Less is More – Packing in Miniature

Ah, the stress of packing. What to take? What not to take? You might only be going for a few days but you take enough clothing for a few weeks.

One thing is sure, what you don’t take you need and you never use what you take, so take everything or nothing.

Friends who went to Thailand just went with the clothes they were wearing. Once on holiday they bought cheap T shirts and such like and then the day they left, they gave everything they had bought to a local charity shop.

What works in Thailand might not work in Amsterdam in early May. The weather forecast is for a week of rain, high winds and thus an important chill factor. Dressing for winter.

Of course clothing is not the only hassle. In our brave new digital age we take our gadgets with us. Mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras, pads, GPS – meaning that you have to pack no end of chargers.

Now, as much as we have miniaturised and digitalised, I guess that for music, photos internet and GPS, all I really need take is my phone, but I do like the feel of a real camera that takes real photos, and if my entire life is in my phone and it gets stolen ??????

After several days of endlessly charging up electronic devices or carrying round a heavy camera and a set of lenses, I daresay that on my next trip, I will choose the all-in-one phone option.

I like to travel light. The lighter the better. Small compact cases and the minimum of everything. Of course, I am fortunate enough to go those kind of places where you don’t need to dress for dinner or get done up to the nines to go out to some nightclub – less clothing. Let’s face it; come summer time, most of us spend the entire holiday wearing the same old baggy shorts and flip-flops.

I think travel was easier before we had all these gadgets. We had no gadgets to take. If you wanted music on holiday, you’d listen to the radio. If you wanted something to read, you’d take a book and not a Kindle.

Of course, all these gadgets you take, many of them only work if you can get the network. Last summer during our sojourn in the south of France (I know That sounds sexy, but we stayed in a trailer park), I took all the usual gadgets, laptop, I pad mobile phone etc and they were all useless because the WIFI on the campsite packed up as soon as we got there and the mobile phone cover was almost non-existent – mind you who was I going to phone? Not my nearest and dearest, they were on holiday with me. As for the Internet. Well, I’m not that important that I have to consult my mails every five minutes and as for getting the news – well I rediscovered the joys of buying a daily newspaper and taking the time to read it, besides our mobile home had satellite TV, and of course we had our good old, trusty transistor radio.

There’s another aspect to our « must have » gadgetry – it is all an extra holiday burden. What happens if someone breaks into your hotel room and steals your laptop? What if someone seizes you I pad from you in the street whilst you take a photo or are charging up some guidebook app? All extra responsibility, risk and worry.

And what about guide book apps? Why not just buy a good old guidebook? A few years back in Venice, I noticed the trend for guidebook apps that people had installed on their mobile phones. Why bother? You can always get an audio guide for the monument you are visiting and failing that, there is always some free paper guide to the museum or exhibition. The problem with these apps is that they saturate the user with information and their users are frankly annoying, as they stand in droves clogging up pavements or doorways as they listen to or read the surfeit on info on their app.

Miniaturising, digitalising – less is more. More gadgets means more worry.

As I prepare to pack, I might just apply a Buddhist principle – Never have more in life than you can fit into a small suitcase.