Packing Pains: Keep it or toss it? That is the question.

The backpack.

The backpack.

Oh the nomadic lifestyle. It’s a wonderful way to live until you get to the packing bit. We arrived in Thailand nearly four months ago with two suitcases and a couple of backpacks. Yet now, our meagre belongings have somehow multiplied and mushroomed out of control like the family of kittens that lives next door. I didn’t shop that much, did I?

The shoes. Which ones to keep?

The shoes. Which ones to keep?

I like to think I am a light packer, but when it comes right down to it, there are so many things that constitute the bare minimum–it’s amazing how much space just a laptop, Kindle, electronics chargers, a few toiletries and clothes can take up. Our solution? Be relentless! If we haven’t used in in months, it goes. If we have something similar, it goes. And if we can easily and inexpensively replace it in the future, that’s right, it goes. 

Too much stuff.

Too much stuff.

One backpack each will be the only luggage we take to India on Monday, so this week has been spent purging the shelves and closets of things that we decided don’t make the cut into our I must-haves. On the plus side, all this minimizing and downsizing has left me feeling extremely free and unencumbered, and ready to take on the world.

Where does it all come from?

Where does it all come from?

Here, Steve and Leslie’s best packing tips for nomads. 

1. Our lifesaver has been an iPhone app called Tiny Scan. This amazing app photographs documents and turns them into a PDF file which can then be emailed and saved to your computer. Steve scanned an entire book that he was reluctant to leave behind, and I’ve scanned all of my writing contracts and other important things. Bye bye heavy stack of paper!

2. We have decided to ship a box to our next destination. Sure, it may cost $100, but we have calculated that replacing the things we are sending would be more expensive.

3. Bring things you really like. Think about it. If you are only going to wear three outfits for the next six weeks, you better be sure that you REALLY like them!

4. Be versatile. Be prepared to mix and match your clothing, share as many things as possible with your traveling partner, and stay open to shedding things along the way in order to make some space for souvenirs. The less attached you are to your possessions, the easier it is to live a nomadic life.

5. Buy toiletries at your destination. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion…these are heavy items, even if you stick to travel sizes. My solution is to buy new ones when I arrive in a place, that way I get to try new beauty products, and I have more room to pack an extra pair of shoes!

What are your favorite packing tips?

6 responses to “Packing Pains: Keep it or toss it? That is the question.

  1. I love and agree with all the tips. I only travel with my must have toiletries and buy at my next city and nowadays hotel products are pretty good. As I travel often through multiple seasons and I do accumulate (must have!) items…I use to ship whole suitcases to either my next destination or home. That way I get to keep my suitcase and they pick up directly from my hotel so no dragging things to a post office. But at the end of the day after traveling on/off for over 12 years I STILL hate packing.

    • Thanks for reading Mimi! And I LOVE the idea of Luggage Forward. I will have to give it a try in the near future. Not having to go to the post office is worth it in itself! Also, I’m glad to know I’m not the only long term traveler who still hates packing. I keep thinking it will be easier time, but sadly it never is. 🙂

  2. Absolutely great tips Leslie. You guys are my kind of travelers – keepin’ it simple. And thanks for the Tiny Scan recommendation – it’s on my to-do list. Have a safe trip and we’ll see you on the flipside. ~Terri

    • Hope Tiny Scan helps you. I love it! We are finally all packed (just backpacks!) and ready for India. We are going out for dinner to celebrate tonight, then we leave first thing tomorrow morning. We can’t wait to share our adventure with you! Talk soon! 🙂

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