Packing Sermon

…for American girls getting ready for their first trip abroad

    We imagine we need a different outfit for every day of the week. It is only in the United States that women think you need a different outfit for every day. European and other Western women do not look at you funny if you show up in the same outfit two or even three days in a row. Many are convinced this is why American girls so often look bad. We are so obsessed with having DIFFERENT clothes that we aren’t paying attention to
    2 1/5 months on the road with these two bags.
    what really 
    looks good.This works in your favor when you pack for a trip. If you have one or tworeally good looking things, that’s all you need. Once you arrive at your destination, women are going to be wearing different things and you are not going to want to be advertising your Americanness with all your totally collge-girl or soccer mom clothes, you are going to want to buy something to look cool where you are.
    We imagine we need all these changes of clothes because we don’t want to have to wash clothes often. Another fallacy. Very quickly your concept of what, exactly, constitutes clean clothes is going to undergo a massive reconstruction. Even, believe it or not, clean underwear. I never met an American on the road staying in backpacking hostels who didn’t affirm the truth of this. So why not just pack less stuff now? You will find washing machines. You will maybe even find laundry services that aren’t that expensive. And you will come to the realization that one of the great ways to meet the locals is at the laundromat.
    We don’t have any idea what a burden it is to carry too much luggage.The whole secret to traveling with pleasure is not having baggage that is a pain in the butt to carry.You have to run for buses. You have to walk from the bus station to the hostel for the night. You will not be affording taxicabs and porters (if there is such an animal left these days.) You will need to get in and out of cars, buses, trucks. If your stuff is light, this activity will be easy and you will get on with the job of meeting cool people, discovering beauty all around you, learning about these new and different folks.If your stuff is heavy or bulky, you will quickly come to dislike getting from point A to point B. (A little rolling suitcase is FINE in an airport, but in metros and bus stations where there are stairs and curbs, you will wrestle with the durn thing and come to hate it.) You will perhaps blame traveling as a sport. You may just find yourself reluctant to leave someplace you have landed, even though someplace further on promises to be better, more
    beautiful, cheaper.

    Heavy bags are the cause of more negative experiences on the road that all the rape, theft, anti-American attitudes and bad, germ-ridden food combined.

    Do bring a Dog and Pony Show, a kind of show-and-tell kit that helps you interact with the locals.

    • Most important: Photos of your house, car, children and grandchildren, life in the States
    • Photos of yourself to give away as thanks to friends you meet
    You do not need more than this:

    • Raingear (a small umbrella would be better than raincoat and pants, unless you are going to be hiking or working in the rain. In which case, it is better to buy local.)
    • Something to keep you warm if there is a chance of cold
    • Some sort of pants-shirt combo, everyday wear
    • Something to dress up in
    • One outfit for hot weather, incl bathing suit
    • No more than two pairs of shoes–one to wear, one to pack.
    • Basic toiletries and your meds, if any.


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