You’d think with my enthusiasm for minimalism that I’d be a devotee of the famous “pack for two weeks in a carry on”. Pinterest is awash with pages and ideas on how to pack in order to avoid the need to check in, pay for baggage, and wait around for baggage claim. With domestic travel and little weekends away interstate, of course it makes sense to pack small and light and avoid excess fees, particularly if you’re flying with a budget airline. When I see guides on how to pack like that for international travel though (and sometimes through several countries), I’m like:
Internationally, I’ve never travelled without checked baggage and even though I love packing more efficiently, I could never travel with mere hand luggage. Here are some positive reasons for travelling with checked bags when you go overseas, and why you shouldn’t feel the need to adopt skinny sojourns:
Less to cart around
When I see travellers pacing the international transit halls with multiple bags hung around their neck, or carting a wheely case while dragging a tote full of plane essentials plus that shopping bag of carry on extras, I get tired just thinking of the constant need to monitor all the bits and pieces. For me, transit and wait time in airports is part of the journey. You should be relaxing – your main luggage has disappeared behind the desk into the depths of the plane, you’re perusing the duty free with a carry on and basking in the hushed quiet of the lounges. This is your time and the last thing you should need to do is worry about keeping your entire travelling ensemble safe and negotiating it through store floors of Bombay Sapphire, Johnny Walker, and Chanel No. 5.
Space for purchases
Let’s be honest, wherever you go you are bound to take home something, whether that be tourist kitsch souvenirs for people at home, or (spontaneous!) gifts just for yourself. If you’ve packed your single carry on and used all the space efficiently, where do you put the extra stuff? Give yourself peace of mind, still pack efficiently with a full sized suitcase but at least there is room for a marble figure called Darcey, if you so choose (Top Gear fans will know what I’m on about).
Full size products
If there is one thing I am not minimal with, it’s body products and skincare. Don’t get me wrong, when I travel I only pack what I absolutely need at minimum. But if you have skin issues that require more than a cheap bottle of hotel room lotion, or don’t trust the ingredients in mass produced toiletries, then bringing your own is really the only way. Since the 100ml liquid rule was implemented, bringing full size anything is impossible if you only pack hand luggage. Of course, an alternative is to buy your bulky toiletries at your destination, but if you don’t speak the local language and reading the labels is like reading Elvish, then you’re better off just packing your own anyway.
Despite living with a capsule wardrobe, I like variety in what I wear. Yes, I know with a mere 2 tshirts, a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, a skirt, a jumper and a cardigan, I can make a kabillion outfits, but I’m going on holiday and I want to wear a little more instead of alternating my tops and switching necklaces every other day. Sometimes you don’t want to have to face hand washing the same thing in the shower again, and having an option to don something completely new and fresh will help keep your interest and give you a mental break on making your clothing last. On a recent trip to Singapore I only packed 3 tshirts for a 2 week stay (there were tank tops as well) and while those 3 tshirts were absolutely sufficient for my needs, I definitely could have done with a few more for the sake of having something different.