Downsizing Before Your Travels

Downsizing Before Your Travels is vital so you can fit your belongings in a backpack ... photo by CC user stevecoutts on Flickr

Trying to decide what to take and what to leave behind can be a bit of a nightmare. Most of us overpack, ending up carting around clothes we never wear and items we never use. Downsizing before your travels, whether you’re just going away for a week or two or you’re planning an extended tour, takes some organising.

Extended tours can be hardest of all, especially if you’re camping or motor homing and there’s the need for additional items like cooking utensils or maintenance tools.

Thinking in Groups

Thinking in terms of groups or categories of items helps because it gives convenient ‘boxes’ to think in. Instead of thinking sandals and boots, or swimming and fishing gear, open up the categories in broad terms. For instance:

  • Kitchen and utensils (if you’re camping)
  • Tools (if you’re travelling in a motor home)
  • Clothes
  • Legal papers (passport, banking, credit cards, tickets, pets papers)

Before you start assembling items, make lists in each category of everything you’d like to take. To start, include everything that comes to mind. As the list grows longer, trim it back by figuring out what items can do more than one job, what you could buy if you need to, and what’s simply a ‘worst case scenario’ item.

Downsizing Your Travel Kitchen

If you’re camping, you definitely can’t carry everything. Motor homes or RVs give more flexibility, but not that much. You’ll have to be a little selective, but can still live comfortably. One thing to bear in mind is that many camping or RV cookers and stoves are smaller than household ones, so if you have a favourite pan or baking tray, it might not fit. Check sizes beforehand, especially if you’re renting or borrowing your mobile home from home. Choose basic items first, such as tin openers, cutlery, plates and mugs. Move on to appliances, such as a kettle or coffee pot, and finally organise the things you’d like if there’s room, such as outdoor furniture or a barbecue.

Organising Your Wardrobe

If you always wear or use everything you pack, you’re a rare traveller indeed. Most of us pack too much, especially when it comes to clothes. The way to organise clothes is to pack for the situation or season you’ll get, not the one you hope to have. So, if you know you’re going somewhere dry, don’t bother with umbrellas or raincoats. Likewise, if you most of your time will be spent on the beach, don’t go overboard packing formal clothes just in case you go somewhere up market. In an emergency, you can always buy what you’re short of.

Storing Household Items

If you’re going away for an extended time, you could consider renting out your property or maybe doing a house swap. In either scenario there are bound to be items you don’t want leave in place, including anything of value, either monetary or personal. Whatever you want to keep safe from damage could either be placed in self storage or housed with family or friends.

Items to consider storing include expensive electricals such as TVs, HiFi or gaming consoles and computers. Antique or expensive furniture should also be stored safely, but you consider also storing books, silverware, collections or rare or treasured objects and expensive kitchen gadgets or appliances that you’d hate to lose.

Pack items for storage carefully, putting heavy items like books, or fragile china objects into small boxes and saving the larger boxes for things like bedding or linen. Purpose made boxes are available for electrical items if you don’t have the original packing.

Dismantling furniture items you want to store saves space and money. Take legs off dining tables, for instance, and remove mirrors from dressing tables.

Having fewer packed items to take with you, and safely storing household items for your return is a good foundation for a relaxing trip. You’re not burdened with excess baggage, and you know everything at home is safely under lock and key for when you get back.