Traveling Light(ish)

by Genevieve

After being on the road for almost a month, I feel the need to talk about my very best traveling companion: my suitcase.

When I left home, I had a medium-sized L.L. Bean rolling duffel bag. For a 2.5 month trip, it was relatively small. Some girls I met on the plane from Dublin to Paris looked at me like I was a savage for refusing to lug around 3 different curling irons and a new blazer for every day of the week. When I got to Nice, my sad little duffel bag finally bit the dust. It’s making its last trip to Garbageville, France as I’m writing (sorry, Mom). I bought a replacement for 40€. It cut into my budget so badly I paid for the last 10€ in coins. Store clerks don’t like that in Europe, either. This guy was even less amused when I began to unpack and repack my assorted dirty clothes, half-eaten bag of peanuts, cheap tourist towel, approximately 35 pamphlets/maps/ticket stubs, incongruous Vera Bradley toiletries bag, and a super cheap bottle of wine (for emergencies, you know). But when I finally got my shit together and rolled out of there, it was well worth 40€. You can’t put a price on dry clothes that don’t smell like French gutter water.

My new suitcase is gray with four wheels and a tough plasticky exterior. I like to think when people see me wheeling it on the street, they mistake me for an incognito Icelandic princess, and that the homeless men following a few feet behind me are under cover body guards. At the very least, they might think I’m a local university student.

When I got off the tram to head to the hostel in Munich, five other kids got off ahead of me, each carrying a cumbersome (and expensive) Northface backpack. For the first time since I bought it, I felt out of place with my fancy luggage. After all, the name of the hostel is “The Tent”–maybe it’s a backpacks-only type of thing…

It’s not. My 10€ and passport is as good as anyone else’s for some slow wifi and an uncomfortable bunk bed. So I stick by my original opinion: the suitcase is the way to go. As long as you pack light, it’s so easy to carry up and down stairs. And wheeling it around is much more comfortable than carrying it. The four wheels make it tough enough to go up and down curbs without flipping over, and the tough plastic lets it double as a chair when I’m waiting for trains. I’m in love.

Those girls on the plane may have thought I travel too light, but there are things which I still could have left at home.

1. Books.
I love my books. They’re basically the perfect entertainment for train rides and lazy afternoons. However, I did not need 6 of them. What I needed was a Kindl.

2. Heels.
What the fuck was I thinking. Everyone says “Bring comfortable shoes.” It’s like the cardinal rule of traveling. And I was all, “Nooooo, my feet never hurt, I’m the most comfortably stylish person on the planet.” As it turns out, they do, and I’m not. Thank God the heels I brought aren’t heavy. I’m only 80% bitter about needing to carry them around for the next month and a half.

3. Jewelry.
I have worn the same fake-pearl studs from Forever 21 every single day. I know I have other earrings and necklaces in my bag, but I just can’t be bothered.

That’s pretty much it. Only the books are a real pain to carry around. I’m looking forward to setting them on a shelf for six weeks when I get to Amsterdam.