Travelling light

The post I had in mind when I started this blog was about travelling light.

In preparation for this year of travel I found myself poring over online packing lists in the same obsessive way that I used to daydream about the interior layouts of the boats pictured in my father’s sailing magazines. These images of someone else’s organised and ordered lifestyle are, for me at least, filled with possibility and hope.

I think my need to travel light, while ostensibly practical, is also slightly compulsive, as if I need to prove to myself that I can condense all that I need into the bare minimum of space. This is probably a natural extension of the war within, where the reality of not living in a home for much more than a year since the age of 9 (my poor mother has probably lost count of the times she has had to pack up a family of 8 and perform a pre-inspection clean) battles with my dirty, secret desire to make a home.

I want to buy expensive pans and grow herbs. Of course constantly moving prevents this fantasy from becoming a (probably) disappointing, mundane reality: ‘This is why we can’t have nice things’.

Living on Aboriginal country for the past 3 years has been a refreshing reprise from the material world. As soon as I visit the city I feel that world come rushing back in, filling my head and heart with endless wants… And needs.

S and I moved into our first ‘home’ together in March 2013 but instead of building a nest we had to ‘make do’: ‘it’s temporary’, ‘no we can’t buy a boat’ (this isn’t such a far-fetched idea in Nhulunbuy), ‘it will cost too much to ship that out’, ‘we don’t need a new one’. So we got by with one plate and no glasses after the rest were broken (again: ‘This is why we can’t have nice things’). We asked friends to bring their own crockery when coming for dinner. We borrowed often from our neighbour (thanks Damo). And the time did come to leave, so we boxed up everything we absolutely needed – which consisted mostly of extra clothes, my books, and S’s tools – and shipped it all to a kind relative’s house for storage. Everything else we sold, gave away, or squashed into two small carry-on bags and a medium suitcase (which was filled with ski clothes and is now waiting in San Francisco).

In a way this trip is my last hoorah before I re-enter (was I ever really there?) the real world where thongs (flip-flops) are not acceptable work shoes and mission skirts are not considered smart or fashionable. In my future life I will need winter clothes and the trappings of a comfortable home. A new dooner (duvet) that’s big enough for us to not fight over every night. In fact, make that a bed that’s big enough to not fight over every night! But for now, if I am doing without these things, let’s make it a bit exciting and strip back to the absolute essentials. And there’s something to be said for the smug feeling you get when you breeze right past the baggage carousel at arrivals. OK, breeze is a bit of an exaggeration, my pack still weighs a fair bit! Luckily I have S to do the heavy lifting.

I have discovered that there is an art to travelling light and a warm sense of satisfaction when you are able, time and again, to squeeze all you need back into that one bag: everything in it’s right place. There are tantrums when a new item is acquired and a spot can’t be found for it, and literally every time we pack I have to debate with S over whether he should a) bring, b) wear, or c) get rid of his high-tops. But we rarely wish we had brought more, except perhaps clean underwear.

This isn’t the post that I had had in mind when I started this blog, but it is a precursor to it. Keep posted for a breakdown (with photos) of what we are travelling with, and useful resources for travelling light.


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