Unclutter your travels

First of all, HELLO my faithful readers, I have missed you all and am glad to be back at the keyboard. We have had a wonderful vacation and are back in the land down under, although I am not exactly home. But that is another story. I look forward to interacting with my readers again and actually write some new posts. I have had a few experiences during my travels that have given me fodder for articles.

Oh my! One thing that was very apparent during my travels was how much people clutter up their mobility. To me being freely mobile is key to efficient and carefree travel and it just blows my mind how complicated people make it for themselves. This is achieved by bringing too much and acquiring too much on their journey. Often complete strangers, even check-in personnel, ask “Is that all your luggage?” or “Do you have any bags to check?”. Our yes or no is usually received with astonishment and the response of “I wish I could travel like that.” to which we tend to respond with “You could.”

My husband and I always pack our luggage to make it possible to carry-on, therefore there is no chance our belongings will be lost, we always have access to it and we never have to wait around for it. This is the case no matter how long our vacation. To us travel is merely a series of five day periods. We take enough supplies to cover about seven days and make a point of washing every five days when possible. This can be achieved even when traveling through varying weather, if you pack the right layers. With modern materials warm clothes can be as light weight as summer clothes so variety without bulk or weight is very achievable.

When we set off on our journeys we pack as few liquid toiletries as possible and then buy what we need at the other end. This helps keep our backpacks as light as possible and streamlines the airport security process. We share deodorant, toothpaste, a razor, shampoo, hair brush… and I bring the bare minimum of makeup and a tiny vial of perfume. To me, travel isn’t a beauty contest, although I must say my hair is often worse for wear by the time I get home. Not everyone can bring themselves to pack and live this way but we are all entitled to add whatever complications we chose to impose on ourselves for the sake of vanity and “convenience”. Best to choose wisely though which is what this post is all about.

As a result of our light packing we never have to deal with the crazed luggage carousel battle. I call it that because all polite society rules seem to go out the door in this area of an airport. Would it not make sense if all weary travellers would stay behind some imaginary line until their bag actually appears in sight? Yes, but is that what happens? No! As a result those whose bags are there to be retrieved have to navigate, sometimes futilely, through people, doing nothing but waiting, meanwhile their bags may have traveled right on by leaving them to wait for another rotation.

At about the five week mark of our six week vacation., even though acquiring some new clothing, two pairs of shoes and a small assortment of hobby/craft items along the way, my husband and I were still in the position of being able to carry on our luggage. However at this point our small family was about to converged for our son’s wedding in Las Vegas. We had promised to take the bride and groom’s extra (wedding) luggage home with us so they didn’t have to carry it for the honeymoon portion of their journey. Hence we had to endure the luggage carousel debacle at the end of our journey in Sydney Airport. Through the fog annoyance of this task I find myself constantly amused by the struggles of travellers trying to arranging their teetering piles of bags on airport trollies. I know it was wrong to be even slightly amused when one lady dropped her bag holding two bottles of duty-free alcohol but I just couldn’t help myself.

The drawback of our style of travel packing is that one can get somewhat weary of the same clothes over and over again during the journey. The trick is to pack to mix and match, so that even though the items are the same the combination is different. Just a little trick to make you feel like you have some style variety. And on that note, chose your most liked and yet comfortable pieces.

I am actually sitting in yet another airport as I write this. I am heading off to visit my parents as my father has been very ill while I was away. As I look around me I see many more examples of heavy packing, even with people carry-on. I am constantly surprised as to why more people aren’t stopped at the gate because their carry-on items exceed the limit in number and size. I don’t suppose the situation will change anytime soon but at least I do know the I at least am following the rules of carriage and etiquette and making it easy on myself in the process.

One thing I also observed was that keeping your gear together and organised is much easier the fewer items you pack. Overpacking and disorganisation often results in a mad scrambling to find important documents and items during sometimes already stressful times. It can also result in the loss of items.

