Packing Small vs. Packing Light

So, here is Part III of my
Banaue — Buscalan — Baguio chronicles, and it is
About packing, namely
My packing mistakes.

Ever since I first did a
Backpacking trip (of a sort) during
My last few weeks in Japan, I’ve learned
The value of packing small.

Lugging around a
Stroller-backpack,
Full of winter clothes and
Missing a wheel,
Through ice and pavement,
On and off buses and planes, and
In and out of capsule hotels or hostels,
Was truly a lesson in what
Not to do when packing.

So on my next backpacking trip
Around mainland Southeast Asia, I had
One backpack (around 30L or less), and I was
Pretty proud of my progress.

But one thing I noticed is that,
While I’ve definitely learned to pack
In smaller bags, I’ve failed to take into account
How much they weigh.

When I went back to Japan with my boyfriend
Last February 2015, I confidently packed
My carry-on-sized luggage
With space to spare—
Only to still get stopped at the airport
As it weighed over the airline’s requisite 7kg.

The same could be said for my trip this time around.

While I didn’t have to check-in any bags as I didn’t pass through an airport,
Weight is actually a
Bigger factor when you’re literally lugging your bag around,
Up a mountain no less.

I managed to fit all my things in a
20L backpack, but it proved
A lot heavier than I thought it would, and
I noticed this BEFORE even beginning the trip but
AFTER it was too late to re-pack (i.e., after work, when I was waiting for the tour van).

Ironically, I didn’t think I packed too much:

A dress,

A pair of shorts,

A shawl,

A travel towel,

A bag of toiletries, i.e., soap, shampoo, lotion, sunblock, mosquito repellant, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, wet wipes + medic kit, i.e., bandaids, paracetamol, mefenamic acid, etc. (mind you, these are all in “travel sizes”),

A micropacker lantern,

A headlight,

A small sketchbook + pencil and eraser,

A tupperware + utensils (as advised by the tour organizers), and

A bag of chips + (2) granola bars + a bottle of milk tea.

Thinking back on it now though,
I realized

I didn’t even use all the toiletries I brought—
I only used the soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and comb;

I did use the paracetamol, but
Perhaps I didn’t need all those gauzes?

The toiletry bag itself might have added extra weight
That I could have done without, if I just put the travel bottles
Directly into my bag (or The PACK, which I used);

Though speaking of The PACK, could that
Have added extra weight as well?

I know I only needed one light-emitting item,
Either the lantern or the headlight, but I wanted
To test out the lantern, as I’d never used it before, so…

AND,

I never used the tupperware + utensils, as the tour organizer actually
Provided us with plates and utensils—though I’m not sure that’s my fault,
Considering they told us to bring them.

I guess the point is
I still need to
Refine my packing skills,
With emphasis on weight, not just size.

So, here’s until my next trip and
Packing trial!

P.S. How do you pack light? Do you have any tips for shaving some weight off your luggage? Feel free to share in the comments below! 🙂

*Notes:

  1. You can read Part I of my Banaue — Buscalan — Baguio chronicles, which is a recap of my journey to get a tattoo from the famed Apo Whang Od, here; while
  2. Part II, which is a review of the travel agency / tour organizer I took on this trip, can be read here.
  3. Part IV talks about feminism and modesty, based on my experiences on this trip, and can be read here.
  4. The final part, Part V, is about traveling solo. Check it out here.
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