I must confess, I long for a new travel adventure. I miss the days in Italy with my mother and the beautiful fall trip to Mongolia with my husband. I miss the excitement of preparing for a trip, the anticipation of discovering new places and enjoying wonderful meals. I always feel a certain thrill when it is time to pack my bags and head to the airport.
The truth is, I was initially overwhelmed by packing. There was no way I could fit everything I needed in two suitcases, even if the trip was relatively short, only to realize on my return that I never wore half of my clothes, not to mention the shoes! On the other hand, there were essential items I would forget. On several occasions I didn’t bring an adapter, and one time I forgot to carry a copy of my tourist visa. (Luckily, the customs officer was able to retrieve my visa and I was allowed to get to my destination.)
After a few of these mishaps, I started building a list, on one hand with items I needed for a trip and on the other hand things I usually packed but had no use for. With my improved checklist, I finally managed to get things right and travel smoothly with everything I needed. Best of all, I can now fit everything in a carry-on bag! It turns out there are many advantages to traveling light, starting with saving money and avoiding a logistical nightmare.
Advantages of packing light
No extra airline bag fees. Suppose your international, long-haul flight ticket includes a carry-on and a checked-in bag and you plan to take advantage of that. That’s all good, unless your trip involves other, shorter flights. For example, you may be taking a tour of Europe or one of the stops in your itinerary is an island in the Mediterranean. The challenge is that you’ll have to find out in advance what these other airlines allow in terms of luggage. Most low-cost, local airlines charge an extra fee for a second bag. On top of that, the weight and size of the luggage may be different from one airline to the other.
No headache dealing with a delayed or lost bag and no waiting at baggage claim on arrival. With a carry-on, you’re out of the airport in a jiffy, which means more time exploring the sights.
Easy transfers. Most transfer companies assume you’ll be carrying one piece of luggage and one other small personal item, such as a handbag. If you’re traveling with lots of luggage, be sure to tell your travel planner in advance, so they can arrange a more spacious vehicle, possibly a van. It’ll cost you more, but at least it won’t be as inconvenient as hiring a second taxi just for the luggage.
Easy travel by train. I learned this the hard way. A few years ago in Italy, the train I took from Rome to Tuscany involved a short transfer in a small town. Getting from one platform to another wasn’t easy and I almost missed my connection. There was no elevator or escalator, so I had to carry all my luggage down the stairs, then up the stairs. But that’s not all! Trains don’t have a lot of luggage space. While it’s usually possible to store a small bag above the seat, finding room for a larger suitcase could be a problem, especially in economy class. And, it’s always good to keep a close watch on you bags. Keep that in mind next time you want to pack those two extra pairs of shoes.
Painless handling of your luggage. I have a fondness for boutique hotels. They’re fun places to stay at, intimately nestled in quaint neighborhoods or small villages. They’re often housed in historic buildings preserving the character of the place, and precisely because of that most of them are not equipped with elevators. Now I don’t mind a good workout, but carrying heavy luggage up several flights of stairs is not exactly that. When packing, think about how much luggage you can carry without any difficultly, if there were no one to help you. My experience tells me that less is definitely more when it comes to bags.
Check out my take on what to pack – and, equally important, what not to pack in my next blog.
BellaTerra, Manager Operations