If you’re traveling solo, you want to keep your life simple. Make travel easy by thinking like a backpacker. Every ounce or gram counts. Even when you stow your things in a wheeled suitcase, you may need to haul it up curbs and stairs, so pack it mindfully.
Tips for a three-week trip:
A wise friend told me take half as many clothes and twice as much money as you think you’ll need. It’s the “half as many clothes” part I’m focusing on. For me the minimum is three pairs of pants including the ones I wore on the plane, four tops including two with long sleeves, underwear that dries quickly, a wool vest, a lightweight nylon parka, a crushable hat and a small folding umbrella, besides personal items and medications. I think you get the idea, which you can adapt to your needs.
An itinerary without major climate changes means you can get along with half as many clothes as you would need for a more ambitious plan. Pack clothes that look all right on you but that you’re willing to abandon. Then you can make purchases and you won’t be brokenhearted even if you sit down on a recently painted chair.
If you’re a clotheshorse, buy one special travel suit and plan to take it to the cleaners if need be. You may want to carry a small bottle of spot remover.
Wear (or carry) your heaviest clothes on the flight.
If your suitcase weights less than 10 kilos (22 pounds), by carrying it on you will avoid waits in the airport baggage area. I’ve always found a tall person who would put my suitcase in the overhead compartment on the plane.
Several lightweight gifts will do for any hosts you encounter along the way. All I took for my grandchildren were a small sponge basketball and two plastic spoons that the little ones started using right away.
For more sophisticated folks, the same principle works. Upscale doesn’t need to be heavy.
If you’ll regret not bringing your swimsuit and a small towel, bring them!
Pamper yourself with paper, but not too much:
Be sure you have a list of essential contact information for your travels and about the folks back home. In case you lose the list, it’s wise to email a copy of this information to yourself.
Use the old trick of copying the pages you’ll need from a guidebook rather than carrying the whole weighty tome. Especially now with information available on the Internet, you don’t need to carry much with you. Most places, you can pick up good city maps and information at the airport. You may want to take a lightweight guidebook for the city you plan to visit longest.
Pack one lightweight but long paperback for those nights when you’re tired.
What to bring back and not bring back from your solo trip:
I bought postcards instead of bringing back photos because I didn’t take a camera, a personal choice that simplified my life.
I did keep some ticket stubs, museum folders, things like that because I like tangible reminders but I didn’t let myself be a paper magnet.
Once I meant to shop for a particular CD and book I wanted, but unfortunately ended up forgetting to do so. The next time I emailed myself a To-Do list.
I have jettisoned pants and a pair of shoes I knew beforehand I would abandon by the end of the trip, usually leaving them for the maid.
Maybe, best of all, I come home remembering people I meet on my travels, both other tourists and local people..