Thursday, 5 April 2012

Light Packing Revisited

Way back in May 2008 I wrote a blog post on light packing, listing the items I take with me on Lonely Planet assignments to Poland.

It's still one of the more popular posts on my blog, receiving many visits and comments.

Four years on, I'm planning to travel to Poland again and things have changed. Technology, in particular, has moved on and has allowed me to reduce my packing even more.

I still travel with cabin luggage only, stored in my trusty High Sierra backpack purchased in 2005 (pictured above, packed and ready to fly via Ryanair from PoznaƄ last year).

So it's time for an update. Here's what I'll be taking with me this year to Poland (with sidetrips to London, Stockholm and the eastern Czech Republic):

  • 3 shirts (2 t-shirts + 1 with a collar)
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 3 pairs of underwear
  • 2 pairs of trousers (1 jeans, 1 black)
  • 1 bathers
  • 1 fleecy top
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 woolly hat
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 pair of boots
  • iPad
  • Apple wireless keyboard
  • iPhone
  • Mophie Juice Pack battery case for the iPhone 
  • small tripod & Glif tripod stand for the iPhone
  • chargers for the above, plus an AU > Euro power adapter
  • headphones
  • folder with printouts of Lonely Planet text by city
  • clipboard
  • pens & 2 notepads
  • foldable bowl and fork/spoon
  • Crumpler satchel
  • toiletries
Of course, a fair few of these items will be travelling on my person rather than in the backpack.

So what's changed since 2008?

Threads and tech

The clothing is much the same, based on my "rule of three" - I've found it's the perfect mix for a late Polish spring, adaptable to hot humid days and cool chilly ones. My one indulgence is the pair of bathers, because I do just occasionally stay at a hotel with a swimming pool.

The tech is quite different. Out goes the Sony Vaio laptop, Olympus digital camera, Palm PDA and Nokia mobile phone; in comes the iPad, wireless keyboard, iPhone and Mophie battery case. Clearly that's a big reduction in weight, especially when you factor in the fewer leads and chargers required.

Paper goes digital

Physical books have completely disappeared too, present instead in digital form on the iPad and iPhone. Though I have been known to pick up the odd undemanding novel from the local bookshop chain EMPiK as I potter around Poland.

Unfortunately I still need printouts of the previous edition of the Lonely Planet guidebook I'm researching. I'd love to have all this on a waterproof tablet with a long battery charge, on which I could make quick marginal notes with a stylus. One day perhaps, as the tech matures.

Image reduction

Where's the camera, you might wonder? For years I've taken photos on a simple compact digital camera, and had plenty of them published. Now, with the camera of the iPhone 4S approaching the quality of that of my digital camera, I've decided to use that for my photography instead.

It's a bit of a leap and I'm aware it has limitations, but I trialled it recently on a week in Thailand and it was quite successful. The bonus of being able to automatically back up images via hotel wifi to iCloud each evening is an added incentive. It'll be interesting to see how it goes.

Bowl food = soul food

The other item that might raise eyebrows is the foldable bowl. It's a clever item you can buy from camping stores, a flat circular piece of plastic which magically folds into a usable bowl. It's for evenings when I'm completely exhausted and just want to eat something simple in my hotel room - I pick up some muesli and milk and use the bowl for them. Bliss.

What do you think, would this work for you or is it too restrictive? Do you have light packing tips you'd like to share?