Monday, 2 April 2012

Packing Light for a Week ... in Sicily

This was not my first 1-week-trip ever, but the first 1-week-trip that included 5 hotels in 8 nights! That's why I had decided to travel light. My suitcase was a carry-on luggage. Here you can see it after returning back home, the expandable case is opened, due to heavy gift shopping :-)
 Written on the carry-on trolley you can see the room rumbers  - written and crossed out. 

The idea was to take a small, light luggage (11kg) so I would not hurt my back while checking in and out over the week. The reason those numbers were written on the luggage were simple: we did not have to carry our luggage a single time. Other people, mostly men, did the work for us. We placed our suitcases in front of the hotel room door and in the evening, after checking in at the next hotel, the suitcases were delivered to our room. Every single time. Now I know and might choose a larger suitcase, so I can keep my carry-on trolley as cabin-luggage, which is way more comfortable compared to a backbag!

You might wonder how one can pack so light that shoes, clothes and all small necessities fit in such a small suitcase? I will show you: (photos were taken after the journey, that's why all the shirts look worn out)
  • 2 cashmere v-neck sweaters (benetton) - because they don't itch and won't smell badly, not even after several days of heavy wear.
  • 5 shirts in light colours  - because they protect me from the cold winds that blow on any island in march plus they reflect the sunlight, so I won't get hot when standing somewhere in direct sunlight
  • 1 shawl cotton - to protect my lungs from toxic fumes on the top of the vulcano and to look stylish anytime I wrap it around my neck
  • 1 silk shawl in case it gets really cold
  • 1 headscarf to protect my hair from UV-beams and my head from catching too much sun 
  • 2 long sleeved t-shirts (elegang style, boat-neck, turtle-neck) and 1 short sleeved-t-shirt
  • 1 fluffy white skirt, cotton for any occasion
  • 1 pair of wolford leggings in mauve to provide some warmth in case the skirt is not enough.
  • 1 pair of leather gloves and a cashmere beany (for the trip up Mr Etna)
  • jewellery: a pair of golden studs and a golden bean-necklace (placed on the navy sweater)
  • Shoes: a pair of goretex sneakers and a pair of ballerinas
I also packed these, but did not make any use out of them:
By the time we arrived at the hotel in the evening, the sun was already very low.
 I really did not want to risk to catch a cold.
 And this we also did not need, not a single time. Which was phantastic!

I had always admired a former colleague who knew how to pack light. One day she arrived at the office with her luggage  - she planned on leaving the city straight after work. Her luggage was the backbag she used to use for coming to the office, too. For a 4-night-city-trip! My purse for a single day at work was already heavier than her luggage. Now I feel somehow as if I might have made a real step towards the "art of light travelling", something I always dreamt of. Maybe you know what I am talking about when I tell you I love it, how some people go on a plane with nothing but a slim suitcase or a small purse. No bags, no carry-on luggage, no backbag. They seem to be so  ... stressless. Maybe that's what I want to accomplish. I mean, just think of those passengers, who get nervous when boarding starts - because they fear their huge carry-on luggage won't fit in the hand-luggage compartments. Don't you loathe it, when you find yourself pulling the stupid heavy suitcase up and down one or two stairs, lifting it up on the luggage-rack in the hotel room. Reaching the weight limit and sometimes even exceeding the limit and having to unpack at the check-in counter?
That's how I used to end up as a "what-if"-girl. Except for the unpacking - I have seen this often before.
Since I had packed so light, there was space for gifts and souvenirs:
Marzipan fruits, Paste de Mandorle, Naracamicie (actually 2 shirs, one is already in the laundry, it comes with GREAT DRAMATIC ruches in plain white). Plus 2 CD's we had the pleasure to listen to while being on the bus.
The goretex shoes soon proved to be too warm, I was lucky and found the perfect pair of matching sneakers to accomplish my shirt-composition.

Not pictured: pyjamas, socks, underwear and a thermo-underwear for Mt Etna. A pair of jeans, that were too warm and soon too tight. Yes, the dolce ...
Plus my washing things, a small stain bar (in case I spill some fruit juice over my shirts), camera, purse, sunscreen, 1 book*, sunglasses and documents where in a (not very fancy) backbag. Catania is probably not the best place for LV & Co.

