Simplifying Packing for Travel | Rarotonga 2017

My son and I travelled to the paradise island of Rarotonga (Raro) for my cousin’s wedding in October. During this time, I was only halfway in to my 30 day Minimalism Challenge. I could already tell that my mindset towards “stuff” had changed and certain stages of this trip showed me by just how much. Packing for travel stresses me out. I usually leave it to the last minute and I never enjoy the lead up to a trip.  This trip brought to light packing habits of mine that need to change. It showed me what was important and showed me perspective.

Travel bags – Raro was our third international trip in 11 months. The first was a holiday to Tonga and the second, to Samoa. For Tonga, I packed two 120 litre duffle bags at 23 kilos each, the kind that rugby players use. I’m used to packing everything bar the kitchen sink. It’s either the Mum in me, or the Tongan in me. For Raro, I managed to pack only one 120 litre duffle bag with both of our clothes and one piece of carry on luggage each.

Airport Check-in – I approached the check in counter nervously and you know that guilty feeling you get when you see a police car on the road even though you haven’t committed any crimes? That’s how I felt. I put my bag on the scales and I almost fell off my invisible chair. Our bag only weighed 14 kilos. The lightest I’ve ever packed for a flight in my life.

Unpacking in the Resort – Wedding outfits. Check. Swimming gear. Check. Work out gear. Check. Other clothes. Oh crap. That’s when I realised I barely packed anything. Even though laundry is the last thing you want to do when on holiday, it’s amazing how it can solve a lot of your problems. Who cares if you’re seen wearing the same outfit again, at least it’s clean.

Embracing the frizz – I had packed my hair straightener and curling iron to tame my frizzy in-between hair. I didn’t even use them once so I had to embrace my natural frizz. Reverting to a simple bun did wonders for my sanity, especially in the heat. By simply removing this process from my morning routine, I gained an extra hour in my day. Next time, I know not to pack these items.

Gift/Souvenir shopping – I barely bought anything at the Saturday local markets, gift shops or duty free. I bought one gift for us both and a couple of presents for friends and family but that was all. The mere thought of adding “things” to our home whilst I was still trying to “simplify stuff” and declutter didn’t make sense. I thought to myself, I often buy souvenirs on our travels and never touch them again. It was best I didn’t buy them at all.

Realisation

I realise that the 30 day Minimalism Challenge has really been positive and I’m extremely happy with my progress.  I found that minimising the “stuff” I packed and the souvenirs I bought whilst travelling meant that I could focus on experiences and not consumption. Less time was spent getting ready in the morning and I was satisfied with what we were able to fit into a single day, rather than trying to do too much. Most importantly, the extra time I got back, I spent it enjoying my family. They were the main  reason we travelled in the first place and they became my focus. For future trips, I’ll definitely be asking myself whether what I’m packing will add value to our experiences or hinder them. I look forward to planning more holidays and refining my packing for travel habits. I guess I’ll have to plan more holidays to do just that.

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