The headache of packing a huge suitcase before the trip. The compulsory journey to Ikea in a new location. The equations and calculations – how many clothes, how many decorative items, if any, how many things for daily life… I certainly don’t miss any of those. These were my chores of moving to a new country, and I’ve lived in quite a few – usually for various short-term projects or interships. The stay in Malta is my longest, and perhaps it’s a good chance to contemplate how I would do it differently today.
Moving to Sweden in 2006 and moving to Malta recently are worlds apart in terms of logistics and my skills in moving around. When my bestie at the time and I set off to our Erasmus adventure on the opposite ends of Europe, we dreaded the thought of having to buy various utensils, bed linen and the like. My friend decided to take as much stuff as she could possibly carry, and I thought I’ll freeride on the shared kitchen. When I arrived, I found out that the previous student had left some bedsheets behind, which I happily used. In Budapest two years later, I bought some simple things at Ikea and left a box for a student I knew when I moved out – I was told the box travelled for several years to come from one Lithuanian student to another. Buying mugs, forks and pillowcases in each new country is annoying.
Since then I am continuously working to optimise my luggage when I travel, and so moving into a new life abroad would not be tremendously different from a trip on a low-cost airline. These are the tips I’d like to pass on to movers of today.
Over the past decade I had a chance to go on many business trips, where staying in hotels (from fancy ones in Japan and Slovenia to a shockingly bad one in Cambridge) was either inevitable or preferred by the company or institution that paid the trip. My own favorite way is to stay with people, but unless I have close friends or family in a distant location, I feel bad about staying with hosts and having close to no time to interact with them. Companies or conference organizers tend to book hotels by default, so over the years I developed some general insights about hotels as a ‘species’.
I must admit that I dislike hotels as a concept – the sterile, impersonal and hyper-structured accommodation, which barely differs across countries. To be fair and listen to the other side, I searched for travel blogs and articles that are positive about hotels. One in the Huffington Post praises comfortable beds and 24/7 room service. I believe these things, apart from features available only in luxury hotels, are welcome additions, but not necessities for most people. Comfortable beds are neither universal nor unique to hotels. Another article is more convincing, citing several ways in which professionalism and safety can make travel more comfortable. Still, they hardly outweigh the disadvantages. Continue reading
I often travel with cheap airlines, so optimizing my luggage is a constant concern. I certainly have no weakness for shoes or any other bulky stuff, but I frequently stay with friends or Couchsurfing hosts, for whom I always try to bring a gift. Also, I like bringing back goodies for my family and friends, things I cannot find back home, and various keepsakes. Blogging about stuff and shopping is relatively new to me, but I have already shared a review of my purchases for last year′s trip to Thailand and things I wear to enter places of worship. So I might as well share my recent discoveries before a week-long trip to the US East Coast.
Religious places around the world tend to be more demanding towards women, but travelers of both genders often struggle to pack appropriately, especially when traveling with cheap airlines. Last month I took the challenge of traveling with Wizzair small cabin bag only, although I knew that I’d be visiting many religious places.