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.
On a minivan from Maasai Mara, I thought my pockets were already stuffed with beadwork and souvenirs, so there was no way I would acquire more. When a trader lifted his arms, with bracelets and necklaces hanging from them, towards my window as we briefly stopped by an ATM somewhere close to Narok, I told him I was not interested and continued writing my diary. “Do you have a spare pen?” he asked. Indeed, I did. “Are you interested in trading it for something?” I asked to confirm, and thus started one of my favorite adventures in Kenya.
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.
Some of my friends are posting and discussing this article about living light and decluttering. It’s an interesting mental exercise to do. I have moved apartments so many times that I can certainly see the benefits of living light. Gradually getting rid of my books is on my agenda.
At the same time, there are certain limitations for traveling/ living light. Continue reading →