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Opinion Home | Suitcase Stories' Luxe Life Travel Tales and Tips

  • Nicole Connolly | May 2, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Honey, Should I Pack the Kitchen Sink?

    Honey, Should I Pack the Kitchen Sink?

    Image courtesy of Thinkstock

    Honey, should I pack the kitchen sink? I will be the first to admit I got a little confused while I was researching what to pack, how to pack, what to pack it in…

    Not because there wasn’t enough information on the topic. My god, there is a truckload of information out there about preparing to travel long-term. It's just that these packing tips and such were designed for a young twentysomething backpacker.

    Now, I’m about to drop a bomb here: I am not 20 years old anymore.  (Yikes! It sounds horrifying when I say that out loud!)  As a 40-year-old woman, I found most of the information irrelevant … for my age group.

    What’s more, they were all targeted at “backpacking” (I did try to find information for the “Over 35’s — couples travel — penchant for fancy hotels but understands the tiara must be vaulted and 3 star hotels are more in their budget”… There just isn’t a lot out there on that specific genre!).

    I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the backpacking method of travel, not at all. In fact, I wish I had backpacked in my 20s like so many people are doing today.

    But like most people our age (be a dear and pass me my walking frame), we prefer to drag our luggage on wheels, not carry it on our backs (alright, that’s just me. Michael is more than happy to prove he is a strong masculine man; “Me man, me carry backpack”).

    And because I was reading so many books about backpacking, I developed multiple personality disorder (ok, so I just added another personality to my existing MPD) and found myself buying the items recommended for these young backpackers.

    Twelve months into our nomadic life we donated the backpacks I bought on a whim and upgraded to suitcases. If I could go back in time (besides choosing the winning lotto numbers) I would buy a suitcase for our travels, not a backpack. Because, we are not backpackers. It’s that simple.

    I would also not have bought the many items found in all these books such as universal sink plugs (we used it twice in 12 months then gave it away), pocketknife (never used it), fancy first aid kit (the basics is really all you need), silk bed sheet (did I really buy that?), quick dry towels (quick dry … who are they kidding!) and many other useful (to backpackers!) items.

    Another thing that stumped me was the actual packing lists. There are lists galore on what you should pack. While I am the queen of lists, I am also a grown woman and I know how many pair of underwear I should pack.

    Again, I am not dissing these lists! These lists are great for those who are new to travel or are young and unsure. But for me, I felt it strange to have a stranger tell me not only how many bras to pack but what color they should be!

    I’m not going to tell you what to pack, or discuss your underwear with you. I’m going to presume that you can figure this out for yourself. But I will say this: pack comfortable clothes. Don’t pack things you will wear once a year. Don’t pack your favorite ball gown. And think about the climate you are going to.

    If you are off on a world trip and you will be covering many climates, I suggest this; Take the essentials and buy cheaply on the way, as you need it. If you pack a nice big expensive coat for your two weeks in Alaska, on a 12 month trip, you have 50 weeks of carrying a useless and very bulky item. Instead, buy something cheap on the way and donate it to Goodwill at your next stop.

    Layering is your best friend in cooler climates. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked like the Michelin Man because I’ve had 5 layers on. But it kept me warm and I didn’t need to waste space in my luggage with a coat. It’s not a fashion parade, who cares what you look like for those 2 weeks in the cold?

    The thing is, unless you are going into the Amazon jungle for your whole trip, you will pass shops on a regular basis — Yes, they are everywhere … something about retailers wanting your hard earned money … So if you forget to bring something with you just buy it! No need to jump on a flight back home because you forgot your favorite Jersey (you know, the one that nanna knitted you that you say you hate but secretly love cause its so soft!).

    You are about to embark on an amazing adventure, whether it’s a two-week vacation to Bora Bora (can I come please?) or a new nomadic lifestyle, so forget the stress about what to take, how much to take and should I take the kitchen sink … Have fun and don’t forget, send me a postcard!


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Nicole Connolly Suitcase Stories' Luxe Life Travel Tales and Tips

Nicole Connolly Nicole, along with her husband Michael, left her ordinary life behind for a life of extraordinary travel. The couple left Australia in March 2012 and have been traveling ever since. Nicole has a penchant for all things luxury and this shows in their lifestyle. They may live the life of a gypsy but they certainly know how to do it in style. Their goal is to share their experiences and show others how a life of luxury is possible without the big bank account. Follow their adventures at
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