While in Italy this summer, with my bags literally bursting with blazers, scarves, and flats, I hated myself every time I pulled my suitcases (yeah that’s right, two suitcases) onto the trains. Chugging along the platform wasn’t too bad, but attempting to lift fifty plus pounds of luggage over your head because the conductor is screaming at you in Italian to move and absolutely no one but your equally confused best friend is helping you…that was bad. And so I vowed to myself to always pack light from now on, because the fact of the matter is I wore pretty much the same things day in and day out in Italy anyway. Never once did I don my Ralph Lauren blazer for a cappuccino in the Boboli Gardens. Instead, I wore a maxi skirt and a white T shirt (what can only be described as my uniform) and ate at the same (awesome) pizza place almost every day we were in Florence. I tried to justify my ridiculous packing as better safe than sorry, but since I have been traveling lighter, my life has been easier, and this whole sixty-liter-backpack-holds-all-your-worldly-possessions-thing seemed like a charm. Who needs more than two T-shirts? Not this gal. No way. But now, as I stuff headlamps and blood clotting sheets into compressions sacks the question arises: what am I actually going to wear?
Obviously, the first thing I set aside was yoga pants. You can’t beat a pair of comfy pants for long plane rides, bus rides, casual day hikes, and the like. Then, my second staple, leggings. We all know that I love to wear leggings as pants. I know some people say it is a fashion taboo, but to those people I say, “have you ever even worn leggings as pants? Don’t knock it til you try it.” Then of course, I threw in a short sleeved maxi dress and a couple T shirts. But now the question of how much dry fit clothing do I actually think I’ll be needing has arisen, alongside am I actually going to wear those ugly zip off pants? Does clear mascara actually work? Am I going to be shaving my legs that much? Do I look like an idiot in this headwrap? I just see myself wearing it on like, a desert sand dune or something. That’s not crazy, right? Am I pulling off these zip off dry fit pants? Do they look better as shorts? Hell no I’m not packing a real bra. Okay, just one real bra. You get the idea.
One of the great things about traveling is everyone loves to share their experiences with you. All my Mom’s friends know exactly what I should pack. When I say I’m hitting Southeast Asia there’s always someone who can give me tips, everybody seems to have a friend in New Zealand, knows about a solar powered charger I just have to get, and am I sure I want to go to India for a whole month? (The answer to that question is hell yes.) But with good advice and good intentions comes an equal barrage of advice ranging from outdated to absolutely terrible and misguided. Most of what I get is the latter, coupled with snide remarks about how Kate and I will hate each other by the end of this trip, concern over if we have or have not seen the movie Taken, equal concern about the fact that my dad is not, in fact, Liam Neeson, and the fact that we definitely do not have enough money saved. To these people I say, we have indeed seen Taken, we even saw Taken 2, so I guess everyone can stop worrying now.
The reason I am writing about the things we are hearing now is that no matter what, we will take them with us in some way. Of course we snort a laugh and brush it off when an old person at work tells us we are too pretty to leave the country, but in some regard, we take the Taken jokes and warnings not to get raped and all the other negativity thrown our way and we pack it in alongside our hoodies and dry fit underwear. Of course, I understand concern, but there’s no way to not take to heart the things people are warning you about because on some level, they could see these bad things happening to you, and therefore feel the need to warn you. And I gotta be honest, it’s not helpful. Not even a little bit. Kate and I are fully aware of the dangers of traveling in third world countries. We know there are parasites, both insect and human, looking to feed off of us or sell us in Albania or what have you. But we are both smart girls with good intentions. To see the world you have to risk some comfort and take on some culture shock and wear yoga pants for four days a time and shower with a wet napkin once in awhile. Life is about adventure! Life is about leaving your comfort zone! Life- a good life- a life well lived- is about taking risks and putting yourself out there. You might get hurt, you might die, but I don’t want to spend my youth behind a desk, putting money into a 401K. Maybe I’m irresponsible, maybe I’m crazy, but that’s just me. Life may be short, but I’ve got a good sixty years left to open a savings account and get married. Right now I’d rather figure out if I want a scarf or a hat in my backpack, cuz I sure as shit don’t have room for both. I guess the best thing to unpack would be the negative thoughts I’ve encountered, the backhanded well wishes, and the advice to simply…not go. Then maybe I’ll have room for a hat and a scarf, and room for the good people I’ll meet, the cold beers I’ll drink, the beaches I’ll lay on, the caves I’ll explore, and the ropes I’ll tie to my ankles before jumping off bridges on this great adventure.