Rule #1: Forget everything on your list.
I used to regard the whole business of packing dubiously. It would either seem too hard or too easy; either way, I would omit something crucial and then realize it at the exact moment of necessity. Like my passport at the check-in desk. Sunglasses on a blindingly sunny day somewhere near the Equator. Plug adapters upon arrival to my place of stay, usually just as my camera’s battery depletes. I cannot count the number of times I’ve said: “It seems I’ve forgotten my phone charger”, quickly followed by, “it seems I’ve forgotten my phone”. The bright side? It makes for a substantially lighter backpack. Substantially.
Rule #2: When in doubt, throw it out.
Let’s get real. Do you honestly wear every single piece of clothing you bring? If the answer is no, call that extra souvenir-carrying space! Backpacking from Petersburg to Kathmandu last summer, I brought about eight shirts but wore only two for most of the trip. My friends’ noses can attest. So if I’m going to be disgusting, I might as well avoid the burden of a heavy pack. So be forthright and save yourself the time, the effort, and the weight and just accept the fact that you’ll be dirty and we can all just move on, thanks.
Rule #3: Buy everything mini!!
Raid the drug store’s wall of travel-sized item bins. Mini lighters, mini brushes, mini flosses, the world of miniature-dom has reached new heights and it is adorable and efficient. Example: I start off with a mini travel-sized bottle of shampoo. When that goes (and it lasts me longer than it should), simply buy more wherever you are. This works with almost all other disposable items – people sometimes forget that the luxurious toiletries they enjoy at home are available in most parts of the world (Incidentally, I once bought a Nikon D60 battery in a back-alley hole-in-the-well second hand store in Ulaanbaatar. The guy there didn’t speak english and the tiny shop looked like a random stolen collection of old and new technology all pushed onto the same shelf. I was unable to find the same battery in any photo store in DC). Unless you’re particularly high-maintenance and need a specific brand of shampoo only forged in California, to which I say: get over it.
Q: But Squeaky Robot, why are you talking about packing??
A: Because I’m leaving, precious reader! I’m leaving for travel and adventures and such!
Q: Where to?
A: Continental Europe!!
Q: No, exactly where?
A: I don’t know! No one knows and no one will know until I’m there!!!
Q: Good luck then and may the adventures be ever in your favor.
A: Thanks. There must be some trouble I can stir up in Transylvania or Istanbul. If those fail, there’s always Chechnya.