We’ve traveled a lot, which means we’ve also packed a lot. And for lots of different reasons and seasons.
There was the Christmas holiday in Belgium, from here on out known simply as cold af.
The family backpacking trip to the Appalachian mountains, not really cold but windy, rainy and foggy af.
The 5 day, 6 person + 1 dog river raft trip down the Buffalo River in Arkansas. Not windy, not rainy, not cold… pretty freakin amazing, you ask me.
The point is I have experience putting together a packing list for almost any occasion. And I’m not even counting one miserable trip to Disney, several overseas trips to Europe and an unwanted, miserable, nine month, bullshitty, sojourn in 1990 to the Persian Gulf.
So, when Franca and I began putting together a list of the items we’d bring with us to Sicily, I felt I had a pretty good handle on the situation. After all, we were moving from one living situation to another living situation. The things we liked having in one place, we’d probably like having in the other. Only, it had to fit in as few bags as possible.
Roll forward twelve months and how did we do?
Well, it’s complicated.
Clothing and Personal Items
We positively went overboard cleaning our closets out before leaving the US. For certain, we did not bring enough and the reason we did not bring enough is that neither of us like to buy clothes. Or I should say, it’s not that we don’t like to buy clothes, we like to buy clothes that serve us and at the same time leave as small an imprint on the planet as possible, which, regardless of where you live, is easier said than done. It’s why you see us often pictured in Patagonia, or some other ‘earth-conscious” clothing maker. We vote with our wallets sorry—or rather happy—to say. More should get on board with that.
Some of the clothing we wish we’d had with us this first full year in Sicily: more sweaters (who would’ve thought it got this cold here!), a fresh pair of athletic shoes (our old ones had had it even before leaving America), better wind and rain gear (Sicily gets around 300 days of sunshine annually, but the unsunny days happen within a span of about eight weeks). More laying-around-the-house wear (sorry, I can’t bring myself to type lounge or leisure wear) and-sometimes-exercise-in-gear had we realized the opportunity for both would increase with the surround-sound of the dolce far niente, the sweet doing of nothing.
As for personal items, the circuitry in Europe makes this category more difficult. For instance, we would’ve perhaps found a way to bring several kitchen appliances—food processor, immersion blender, etc—but number one, what a pain, and number two, what a pain. They might not have worked well anyway because of the wattage, and even so we’ve managed without them so far (to be honest really the one and only kitchen item I wish I had is this beautiful beast).
*note to self* What kind of person would list kitchenware under Personal Items?
Anyway, the other things we wished we’d had we already knew about it:
- The Fiesta dishware
- Le Creuset 6 qt pot
- And definitely this delightful table accessory from FLKR (as well as those copper mugs!)
My purpose here, however, was not to bitch, moan or brag, but to simply offer up our experience and, assuming no one reading this at the moment is in the process of downsizing and moving halfway around the world, share the pack list that worked for us when we traveled here for one month, using only carry on luggage.
You can download a copy to use and modify for yourself right here.
However, the advice I’d offer is to not sweat it too much. Certainly don’t rely upon my list to plan your trip. If you’re headed to some extreme part of the world then definitely don’t follow it. Take a few things you feel comfortable wearing at home and you’ll probably feel comfortable wearing them anywhere. The only rule, in my opinion, is it all should be worn or fit in a handbag and/or carry on.
You can try and match those items as best you can to the weather and whatever is the occasion for your travel, but even then take what you like and not what you think will look good (honestly, you can probably do both), or appropriate for your age, or worse, Instagramable.
And slippers, always take slippers. Sandwiching your day in a pair of soft slippers is like being at home on vacation. We all have a bit of Dorothy in us.
Other than travel documents and whatever helps you get through many long hours packed in a plane or waiting in an airport, the rest of the items should really just be a matter of comfort, inside and out. It’s that simple. The items on my list above were the things we wore most days no matter if we were working, running errands, hanging out at the house, or taking long walks in the woods. It’s the closest thing we have to a uniform.
Were they enough for our thirty days abroad? Yes, and no. We wore everything we took and didn’t have to buy anything that we weren’t already intending to buy. Would I have packed less, you bet. The simpler the better. If you are able to get away with wearing a uniform do it. No one will care and your wallet, wellbeing and the planet will thank you. After all, in the words of Albert Einstein:
“If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies.... It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.”
If that’s not enough and your trip includes Sicily (and it can and should), consider this statement from Oscar Wilde and then broaden it to anywhere in the Mediterranean: “To be really mediaeval one should have no body. To be really modern one should have no soul. To be really Greek one should have no clothes.”
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As an independent, reader-funded operation, I rely on the backing of readers willing and able to financially support work of this nature. Behind my desk there is just me, seeking to prove in any way that I can, unencumbered by shareholders or billionaire owners, that it is possible to cut through the bullshit of what we're taught about life and find the way to live longer, better, with less, wherever we are. If you find my writing here to be living up to those intentions or otherwise enriches your own life in any way, please consider supporting it with a one-time donation or paid subscription. Your support makes all the difference!
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