Blogging, for me, started out as a way to keep track of my thoughts and musings as I tried to master the quarter life. But in the one month that I’ve been blogging, I’ve realized I spend less time writing and more time browsing. Creating my own blog has made me curious about what other people are posting and has consequently opened up a whole world of great writing and useful information that I was previously oblivious to. In such a short time, I’ve read about so many cool people doing some really neat things, I’ve learned a lot about different destinations in the world and I’ve become more knowledgeable on certain concepts that are showing me a different and more appealing way of life.
I stumbled upon one such concept while trying to decide how to pack. Packing is always a hassle, but so far on this journey, it hasn’t been complicated. When I left New York, I was only allowed to check in two bags on the plane home. Shipping things to Nigeria was out of the question (they’d probably get lost in transit) so I just had to take whatever I could on the flight. Thanks to ridiculous Manhattan rents and my general lack of interest in most material things, I only had a small room of mainly inexpensive possessions to deal with, so it wasn’t too bad. I ended up selling/donating 75% of my stuff (yay Craigslist, Beacon’s Closet and Salvation Army), I stored 5% with a friend and stuffed the remaining 20% into two of the largest bags I could get my hands on. I then huffed and puffed my way to the airport with two 75lb bags and somehow got myself to Nigeria in one-piece. But as tiring as the whole process was, I didn’t have to think much. I was moving homes and I either had to get rid of stuff or take it with me.
As I get ready to travel on my own though, how much and what to pack is turning into a real dilemma. On one hand, I love to travel light and usually take nothing more than a backpack or small trolley bag on vacations. And the thought of having to move around with big bags, especially after having just gone through the New York to Lagos ordeal, carries little appeal. But on the other hand, this isn’t just a regular 10-day vacation. In fact, I don’t even know how long I’ll be gone for – could be 6 months, could be a year, could be longer. Do I really want to recycle the same 4 outfits the entire time? I’m not fussy, but I am a girl. And don’t I need to carry enough medication in case I fall sick? Enough contact lenses? Toiletries? I have sensitive skin, and eyes that are already legally blind and prone to issues – which means only certain brands of face wash, cream, makeup and lens solution. Do I need to carry enough of these to last me the whole trip? And what about tampons? These were surprisingly hard to find in India. Then of course there are the gadgets….how to live in today’s world without carrying an iPod, iPhone, laptop, their respective chargers and adapters. The list of “necessary” stuff to take just gets longer and longer.
Yesterday, tired of contemplating the packing dilemma, I turned to my new favorite hobby – reading. And while browsing a couple blogs, I inadvertently came across one that talked about minimalism. Intrigued, I explored this concept a little more.
I liked it.
Already not a huge fan of consumerism, these blog posts and their emphasis on a clutter-free life spoke to me. In reading about other people’s experiences, I realized that material possessions were indeed at the root of my packing problem. They felt like a burden. The more I had, the more dependent I became and the more I worried about losing them. Shedding some of this stuff while traveling would not only spare me the hassle of carrying it all around but also the constant worry of keeping it safe. I’d feel lighter, freer. I’d be able to go to more places and have more fun.
And so… thanks to the blogging community, I think I’ve found a solution to the packing problem. I’ve decided to go light. No blowdryer or straightener, no excess clothes or shoes. No large supplies of makeup or Cerave facewash. And most importantly – no laptop. I spoke to a friend today who confirmed the benefits of traveling light; she said to carry few clothes and prioritize the meds. Meds and good walking shoes, she added.
So that’s the plan for now. I still have a few days to change my mind, and who knows how long I’ll last. I’m no seasoned backpacker; I’ve never gone on a long-term trip to multiple destinations with nothing but a backpack. But hopefully, minimalism will be my friend and I’ll come out okay. 🙂