Thursday, March 31, 2011

The One Bag girl!

In the coming days I look forward to several rounds of travelling by train, by road and by air. Even the thought is full of hope and excitement. I mean, I love to much so, I even love the 40 minute drive to office (Just the drive of course...not going to office!) . Travelling is fun and the farther you go the more you learn. About the world and about yourself. The traveling however is not hassle free. Even the planning for it is full of “ifs” and “buts” . I wonder how the always-on-move people manage their travel itineraries. Experience says that the name of the game in frequent travelling is being “fashionably light “. There cannot be a doubt that the amount of load you carry with you is directly proportionate to reduction in the enjoyment of the trip. And yet, it is difficult to be a light traveler. I envy people who just pick up some clean T-shirts and a toothbrush in a bag and are ready to move on anywhere in the world. I would also like to emulate them but I can’t. The reason is simple- I like to carry my world with me… well, almost literally.

So every time I have to go even for two-three days trip, I start making a travel list. The clothes, the gadgets, the cosmetics and the footwear come first. Then of course medicines, books, snacks and the other equally important items. I don’t use most of them but the knowledge that they are available with me is very satisfying. Selection of clothes is not easy either. Thousands of considerations and rounds of thinking goes before I pack clothes - What if I would like to wear casuals while on an official trip. May be I would need a sweater in the evenings …and socks and cap and a cozy shawl may be . What if for some unforeseen reason, I have to extend the trip. Must carry some extra clothes…and so on. Similar reasons go for packing extra shoes, extra books to read etc. With the increasing use of gadgets, the load is increasing even further. I mean I would need my laptop and my Mp3 player for sure. The mobile charger and the camera are of course the essentials. Then , what if I want to watch a movie while travelling. So add the external hard disk too. After all these reasons( and stuff) to fill the bag till it is full, I wonder how I can travel light. After years of carrying around a huge bag loaded with lots of things I “might need,” I have decided to right-size my luggage with minimum of equipment, clothes and other stuff.I intend to seriously try once again this time . I know, my gender is notorious for packing and carrying useless stuff (and adding more through shopping on the way) , but I am determined, I am going to be a one bag girl for most of my travels  from now on .

I will try shedding my luggage load because I see people struggling with their baggage and sweating to keep it safe on train stations and airports, on escalators and buses . The clumsy travelers are most often carrying loads of luggage. The efficient backpackers have so much more fun. And look at the brighter side, in case I do “really” need something which I am not carrying, I can almost always buy a new one. That’s shopping and I love it.

While I may not be the most efficient traveler , believe me I am not the worst . I had a roommate who had a huge human size suitcase ( which could be used to carry corpse easily!) . She would find it impossible to lift it or even push it but would insist on carrying it wherever she would go. While traveling to Africa this year, an airhostess told me her stereotypes of travelers. How East Asians are most efficient travelers and how middle eastern and Indian fuss on luggage. She totally discounted the European tourists also when it came for travelling light. Perhaps it’s human nature everywhere . We feel comfortable with our familiar stuff around us ..specially so in unfamiliar surroundings. 

I must tell you the inspiration for this latest resolution . The last time I was about to board a plane from Kampala, I looked enviously at the one and only small bag my colleague was carrying. It was such a contrast from my about-to explode luggage. I asked him how he managed to pack “everything “in that bag. How could he be so decisive about what he would require on the trip? How can he be sure that he has covered for all eventualities?

Always a wise man of few words, he smiled as he said "A journey is like marriage. You go wrong when you try to control it. So don’t. Expect the twists and learn to find solutions on the go. " 

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