On my first 6-week trip abroad to France in 2003 you might have guessed it, I overpacked. I had so much luggage I got kicked off an EasyJet flight, but I thought I needed everything I packed.
Then, when I moved to Paris for nearly two years, I flew with a stuffed carry-on and three suitcases. The carry-on had so much crap in it that the flight attendant came and rescued the brother sitting next to me and offered him a seat with "more room," mortified, I pulled out my giant fuzzy footies, blanket, and a stash of snacks. When I arrived in Paris, the taxi drivers yelled at me in French and charged me almost double the fare to take me and my bags to my apartment. However, the tipping point for me was the
Johannesburg airport “incident” when I sat under an escalator crying while trying to remove eight; pounds excess baggage weight from my suitcase; since your carry-on gets weighed in at the Jo-Burg airport, I had no options. A lady working in the airport asks, "What's wrong, sissy?” I explained and then gave her eight (8) pounds of my clothes. I felt better about giving away the clothes, but I promised myself, never again.
I am writing this blog from my hotel room in Paris, for this trip, I fit everything for a 14-day trip into one medium checked bag. I realize I still haven't perfected the art of packing light. I do not know how to travel for two weeks with my grown-up clothes crammed in a carry-on bag, but I have evolved. My struggle is too many shoes and the ridiculously over-stuffed carry-on bag with the "you never know" items that I typically never need. But, I must say, I love having my Rooibos tea on a long flight.
You must now be asking “why is this blog called pack light global? Please indulge me as I “unpack” pack light. This blog is intended to provide advice that simplifies travel and inspires women of color over 40 to travel internationally. Packing light is the very best advice that I can offer. Take it from me; nothing ruins a trip faster than carrying heavy bags up seven flights of steps (yep, did that in Rome). Leave the “what if” stuff at home, you may get asked to go salsa dancing in Milan, but chances are you won’t (that did happen to me, but that’s a story for another post). When I explored why I overpack, it may be that inner voice whispering, “Am I enough?” I have gotten much better at firmly answering “YES, now put half of that BS back in the closet!" I am still a work in progress. However, I am proud of the evolution.
More importantly, I encourage you to ‘pack light’ in the way Erykah Badu does in her anthem encouraging Black women to release their “baggage.”Bag Lady’s lyrics, “I guess nobody ever told you all you must hold onto is you” resonate with me on many levels. When I share my love of international travel, I constantly hear the KHBF speech ---Kids, Husband, Bills, Fear. I get it, I have never taken a trip on a "baller's budget" with no expenses spared. I constantly balance many responsibilities and expenditures in my daily life. However, I do know two things for sure…Life is short and time is precious. Stop putting off what makes your heart happy and fills your spirit. Give yourself the time and permission to discover the beauty, culture, and fantastic food that can be found all over the world. I have found that nothing brings me more clarity and peace than looking out over the Mediterranean Sea, in those moments I feel alive. I come back home inspired, grateful, and revived. It seems that by 40 most women, especially women of color have been taking care of everything and everyone for many, many years, now it is time to take care of you. Through Pack Light Global I hope to inspire women of color who would love to travel internationally. I would like to share my favorite destinations, what I have discovered about myself through travel, and reveal practical tips and advice that will help you make that first trip, fearlessly.
So yes, life is short, but it is also wide.
Travel Fearless and Pack light,