What’s a girl to to with only 20kg of luggage allowance?

What to take on holiday – it’s a dilemma. With flight weight and baggage regulations’ tightening up it’s no longer possible to load yourself down with large amounts of hand luggage containing your heavy items or wear 6 layers of clothing to avoid airline penalties for going over the 20kg luggage allowance.

Asia doesn’t tend to be a problem as most of the time a bikini, sarong, shorts and few tee shirts is all you’re going to need. Hot weather helps of course as clothes dry within a day thus reducing the need to take multiples of different clothing. This means that there’ll be plenty of space left for packing presents and all the cheap clothing you bought (and which you’ll never wear once back your own country) for the return flight.

Because I’m a seven stone weakling, I can’t actually lift my backpack off the ground let alone carry it if it weighs more than 16kg. Therefore, I’ve become an expert at minimalist packing. Here’s a general idea of what I pack for hot countries.-

Trousers that can be converted into 3/4 lengths or shorts; clothes made out of silk – lightweight and durable; a long sleeved shirt (keeps the sun and mossies at bay); two sarongs – one for the beach and one for the bed; usual assortment of underwear – have considered going Commando but haven’t been that desperate yet; one pair of shorts and a few tee shirts; one bikini; a skirt – useful for temples (as is the long sleeved shirt); a little evening number – just in case; 1 dress; one warm top; one pacamac – in case of monsoon weather; 1 scarf/hat – prevent sunstroke; 1 pair of flip flops and sandals.

However, I’m still working on how to reduce the weight of the mossie net, travel books, contents of a beauty salon and the plethora of electrical gadgets such as computer, iPod, phone, camera, kindle, speakers, hairdryer and their respective chargers.

My enthusiasm for minimalism went awry when, after an extended period in Greece, I travelled to Quito in Ecuador where I discovered that apart from my thermal underwear I‘d only packed one tee shirt and a fleece. Not good, especially as it was about minus 1 at the time. Putting clothes on instead of taking them off to go to bed, I wrapped myself in my sleeping bag and spent a very miserable cold first night in the capital.

As a consequence of not packing any appropriate clothing for South America, by the end of my travels I had an eclectic range of clothing from the different countries I’d passed through. Alpaca jumpers from Ecuador, tee shirts and tops from Galapagos Islands, wool hats and gloves from Peru, trousers from Bolivia, hot pink shorts and bikinis from Brazil, a dress and sandals from Argentina. I travelled onto Asia afterwards and added to the collection. Silk dresses/tops/trousers from Vietnam. Sarongs/ shorts/sun dresses and cotton tops from Thailand.

I’m now the proud owner of an internationally designed wardrobe that fits into a rucksack weighing no more than 16kg including mosquito net, toiletries and large a medical kit. Well actually I did chuck the sleeping bag away in favour of a made to measure pair of silk knee length boots.

The total cost for this packing oversight? I’m not telling because you’ll all be using the “I forgot to pack my clothes” line as an excuse to go shopping – and it’s mine!

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