When I was a kid I remember feeling like a trip to Switzerland was like a trip to the moon. My parents would lug out suitcases big enough for me to sleep in, and cram them with a vast array of worldly belongings. Mum would pick out our outfits, and carefully lay them out on the bed in the spare room days ahead of our departure. I knew we had to drive for an hour to get to the airport – an adventure in itself – but our total travel time was a collossal 25 hours. Switzerland was so far away I could hardly conceive of its existence.
Now, one day out from from our little holiday, I’ve still got packing to do. My travel time hasn’t really changed, but I’m only going for 10 days. Besides, it’s summer and I’ve learnt a lot from my parent’s packing mistakes. Now, going to Switzerland isn’t much unlike going to Wellington. A small suitcase, a backpack, and some carefully considered packing solutions are all I’m going to need.
Picking the suitcase
This one was actually a little out of my control. I’m borrowing a suitcase from my mother-in-law because I don’t actually own a suitcase. Luckily, the suitcase is ideal in that it is light, small and simple. If you want to pack light, you can’t give yourself room to splurge – use a smaller suitcase.
Carry-on is my biggest bug-bear. When I’m on a plane, the overhead compartments are always filled to the brim with suitcases. People get up at the end of the flight, and just about topple under the weight of their cabin luggage. It’s called carry-on for a reason, and for that reason I’ve chosen a simple back-back.
This back-pack is awesome because it will be big enough to use for the short hikes on our trip, but small enough that I can actually carry it onto the plane. Apart from the essentials (passport, wallet, itinerary etc…) my carry on is only really for my kindle, my jacket and some toiletries. Which leads on nicely to my third point…
Most airlines have pretty strict rules around the liquids (and gels) you have in your cabin luggage. As a rule, you usually can’t take liquids or gels in containers any larger than 100ml, and they must be kept in a small clear plastic zip-lock bag. I’m choosing to avoid all these rules by only taking solid toiletries onto the plane with me. I mainly shop at LUSH for my solid cosmetics, but I’ve also heard good things about Ethique, which has the bonus of being NZ owned and run!
To begin, I have to thank my mate Lisa (@girl-withabackpack ) for her excellent advice on minimalist travel. I’m still not a grandmaster of packing, like she is, but I think I’ve made some pretty good choices! Note that I’m only taking one pair of jeans. Lisa taught me that tights can, and absolutely should be pants while travelling. I’ve also learnt to plan a range of outfits around a few, easy basics. Aside from underwear, I’m taking no more than 15 items of clothing.
Sometimes no amount of rolling, or Japanese folding techniques will compact clothes enough for my liking. The saving grace for my packing compulsions was Kathmandu’s packing cubes. Oh my life. There is something extremely satisfying in keeping all your clothes in a small cuboid. Everything suddenly becomes modular. And if there is one thing I learnt from Scandinavians, it’s that everything’s better when it fits together.
Using nooks and crannies.
This may be heading on obsessive, but I’m starting to see everything as a matryoshka doll. Everything can be assessed in terms of its packble volume. Those shoes? Perfect sock storage. That sock? Perfect storage for sunnies! Oh look, I can use that scarf as s bag for my make-up! This way, no space is wasted.
So I guess my trip to Switzerland is still a bit like a trip to the moon. Even though I pack a lot less than my parents, I know I’ve inherited their anxiety genes. I feel like my obsessive folding, stuffing and packing mirrors my state of mind; I’m bursting at the seams. In saying that, I do get a sense of comfort knowing that at least one part of my life feels like it is under control – even if that part is simply the way my bras stack neatly on top of each other.