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The Art of Packing Light

Carrying off the art of one carry-on

Yesterday, The Chronicle ran a couple great articles on how to pack light for a trip. From "Carrying off the art of one carry-on:"

Packing light offers less tangible but very real benefits. It's a chance to pare down and simplify our lives, to discover what is truly essential and what is not. It's a reminder that we're more than the sum of our possessions. As I've written before, it's always a revelation to discover how much of our impedimenta we don't really need.

The specific tips combine practical advice with inducing a basic change to how you think about what you'll need -- and really use. A few I particularly liked (read the first and last ones repeatedly for effect!):

  • The amount of stuff you think you need is directly related to the size of your luggage. Get a smaller bag and you'll make do with fewer things...
  • There's really no difference between packing for a week and packing for a month or longer...
  • If you think something might come in handy, leave it at home. If you know you can't get along without it, bring it...
  • Limit yourself to one pair of shoes, or, at most, one pair of shoes and one pair of sandals or flip-flops...
  • Don't fret if it turns out you really did need that extra sweater, or if you run out of toothpaste. Wherever you're going, they have these things for sale...
  • If you don't need a full guidebook, cut out the pages you want or photocopy them. But keep in mind that your plans might change...
  • If you or your travel partner require a lot of prescription medicine, split it up so you're each carrying half the supply of each drug. You'll avert disaster if one of you loses your luggage...
  • As you unpack after each trip, examine each garment and piece of gear and ask yourself if you could have done without it. If so, leave it off your packing list next time.

Don't miss the main article, where Flinn lays out all the exact stuff he brings with him.

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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