Travel Minimalism

I’m not a minimalist, but I pretend to be one when I travel.

In preparation for our ten day European trip, I thought about our prior two trips to Ireland. We had taken large rolling duffels and then I wore a satchel as a day bag. My shoulders were sore and the bag was inconvenient. The second trip in particular was rough because we were caught in the middle of an epic snowstorm. When buses were stuck, we ended up hauling our duffels through snow drifts for what felt like miles to get to our destination. Well, we knew we wouldn’t hit snow this time, but I was not going to be an over packed American. I made rules that I was unsure that we could follow, and they are as follows:

10 Day strict packing list:

  • Carry-on suitcase each; only 1/3 full
  • Rucksack each; nearly empty
  • Money pouch (neck/waist-type)
  • Five pairs each; socks, underwear, tee shirts
  • One pair sneakers; worn there, not packed (I cheated with a pair of sandals too)
  • Two pairs of jeans each, wear one there
  • Two pair each either shorts or capris
  • One quart size bag of liquid toiletries each, each with a 3oz bottle of detergent
  • Small bag of shared necessities; nail clippers, tweezers, band aids, razor, bobby pins, etc.
  • Glasses/belts and other random requirements
  • Ipad, two cameras, eReader (Nook), chargers and spare memory cards
  • One 4-socket power converter.  Charged all electronics in one swoop each night.
  • A long cord aka clothesline

Score one for us. It was the easiest travel trip ever. Since we nearly missed our plane to Brussels, one of the key begging points in allowing us to board was that we had no luggage to check. We were able to fit both our bags in the same train luggage locker at each city we went to, saving time and money when we were unable to check into our room too. Halfway through the trip, we washed our clothes in our sink, hung them up on the cord we cleverly tied across one side of our bedroom and off we went the next morning, fresh, clean and with far less luggage then the over packed tourists who could barely lift the bags up and onto the train.

Laundry in Berlin

The worst would be seeing the retired couples with the elderly men hauling multiple enormous pieces of luggage behind his wife on crowded public transportation.  I gave my husband the go-ahead then and there to berate me if I ever got that bad.  I may not wash our clothes in the sink forever, but maybe one day if we’re fancy we’ll just pay to get them laundered instead.  Who am I kidding?  We’ll never be fancy.

Back to the packing list; for those who may question the possible excessive electronic choices, let me explain.

Ipad, a wonderful gift from our parents saved my shoulders in a big way rather than toting the heavy laptop as we did in years past. But, since there is not Wi-Fi everywhere and we found many Europeans do not offer it for free, the Nook was a great backup to access tour books, maps and translators that were pre-downloaded, thus eliminating the need for the internet and heavy travel books during the travel. In cities like Brussels, where we were limited on time, we used the Nook to do our own walking tour per Rick Steves, saving both time and money. When you have the opportunity though, I do suggest taking a real tour, Rick is wise, but he doesn’t know every nuance.

And there you have it. We came home with smiles, souvenirs that fit in our existing bags (including a real cuckoo clock) and never had to check a bag or pop a painkiller. This my friends, comes in handy when you’re sharing a six person sleeping compartment on a train.

Many stories to follow.

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I’m Back…365 Consecutive Days…Not This Year

It’s been a process, but I’m back.

We’ve travelled overseas, worked our tails off and I’m officially unemployed. This is all a good thing, but it has taken a toll on my time. Today is the official start of a new life and a happier Mae.  The weight has already been lifted, though it seems very surreal. Having left a stressful and unrewarding career behind, I’m on the hunt to do what makes me happy and somehow find a way for it to pay off in satisfaction and eventually to pay some bills. I’m lucky because I have an incredibly supportive husband who would rather see my smile than my paychecks, at least for a little while.  He’s giving me the chance to do good for others and for us, despite the sacrifices that may lie ahead.

The World Is Your Oyster by Bill Frymire

I have a lot of ideas and wonderful volunteer opportunity that I start at the end of this week.  One that I’m hoping leads me down the road to a career of history and ancestry, and maybe a few other options. I’ll be immersed in the smell of old books and side by side with brainy researchers. It’s the first step toward working toward something that has appealed to me since the fourth grade. Will this be my career or will it just lead me to something else?  Who knows, but if I didn’t take the leap, we’d never ever know. Life is full of chances and I’m about to take a lot of them.

Thanks for following me to my new address; I’m so lucky to have you along for the ride.

Tell me about some of the chances you’ve taken. Was there ever a chance that didn’t pay off or at least bring you some sort of opportunity or happiness that you may have never realized?