Get On With It

Writing and drawings about work, family and the stuff in-between

Pack a small suitcase


I traveled solo for the first time in years recently. When I left, I had only a single suitcase, and it was so easy to move. I zipped across the airport and into a taxi effortlessly. The trip was really enjoyable. On the way back though, I carried an extra suitcase filled with stuff I bought and gifts from the family. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. But, when I was unexpectedly delayed for hours and had to lug this extra luggage through multiple terminals, on a bus across the city, and through multiple checkpoints, the extra stuff I had made everything harder.

In 2022, I’m going to travel lighter.

I remember hosting my father-in-law from India years ago in Seattle. He traveled for 20+ hours and didn’t bring a single thing with him on the plane: no headphones, books, iPads, or snacks. He literally just walked up to security with just his clothes on his back and his jacket on his arm. If that isn’t suspicious in this day and age, I don’t know what is! He might buy a paper or magazine along the way. He mostly slept. He seemed like he really enjoyed the experience.

I was and still am in disbelief at how he did that.

My goal with the next year is to keep “things” to a minimum so that I can be unencumbered to enjoy my experiences, and hopefully even have more experiences.

We have just a few days left before we start our house renovation and I’m really grateful that we don’t have very much stuff. We sold everything two and half years ago when we moved from Seattle to Scotland, and we have a really small house compared to where we came from, so there isn’t too much to move really, just some basic furniture, kitchen stuff, and our clothes and personal items. Still, even the little bit we have feels like too much.

As things slowly descend into chaos organized confusion, and we get ready to both move into temporary housing and move into new year, everything that is really essential needs to fit into what amounts to a small suitcase. As the New Pornographers would sing, “everything else can be easily replaced.”

So, for the start of the year, and for many months beyond, I’m going to be operating out of one of three backpacks. I’m calling them my WTF bags and they pretty much have everything I need for anything I’m doing: Work, Training, or Family.

All my stuff that I don’t want to get lost in various shelves or boxes is safe there. It makes things really easy: easy to grab and move, keep track of, and decide what to keep and what not. If it doesn’t fit in one of those bags do I really need it? Probably not.

Obviously, the metaphor of the small suitcase can be extended to other aspects of life. I’m going to try to keep things unencumbered with my work and personal commitments as well. I tend to jump around, starting many projects and saying yes to many things, without ever fully seeing them through or being able to devote the time and energy to be really proud of what I made.

All of these extra things end up being mental baggage I then carry around, making it harder to move.

So my advice when preparing for a trip, a home renovation, or a new year:

Pack a small suitcase. Everything else can be easily replaced.

2 responses to “Pack a small suitcase”

  1. I can so relate to this!! Every time I go into open spaces – mountains and deserts in particular, – I come back home and feel overwhelmed by “stuff”. As for doing too many projects whoa. Slowing down to focus more clearly on fewer things is a resolve for 2022.

  2. We’ve been paring down our clothes wardrobe for a couple of years and it does feel good not have much more than a wardrobe and a few drawers, but be warned. Once you start down this road, you find that more things around you feel too much and you start cutting back on everything! I always had a fascination with Hagrid’s hut (Harry Potter). To have your whole world in just one room. It’s very appealing!

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