10 May 2009

travelling light: travel gadget secret

For travelling light, its really important to plan well and shop well. However, that doesn't mean walking into every travel store or every travel department of each store and buying all the latest travel gadgets.

I'm going to let you in on a big secret.

Listen very carefully...

You don't need most of that stuff.

I have my favourite little travel gadgets to take with me. I have slowly accumulated them over time, and they have become part my tried and tested travel kit. But, I can walk into most travel goods places these days and walk out again without purchasing anything.

Sure, the camera attachments that let you use a bottle as your camera stand for taking a photo are pretty nifty. But you know what? I don't actually need one.

Those chemical handwarmers which are like little plastic pillows filled with gel look rather clever, but I don't need them for travelling either.

I love looking at outdoor and adventure store catalogues. They're quite fun. I enjoy looking at the weights of all the products and seeing how heavy they are. I enjoy looking at all the latest must-have gadgets and then... turning the page.

Once in a while I'll come across a new product that actually looks like it might work for me. Then I'll weigh it up against what I've already got, I'll consider its multi-functionality, I'll consider its weight and size. If its an item of clothing I'd want to see how easily crushable it is, whether its quick dry, and whether it goes with my existing travel wardrobe. If it is no better, or not appreciably better than what I already have, then I won't buy it.

Life isn't about how much stuff we can accumulate. I think one of the most paradoxical things about travelling light is that it takes most people a lot of effort, and a lot of products (to work your way through and then discard as not being good enough or light enough or whatever enough) to get to the point where you can travel really light. It also usually costs a lot of money.

For some, the act of travelling light becomes just another exercise in consumerism. You CAN go lighter! You DO NEED to spend another huge wad of cash on the LATEST thing. You DO NEED the smallest/lightest/coolest/niftiest doodad, because if you DON'T your trip won't be any good!


That said, I do espouse the principles of travelling light. But I need to remind myself that I do not constantly need more stuff.

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