Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Packing lean

There’s something about leaving and escaping into an unfamiliar place that stirs panic in a luggage-toting traveler’s heart. Forget unplanned expenses when happily “lost” in the confines of souvenir markets or late-breaking weather reports that all too often dampen the adventurous spirit. For the modern nomad who can’t board a plane without dragging an entire closet behind, it is the packing part that is most painstaking.

I have been raised in a household where traveling light is elevated into an act of science – precise and uncompromising. “If you can’t wear it in at least three different occasions, it shouldn’t have any place in your luggage,” my mom advises, like a no-nonsense camp leader, each time she hears me brew a weekend jaunt.

Before I could even think of decidedly over-stuffing a carryon or two, I’d mechanically find myself filling out the “to-bring” list, weeding out the “can-live-without” column and mixing and matching pieces until the gamut of possibilities run dry.

Sure, like any other girl with an affinity towards hair-setting gizmos, giving up a blow dryer is always heartbreaking. But between an untamed crowning glory and a nagging back pain, I wouldn’t have any qualms showing up for brunch with an unruly, tousled hair.

So who can condemn this hapless girl, able to hop on a cruise ship with a mere paper bag in tow, for failing to empathize with those whose definition of weekend packing equates three wheeled suitcases and a pair of zipped-up duffels?

Like most light backpackers, I am a lonely minority among a throng of travelers who would need divine intervention to get the rigorous business of packing done. In fact, seeing friends who shudder at the mere mention of light packing, I’ve always felt there must be some sort of comedic cosmic force that draws an excess-baggage traveler to an easy, no-nonsense backpacker like me.

I’ve been tormented by desperate friends who would endlessly nag me how in the world I have survived Boracay with only a couple of swimwear to wade me through. “I’ve tried keeping your advice, but there are just too many seaside occasions that might arise during this trip,” a friend complained, trying to justify a pile of resort clothes she deemed necessary.
In fact, with all the pieces spewing out of her trolley bag, this girl can accidentally win an Oscar, and she would still have the perfect red carpet outfit to slip into.

Whether it’s that “packrat syndrome” where giving up familiar comforts become unthinkable, a case of obsessive compulsiveness where over-preparation is never “over” or, just simply a lack of skill in the art of packing, the young, well-traveled and adventurous is well aware that some things can never be zipped in a luggage nor thrown and tossed into a carousel.

For one, how do you pack a delightful souvenir called memory? Where do you stash emotions – bliss, thrill, exasperation, amazement – that usually define an experience? Can you possibly stuff in your berry-dyed Samsonite duffel the names of acquaintances who, like you, sought momentary refuge in some unknown shore?

In the end, whether we travel light or drag along a trolley massive enough to fit an heiress’ closet, one thing is certain: we come home towing more than what we had when we first set off to discover unfamiliar grounds. All too often, we return with a beautiful baggage of excesses – cherished memories, newfound friends, and a fleeting reward called “sweet solace”.


Purpled Sky said...

hmmmp. wait till you have a kid kay grand production number baya jud ang packing. :P

Keith said...

"I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty."
Imelda Marcos

I have seen women that have won my heart by sharing the same love of light packing that I have. I remember that my last trip, IU was amazed when I saw that the only reason I had two bags was because of pasalubong.

So, though I am more refined, I will say most of the plkaces I stayed had hair dryers, and I do not even sport much hair.

Diva, your sharing ius a delight. I do hopoe to hear from you again.

Purpled Sky said...

pst creative linky love here:

hehe, so update your blog na! :P