Just to finish off this post I would like to add a list of travel rules of etiquette that I notice are constantly violated everywhere I go. If everyone would observe these rules when traveling the experience would be far more pleasant for all. I f you have any of your own suggestions to add to this list please feel free to send them though in the comments.

1. When walking busy streets keep to the same side you would drive on in that location. This rule is rarely adhered to and causes a lot of angst. In fact the thought to do this doesn’t even occur to most people, hence the messy confusion and frustration. If we all observed this rule everywhere, including our own town or neighbourhoods life would be that little bit simpler.

2. When walking busy streets in groups keep to no more than double file.  Even as a couple my husband and I often form a simple file behind each other on busy streets. Not only are there people walking towards you but there can also be people, that you a completely oblivious to, approaching from behind in a hurry to go places. You may be on vacation but they may have important business to attend to.

3. Keep your carry on luggage volume within the restrictions. There is only so much allotted space in the overhead luggage compartments for each person. Greedy space grabbing can cause great inconvenience for someone else. And also remember only your larger bag goes into the overhead bin while any other personal items you are carrying should go in or under the seat in front on you.

4. Only join the boarding line when your row number has been called. This rule rarely seems to be adhered to making the board process less efficient which adversely effects everyones comfort and possibly travel time. It isn’t adhered to mostly because of the grab for that overhead storage space mentioned above.

Keep it simple and happy travels.

Today’s Mini Mission

Most people’s linen closets are chock full of “I might need it linens”. Be realistic about what is necessary and what is just variety. Declutter some of the variety that is just wasting space.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Grace from Brazil

    Loved reading about traveling lightly! So glad that you are safely back and that you had such a great trip. This topic of traveling lightly seems to be a hot topic so a series on this would be great! My husband and I traveled recently and worked hard to pack lightly. We only took a carry-on each as well. Since we knew that we had to walk a lot with our luggage once we got to our destination we did not regret it. We got around without a problem. I had read up A LOT on how to do this beforehand. Since I did not own warmer clothes, since I was coming from Brazil, I had actually bought a couple of long sleeve blouses at a thrift store on our travels, so mixing and matching was fun with these two new pieces of clothing. I ended up taking shampoo and conditioner in small bottles and they lasted our 9 days. I was in doubt about this but I was glad that I did. It is not a big deal but I had room and it was one less thing to buy when I got there. I thought a lot about non-cluttering souvenirs. I found that my favorite souvenirs were different foods so that I could relive some of our experiences with my teen age daughter when we got home. We did indulge in some books in English since we don’t have those readily in Brazil and they are favorite authors. : ) Looking forward to hearing more. I know your mom and dad will be very glad to see you walk through their door.

    • Hi Grace, I am glad you enjoyed the post. I dare say I could write a whole series on this topic because we have had plenty of experience at packing light and also witnessed other peoples bad experiences of not doing so.
      Your mention of the shampoo and conditioner reminds me, I decided this time to take some of my leave in conditioner the helps keep my hair frizz under control. Prior to travelling I had been doing some craft which involved using up some acrylic paints I had had for a long time. I saved the bottles, cleaned them out and used one to store the conditioner that I took with me. It was perfect for the task. So I refilled it and also filled the second one with my wash out conditioner to take in this trip. Because liquids aren’t restricted on domestic flights I could take whatever I like.

  2. Having just returned from a week’s travels in two different climates, I give a hearty second to wearing layers. I noticed on my last leg of my trip (Phoenix, AZ to Los Angeles) that my carry-on bag was more stuffed. I couldn’t figure out why because I had left the crochets blanket for my new grandbaby in Phx. Then I thought of what I had packed–both of my fleece jackets were in the bag. I was reminded of the traveling with only carry on bags rules I try to adhere to and realized I had grown complacent. Too many little liquid bottles. Too many books. Colleen, do you find that no matter how carefully you choose your clothes, you always end up with one item you don’t wear?? I know that Rick Steves says not to take any item you won’t wear three times. Maybe it was the weather changes…

    • Hi Willow, funny you should ask that question. I can’t recall any item that I carried but didn’t wear on this trip. However I did take a warm scarf with me to where in Seattle which turned out to double a s a sarong skirt which came in very handy in Hawaii. Funnily though I never did wear it as a scarf. Both Steve and I did take some items with us that were a little worse for wear with the intention of offloading them along the way if they because a burden or totally useless to us. I ended up offloading a pair of tights and two pair of sad old underpants while Steve offloaded a shirt and also two pair of underpants.

