When it comes to packing for holiday I can be a major procrastinator. I’ve been known to take days, putting clothes, stuff & things into piles as I figure out what I need, wheedling it down the essentials (and probably not so essential), inspiration often hitting me at 2 in the morning of some gadgety thing or other or item of clothing that I need to dig out, #swissarmyjess.
Might Needs and What Ifs have been the death of me. I’ve packed and over-packed for holiday so many times as a result, only to later curse the extra weight on my back, or the lack of space in my bag each time I’ve unpacked and repacked the 3 pairs of shoes I didn’t need, or tried to stuff that bulky jumper back in because, you know, “I might want to go trekking in Nepal” or “what if it gets cold in India?”.
Back in 2016, with only a rough idea of travel plans and a 70ltr bag already bursting at the seams, I was forced to go with the Knowns: to only pack for what I definitely knew I was doing or weather I was expecting, instead of the usual Swiss Army Jess M.O. of packing for hypothetical scenarios, borrowing worry from a future as yet unknown. Having said that, the notion of Indian heat is a hard one to grasp when you’re in England, in a cold, slightly damp-ridden flat in London, in January, so there was bound to be some mistakes.
I was the girl who had all the gear for every eventuality, and I’d get a kick out of being prepared for everything. Letting go of What Ifs and Might Needs was hard for this Girl Scout at first, but has become so liberating, almost addictive – I’ve culled my bag of non-essentials and spent items several times over, leaving little bits of me behind all over the world.
It made my load lighter, both physically and philosophically, relaxing my fervour for perfect preparation, made me resourceful (if I’m cold, just wear everything I own), forcing me to make do with what I have (which in most cases turned out to be just fiiiiine), to borrow from fellow travellers, and it’s led me to plunge my grateful hands into the Lost and Found bin.
LOST & FOUND
Most hostels have these tucked away somewhere, and have so often been a treasure trove. The bits and bobs left behind fall into a few categories:
The Rejects: Stuff you’d never be seen dead in, and frankly who on Earth ever bought that, let alone wore it! but proves useful for trashing at Holi festival, or sweating into at humid Lumbini Vipassana retreats.
The Randoms: the unexplained and niche, like a fully reinforced and functioning motorbike jacket, and an apron… true story.
The up-cycle candidates: usually with some kind of defect, like a small tear that can easily be fixed, a small mark that can be overlooked/washed out, or shape/size that can be adapted with chalk & scissors. As my Mum would say, I am my Grandmothers Grandaughter.
The Winners: perfectly fine reusable pieces that have been left behind, either by mistake or necessity, like no more room in the bag.
Casting shame and judgement aside, delving into the Lost & Found has yielded me extra layers when I’ve needed them, a head torch, a replacement pair of flip flops, a fresh pop of colour from a pashmina, fresh tee-shirts that I’ve adapted to suit, leggings to wear to death and throw away, warm socks for trekking, new shorts that just needed a few stitches, guilt-free fashion faux-pas, like the AliBaba (nappy) trousers I wore for a week in Pushkar (guilt-free because I DIDN’T buy them and therefore can relinquish any responsibility for style choice), “clean” clothes, a fresh wardrobe, all with no attachment – I didn’t have it in the first place, so I can just bin it, leave it behind or pass it on – and all for free/exchange.
I’m pretty useless at shopping too, so the Lost and Found bin does me another favour, taking all colour and style selection totally out of the equation as the procrastinator in me breathes another sigh of relief, leaving me time to worry about other things, a fatter wallet and a much lighter load on my back.
Two roads diverge in a forest, and I – I took the one less travelled by, with no expectations, no attachments, into the unknown with a “roll with it” attitude, and that has made all the difference. I just had to let go of a little part of me that was no longer serving to find my way.
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