Tuesday, July 29, 2008


We’re packing for our thirty-fifth anniversary trip right now. Our bedroom is full of piles—the definitely-take pile, the maybe-take pile, the wish-I-could-take pile. What’s making it really difficult to decide what to pack is due entirely to a guilty conscience brought about by a website called www.onebag.com.

The author of this website, Doug Dyment, is a proponent of traveling light. In fact, his motto is, “There are two kinds of luggage: carryon and lost.” Doug is the king cynic of all travelers when it comes to luggage, but he has a valid point. If you trust the airlines with your baggage, you are often setting yourself up for disappointment.

The www.onebag.com theory is based on washing clothes in the sink at night and hanging them up on a "surgical rubber braid clothesline" or an inflatable hanger in your hotel room, hostel, or Himalayan base camp. Doug evidently doesn't mind doing a little laundry every night before he hits the hay. So his copyrighted list of things to bring on a trip fits neatly into one soft-sided carryon bag, no matter if he is going for two days or two months. One packing list fits all.

Doug says that we only need two pair of pants and two to four shirts for any length trip. Doug almost makes it seem like part of the fun travel experience--hunched over the bathroom sink every night, scrubbing out your travel stains.

One major error I’ve been making all these years is counting out the number of days I will be gone and putting in a change of underwear for each day. Wrong, Doug says. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Doug says that no matter the length of your trip, only bring three undergarments and three pairs of socks. I am picturing Doug’s three pairs of white Fruit of the Looms and three pairs of Champion low-cut footwear. And yes, this does fit neatly into his carryon bag. His theory might even work for younger women—three pairs of Victoria’s Secret Gauzy Elfin Whisper underpants stuffed into a tiny little corner of their carryon.

What Doug fails to understand is that women of my age need more substantial undergarments. That even the suggested three pairs of our necessary old-lady, industrial strength, white cotton, steel reinforced underpants that women over 55 are required by law to wear take up half of a carryon suitcase. If we bring along the 14 pairs we really need for a two-week trip (because even if we rinse them out in the sink at night, it takes four days for them to dry, hanging on a surgical rubber braid clothesline), our entire soft-sided carryon bag would be filled with just underwear. We’d have to wear the same outer clothes for 14 days in a row.

He does have some good suggestions: a long tee shirt that can double as a nightshirt, beach coverup, or window shade. One light-weight dark sweater can be used for warmth, a dressier top for evening wear, or to wrap around your feet in high altitudes. He allows three pair of shoes (walking, dressy, and sandals) as feet are important when you’re traveling. If your feet hurt, you might as well go home.

So here I am, Mrs. Change-Five-Times-a-Day, with the entire contents of my closet laid out before me, wishing I could take it all but knowing I should be Mrs. Onebag.Com and wear the same two shirts and two pairs of pants for 14 days in a row. And that part of my travel experience should be hunched over a sink, doing laundry in the bathroom in every major port of call on the Mediterranean.


One Hundred Movie Reviews said...

I'm preparing for a two-week trip to my mother's house. I'm traveling with small children, and I recently read the same web pages that you refer to in your article. Doing the laundry thing is going to be super easy at Mom's house, and I think I could make it work if I were backpacking across Europe, but I liked best the bits about choosing exactly the right clothes. It's too late for this trip, but I think I'll work on building a collection of the kind of clothing that would wash up easily. And I also really like the bit about long sleeve, white t-shirts to beat the heat. I think I'm going to use that advice for my kids. The long sleeves would protect them from the sun. Anyway, good luck on your trip.

Kyra said...

Good for people to know.