Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pack Heavy

When I travel, I pack my things in an old-style frame backpack, which looks a lot bigger than many of the new-fangled ones.  Okay, so it probably IS a lot bigger.  I also usually carry a separate daypack.  Together, and with my water bottle filled and my emergency snacks in place, this can weigh as much as 40 pounds.  That may seem like nothing compared to what some people pack, especially when I'm basically moving to another country for a year, but the super light packers of the world like to mock. 

Packing light gives you bragging rights in the backpacker world.  At my very first hostel I met a woman travelling for three weeks with one little daypack, plus a plastic bag full of shampoo and such.  Ever since then I've been hyper-aware of how much baggage I'm carrying—literally.  But I can't seem to pack any lighter than I already do.  Because warring with the urge to Pack Light is the urge to Be Prepared.

I hate most kinds of shopping.  I'd much rather have what I need, right in my backpack, than have to go on a quest for it.  In the middle of the night.  Where I don't speak the language.    

So finally—after years of enduring the ribbing, trying to explain how my pack just looks bigger because of its old-fashioned design, how I packed dress clothes and teaching materials for my new job, how I would rather carry a full mosquito net than die of malaria, I finally gave up and embraced the truth:  I'm a heavy packer.  But since I'm the one carrying it, I don’t see why it's anyone else's business. 

Packing light is a good thing, in moderation, but I also think each traveler should weigh the advantages of having the things you packed versus the disadvantage of having to lug them across the continent.  Find the right balance for you, and don't mind the light-packer snobs.

For more on the dangers of packing light, see my article on Helium:

1 comment:

  1. Fun article, enjoyed it a lot. Much truth in it.