On our first flight back to Sudan after arriving in America, we had thirteen pieces of luggage. You read that number correctly. Thirteen. 13. Ten plus three additional pieces. At the time it did seem excessive, but not odd by any means, as my mother is the epitome of a Sudanese woman.
I can usually spot out the Arabs in the airport by the amount of luggage they are carrying. You can't just pack a regular suitcase and call it a day. You must bring back presents for the whole family. Scratch that, the whole village. To do so, you're going to have to carry more than the average person.
I have never grown accustomed to packing light, but as I venture off into the world, heading from one hostel to another, it seems like the only way to go. As you can imagine, this was extremely difficult for me to do. Going to Sudan for one month, I am usually allotted two 50lb pieces of luggage as well as a carry on. The idea of traveling the world with merely a backpack is foreign to me.
Now that you understand how difficult it would be for someone like myself to pack lightly, let me introduce you to some tips I have picked up along the way to make the process a bit easier. If I can do it, there is no reason you can't.
1. You don't need everything
This one was so difficult for me to understand. I am the over-packer. Overly prepared for almost every occasion. You're not going to need a jacket in the Sahara my friends, you just wont! Start off by understanding what it is that you will need, know the climate in your chosen location and see which items are appropriate.
2. Color coordination
Pick a nice color scheme, keep it simple and only pack items that fit the scheme. Your Pashmina scarf can go on your next trip. I know it's cute, but it doesn't fit the scheme, and you'll only wear it once. Make sure that each item you choose to carry has a purpose. Once you know what your scheme is, it will become much easier. Choose items that are exchangeable with each article of clothing. I like the black, grey, white scheme with a possible pop color. Classy, simple, and all items are interchangeable!
Bring things that can layer up if need be. This doesn't mean bring all your cardigans, etc. This just means that you should bring one. That way if it gets chilly on the plane, etc. you have something, or if the nights are chilly in your location then you are well prepared, and not over-prepared. The inverse also applies here. If you get hot, you always have a nice layer underneath that will keep you cool.
This was never an issue for me as I basically never wear make-up, but if you do, realize that you will barely need anything. If you're going to a hot climate, you are going to sweat it off anyways. If you feel naked without it, take only the essentials. Remember when you were asked which make-up item could you not live without? Take that item and possibly one more. You're beautiful regardless queen, and if you look like crap it won't matter because you'll never see these people again.
My weakness. I want everything to pop with a nice shoe. Depending on where you're going there are two, maybe three shoes you'll need. The tennis shoe, for your hikes and the constant walking you'll do. The casual shoe, for when you are roaming casually or at the beach (granted there is one). The next shoe is the maybe shoe. If you know you're going to fancy heading out or will be at a special occasion, I grant you a heel. This doesn't mean bring your whole collection. I've struggled so much with this one, but I promise you won't go wrong with a black heel. Make sure it's your most comfortable, as it will undoubtably be cute.
I am not a huge fan, but I love my rings and my necklaces. I can do without them I've realized and you can too. If what you're bringing is expensive, do yourself a favor and leave it behind. You will lose them, and you will be upset. Save yourself the headache and keep them in your home safe and sound. If you must bring something, bring the ones you wear daily. Those stud earrings or that ring you never take off.
9 times out of 10, you can buy them in the country you're going to. Don't waste your time. If there are essential face-washes or shampoos you would die without, bring them in a nice travel size container. It will save you so much space! Things I always buy in the country include toothpaste and body wash or soap.
I like to bring enough for every day, and that's entirely too much. You need enough for a good week or so and then make use of your hands and wash them undies! If you're a lazy bum, go ahead and take them to the local laundry facilities. Realize you could have done it yourself, but I'm not here to argue with you.
9. Never leave behind
No matter what, I have two things I will never leave without. A backpack that can be considered my carry-on for all my airplane needs and can double as a day bag. I don't do purses when I travel, they scream, "rob me!", and I don't want that attention. A day bag is secure, and keeps all your things in one place. The next is a lock. Staying in hostels is fun, but keeping your stuff around strangers can prove to be dangerous. Make sure you're locking your bag up, especially if it has important documents, etc.
I know that packing light is tough. You don't want to leave anything behind, but it's a necessary evil. One your back will greatly appreciate, if nothing else. Your adventure is about going to a new place to discover its mysterious wonders, so don't fret over the little things. Being at the Eiffel Tower, the Hagia Sophia, or the Taj Mahal will be an experience unlike any other whether you are in a skirt, jeans, or a bed sheet. This experience is about the wandering experience, not the wardrobe!
What's the most baggage you've ever taken with you? Let me know in the comments below!