Friday, June 7, 2013

Literally everything I'm carrying now

Mine's the stuff on the shoulders.
The rest is because I'm a (gentleman/packhorse)

Two years on, how does my luggage compare to this same time in 2011 after I'd only managed a piffling nine months of travelling? Have I learned to relax and accept airline baggage fees or become even more minimalist to spite them? Do I have any original items left? Is there anything I've been carting around for nearly three years that I really needn't have bothered with? What's with all the bloody socks?

I still feel self-satisfied when I get the occasional admiring or confused comment about the small size of my baggage (a woman at Sydney Airport was flabbergasted), but luggage has become an issue for the first time on this latest trip as Jackie's been taking the opportunity to stock up on cheap foreign inventory for her family's store, as well as feeling pressure to buy gifts for everyone back home.

This is a completely new situation for me, someone whose only concession to souvenirs is buying a new 'Save the Arbitrary Animal' T-shirt a couple of times a year when the armpit tear in the old one becomes too difficult to obscure, and has resulted in headaches and paranoid frowns each time we pass a local market and a few more items are added to our already heaving bags with the promise that it will somehow fit, contrary to the laws of physics. I don't know if Jackie's a Time Lord or what, but to her credit she was ruthlessly minimal with her clothing when we set off to leave a gaping space for stock, and so far we've managed to convince airlines that those bulging backpacks, suitcases and shopping bags really are suitable cabin bags. Maybe she's a Jedi?

This has meant I've spent a lot more time in plain, characterless malls this time around in Malaysia and Thailand than usual (which means more than no time), with more to look forward to when we head to Korea and Japan in a couple of months for what's looking increasingly like a business trip. Maybe I can claim it all as expenses.

Inventory as of 7 June 2013

Laptop bag (replaced in July 2011)

Left inside pocket

  • Passport (replaced in December 2012)
  • Debit card (replaced in October 2012)
  • Internet banking security device (new)

Right inside pocket

  • Pens x2 (always replacing these)
  • USB flash drive (same)
  • MP3 player (replaced in November 2011)
  • Small notebook (bought yesterday - exciting!)

In front of laptop compartment

  • Envelope for cash (empty)
  • Large notebook (getting full)

Laptop compartment

  • Acer Aspire One laptop (replaced the old laptop in August 2012)
  • Headphones (came with MP3 player bought in November 2011 - could this be the longest I haven't destroyed headphones?)

Behind laptop compartment

  • Package of several probably unimportant documents (mostly same) and passport photos (new)
  • Laptop charger/plug (for Asian two-pin power sockets)
  • Samsung ES65 digital camera (still the same! But it's getting on a bit and will be replaced before long)
  • Camera cable (same)
  • Fabric camera case (same)
  • Hat (I lose these every few months due to idiocy)
  • Book: The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (recent purchase, up to page 114)
  • Book: The Flamingo Anthology of Fantastic Literature: Black Water by Alberto Manguel, ed. (bought in Australia, dipped in and out of most of it)
  • Bag of utilities:
  • Power adaptors x3 (all new, bought at different times, a couple for dedicated plug types)
  • Inflatable pillow (replaced April 2013 but already punctured. I threw this away literally just now)
  • Glasses cloth (old, for cleaning/dirtying laptop screen)
  • Spare headphones (same, never had to use them)
  • Glasses case:
  • Spare glasses (same, dating quite a few prescriptions back since my last ones were destroyed)
  • USB flash drives x4 (same, containing backups and stuff to watch)
  • Earplugs x2 (unused)
  • Glasses cloth (for cleaning glasses this time. Never used)
  • Assorted cards and passport photos (new and old)

Clothes bag (replaced in September 2012, already on the way out)

