Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a theme in the travel world: that of travelling light. And while I don’t disagree with the concept in principle, there’s one aspect about it that seems problematic. There’s a real cachet being built up around not checking luggage, with a corresponding sneer towards those who do. This is especially directed towards women, what with the female overpacking stereotype, and all.
I actually got into a conversation with a woman a while back – an online stranger, so take this with a grain of salt – who said that, “Ladies, it’s possible,” when it came to travelling with carry-on luggage only. She insisted that because she had gone on a trip with nothing more than seven sundresses, a pair of sandals, and a sweater, everyone else could, too.
When I asked her destination, her answer was a tropical resort somewhere. Now, I’m going to allow my inner snob to come out to play for a moment to say, “Honey, you’re not travelling. You’re vacationing.” If I was going to sit on a beach and drink for a week, then yeah, I could probably pack nothing but carry-on, too.
But it’s important to look at the why behind your travel before you pack. Ski vacations are always the example that gets a pass because, of course, skiing requires special gear. But that’s taking a narrow view of things. When I travel, for example, it’s generally in conjunction with music, usually heavy metal in nature, often a festival.
I feel that at this point, I should introduce you to my boots.
If moshing is involved, I’m doing it in those shitkickers, right there. Hell, even if just standing in general admission is involved I’m doing it in those boots, because I’m short and they give me an extra three inches, so I might actually be able to see the band.
And one of those boots takes up as much packing space as seven sundresses.
That’s my suitcase in the background. It’s your typical middle-sized suitcase from a set of three, so it’s not like it’s the biggest thing out there. Prior to buying it, I asked Ron if he thought my goth boots would fit in it. The sales associate helping us laughed and said, “I love that that’s your main concern.”
When discussing this article topic, Ron pointed out that it’s not just what you take with you that dictates the size of suitcase you need. (Although he does have boots of his own to consider. Motorcycle ones. With flaming skulls.) There’s also what you bring back to factor in.
I feel that at this point, I should introduce you to Ron’s suitcase.
Again, we generally plan our travel around music, so there’s always band gear to consider. At one-off shows, there are a few t-shirts and hoodies to take into account. And when we go to Wacken Open Air every few years, my attitude at the vendor stalls is essentially, “One of each, please!” But it’s not like we fly in for the concert and fly out again immediately. For every show we see, there’s an average of a week of other travel attached to it.
When I was maybe 12 or 13 years old, one of my brothers went on a cycling tour in Europe. He came back with mouth-blown crystal goblets, a bottle of wine from each country he went to, and a painting done by a street artist, whom he had watched create it from start to finish. I can’t thank him enough for teaching me how to shop while I travel, because my home is filled with artwork from every country I visit. (I’d say it’s full of international liquor, too, but that tends to get drunk up kinda soonish after I get home. Well, except for that last little bit of Ukrainian vodka I’m saving for a special occasion.) And if those are the kinds of souvenirs you’re going to bring home with you, you’ve got to have something appropriate to pack them in.
Huge as my boots may be, they only take up maybe 1/4 of the space in my suitcase.
My actual clothes take up another 1/4 or so, depending on whether or not my hard-core show gear – including a whaleboned, leather, metal-studded corset that doesn’t fold worth a damn – gets tapped for the trip. The important thing, though, is that around half of my suitcase’s volume is empty when I leave home.
I get why people don’t want to pay the already gouging airlines an extra fee for a checked bag. I really do. But personally, I’m more focused on having room to pack that memory I want to bring home with me than sticking it to the man.