      • I had an acquaintance who purposely took her old underwear on trips and just threw it away after wearing it.
        If you had seen me in the Phx airport last night, you would have rolled your eyes as I checked through security. I forgot to take my shoes off, my yarn ball went rolling out of my bag when I opened it to pull out the baggie of liquids. Easy flight fail! (I blame it on missing lunch)

        • Hi Willow, so long as you gathered it all up and got out of the way to sort yourself out. It drives me nuts when people stand at the conveyer belt redressing themselves and repacking their bags in everyone else’s way. Pick it all up walk to a quiet spot and put yourself back together and then move on is how negotiate the security area.

  3. Welcome back! I hope your father gets better quickly!
    I don’t travel much any more, but appreciate hearing all the tips and
    will pass them along.

    • Hi Debbie, thank you for your well wishes for my dad. He has a long road to recovery and also another possible surgery when he is stronger so he will need all those good wishes.
      I was thinking along on my travels that there was plenty to be learned about travelling light that also applies to everyday living. All that complication of having too much stuff is the same at home as it is on a journey. Too much to care for, too much to keep a track of, too much to choose from… . I must write a post about that that I am sure you will find useful.

  4. Welcome back, Colleen! I hope your dad’s health improves in short order. Congratulations to your son and daughter-in-law! Your blog ran very well while you were gone, thanks to your organization and to your guest posters. Thank you for the travel tips, as I am not a frequent traveller and can use the wisdom of those who are.

    • Hi Jo H, and thank you for your hopes for my dads improved health. He seems to be doing well and it is good to me with them right now. I only wished I could have been their for them through the worst of it but that is just unfortunate timing.
      You make a good point that even if one isn’t a frequent traveller these tips are handy because the lack of experience deem it necessary to absorb the wisdom of other with more experience. And they can also be applies at home. That is if you don’t need stuff on vacation then why do you need so much of it at home.

  5. Glad you are safely back in your own country. Love your ideas on travelling light, airport etiquette, walking through towns etc. All very sound. We try to travel as lightly as possible but I always find there is something we don’t use/wear, however well I think I have thought through the packing. Like you I am always amazed how much STUFF people carry around the world and never understand how many bags folk seem allowed to take on board. Sometimes I think there is one rule for some and another rule for others! I know I also need some lessons on layers, something I have yet to master. I think I don’t have the right colour combinations for successful layers. Any tips?

  6. Such a good welcome back post Colleen. I am praying you will find your father improved and he will soon be back in good health. I wish I had the energy right now to comment further to your post. I could go on and on about this. When I traveled for business I was amazed at how even business travelers took way too much. Your “rules for the road” are really good too.

    • Hi Deb J, I send those well wishes for my dad right back to you and hope the you are feeling much better soon.
      On those travel rules, when I was writing them I got to number four and couldn’t think what else I needed to include. It has now occurred to me that those few simple niceties is probably all it would take for travelling to be a far better experience for everyone. That just goes to show how KISS (keep it simple stupid) is so easily achieved but can make a big impact. Perhaps that would make for a good topic for a post.

  7. Hi Colleen,
    Welcome home! I hope your trip was fabulous, and now I especially hope that your Dad will be feeling much better very soon.

