The Sound of One Bag Traveling

12 June 2012

I’m currently on a business trip in Boston, arriving Monday afternoon and leaving Saturday afternoon.

I have one laptop backpack with the stuff that normally goes along with it (iPad, a physical book, the minimum of necessary cables), and one normal-size backpack with my clothes for the week. That’s it.

Here’s how I did it, and why…

  • I carefully fold and roll up my cloths into tight bundles, one piece at a time . Not only does this let them take up less space in my bag, it keeps them from getting as wrinkled too.
  • I only brought two pairs of pants (which are normally among the most bulky clothes you can pack). There is nothing wrong with wearing pants multiple days between washes; if they get too sweaty or stained, I’ll hand wash them in the shower and hang them to dry (hotel rooms tend to be so dry, this works out quite well).
  • I only brought sundries that would be too difficult, expensive, or wasteful to buy at my destination. I checked before I left home to be sure I’d have a drugstore within easy walking distance from my hotel.
  • I like to record sounds wherever I go to use in my various experimental electro-acoustic and audio scapbooking musical projects. I used to bring along a portable, high-resolution recorder. It wasn’t that bulky by itself, but when you add in the carrying case, charger, mic… The last few months I have been using an iPhone app called Fire Field Recorder which works wonderfully, recording at the same high-resolution as the dedicated device. The only downside is it is only mono without a special mic, but that is more than sufficient for now.
  • Lightening up on so many other things allowed me to pack one ‘luxury’ item: my studio monitor headphones, which I’ll use to do the final mixing for some music which will be used in my significant other’s art show opening next Sunday.

Of course, the physical aspect of traveling light has many benefits. But what of the less tangible benefits?

  • I’ve done enough business and personal travel over the years to have realized that packing more stuff actually gives you less comfort, not more, that you’re packed everything you might need ‘just in case’. Deliberately pack only the true essentials, and anything you really have a need for but don’t want the cost and/or effort of buying onsite.
  • You’ll be much less tired from all the other parts of traveling, like walking to the airport gate, walking to the subway, etc. Less weight and in forms that are easier to transport will do wonders for keeping your energy up for the things you actually want to do away from home.
  • It’s much easier to get around the plane and the subway, two places where space is at a premium and most people seem to have no concept of what footprint they are occupying. Being able to maneuver much more easily is a godsend, and great stress-reducer (travel is stress-inducing enough!)

Shedding all the extra stuff to lug around and worry about lets me focus on the real purpose of my trip: the conference I am attending, and my own wandering-around time. (Not to mention, letting me think about how next time I could manage to travel with just one bag!)

I’d like to leave you with a link to a post on Leo Baubata’s Mnmlist blog that was particularly inspirational in how I approached this trip.