Is packing light all it’s cracked up to be? Our writers argue the toss
Yes, says Katie Gatens
In travel, as in life, baggage is a dirty word. It means being tied down, slower — which, in my mind, is the antithesis of what travel is all about. Over the years I’ve embraced the baggage-free lifestyle: filling a rucksack with a few items of clothing, my passport and a toothbrush, and hitting the road, interrailing and hitchhiking (sorry Mum) my way around the world, hand-washing my knickers in the bathrooms of youth hostels and buying a new pair of trainers when my toes touched the pavement.
It’s not just romanticism that the packing-light movement has going for it. Travelling without a suitcase to weigh you down also saves you time — who wants to spend precious minutes waiting by the baggage belt when you’re already itching to start your holiday? Or having to arrive at the airport a couple of hours earlier just to see the snaking queue of people waiting at bag drop?
These days airlines penalise overzealous packers. Ryanair, easyJet and Jet2 have all slimmed down their cabin-baggage allowance in recent years — and rightly so. Bringing those three extra bikinis — plus that teddy bear you never leave home without — means extra weight, which equals burning more fuel. For Greta-worshipping Gen Z, that’s possibly even more uncool than taking the plane in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve got older I’ve been tempted to pack the extra face creams, the going “out out” shoes — and will there be a hairdryer in the Airbnb? But I know I’d end up leaving most of it untouched in the bottom of my bag. This month I went to Tuscany for a five-day holiday including a wedding and took a backpack that slid snugly under the seat in front of me. I even tweeted a photo for the ultimate #humblebrag — or should that be #humblebag?
In my mind there’s only one thing worse than trying to wheel a suitcase across the beach on Koh Phi Phi, and that’s being the last woman standing at baggage reclaim and finding your suitcase hasn’t joined you on the holiday at all.
An open-and-shut case? It’s not that simple
No, says Liz Edwards
“When did travelling light become a virtue?” a friend tweeted. “Don’t understand why we get shamed for comfort packing.” I’m grateful to her for this clarity. All these years I thought I was a bad packer. Now I realise I’m just a comfort packer. Light packers seem to feel some sort of moral superiority, as the naturally skinny might do over the naturally plump. But I’m coming out in favour of baggage positivity. I’m not ashamed to say I took four pairs of shoes for a one-night hotel stay recently. I can carry my own bags, so what skin is it off your nose?
Comfort packers might stand accused of chronic indecision — panic packing is real — but done properly it gives you options. Don’t choose between the black vest and the blue T-shirt at home; take both and make a more informed decision when you get there. Pack that extra pair of shoes and you reduce the risk of ruining your holiday snaps — possibly even life — by being the one in the floaty dress and Teva sandals. And do you want to end up shivering after sundown for want of a spare layer? Me neither.
Another thing that my kind of packing delivers is the precious gift of extra holiday time. My husband, a smug light packer, insists that anything vital can be bought post-arrival. But I refuse to spend my holiday trudging around shops in search of things I already have at home. There are only so many locally woven straw hats a girl needs.
It’s true that you can also save time by limiting your sartorial choices — just ask Steve Jobs or Dennis the Menace. And yes, a destination with consistent weather lets you plan your outfits and pack accordingly. But a wardrobe itinerary doesn’t allow for holiday-spirit spontaneity. It’s like meal planning; I don’t know what I’ll fancy for dinner next Tuesday, but I bet it isn’t what I think I’d like now.
Will I wear everything I pack? No. But will I have the thrill of getting home with some clothes that don’t need washing? Oh yes.
In these days of hefty airline baggage fees — and the fuel costs associated with hefty baggage — packing extra might be seen as profligate. But I’m not travelling with three matching wheelies and a steamer trunk. I simply find it reassuring to pack a few things just in case. Or, as I wrestle to cram them into my bag, only just in case.
Do you pack the kitchen sink or insist on sticking to the bare minimum? Let us know in the comments below for your chance to win a £1,000 voucher with Oliver’s Travels
- GARDENA Perl Regner: water-saving sprinklers for watering plants rows and beds,...
Water saving: For targeted, water-saving irrigation of flower beds and rows of plants for water savings up to 70% Ready: The Perl sprinkler is […]
- Havnyt Pacific Garden Folding Chairs Textilene Mesh Steel Frame Weatherproof...
The pacific garden folding chair has basic construction made of extremely light weight coated steel frame The textline mesh on back and seat ensures […]