    I always love to read travel packing tips, and I enjoyed yours, and also your travel etiquette pointers. So very true. My husband works in aviation and we have been fortunate to travel to many places over the last 30 years, by ourselves and with our boys as they have grown up, and I always put a lot of thought into packing light. The way we travel means that carry-on luggage only is preferable but it can still be a challenge depending on the types of activity we plan to do, the climate and the length of the trip. Even after all these years I feel I learn something new every time I start thinking about my packing. I try to take clothes that are in the same color family so that they can all be washed together, things that don’t need ironing or special care, things that will dry quickly. I remember a quote on your blog from a year or two ago which said something to the effect that nobody ever wished they had brought more stuff with them on a trip, it is so true. Looking forward to reading more of your tips.

    • Hi Christine, you make some good points in this comment. Packing clothes in colours that can be washed together is good advice. We also do this, as well as the odd things that we don’t care if the colour runs into. Much of our travel clothes are of that breathable synthetic fabric so are comfortable but washing and dry easily and quickly and also there is no colour run so can be washed with anything. And like you we learn new things each time we travel. The quote on my blog would have been my husbands favourite and is from Rick Steves ~ ” You’ll never meet a traveler who, after five trips, brags: “Every year I pack heavier.”” https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/packing-smart

  8. Welcome back Colleen and I hope your father’s condition improves and continues to improve.
    Congratulations on your son’s wedding and also on the wonderful travel post! I had a chuckle at your descriptions of people struggling with lots of luggage and carry-ons – but you are right to point out that as well as making life difficult for themselves they are also selfishly taking up more space than their share in the aircraft. Like you, I have often wondered why the carry-on limits are not adhered to by airport and airline staff.
    Since we have downsized and moved to an apartment near the city we have been walking on much busier streets. We have noticed that keeping to the same side of the pavement as the local driving situation and walking in a single file when the pavement is narrow is rarely observed. I used to give way if someone was coming towards me on the wrong side but now my response is to stop and they have to go around me. Whenever we have been in Europe or the US we have found people are more aware of walking on the “correct” side but perhaps this is changing too.
    Looking forward to your future posts on the subject of your recent travels 🙂

    • Hi Megan, thank you for your well wishes.
      Like you I wish the airline staff would insist on travellers following the rules.
      And sadly like you I wish that pedestrians would behave more orderly. America is one place where I do feel that I encounter this problem the least but London is where I find it to be the worst. I dare say that I, regardless of my best efforts, break the rules myself at time but I do feel that if everyone tried harder life would be that little more pleasant for everyone.

      • Grace from Brazil

        Colleen, when we were in London I found two very interesting contrasts about how pedestrians move along. I absolutely loved the escalators on the subways where people stood on the right and on the left was open for people to walk. I was amazed at this. The only “violators” were tourists. You can imagine my frustration when we got to Miami where people did not follow the “rules” to stand on one side and let others past on the moving walkways. Grrrr… But on the sidewalks in London it was a different story and I figured because there were so many tourists…..they did not know on which side to walk. They walked in one direction that was normal side for their country but the Brits would try to walk in the normal direction for their country. It was a mess. It is hard not to think badly of people who think so little of others in the world. I think this until, of course, I find myself doing the same thing. Ha! Then I am thankful for gracious people who give a little.

        • Hi Grace I sometimes thing the escalator situation is what confuses things in London. Where it would be natural to walk on the left they then want you to stand to the right. That being said I do like the escalator rule. I think it is our job as a tourist to learn and remember what makes sense for the location we are in. But as you so it can be easy to make a mistake so forgive and forget and hope others would do the same for you.

