I was warned before we departed that we are likely taking too much. Well, with everything packed up again it means we’re about to endure the ear hammering rattle of these Chinese-made roller wheels across cobbles. Only light and durable luggage from now on. Big wheels and handles are good. A colour that says, “Hey…look at me! I am comfortable with my powder blue case and will know if you grab it by ‘mistake’!” Has anyone looked into Japanese patents for a ‘hover’ option on a suitcase?
As for what really belongs in that suitcase…there isn’t a whole lot that you really need to get by. if in a pinch, go out and buy it. Sure you might be saving a few bucks by buying large quantities at home, but you then have to pack this weight around. If you think you might need it, in all likelihood you really don’t.
For the men, all that seems to be required are the items below…unless you’re fancy and much more self conscious than the average male.
#1. Two pair of jeans, so that you have one pair to wear while the other is washing/drying
#2. Many t-shirts, in muted colours so that they go with anything. The muted colours also won’t stand out in your pictures as well when reviewing them in a months time only to find out in every other pic you are wearing the same red t-shirt. Let the locals be the flashy ones.
#3. Add a couple collared shirts for those times when you might be going out to attempt to impress. For example, that pub crawl you signed up right behind those cute French gals might take more than you buying a drink for them and a clean hoodie. Make them wrinkle free shirts if possible to, unless you’re aiming for that rumpled homeless look.
#4. The hoodie, we purchased these in Vienna to deal with the lack of heat in our apartment. A hoodie has proved to be invaluable as a light jacket, casual wear, sleeping gear, jacket liner…and makes you look badass when paired with a scarf.
#5. A Scarf, multipurpose item as it can be used to filter smoke from the air…or mustard gas if in a real pinch. A very good neck warmer, shawl for the ladies, and it’s stylish enough to maybe blend in a little.
#6. Lots of socks and undies. Essential under any condition and requires no explanation.
#7. Garbage bag, heavy duty…not the cheap thin plastic ones. Plastic bags serve well as dirty clothes storage, and may be repurposed as a poncho if you didn’t bring an umbrella.
#8. Umbrella, small, nondescript, and keeps the rain off. That garbage bag poncho raises the eyebrows of museum security when you start rummaging around under the crinkling bag checking your pockets for admission coinage.
#9. Basic toiletries, in the appropriate sizes. Anything large is always a problem in that you don’t know if it will explode in your checked bags (I of course mean, leak and not the actual reason for checking liquids). These items are also damn heavy to lug around when for the most part they can be purchased on arrival. If they aren’t available, it might be time to become a little less precious.
#10. Computer, to hook up to wifi pretty much anywhere. An iPad sounds great as it has great battery life, but the issues related to connecting in many places, plus the lack of flash and navigation of many foreign transportation sites can be limiting. Great as a surfing device at home, but not a machine to work from.
#11. Swim shorts, of a muted colour, to make it look like you might actually be wearing real shorts in the event you can’t for some reason wear either pair of pants. Something fast drying though, not your super thick cargo shorts. If you insist on skinny dipping only, you won’t be doing the rest of us any favours.
#12. Medium weight coat…something to take the chill off during cold days and that you can pair the hoodie with for extra warmth. No parka required unless you have the room in your luggage and the down filled garment will be essential to survival. Additional warmth can be achieved through casual strolls into stores and striking up conversation with the shop owner. Lamp stores are especially good for this, unless the only retailed fixtures are loaded with LED or fluorescent bulbs
As for the ladies, you may also want to consider a hard case for toiletries, prevent squishing of product, easier to sort and stash your beauty essentials.