a garbage bag instead. And plus – you’re waterproof.
Choose pieces carefully – You really only need a few key items: a few shirts, a pair of trousers, two pairs of socks, and maybe a hat. As a woman, bring a long skirt. It can be worn with a t-shirt for attending temples during the day, but then can also be hiked up to become a strapless dress for nights out. And remember that bikinis or swimming trunks also double as underwear.
No laptop – Use internet cafes and internet at hostels instead of lugging your laptop. You won’t have to worry about it being stolen, and laptops add a lot of weight to your bag. Enjoy being disconnected from your internet life on days when you can’t get to a computer.
Tailor your guidebook – If you have the guidebook to India, but only plan on visiting the north, cut out the information about the south, and places you definitely aren’t going to visit. Otherwise, you could easily carry around a lot of dead weight that ends up dragging you down –which is just as useful as carrying a jar of pennies in your pack.
Bibliophiles fear not – a cut-up guidebook is the best kind.
Simplify toiletries – Take the opportunity to be a bit lazy with your grooming. You’re not going to a job interview, so let yourself go, and enjoy the frizzy hair and overall unkempt style. You’ll probably fit in better with other travelers if you look disheveled anyway. Things like bug spray and sunscreen are necessary in certain places, but just buy these items when necessary.
Repeat clothes – You meet new people everyday, and new friends move on, so no one will notice if you wear the same clothes for a whole week.
Be honest - If you’re not a hiker in your regular life, leave your hiking boots at home and admit that you’re probably not going to be hiking on your trip. If you do want to bring hiking boots, wear them on the plane, rather than packing them in your bag. Boots can weigh a lot, and take up a lot of space in your bag. The only shoes you really need are a good pair of walking shoes, and maybe a pair of sandals if you’re hitting up the beach.
*This article was originally published on 29 May 2011 in Gwangju News