As we were planning our trip to Europe, we accumulated a number of tour books and maps. One of Lu’s friends went so far as to loan us a set of DVDs produced by Rick Steves.
One of the DVDs was full of tips on traveling. That DVD followed Rick on a trip through several European countries and covered numerous topics… from best times of year to travel to best budget priced hotels.
The one topic that really got our attention was “Packing for the Trip”. I don’t recall if that was the exact title, but that definitely was the subject matter. The statement made by Rick that stuck in my mind was, “No one ever says he wished he would’ve taken more stuff with him.” Again, I may be paraphrasing, but the point is the same.
We’ve all taken trips and crammed our suitcases with stuff we never used. Those extra jeans or shirts; the books we thought we’d read while basking in the sun, or… you name it. (I’ve even been known to take pots and pans… just in case the rental cottage didn’t have what I thought I’d need. Of course, I wasn’t flying on that trip… unless the radar unit on the police car said otherwise.)
Lu and I took that message to heart. I bought a back pack that was larger than most, but within the limits of carry-on luggage. Lu used a suitcase on wheels that was also within the airlines’ limits.
I have to be honest. When I was watching the video I was convinced that Rick Steves’ filming crew was carrying the rest of his luggage. That is until he set the back pack on a bed, opened it up, and showed us everything but his dirty laundry.
He had one extra pair of pants, four shirts, underwear, and socks. He also had one or two tour books, some maps, and some pages he’d torn out of various books and magazines. He had a minimum amount of toiletries and made another key point – Every country has stores where you can buy anything you need. Furthermore (and we have found this to be true) wandering through a store with shelves loaded with products labeled in a language you cannot read is an adventure in itself! If food products didn’t include pictures on the labels, we would’ve been at a total loss.
Another key point – Other countries do have laundromats; many times they can be found in the hotel in which you are staying.
Several years ago we took a two-week trip to Hawaii and stayed in condos. Our friends at Love to Travel advised us to pack light and take advantage of the laundry facilities that would be found right in the units themselves.
We listened, but failed to heed the advice. Fortunately, we over-packed with lightweight articles. But when we found ourselves doing one or two loads of laundry… while sitting on the lanai sipping our adult beverages, we realized that we’d brought twice as much as we needed.
So, how did we make out on this trip?
I took a total of three pairs of pants. (I wore one of them on the plane,) I took a total of five shirts… again wearing one on the plane. I took the shoes I was wearing, underwear and socks for the duration, maps and guide books, and toiletries. Because we had to pass through TSA security, my toothpaste and shampoo were the small travel sized containers. I figured I probably didn’t need the shampoo, but I needed to be extravagant somewhere along the line.
I also carried a computer case. In it, I carried our digital cameras, an electric currency-converter plug thingy, our airline tickets and other travel documents, and our notebook computer.
Lu carried about the same number of interchangeable garments, her knitting stuff, and various and sundry other small items.
As for the fact that I wore the same shirts and pants multiple times, not one person came up to me and commented that they had noticed. I guess they were more interested in looking at other things.
There was one other item we took with us… a collapsible duffel bag we’d bought on a Holland America cruise some years back. It folds and zips up to the size of a hard-back book. When we were finally ready to head home, we packed that bag with all our dirty clothes and used the space in our other bags to carry the souvenirs we’d bought. We then checked the bag of dirty clothes. If the airline lost that bag, it wouldn’t have broken our hearts.
So that’s that. We tried it Rick Steves’ way and will never go back to our old ways. It really works!
Considering the number of folks who were on our river cruise without their luggage (that the airlines had lost), we’re convinced that carry-on (which forces you to travel light) is the only way to go.
By the way, I know there were several people who only had the clothes they wore on their flights to Germany, but I never noticed who was wearing the same outfit day after day. I guess they weren’t checking out our clothes either.