Traveling Light

Alright, so I’ve had a lot of mixed opinions on my idea of packing for a whole month overseas with only hand luggage. Some people love it, by and far though most people reckon I’m nuts. By my reckoning, I feel it is a good idea.

Why do I want to take only hand luggage? Why should I probably not do so little? And how do I plan (if it is possible) to pull it off? What should I include in my packing list?

Why I want to take only hand luggage

Well, there’s a number of reasons actually.

  1. Most people I talk to and every travel website says “pack less stuff”

  2. I have a reputation to keep as being somewhat maintenance free.

  3. The less stuff I carry with me, the less stuff can be stolen or lost forever.

  4. When I travel between cities in USA, it costs a lot on money to take an extra bag in the hold.

  5. Now the main though being – less weight and responsibility. See, if I’m checking luggage in, it will be out of my hands from Durban to JFK. But, when I get to JFK at the end of a +-25hr journey on my own, I have to wait at the baggage collection to get the bag/s. Then go through customs and out onto the road dragging 2/3 bags (1 is ok, but two or three?), on my own I’ll have to catch a shuttle bus from JFK to Newark airport, then catch yet another shuttle to my hotel to join with the group. On and off and swapping transportation after already being thoroughly exhausted (Remember I also have CFS) with an extra bag or two does not sound fun. After my 5 day tour in NYC, I catch the greyhound (or similar bus) to Cleveland with a midnight bus change on the way. Yet again – really way too much responsibility for a tired and weary traveler.

Reasons I probably should take more

The limit on Emirates airlines to take carry on is a single item, their website states: “The weight of each piece must not exceed 7kg (15lb). Economy Class customers are permitted one piece of carry-on baggage, either a handbag or laptop bag, that may not exceed 22 x 15 x 8 inches (55 x 38 x 20cm) and must weigh no more than 15lb (7kg).”

So, I need to include all my clothes, jewellery, toiletries, gifts, passport, ipad, cell phone, camera (and the respective chargers), money, shoes and anything else I want for a month in a case the height of my knees and that weighs less than a bag of dog food. That’s a push, even for me.

Criteria of what to pack

If you (like me) spend lots of time on Pinterest or googling things, you may see some of these amazing lists and “how to”s from the pros, air hostesses and frequent fliers on how to pack for two or three weeks in just a carry on.

However I have an issue with those, you see the first 10 days that I’m in the states I’ll be visiting the 3 bethel complexes that make up the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses and spend a weekend at a Regional Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Just as out of respect, you would wear nice, tidy, neat clothes for a meeting with a president or royal, ever more so you would want to be dignified in your clothing and appearance when visiting the place called “The house of God” (that is what Bethel means). Not because God can’t see past clothes, but because you love and respect him. Understandably then there are guidelines on what should NOT be worn at bethel.


What NOT to wear when touring bethel

Sadly that’s mostly what’s included in the suggested “Carry on only luggage for 3 weeks” style of packing list.

So my challenge now, with only 30 days to go, is to figure out a “JW friendly”, minimal ironing and washing, 1 month in a carry on only packing list. Not an easy task for one of the most disorganized scatter brained girls to walk this earth.


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