Well into our year, we decided to significantly lighten our luggage load. On the way back to northern Italy through Sicily, we packed one of our two large duffels with everything we deemed non-essential and left it behind at the Taormina train station, “for donation.” All along, we’ve been leaving a Hansel-and-Gretel trail of bits and pieces across Europe: a t-shirt here, a pair of khakis there; the extra box of Band-Aids and the threadbare pair of hiking shorts went by the wayside. But six months into it, we were finally inspired and mustered the courage to do some serious unloading. Traveling with four overstuffed bags literally weighed us down and had simply become too onerous. To be fair, however, we had packed for four seasons, marathon training, skiing, hiking and some nice meals out. But it was at long last the beginning of March and with most of the cold weather we expect to encounter behind us, we decided to divest ourselves of our warmest layers and everything else we could make do without.
Our resolve was further bolstered by a chance encounter on a train. On our way south from Naples, we’d met John and Connie, a retired couple from Colorado who looked and acted much younger than their 65 years and who were 10 months into an extended five-year adventure around the world. All they were carrying was a backpack and medium-sized suitcase each. Once they saw our bags, they good-naturedly chided us that we hadn’t exactly “left it all behind.” Their comment sealed the deal: one of our Ogio millstones would be staying in Sicily. We attacked the pruning with a vengeance and were brutal about what we eliminated. If Joe can live without that pair of jeans, I can get by just fine without my travel blazer. No need for that second white shirt – I’ll just wash the other one more often. It’s amazing the difference our bold move has made; we’re just one bag lighter but so much less burdened. We’d drastically simplified our stateside possessions before leaving on our trip and now we’ve stripped down what we’re lugging behind us. The duffel divestiture is already paying dividends. Fewer bags and much less weight have put an extra bounce in our step, lightened the psychological load and will actually save us a significant amount of money. It will be easier to take busses rather than the occasional cab, we can rent smaller cars with smaller trunks and the exorbitant luggage-by-the-kilo fees charged by the discount airlines we patronize will shrink. Our goal, which surely we can meet once we leave Paris, the marathon and the requisite running gear behind us, is to be down to just two bags in addition to our packs. We’ll then be heading far to the south and fingers crossed, will only have need for our lightweight summer essentials. Simplifying is always good for the soul.
Pictures of our adventures: http://gapyeargirlgoestoeurope.shutterfly.com