Travelling Light

I look at the pile on my bed.  When did it start, I wonder.  What was the first breach in the dam?  The first tumbling stone in the avalanche? The first unheeding step down that slippery slope?  When exactly did I start travelling heavy?

Was it when I started carrying two kinds of toothbrush: an electric toothbrush and a proxabrush with two snap-in heads — each one matching only some of the gaps between my teeth — to keep my dental hygienist happy?

Was it when I started carrying two kinds of toothpaste: the regular one and a high-fluoride one that I use once daily to shore up the soft spots on my teeth to keep my dentist happy?

Was it when I started carrying 50 SPF sunblock to keep my dermatologist happy?

Was it when I started carrying Vitamin D and Omega 3 capsules, one of which I take to keep my doctor happy, and one of which I take because it’s made people I know happy?

Was it when I started carrying prescription anti-inflammatories to keep my back happy, and over-the-counter antacid tablets to keep my gut happy after taking the anti-inflammatories?

Was it when I started carrying pseudoephedrine and acetaminophen in case of migraine, to keep my neurologist happy?

Was it when I cut my hair to a length that required something approaching daily styling and started carrying a hair dryer, a round brush, and what the industry calls Product, to keep my hair stylist happy?

Was it when I started carrying exercise clothes and gym shoes and two undeniably two high-tech exercise aids–a stretchy yellow band to strengthen my shoulders, and a blue-and-white checked tie from an old housecoat, to stretch my quads–to keep my physiotherapist happy?

Was it when I started carrying foam to regrow hair on my scalp or a battery-operated, whirling-dervish of a set of tweezers to degrow hair on my face, to keep myself happy?

Was it when I started carrying a laptop computer and spare batteries, or a camera with a battery-charging station and lens-cleaning tools, to keep the Muses happy?

As I head back downstairs to get the bigger suitcase, I reflect that I’d better put more effort into divesting myself of opinions. I think I’m carrying enough baggage.


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12 Responses to Travelling Light

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Isabel, that’s hilarious! I can see the picture.

    Janice was called, by the rest of the family, Mrs. Rexall, because she had every possible drug in her huge purse. Came in handy sometimes too!

    One of our daughters is a minimalist. When she comes to visit, she brings just a few things, washes them if need be.

    Another daughter is a maximalist. She brings everything but the kitchen sink. Even for overnight she needs four or five bags, including several hair dryers and a bunch of other stuff I can’t keep track of.

    Me? I try to pack light, but…well, I’m somewhere in between those two offspring. Neither a minimalist or a maximalist. If we go to the trailer I base what I take on “It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.” Besides, I can always haul it back home in the fall.
    When I go on the plane, I pack up the suitcase, then put ‘er on the scales, and start removing until I get to just a hair under the weight allowed.

    Great fun.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Ah, yes, the seductiveness of travelling by car, oversetting any good intentions we have to travel light. I am astounded by how many new things I need to carry with me, compared to when I was 25.

  2. Funny, but true. Stuff rules, we serve.
    We have too much information about ourselves: but prevention is the key.
    (And then you probably only told us half of what you are carrying…)

    Just read a notice of a book written by a young (not married) couple who travel around the world with zero (0) possessions except the clothes on their backs. Why does this irritate me so? Why not go nude and be done with it!
    And, I don’t believe it can be done, nude or otherwise. Our baggage is what makes us human and not animals.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Yes, I didn’t give a comprehensive list. (That would be TMI.) As for true minimalists, our tour guides in various places have been excellent models, somehow managing to pack for a month with sufficient day-to-day variability as well as something to cover the special events in a carry-on-size suitcase. It’s all the extra, non-clothing bits that get me down.

      • I have a “body and soul” bag with all the non-clothing items. Takes me a week to plan & pack! and I have lists from the last trip. Plus the last minute items! It’s hell.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara – Well, I’m more and more to the point of thinking that if I have ticket, passport, and credit card, any omissions are entirely survivable and rectifiable. Although I hate to get caught without my back meds, which I only need every year or so.

  3. Judith Umbach says:

    Who is supposed to be happy if you pack light? You have a car, bring what you want.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – In a car, OK. Although dragging in and out of motels is a pain. But when flying, I do try to stay sensible.

  4. Alison says:

    I was inspired to pack light by my minimalist daughter, and I now feel I’ve almost mastered the art. I do have my prepackaged bag of essential meds and chargers though, it’s a pain to forget those. But, as my father always said, take twice the money and half the clothes. The irony is that my daughter then had a baby, and now seems to cart everything but the kitchen sink when she travels!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – I like your father’s rule of thumb, but for me it isn’t the clothes that are the biggest problem. It’s all the other stuff. As for babies – oh yeah, I remember well the days of travelling with a car seat, and high chair, and playpen, and stroller, and bottles . . . It’s a wonder we went anywhere.

  5. John Whitman says:

    Isabel –I too now have to remember to pack toothpaste with a fluoride content that is higher than normal toothpaste. I also have to remember to pack cholesterol pills to keep my cholesterol at the recommended level and eye drops to prevent glaucoma. None of those things takes up much space when packing, but my dentist, physician and ophthalmologist all want to be assured that I am doing as I’m told each time I have an appointment. Imagine me doing as I’m told without question.
    You are not alone!
    As you once said, getting old is not for wimps or sissies.
    John W

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – You now do as you’re told? I missed that step. Anyway, when I was a young mother and dragging half the house behind me for children – or so it seemed – it never occurred to me that someday I’d be dragging half my bathroom/medicine chest behind me.

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