  9. Welcome Back Colleen !
    Seven years ago when my husband started travelling away for work, I purchased the largest suitcase. Even for a three day trip away, it was carefully packed full of clothes by me. I would pack extra, just in case he needed it. A jacket in case it turned cold, extra underwear . The suitcase took up way too much room in his van. I have since learned to pack lighter , rolling clothes up and packing less has meant he can take a smaller bag. There are great lessons to be learnt when travelling.
    I think the idea of taking worn out clothes and discarding them when travelling is a brilliant idea.
    Even when not travelling I have basically the same clothes I wash and wear every day.
    I tried the technique of folding the underwear and placing it in the drawer so it is all visible, rather than stacking them on top of each other. What a difference to keeping the drawers tidy!
    Look forward to seeing you soon Colleen 🙂 cheers

    • Hi Wendy F, I can’t wait till we can have a coffee and a proper chat together. I’ll be home on Sunday so expect that to happen early next week.
      I dare say your trip to Europe last year taught you a thing or too about packing too. When I packed to come to Qld Steve said to me that I could have used a smaller bag because my backpack was saggy because it had so little in it.

  10. Colleen welcome home after what sounds like a great adventure (but so sorry to hear that your Father is not feeling well). I’m actually traveling myself as I type this. When I packed before leaving for the airport I thought I’d done quite well (and had actually taken out a couple of items telling myself I didn’t need them). Well, I certainly don’t even remember what I took out of my bag and left at home, but I certainly know my next trip I will take even LESS. WHY? I had to hoist my darn bag up and into the OVERHEAD compartment all by myself! I find it is not even the clothing that weighs so much, but the other stuff, an extra pair of shoes (haven’t worn them yet and I don’t want to!) an extra fleece (didn’t need it!), some work papers and a drawing book with some water color pencils (take that everywhere, so it ranks as a keeper in the travel bag). I’m actually going to ship some items home (as I did buy a holiday decoration), so that my trip to return home is lighter. Now, however, I have to endure that expense (probably under $15 USD, but still!!!) OR suddenly lift some weights so that I’m strong enough to get my (small) luggage into the overhead bin! (ha ha, that’s not gonna happen!). Oh well, live and learn, yet I feel I should KNOW BETTER!!! ???!!!!

    • Hi Ann, you and I must be an awful lot alike. I also took a small notebook and some watercolours on my trip. They did yet used too and I really enjoyed having them with me. I took metallic gel pens as well that also go used. There is always room for something to entertain oneself during the down periods and I chose those things over a book. Although I did acquire a book along the way too. That is the beauty of packing light in the first place, there is space to add a few little things along the way. For me it was all use-it-up kind of stuff that will eventually disappear from my home.
      Actually Ann it might be better for you to lift that weight and strengthen you up. My legs were resisting all the walking we did during the first couple of weeks of our vacation. I am not sure why because my hubby and I walk all the time and I ride a bicycle too. But different terrane calls for different use of muscles I suppose and mine weren’t happy about it. I pushed through figuring that it was doing me good. I certainly slept well though.

      • Colleen – the mother of the family that my daughter travelled with, she insisted they all get these pedometer apps on their phones so they could measure the number of steps they took. My daughter averaged 38,000 steps per day. Which she says was great for off setting the huge meals but not so great on a recovering hip injury. But she says Disneyland was worth it.

  11. Welcome back and congrats on the wedding.

    While you were away my daughter travelled with another family to LA to do Disneyland and the usual tourist destinations. She did put it to them that they could buy shampoo, conditioner etc, all those sort of items over there to reduce luggage but as they were arriving 7am in LA and going onto a very packed itinerary, Walmart (yes we would consider that a tourist destination) wasn’t until after dinner day two and she felt that was a bit long to go without the essentials. She did take a biggish suitcase but it was fairly empty on the way over. As this was quite an opportunity for her I gave her the money I would usually spend on her Summer clothing, shoes etc to shop over there instead. Yes, she definately did her bit for the US economy but her suitcase was still on the roomy side when they came to pack to fly home. Unfortunately another girl who was also travelling with them had shopped to the extreme and didn’t want to pay the excess so her stuff got distributed amongst everyone elses suitcases. My daughter had to carry 8kg of this other girl’s stuff in her handluggage. So she has learnt that you need set parameters on your travelling companions too, especially if you don’t know them prior to travelling.

