Have you ever talked with anyone who travels a lot and brags about how much stuff they take with them on their trips? Of course not, but there are a lot of us who brag about how little we take and how much easier and more enjoyable are travels are because of it. My 23 trips to Europe have turned me into a fanatical preacher of the pack light doctrine, an idea I came across years ago from two seasoned travelers – John Whitman and Rick Steves. Let me quote from Rick’s fine travel skills book Europe Through the Back Door:
“Limit yourself to 20 pounds in a carry-on size bag. A 9” X 22” X 14” bag fits under most airplane seats (and easily in the overhead compartment). For most this is a radical concept. But they manage andthey are glad they did. And after you enjoy that sweet mobility and freedom, you’ll never go any other way.”
Years ago I bought a Rucksack from Rick Steves online travel store and tried it for a month in Europe. I became a convert! I have been saved! I know for myself that the gospel of Pack Light is true! Listen, you are going to lug your bags around and up and down a lot more than you think. It’s a no-brainer – Pack Light!
“But,” you ask, “how can I fit everything I have to have in one carry-on?” Again, Rick Steves:
“Spread out everything you think you’ll need on the living room floor. Pick up each item one at a time and scrutinize it. Ask yourself, “Will I really use this snorkel and fins enough to justify carrying them around all summer?” Not, “Will I use them?” but “WillI use them enough to feel good about carrying them through the Swiss Alps.” Don’t pack for the worst scenario. Risk shivering for a day rather than taking a heavy coat. Think in terms of what you can do without – not what will be handy on your trip. When in doubt leave it out! Whether I’m traveling for one week or three months, I pack exactly the same.”
This is the best travel advice I have ever come across! I can easily fit everything I need in my carry-on Rucksack, with room to spare. It gives me unmatched mobility and freedom. It make all the difference in the world.
A few years ago I decided to prove once again the joys of packing light by taking a huge suitcase stuffed with lots of clothes and little extras that I had been doing without for so many years and set off for my month in Europe. I will never do that again! To have to drag that thing around, up and down stairs and over cobblestone streets was sheer misery. My little experiment will never have to be repeated.
So, what do I pack in this Rucksack? The answer to this question is, “As little as I think I can get away with.” Remember, you are hauling this stuff over two continents, several borders, and lots of flights of stairs. Pack Light! Pack only essentials. Believe me, it is quite simple. The bulk of what you bring is clothes. Bring less article of clothing and wash them out in the sink of your hotel room more often. This saves so much room and cuts out lots of extra weight. Cut down on the clothes and you have it made! Make sure the clothes you bring are casual, mix and match, easy to wash and quick to dry. You will love it this way!
Check out the rucksacks (travel bags) at www.ricksteves.com They come in a wheeled or backpack type and are the kind of thing you want to use, perfect for packing light and traveling with freedom. I have had one of these bags for several years now and it has held up great. Also on the Rick Steves web site is a link to his packing list. There is even a separate one for women! Print off these packing lists as you start to assemble the things you need to bring on your trip.
One other note. Current air travel regulations regarding carry-on bags require that all gels, liquids and aerosols be in containers no larger than three ounces. They will be confiscated at check in if the containers are larger. If you must bring these sorts of things in larger containers then you will have to check you bag, not carry it aboard. Remember, you can buy shampoo in Europe just as easily as you can buy it at home!
Trust me on this on. The lighter you pack the better it will be for you. It’s a no brainer!