Before I became a knitwear designer, a business owner, & a mum, I used to be a travel junkie. I worked contracts & my goal was generally to work 3/4 of the year & travel 1/4. I’d go on trips for several months with carry on luggage & people were generally amazed with how light I would travel.
Although I feel like I’m living the dream now, I also thought I was living the dream then, & was just reminiscing.. and thought I’d write a blog about some ideas I gathered along the way that suit my travel style!
Luggage Size (Carry On, All The Way)
- I always think carry-on only is the way to go. You can check in online & turn up just before boarding; no-one’s going to lose your luggage; you’re straight out of the airport when you arrive; when you’re moving between locations on your trip, it’s easy to manage your kit & you’re not desperate to offload it if you make a surprise side-trip, etc.
- Don’t buy a hard suitcase on wheels for your carry-on luggage. Gliding elegantly through the airport with a fancy bag can look très international, but it’ll use up more than half of your baggage weight allowance. A light, durable duffel bag is my bag of choice – one that fits in to those size checkers at the terminal (because they tend to look bigger than they are, so you get asked semi-regularly to try & squeeze it in one). It’s easy to sling over your shoulder, cram into a locker, etc.
- Don’t take a backpack, large or small. There are people riding around town all day looking for just that, so they can try & take advantage of you. Even if you’re savvy enough to get out of those situations easily, it’s still annoying. If you have a handbag or satchel that you can’t easily reach your hand into without opening, & has a long strap so you can wear it across your body, I find that a much better choice. You can stroll confidently through town, & people tend to assume you are from around there, & that makes for a much nicer experience.
- Similarly, if you need to spend some quality time with your map or travel guide, I would find a nice cafe, pull up a comfy chair, order something local & plan the rest of the day in there – rather than sit on the steps of the museum for example. It’s a cultural experience if you order something local!
- I always try & learn a bit of the language, as I find even though I probably sound gratingly terrible to a native speaker, they always appreciate the effort. It’s also the quickest way to get a French person to speak English – they seem to hate their language being butchered the most! I find preparing for a holiday almost as exciting as going on one, & learning some local lingo adds to that for me.
- I have a quad band phone, which generally works all around the world, & that’s been fab. I buy a local SIM with a data plan, & that’s great for getting around & making bookings, etc. Vodaphone always seem to have a great plan for tourists, in the places I’ve been.
Play It By Ear
- I learned not to worry about having much of the trip booked in advance. Unless you’re off to a small town for their annual festival, there always seems to be plenty of accommodation choice the day before, or the day of your arrival, & it gets cheaper & cheaper by the minute. A popular overnight trip on a train might need a little forethought too. But playing it by ear means you have a bit more flexibility, if you want to stay longer, or discoveries en route change your itinerary a little.
- Consider a day without a map (until the end, when you have to work out how to get home perhaps), where you just see where your nose takes you. I’ve had some great days doing that. You inevitably end up finding all sorts of back street gems, meet some locals, & feel like you understand the real culture a little better.
What To Pack
- I have been known to buy things purely because they’d be good for travel. Something that coordinates well with other stuff I have that’s good for travel; some comfy shoes that are quite smart but also good for hours of walking; easy care clothes that wash & wear well & are not too heavy. Wool is an absolute winner of course – very light weight for it’s thermal properties; Easy Care is the way to go; naturally odour resistant; no worries about creases; & good all year round.
- If you’re going into boot & coat weather, wear it on the plane. There’s no room for that in carry-on. Make sure your coat covers your backside when you sit down too! You might want to take a load off now & then when your on the go, & it’s much more enjoyable if you’re not worried about frostbite on your tush.
- Leave your PJs at home, & just shower at night & pop on the basics from your next day’s outfit (eg. undies & t-shirt). One less thing in the bag.
- Pack some special items that can glam up an everyday item, but I’d steer clear of flash jewelry. Things like a beautiful scarf (that doesn’t need ironing), a great belt; a way to do your hair up nicely, can be all you need when you head out for a more special occasion. That way you can reduce the number of outfits you need to pack.
- It’s always good to remember: they probably do have shops where you are going. If you are not sure if you will need something, perhaps leave it at home, & consider it a souvenir if you need to buy one while you’re away.
So there are a few things I do when trying to travel light & easy! If you’re off on a holiday soon… Jealous!! … but bon voyage! Have a great time!!