    • Hi Moni I find that all quite amusing. The shampoo thing wouldn’t have been an issue for me because with long hair that tends to be unruly I try to only wash it twice a week at the most. I just use the hotel shampoo and conditioner. Toothpaste and deodorant are the only things I feel it is essentials to pack because you just can’t go without them.
      Did you find that she got some good bargains on clothes or was it more the variety that ended up being the appeal. I didn’t find that clothing over there was very much cheaper than it is here when you compare price and quality. Mind you I don’t care for clothes shopping anywhere so it didn’t take much to put me off that temptation. And being that we had just come out of winter and they were just going into it I didn’t even want to entertain the idea of buying winter clothes. I’d had enough of them already for one season and didn’t want to look that far forward.
      I know what you mean about the travel companions. Being in close proximity to people day in day out requires some mutual like and respect. We were very lucky last year when we went of a two week bus tour around Ireland. We were in a group of 26 people and everyone of them was lovely and it was a wonderful experience but I could imagine what it would be like in reverse circumstances.

      • Colleen – I guess a teenager can’t go as long and with several young adults staying at the same accommodation I imagine all complimentary items would have been quickly gone. Plus skin care and the requisite makeup. I believe she did try to suggest that one of them take shampoo and conditioner and toothpaste for them all to share, or one each but the idea didn’t catch on, I think they were a bit wary of unfamiliar products.

        She visited the Mac store as their makeup is a lot cheaper over there than here in NZ. Shoes were cheaper. I’d given her her Summer clothing allowance to buy Summer clothes over there but it was mostly Autumn clothes in the store, but she did manage to find a few bits and pieces. She bought jeans as she has a tiny waist and finds it hard to find ones that fit nicely over here, so she brought several pairs which she will no doubt wear to tech next year. She brought her sister converse hi tops which were about a third of the price here.

        She says food is ridiculously cheap and meals are huge. After going to Walmart she can see why it is easy to fill up a house with stuff, she said she had the urge to grab ‘bargains’.

        Yes travel companions can certainly put a different angle on the trip but it was a learnng experience. She will never again haul 10kgs of someone elses luggage in her cabin bag thru an airport while the other person carries a dainty little purse and refuses to take a handle each. As both girls were guests of someone else’s family trip, my daughter didn’t think she should confront the issue nor dump the other girl’s luggage, but she has learnt from the experience. The rest of her travel companions were wonderful and she is very grateful to have gotten the opportunity to travel with them. I believe there are future plans for after they have finished university.

        Add to it, the retractable handle on her suitcase broke so she had to drag her suitcase. Her thought at the time was ‘excellent, mum has been saying we don’t need so many suitcases, this one can get hiffed out’.

        She has enough flight points for a trip to Oz, so I’m thinking we should team up and go to somewhere like Melbourne or Sydney for a long weekend before she starts tech as we tend to always go to the Gold Coast where family is, which is of course, a good reason to travel but it would be nice to see somewhere different.

        • Hi Moni, yes young people together is different to husband and wife. Steve uses so little shampoo and no conditioner while I need a whole lot more so that works well for us. Another bonus of our familiarity is that we are also happy to share those large meals you speak of. Sharing breakfasts and lunches was a regular occurrence.
          I also bought a new foundation at the MAC store. $36 v $65 was worth the space taken up in my bag. And Converse are also a bargain. We took three pair of skate shoes home for Liam and some skateboard decks because the savings were immense.
          And I can just imagine how your daughter felt hauling someone else’s crap and them not even bothering to help. Yikes.
          And yes I agree, visiting family is important but it may well be time to visit some other area of Australia and if I were her I would chose Melbourne. Sydney has its pluses but Melbourne has such a wonderful artsy culture that is isn’t to me missed.

  12. first of all – nice to have you back. glad you had a great vacation.

