What sort of packer are you?

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I’ve started to re-evaluate my packing style. The impetus for this is the realization that all those extremely cheap flights throughout Europe aren’t so cheap once you add on baggage fees. While travelers can bring a carry-on at no cost, the flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen (and the two other routes I’ll be flying) will come close to doubling in price for travelers who want to check a bag.

So now I have a challenge: to manage in Europe for two weeks with a carry-on size bag.

European travel guru Rick Steves tells us: “The measure of a good traveler is how light she travels.” That might be over-stating things a bit, but there are clear benefits to packing light, which he takes pains to outline on the travel tips section of his website. Things like:

• Travelers enjoy more mobility and freedom with a smaller bag; getting to and from the airport/train station/hotel will be much easier.

• If you carry-on your own luggage, it’s far less likely to get lost, damaged or stolen.

• No more waiting around the luggage conveyer belt in a jet-lagged fog with similarly dazed-looking travelers! You can walk off the plane with carry-on in tow and hit the ground running.

Clearly, there are benefits to traveling this way that go above and beyond saving a few bucks on EasyJet.

But how to do it? In the past while packing, I’ve often thrown a few extra “just in case” items in my bag, but Rick says this is a big mistake - that we should be careful to pack only what we genuinely need.

Fortunately my trip is in the summer, so bulky coats, boots and sweaters will not be taking up precious space in my bag. Lightweight summer dresses and skirts can roll down to tiny sizes, as do leggings and flimsy cotton t-shirts. I’ll be sure to bring pieces that mix and match in multiple combinations. Instrumental to a lightweight plan is the fact that I will be staying in apartments with their own laundry facilities, so there’s no need to pack 14 changes of clothes.

I was stumped for a bit on how to bring back all the clothing I’m sure to buy while shopping with my sister in London, before I had a stroke of genius: I’ll stuff a flimsy, lightweight duffel into the side pocket of my little suitcase, pack my purchases in there and check it when I fly back to Vancouver (no charge to check bags with Air Transat!)

The only question left is whether I can fit my running gear into a carry-on. I’ve been running almost every day for the past few months, and love the idea of joining European joggers running around the Jardins Luxembourg or Vondelpark. I suppose nothing but a full-scale trial packing attempt will determine whether my trainers will fit or if I’ll have to find another way to burn off all the croissants!

What's your packing style?
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