Haven’t we downsized enough you may ask? We hardly own anything and carry around all of our worldly goods from place to place so surely there isn’t a lot of downsizing to do anymore. Well you would be surprised (we were).
Little bit of backstory first. When we wandered away from our old lives nearly five years ago we took just the bare essentials and left with a backpack and suitcase each. Multiple flights all over the world to Australia and the USA saw the cases going into the hold and the backpacks staying in the cabin. Travels within these faraway lands were generally on bus or train so easy to manage and occasionally in hire cars which were even easier.
Once we got into housesitting and criss-crossed the UK by train we continued with the two case and two backpack system.
The Problem with Suitcases
They may be bigger and are easy to transport but there is a major issue with cases. The wheels! They make it easy to move them around but the wheels of any case are the weakpoint and no matter how well you treat them they do have a reasonably short life. If you’re thinking ‘well I’ve had my suitcase for years and it’s still ok‘ then that could well be true but just think how many days a year you actually use it? How many hours has it been wheeled for and equally as important, where has it been wheeled?
Most cases are dragged through airports or stations or hotel lobbies where the floors are solid and smooth and there is no wear and tear on the wheels. We’ve walked miles down rough backstreets and through busy cities up and down kerbs and across uneven roads. Our cases really earn their keep!
We have had to substitute several broken-wheeled cases over the years and buy new ones in various locations. New suitcases have been purchased in Hobart, Tasmania, Edmonton, Canada and Boston, USA along with other substitutions in Exeter and Maidstone in England.
We’ve tried to get wheels repaired in Melbourne, New York, and Oslo with no luck being told on each occasion that they can’t be fixed and we would need to get a new bag. Great. So in each of these substitutions we buy a new bag, move everything across from the damaged one, and then dump the old bag somewhere.
Our original backpacks were mainly for laptops, wet weather gear, electronics and books. As our case have been replaced they have also got smaller so the backpacks have had to take more and get proportionally bigger. A year ago we decided to lose one of the cases completely and I upgraded to a huge backpack.
Just before Christmas we changed the remaining case for a really small wheely-case so have been travelling with less and less stuff as the months pass by.
Why downsizing now?
Well we’ve booked up a few flights and trips over the coming months and decided we didn’t want to take suitcases or book hold luggage on any of the journeys. So as from Monday 24th February we will be on a single 35L backpack each for the next 6 months. The big backpack and small case will be temporarily put into storage as we become complete backpackers until mid-summer.
Buying a new bag may be simple but deciding what we will be needing over the next few months is not quite so easy. A few important questions have had to be asked ……..
- Do we need coats?
- What footwear do we need? Boots or trainers or both? Sandals?
- How many shirts can we carry? Do we need anything smart(ish)?
- Toiletries? We’ll have to pack for airport security so only 100ml or less. No aerosols of course.
- Do we take a laptop? Just one? What chargers do we need and how many?
- Trousers, shorts, skirts …… How many can we fit in?
So much to decide on and so little space. Plus we have to plan for the English winter, southern European spring, Mediterranean summer, and so much more. We won’t be back with the old bags and extra belongings until well into July.
Oh and did I mention that we are planning a couple of long distance walks in the summer taking up to a week each so will be carrying our bags constantly for them. So comfort and weight are more things to consider in the repacking.
Downsizing into a new Backpack
So we’ve spent quite a few hours completely laying everything we own out and trying to decide what we definitely need to take, and what we would ‘like‘ to take with us. So many things that we ‘think we need‘ have actually become things we ‘don’t really need‘ after much agonising and thinking.
Apart from clothes we have to decide on toiletries, first aid kit, chargers, books, Jo’s craft stuff (wool and sewing etc), and then get everything that didn’t make the cut down into our tiny storage container on Monday. Challenging eh?
So a question that our most recent housesitting host asked Jo has become even more pertinent. She asked:
Don’t you get fed up always wearing the same clothes?
Seems a bit harsh but it’s spot on. Jo says she does get a bit fed up of the same clothes constantly but wouldn’t change our way of life for the world. She’s more worried that I get fed up looking at her! No chance of that though.
We do only have a small amount of clothing to wear and an even smaller number of shoes. I’ll have trainers and sandals, and Jo will have shoes and sandals and that’s it. Just imagine it. Two choices of footwear and that’s all.
So we’re morphing into JWalking Backpackers before your very eyes. Should be an adventure.