    I so hear what you are saying. I usually travel by train and not by plane so I have slightly different rules. like for example: keep the carry on suitcase as small as possible, noone likes those enormous things to be lifted in the train just right next to your head. imagine everyone would bring one. I fully and completely advice for backpacks.

    I probably travel once a month for the weekend. usually a trip to see my family or my friends or to have a hiking trip with a two nights stay at a hostel or so. I never bring more than my one little backpack (containing around 25liter). I have a extra little foldable bag with me “just in case”, sometimes holding my sandwiches and the fruits I bring. If it fits in the backpack, I sometimes even bring a handbag if I know I will go out or so. I also wear always my most comfortable shoes (or hiking boots for that matter) and the most suitable pair of jeans.

    For longer travels with more clothes and maybe an additional pair of shoes I take my backpack with 60 liters. I never have it fully packed and the weight itself is light so its the most convenient. The most important advantage for me is to have my hands free – try to pull a carry on luggage while drinking coffe and being on the phone. its driving you mad and the chances increase to actually hurt people with this.
    I learned that this is for me the best and most comfortable way to travel and I am constantly improving it – I treated myself with a minimum toilet bag and a travel towel (always ready to go so I dont need to think of packing) and I am thinking about an mini iPad, because I never bring my laptop, but sometimes miss it and my phone is not good enough for serious entertainment on a 5 hour trip.

    • Hi Lena, I am with you on the backpack thoughts. I also carry a soft sided backpack. It is malleable, extendable and handsfree. I only wish mine was a lighter but the weight comes from the sturdier fabric. I have used it for ever travel event for the last at least 11 years then it still looks like new so I suppose the durability makes up for the weight. I also have a great toiletries bag of the same brand as my backpack and love it. We also have a travel towel which so far hasn’t been used (military issue) but I am going to utilise it next trip and see how that works out. I feel it could also be used for warmth it feel. Like you I am considering an iPad, being out of touch with my blog for extended periods makes for a good rest but can be frustrating at times. And yes, as good as my phone is my eyes would definitely thank me for a larger screen to view things on. I was so over my phone by the time I got back from this vacation. I do take my laptop on short trips, like the one I am on now and I would possibly take it on an extended trip of a few months when when base ourself in one place but for trips where we hope from place to place it is too much of a weight burden.

      • Colleen – on the iPad front – I have an iPad but I’m starting to wish I’d gotten a mini iPad. So many friends carry theirs in their handbags especially while travelling and they have photos, video, skype, e-books, music at their finger tips. Mind you I like the larger size for viewing video…..just can’t please me! But if I ever do head off on an epic journey, I’ll definately get myself a mini.

        • Moni, exactly that is the reason why I would also go for mini. I did get my brothers old iPhone – with old being it an 4s and working perfectly perfectly fine!! I get more and more drawn into the amazing world of apple…

          I could cope with a movie on a tiny screen once in a while, if that means I have a well working, reliable and easy to handle computer the size of a paperback with me. I get more and more convinced. Maybe I will ask my brother for his “old” one – or wish it for christmas.

        • Hi Moni, it is all about the larger size for me to the mini is not an option. This is one case where less isn’t more for me. Less is just headache inducing squinting when it comes to this. I spent six weeks using only my HTC smart phone and the larger ipad is as small as I which to compromise between that and my Macbook Pro. I only carry a small bag so when out and about the smart phone will do. In fact next vacation we are planning of basing ourselves in Berlin for three months so the laptop might be the best option.

          • Colleen – I’m sitting here reading on my large iPad and although I am fortunate to have good vision I do admit I do prefer to watch video clips on this size iPad and I find doing facebook from my iPhone is frustrating but unfortunately that is where my photos are usually are. Aren’t we fortunate to live in an age where technology is so accommodating?

  13. OH so relevant, as we’ve just returned from a trip (10 days)! Where we shared a suitcase, and this seemed to be way more than you, and still shocked some!

    I like to check baggage for the silliest reasons – I like to have my Swiss army knife on me. It’s tiny, but can get taken if it’s carry on. It’s the one thing that’s stopped my horrible finger chewing habit, and limited the picking at my cuticles!