Main compartment

  • T-shirts x8 (5 new)
  • Shorts x3 pairs (all new)
  • Boxers x6 pairs (all new)
  • Jeans x2 pairs (1 new)
  • Shirt x1 (same, never wear it)
  • Coat x1 (same, wear it a few days each year)
  • Jumper x1 (new, see above)
  • Bathroom bag:
  • 1 box of 'water-resistant' plasters x4
  • 1 portion toilet roll
  • 1 Nivea Men Dry Impact Plus anti-perspirant
  • Shaving bag:
  • Panasonic ES-SA40 electric razor (replaced old razor in August 2011)
  • Panasonic RE7-52 electric razor charger and plug

Upper front compartment

  • Trainers x1 pair (same, smelly and maybe even a bit mouldy. Will replace some time)
  • Socks x4 pairs (none new, but at least I've got rid of a few pairs)
  • Swimming shorts x1 pair (new)

Lower front compartment

  • Condoms x5 (someone's feeling lucky!)

Wallet (replaced in May 2012), arm and pocket

  • 766 Philippine pesos
  • Watch (replaced in August 2011)
  • Room key ('Sundeck')

How am I doing?

Not too badly at all, I think, though there seems to be a general opinion that I should replace my T-shirts more frequently, especially when they develop permanent stains that don't shift when laundered (apparently smelling clean isn't enough). I still don't miss 'stuff' - my laptop gives me access to all the entertainment I need, and I swap or buy a used book every now and then.

As well as being useful for keeping tabs on my progress, writing this post encouraged me to reaffirm my ruthless minimalism out of fear of embarrassment and letting the side down, so while writing this I identified and chucked a few really unnecessary things I'd been futilely carrying around everywhere I went (a pair of gloves being especially conspicuous), then threw a couple more when going through it after it published.

And while stocking up on store inventory and loading heavy luggage into taxis might mean the days of travelling light and moving fast are gone, having a base in the Philippines at least means I'll be able to select a few choice items to leave behind each time we set off abroad if they won't be needed for certain trips, such as a coat and heavy shoes if we'll be sticking to tropical countries. Thereby freeing up a few extra square centimetres of storage to be choked with blouses and animal-shaped cutlery to be carted around until our return.

Remember when I used to explore?


  1. We have the same laptop! Are you having any trouble with yours? I keep getting the blue screen of death. I think it's no biggie. James thinks I should get a new one.

    We also use the same brand of anti persperant! SPOOKY!

    1. I guess you bought it for the price/size? I got mine in Thailand where it was the cheapest in the shop (and discounted because they only had the display model left), I think. Then I took it to some other place in the mall where they filled it with (presumably) pirated Windows and loads other pirated software like Photoshop, saving me the effort to illegally download them myself.

      I got my girlfriend the same laptop in the Philippines, so we can look disgustingly cute when using them across the table and lazily swap the charger when we're sharing a power socket.

      I've only had the blue screen this week, but I think it was down to VLC media player not liking a file type. I thought I had a big problem with the modem or other internet stuff a few weeks ago, but it turned out to be ZoneAlarm blocking my Wi-Fi, so I changed my model of firewall for literally the first time in 10 years (Comodo + Avast combo now).

      So I guess Acer's treating me well.

  2. Ha! I was thinking of doing one of these again. I have loads less stuff this time round and I'm not sure how I did it. I should probably have more interesting things to write about.

    Have you considered an e-reader? I was slow on the uptake (just like I was with CDs/MP3s) and when Aidan sold his Kindle to Shana before we left I mocked them and stood firmly in the past. However I finished a book and used her fancy gizmo to read something on a bus tour and ended up quite liking it, so I ended up buying one second hand a few weeks ago. It's amazing how small and especially how light it is compared to a book or two, and it doesn't strain the eyes at all.

    1. I've considered it and wouldn't have any technophobia about digital book reading, I read entire books on a regular computer screen when I was a student to save money and I think it'd be especially great for comics if I could look at a full page in one go rather than having to scroll down tall pages on a widescreen laptop.

      I just have an aversion to buying myself gifts (travel doesn't count somehow). I still read most books in audio form anyway.