Years ago when I was doing the backpacking thing I thought I had packing light, licked.
I used to travel around with very little baggage at all. I was uber packer! One dress, one sarong, some swimming togs, one pair of shorts, couple of t-shirts and a Lonely Planet guide and that was pretty much my lot.
Of course that was before the digital age and its multi plugs and charges and USB cables and techy devices. It was also before the liquids ban, and the extreme weight/size restrictions on cabin baggage and extra charges for hold baggage. It’s a whole new playing field these days, for the budget traveller.
But it can be done, and here’s how!
1/Dress like Heidi – Remember the story about the little Swiss moutain girl who went to stay with relatives in town? No, I’m not referring to her keeness for goats, but rather her dress sense. Heidi wore ALL of her wardrobe on her trip to her rellies’ place. If you’re flying a low coast airline and heading away for more than four days you need to dress like Heidi. Yes even if that means you start with underwear, layer on swimming togs, add tops and trousers, then a dress (dress over trousers is very New Yawk!) and to finish you’ll need a cardigan or sweatshirt followed by your winter coat. Not only will this make a style statement (don’t ask what kind), but you’ll save on packing weight in your carry-on luggage and will mean you don’t have to check baggage at all! What’s more the airline will only weigh your bags to see if they’re the right weight, they won’t weigh you!
It’s a bit of a bummer if you’re heading to the Bahamas and 40 degrees C. Or if you’re a bloke. (Put that dress down!)
2./Be Prepared – Like a good girl guide or boy scout you need to be prepared for any eventuality. Carry everything you need, on you. Make sure that big coat has heaps of pockets and put into them an empty bottle of water, your camera, your passport and tickets, a Kendal Mint cake or similar (you never know how long the low coast airline will take to get you there. There could be a delay. You could reroute through Kryzgstan or Bolivia). Ensure your phone is charged up and ready to go and that your carry-on luggage is suitable for sitting on, sleeping on, just in case your flight is cancelled and you need to make camp in the airline lounge.
3/Ditch the designer luggage – I’ve observed this scenario many times over – nicely dressed man or women reaches the gate with her/his uber cool designer luggage, and is pulled over to put the bag into the nasty little box to ensure the bag is the right size & shape. I have never seen this happen with boring bog standard sports bags (of the right dimensions) or those eco-friendly shopping bags with ‘Every little makes a difference’ all over them. You’re flying low cost airlines now dah-ling better look the part and ditch the Dior. Grab the most bunged up bag you own and throw in some suitably humble looking items – ratty cloth, prayer beads, sackcloth – and you’ll be right.
4/Stuff your Smellies – You need to change your perspective on this upcoming trip. Stop thinking about it being a holiday as such with beach bodies and sun, surf and style – think more about it as a holy-day! You’re a pilgrim and as such you no longer need that Long Lash Mascara or the Blushing Bride Blusher. Think soap and water my girl. This is not as bad as it may sound, as Lush do have a rather handy shampoo in a bar which can be used to wash your hair, your bod, and even your clothes, and because it’s a solid, it doesn’t have to go in your liquids bag! Forget your beautiful bottle of French perfum with the glass pyramid on the top, you’ll never get that into your liquids’ bag, look at the cute wee perfume in a stick/paste supplied by the Body Shop or Lush. I found the latest Japanese musk from the Body Shop matched rather nicely with my mini-tube of Ted Baker Butterflies moisturiser. Of course you’ll have even more room in your bag if you go pure and natural pilgrim and ditch smellies altogether – and don’t worry about the deoderant, do you care if people carve out a two metre b-o exculsion zone around you? You’re a pilgrim on her way to the Sun-god.
5/Take a man – I’ve saved the best tip for last. Take a man, preferably not your Dad, but if you’re going to be a pilgrim…meh…what does it matter. You don’t need him for holiday highlights anyway, you’re a pilgrim remember and cleanliness is next to godliness. And chastity is pretty clean. You need the man to be your mule. I don’t mean you should consider hiding your toiletries in his various orifices, but let’s face it he won’t have the same needs as you, toiletries wise. (And he probably has bigger orifices than you anyway!) You can negotiate conditions of carriage – Yes you’ll put out if he carries your favourite perfume in his liquids bag. (But not if he’s your Dad, obviously!) Yes, you’ll put out twice if he carries your perfume and claim he’s a metrosexual to the inquisitive customs officer. You’ll accompany him to a local bar to watch ‘the game’ IF he makes room for your fave jumper and you’ll even refrain from dragging him shopping IF he does the biggest favour of all. If. He. Takes. Your. Hairdryer.
Because let’s face it. Have you ever found a decent hairdryer in a hotel/hostel/cabin yet?
So that’s it, my tips for happy low cost travel packing. Add yours below!