    I also find getting things dry when washing on the road (most recently when I took 2 weeks in Japan) is fraught with failings! Socks never quiet got dry and smelt ‘manky’. I’m not sure what I did wrong, there was air con, later I tried normal circulation of the hot air from outside :s If I master that, then I would be closer to carry on only!

    • Hi Snosie, I thought you would have this one down pat for sure but not so apparently. And yes the Swiss army knife would be an issue. Do you find that you actually still use it or not so much now you have broken your habits and it has now become a security blanket. What I would do is leave it behind the next time and see how you cope.

      As for drying clothes, we just had two weeks in Japan and it wasn’t an issue and never have found it so. We just use driers when available and if not I just roll the wet clothes up in a towel and squeeze as much water as possible out and hang them from coat hangers to dry. We do wear a lot of lightweight items designed for travel which makes this task easier though. With all the wicking, breathing and warm synthetic clothes out there drying isn’t an issue.

  14. Interesting discussion on walking on the same side of the pavement as the driving. In the US, we tend to follow that rule. My friend from Scotland kept running into people here as she followed the rule (but on the wrong side 🙂 ). When I went to London last year, I was excited to walk on the other side of the sidewalk but I kept getting bumped into. No one seemed to follow the rules there! I asked our guide and he laughed and said there were no rules.

    • Hi Jessiejack, that all sounds like my experience too. Mind you the US is also where when browsing the shelves in a grocery store people will excuse themselves when forced to walk through your line of sight. That level of curtesy certainly doesn’t usually happen in the Australia.

  15. I never knew there were rules for walking on the sidewalk. I was always taught that if there wasn’t a sidewalk to walk on the side facing on coming cars. It is easier to step to the grass to avoid what’s in front of you, than to have vehicles coming up behind you.

  16. Marvelous post.
    I usually pack light, as I travel mostly for work. However I just had a work related trip where I overpacked ( i guess due to stress and the amount of different types of activities we were to have) I was so upset at myself!

  17. I travel a lot and many times I would like to travel lighter, but I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m very picky about the chemicals that I use on my body every day so I insist on bringing my own instead of hunting them down at my destination. Besides, I’m there to see a new place, not to hunt for safe toiletries. The quart bag limitation literally means I can not bring the variety of toiletries needed to maintain hygiene without checking a bag. (Even weeks worth of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, face lotion, toothpaste, mouthwash does not fit in a quart bag.) I’m not particularly vain, but I have skin issues so using combo products just doesn’t work for me. I’ve learned that as long as I’m going to check a bag, I might as well check the largest one I have. It’s no harder to deal with that than the smallest, and it means I can freely pack. Often during travels there’s a reason to wear more than one outfit in a day (nice dinners, active adventures, sweaty from being outside all day…) so I can bring an extra skirt and top or two and being ready for anything at the drop of a hat. The other nice part is that it means I only have to handle a small shoulder bag while in the airport and it fits right under the seat in front of me. I never have to rush to get on the plane to fight for overhead space. As a matter of fact, I like to let everyone else get on first and wait til the end of boarding.

    • Hi Liz, your comment exemplifies the freedom of choice. We are all free to choose what works for us and what doesn’t and you have chosen what is right for you. I also have to admit that not having to care about overhead space is certainly liberating. I would trade that for not having to deal with the luggage carousel shuffle though.

      One thing you could remove from your list of must haves is mouthwash. I asked my dentist about this one day and he said there is no point in using it unless you have been prescribes a high fluoride one for cavity issues. I guess he would know.

  18. Hi Colleen

    Can I ask how much carry on luggage you are allowed to take on the plane journeys that you do? In the summer from the UK the airline I used only allowed 6kg, which had only just been increased from 5kg. I was going on holiday for a month and I cannot imagine how I could have managed a holiday with that little luggage allowance.