Looking back at the week with this unusually small suitcase (compared to other suitcases from group members) with only a small selection of clothes I must say this small suitcase was part of the fun I had.

Also travelling with shirts is so great! Especially in Italy, where everyone puts emphasis on making a "bella figura", it felt just right to wear impeccably ironed shirts.

Who would have thought that I could actually make it with a single carry-on luggage through a week, from 0m up to 3000m above sealevel. Those who don't know me probably won't get the excitement. I guess it all started off from the weekend in the mountain hut, where I had to carry my stuff up the mountain. That taught me to pack light. I really like how 2012 develops. 

*that's probably the biggest accomplishment. To bring just 1 single book.
But what if the book does not please me? 
The "What if"-approach and the "Stressless"-way of life are obviously incompatible. 
Now that I have encountered both ways, I know which one to choose.

xo Paula


  1. This is such an impressive post. I can't imagine fitting all that into a small suitcase--so my big sunhat off to you! We're planning a long Maine trip in the next coming months, and I'm hoping to do "carry-on only"--and maybe that will possible with these tips.

  2. Naracamicie! And Sicily! So exciting.

  3. I thought that swimsuit was lingerie, and was quite sympathetic that the pace of your trip wouldn't allow any leisure time, lol. It sounds like a great trip. Packing light really does lighten one's stress level. If you only packed two things that you didn't use, you did great!!

  4. I did not expect this small selection of clothes to attract attention - compared to the photos showing antique temples, fishermen's villages and Sicilian life. !

    Catherine, my main conclusion is: Yes, a white skirt is possible and it will remain white. So, what more do you need when you have a white skirt with you? Oh, yes - those silky leggings. :-)

    Lisa, and it all happened in Taormina, que bella!

    Anonymous, damn, I should have chosen the swimsuit for the last dinner, would have matched the white skirt nicely. You open new horizons here. :-)

    I am looking forward to packing for my next trips -
    one will lead me to Hamburg, 3 nights, small hotel rooms. Very small hotel rooms! Did you know, carry-on luggage is also available in smaller sizes. Te-heh!

  5. Paula: I left a note for you on my blog, let me know if you go ahead!

  6. Welcome home, Paula. You fitted a lot into your on board bag! I always try to travel light, with just a wheeled locker case. It is no problem for a break that is no longer than a week, but the weight of sensible shoes is tricky if we are going to be doing a bit of exploring. (My bag is rigid, your expandable one is a good idea!)

  7. I unexpectedly did quite a bit of travelling too: one three-day trip and another that was barely 24 hours including 12 hours in the car going too and from, both for work rather than pleasure. For the latter trip, I was only told that day we were leaving that night, so it was a nice exercise of spontaneity and flexibility without stressing out. I just packed my a few notebooks and a change of professional clothes. (I wore soft yoga/house pants and a t-shirt during the car trip.)

    I find that my problem with packing light is that I need to change clothes often in a warm climate because I perspire quite a bit.

  8. That's a very well-thought-out capsule, nice! Glad it worked so well for you.

  9. Tabitha, I am still undecided: should the Scotland-trip become a mother-daugther experience with lots of bourbon and caffee latte (depending on the hour of the day) or an adventure, including hikes in the rain with my beloved Mr Paula. You will be among the first to hear about my decision!

    Share my Garden, the non-rigidness is an important factor, I love to "zip" in something in the front pouch last minute. All my laundry found room in the expandable compartment. :-)

    Tracy, that's why I chose cashmere: it is the only fibre that forgives sweaty episodes during the day! I also enjoyed the fact that I could wear the same shirt twice at night, after having taken a shower. Ok, this might sound extreme but as long as I enjoyed it and did not annoy others (with odours) I guess it's fine.

    déjà pseu, thank you for checking out my capsule. You are busy creating the perfect capsule for yourself right now I see. Have a nice trip and the best weather possible!

  10. Just a late comment, but if I would now travel somewhere (for a weekend perhaps ), I´d like to take nothing, but the clothes I wear on, along. Naturally a nightgown, toiletry+ extra undies.
    Now how cool would that be.
    Everyone seems to overpack. When on a trip, clothes are not the thing, it´s the trip.
    P.S. Naturally I´d buy something special..

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