Being on holiday in Spain for two weeks of September posed an interesting dilemma. How to pick a challenge for the month that I could do both at home and away. Then, while wondering how I was going to manage a suitcase for two weeks of constantly hopping on and off a train (we’re using the little FEVE train to meander along the northern coast, stopping here and there along the way), I got to wondering just how light I could feasibly travel.
I did a bit of googling and what do you know? Travelling ultra-light is a thing. There are some cracking blogs out there by backpackers who travel super light all over the world. Refreshingly, a few of them are quite girly girls who do take make-up, don’t rely on bandanas to disguise unwashed hair, and don’t pack those awful, practical clothes you see in outdoorsy shops. The lovely C’est Christine, for example, is doing a smashing job of looking glam with just a 15l daypack and a tote to live out of. LOVING her work.
I’m already a pretty light traveller. I got a raised eyebrow at the Cathay Pacific desk, with my measly 9kg load when I checked it in for three weeks in Australia. Every time I go away, though, every time I pick up my bag or case, I think ‘I could have done better’. So the next time, I shave off even more. This time, I’m putting myself to the test. Travelling ultra-light is my September thing. I’m leaving my wheelie case at home, and buying a small backpack. It has to be PRETTY BLUMMIN’ small too, as my neck and shoulders are utterly pathetic, and get grumpy just carrying a handbag all day.
So I’ve ordered a few backpacks to try out at Cotswold Outdoor. I have, erm, quite an exacting list of requirements;
- Maximum 30l capacity. Ideally lower.
- Weighing as little as possible – below 1kg would be lovely.
- Cabin baggage dimensions for a Ryanair flight.
- A proper, padded hip-belt and fully adjustable straps, to help me carry as much weight on my hips (read – not on my neck/shoulders) as possible.
- Panel loading – can’t be doing with top loading bags. My stuff would just be EVERYWHERE in there.
- Black. Or grey. Just not neon green, purple, orange or any other daft colours that will be clashing with outfits every time I use it.
I am a store assistant’s nightmare. The first one I spoke to pretty much said it can’t be done. Happily, I then found a more optimistic one, who helped me try on lots of packs, and ordered some others that could work into the shop for me. She was great.
Next job is to pare down my stuff enough to fit in such a bag.
Obviously, this part of the challenge will only take me until the middle of the month. However, I have just booked flights for a weekend in Paris with my mum at the beginning of October, which will give me two weeks of planning time, using all my cunning and wit, to see just how light I can travel for three nights in one of Europe’s most elegant cities (AND remain elegant enough not to get glared at by Parisians). I’m thinking perhaps handbag only? 😮