Gear Update: Minimalism and Strategy 2 months in / by Jessica Lee

It’s been two months since I started my journey and I keep reflecting about how I can improve on packing for the next trip. I agree with the 80/20 rule in that only 20 percent of the stuff you pack you end up using 80 percent of the time. Therefore, the next time I backpack anywhere, I plan to cut my packing down into half of what I’m bringing- only the useful things I use most of the time.

I’ve found that carrying stuff can seriously limit what I’m able to do. For example, I wanted to make a day trip to Pisa, Italy, instead of staying there but I couldn’t walk with all my things to the attractions and then hop on the train to the next city. If I were able to pack everything onto a daypack, then that would be perfect.

The flipside of having so little things of course is that you can’t go shopping. There were many times I saw beautiful leather goods in Morocco but I always held off on buying things because of the agony I would endure carrying belongings from town to town.

I think the solution is a balance between minimalism and strategy. What’s weighing me down right now are books that I’ve finished reading but won’t give away and a jacket that I have no use for because I bought a warmer one along the way. On my next trip, I plan to bring only things I can part with and one set of clothes that will stay with me the whole way. And all of my electronics so I can process my work. This trip, I brought things that I could part with (like a pair of sweat pants I regretted saying goodbye to when I found out it was cold in Malaga), and that made more room in my pack as I bought new European things.

I’m lucky because I’m meeting a friend from home who has kindly offered to help me bring some of my things back home so I can travel lighter the rest of the way, but I know I won’t always have friends who travel during the same time as me, so for next time, I will have to be smarter with what I’m bringing.

Of course, I’ve definitely improved with my packing since two years ago when I couldn’t even walk 300 metres to my hotel in Indonesia with my luggage and had to get a taxi. These days, walking 1 km with my stuff is possible. One can always improve though- hopefully I will be a packing pro by the next trip!