Keep Calm and Carry On

How to lose 20 kilograms in half an hour? I can tell you now it is easy. Because I tried it and it worked. And it felt so good not to drag that unnecessary weight with me anymore. Although you might think that it is not healthy to lose 20 kilograms in half an hour, I can assure you that shedding mine was healthy. It was healthy for my back, mind and foremost healthy for my wallet.

Did I discover a new diet? Oh no, I am not talking about my body-weight. My weight-loss happened when packing for a trip with my youngest son to Singapore. The price concept of the airline that carried us inspired us to rethink the amount of luggage we would need to take. When I booked the flight, I un-clicked the ‘I need to check-in a 20-kilo suitcase’ button, which saved us a few dollars. That was March 2015.

The day before I left last Friday, the airline offered the opportunity to rethink the option for an extra suitcase, and I have to admit the possibilities of taking those extra 20 kilograms was tempting. The airline also gently reminded me that if I did not choose this option, I was bound to strictly a maximum of seven kilograms of hand luggage. I decided that I wanted to beat the challenge and travel with hand luggage only.

I wished I could say I am an expert in travelling light, but in the past, even my carry-on baggage would weigh like a ton of bricks on top of my 20-kilo check in luggage. My bag with toiletries can easily take up those seven kilograms thanks to at least five different types of facial creams, not to mention my impressive collection of hair styling products. Adoration for fashion stimulates me to pack loads of clothes for my travels. My worst decision-making moments are shoe-related; they can either make or break any outfit, so to be safe, I like to drag along at least eight different pairs of footwear on top of the shoes I am already wearing while traveling. You understand that I had to break a few of my usual packing habits on this trip.

Funny enough, I have the talent to fit 12 kilograms of items into a small carry-on suitcase, so I did not need tips on folding techniques. I needed to learn how to travel light in means of weight and amounts. I searched the web and after a number of videos on YouTube that showed me how essential a trench coat was (not for me, my friend in Singapore had warned me it would be terribly hot), I came across an article from National Geographic on intelligent traveling –read light traveling– which helped me to keep within the 7-kilo limit.

A few advices that helped me most:

1. Keep calm and carry on. Remember to bring your passport, credit card and medications and your packing is already successful. Anything else could be bought at your destination. So true. I only added my IPad and noise-cancelling headphones to this list. And my spare contact lenses and sunglasses. Including my suitcase (lightweight from Samsonite) I was now already carrying over 3 kilo’s.
2. Never underestimate the power of a plastic bag. I discovered the zip-lock bags as a substitute for my toiletries bag and they also prevented my underwear from rolling out of the suitcase every time I had to open my suitcase for a security check. I took some extra bags to put the dirty laundry in on the way back.
3. Think about your destination and what you think you will do. Yes, I always take my running shoes, but no, I never go for a run when away for a weekend so immediately I was down one pair of shoes. After some more consideration, outfits that I would not need were put aside, along with five more pairs of shoes, and I discovered that essential toiletries and make-up do fit into two medium sized zip lock bags.
4. Wear the same outfit on both flights, and choose the bulkiest items. Great advise; as blankets were not included in the price on this plane either, my jumper served as a blanket.
5. Accessories are your best friend. Choose clothes in neutral colour palates (your greys/browns/blues/whites that suit your colour wheel). Then, all you need is a fabulous selection of accessories to brighten and vary your look. I choose one pair of nice sandals, a necklace, one bracelet and two pairs of earrings. Alternatively, buy accessories at your destination and you have a great souvenir to remind you on your travels. And I could wear most of my accessories on the plane, avoiding adding extra weight to my suitcase.

This was the first trip I ever managed to keep my luggage within limits. Both ways. And I didn’t lack anything over the weekend, which would have been impossible anyhow, as I stayed with friends who are the best hosts in Singapore imaginable.

One thing was a bit disappointing however; the airline never weighed my carry-on suitcase at the check-in counter.