My History of Bad Packing
When I studied abroad in Tours, France as a college student, I was a terrible packer. I was too embarrassed to ask for advice from my friends and professors. I had never traveled anywhere on a plane except for one high school trip to New York City. I don't think I even had a suitcase then. I had to pack for living abroad; there were no google travel tips or online checklists, no youtube travel for beginners. I had only known how my mom packed and traveled to Vietnam. And that was the mistake. She packed everything she could in two giant luggages or boxes each time she went to Vietnam. She brought old clothes, all the toiletries, candies to help a whole village. She maxed out the luggage and carry-on allowance. She managed to fit several packages of soap and deodorant in her purse. This was before all the liquid restrictions of course. I guess in some sense she was a minimalist packer for herself. She barely carried anything for herself. But in my childish brain somehow, I thought I had to pack just like that to Europe.
This was in 2001. I packed luggage that was over 65 pounds each (before there was weight restrictions). I think the checked luggage allowance was 70 pounds. I weighed about 76 pounds at that time. Fortunately and unfortunately, Air France lost one of my luggage when I arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport. I still had my backpack and one giant 65 pound valise to lug around. As I dragged it around the airport, I could hear the French gasp "grosse valise" (giant luggage!). I felt gross just seeing how idiotic I was. Then I had to get on the trains. Everyone hopped on and off with ease. With a red-face, I pulled my giant luggage with all my might up the stairs of the TGV (France's high speed train). A French gentleman with a familiar sigh and a scolding look helped me up the stairs. I think he saw many tourists who pack like this. I didn't have transportation to my French family's house, so I was wheeling that thing across town to get to my new home.
I had lost my other monster luggage, so I felt glad I packed extra. I didn't feel like I was doing anything wrong.
Then I was introduced to minimalist packing when I met my classmate from Taiwan. We took a trip to Barcelona, Spain and all she had was the clothes she was wearing and one extra top and bottom. She also carried a small backpack and a bag of oranges or apples. She was the first to teach me how little we needed for traveling. Everything made so much sense and light carry-ons became my goal. I was able to pack just carry-ons when my son was born. Now, I am going to try to pack a whole book tour and items for my family of three.
Only carry-on list for a book tour and family of three
For my book tour, I figured I was going to fill each half of the carry-on with books. If I run out, it is okay since my book is available internationally and online. I want to genuinely connect with people about my passion: human rights for refugees/immigrants. I am not a super minimalist. I pack what I feel comfortable traveling with since I am one of those "just in case" person.
ipad for presentation + charger
laptop for blogging, vlogging
1 2TB portable hardrive
1 small phone microphone
1 handheld tripod
1 google fi phone (works internationally) + charger
1 portable anker charger + charger
1 universal plug
We had rented hotels and apartments with washing machines and dryers. We have washed all of our clothes by hand before, but since we are traveling with our son, we wanted to make it easier for ourselves and our hands.
Items for me:
1 rain coat
1 swim suit
2 pairs of shoes/flip-flops
Items for husband:
1 swim trunk
2 pair os shoes/flip-flops
1 laptop + charger
Items for 6 year old:
2 swim trunks
2 pairs of shoes/flip-flops
3 neck pillows (inflatable)
2 water bottles
1 nail clipper
copy of passports
2 credit card (call to enable international travel)
2 debit card (call to enable international travel, will get money at ATM in residing country)
documents for lodging
documents for transportation (metro, trains, etc.)
Emergency docs: health insurance, contacts