Now that travel for work is back on the menu, I’ve been trying to upgrade my “pack light” game.
I’ve been inspired in part by Beau, who I first met during my trip to South Africa in 2019 during my Automattic onboarding. Beau travelled from the US for a two week jaunt with nothing but
hand luggage, and it blew my mind.
For my trip to Vienna earlier this year for a divisional meetup, I got by with just a backpack and a laptop bag. Right now, I’m waiting to fly to Rome for a week, and I’ve ditched the
laptop bag in favour of just a single carry-on backpack. About 7kg of luggage, and well within the overhead locker size limit.
I’m absolutely sold on this approach. I get to:
walk past the queues for luggage drop (having checked-in online),
keep the entirety of my luggage with me at all times (which ensures it goes where I do),
breeze through security1,
thanks to smart packing2
walk right out of the airport at the other end without having to wait for the flingers to finish smashing everybody’s luggage into the carousels.
As somebody who’s travelled “heavy” for most of my life – and especially since the children came along – it’s liberating to migrate to a “pick up a bag and go” mindset. To begin with,
the nagging thought that I must’ve forgotten something essential was challenging, but I think I’ve gotten past that stage now.
Travelling light feels like carefree: like being a kid again, when all you needed was the back on your back and you were ready for an adventure. Once again, I’ve got a bag on my
back3 and I know that everything I need for an adventure
is right here with me4.
1 If you’ve travelled with me before, you might have noticed that I sometimes have trouble
at borders on account of my damn stupid name, as predicted by the Passport Office. I’ve since learned all the requisite tricks to sidestep these problems, but that’s probably worthy
of a post in its own right.
2 A little smart packing goes a long way. In the photo above, you might see my pre-prepared liquids bag in a side pocket, my
laptop slides right out for separate scanning, my wallet and phone just dump out of my pockets, and I’m done.
3 I don’t really have a bag on my back right now. I’m sat in a depature lounge at Gatwick
Airport. But you get the idea.
4 Do I really have everything I need? I’ve not brought a waterproof coat and,
looking at the weather forecast at my destination, this might have been a mistake. But worst case I can buy a cheap poncho at the other end. That’s the kind of freedom that being an
adult gets you, replacing the childlike freedom to get soaked and not care.
It’s was a busy weekend; the first of several, I’m sure. Mostly – put briefly – it’s been spent thusly:
Democracy: I’ll be voting “Yes” on Thursday’s referendum, and you should too (unless you’ve already been
persuaded or are even helping with the fight). And while I’ve not had as
much opportunity to help get this message out as Ruth and JTA have, I’ve tried to do my bit by joining them for a spot of leafleting over the weekend. I’m not entirely in favour of some of the campaign
tactics being used (like the separate “Labour Yes” and “Conservative Yes” campaigns which act as if one another don’t exist: to me, whether or not we adopt AV has nothing to do with parties or
candidates and everything to do with it just being a better way of representing the opinion of the voters), but I guess that they’re necessary to get the point across to
some folks. And this slight spindoctoring quickly pales in the light of some of the lies that the no-to-AV campaigners are telling.
Injury: Not to me, this time, but to my
father, who came off his bike while cycling around Scotland this weekend. I’ve not had the chance to talk to him since they pushed back his surgery (he’s broken parts of himself and
they want to turn him into a cyborg put a metal plate in him, or something) until later this week. Right now, then, he’s confined to
hospital, which I can’t imagine he’s enjoying very much. If they’ve hooked you up with Internet access, dad – get well soon.
Packing: Oh, so much packing. I got started on boxing up all of the board games, the other day, only to find out that there were quite a few more of them
than I remembered. I’ve also started on my collection of cables and computer knick-knacks, and discovered that I have no fewer than five male-to-male VGA cables. Why? I’ve no idea. I’ve
been gradually cutting down on my spare supplies (do I really need three spare floppy drive cables when I don’t use any floppy disks?), but it’s hard: the very next day after I
throw them out, you can guarantee that’ll be the moment I need one of my many AT-to-PS2 keyboard adapters.
Friendship: A couple of weeks ago I met Adrian, an international student from the USA who’s been in Oxford for a year or so for the final year of zer* study.
Ze and I ‘clicked’ and formed an immediate connection, instantly getting along remarkably well. We spent a little of this weekend together, and for a moment there, it seemed like there
might be the potential for a romantic connection, too. But sadly, by the time we got into gear ze had only two days left in the UK before jetting off back home to the States… and 3,900
miles is a long, long way. We both agreed that we should have met a year ago, but c’est la vie: the world is smaller, these days, thanks to the Internet, so
there’s every chance of building an online friendship, punctuated those rare occasions when we happen to be in one another’s country.
* It’s a gender-neutral pronoun, if you haven’t come across one before (and as I usually only find
myself using them in the context of BiCon, you’d be forgiven). Aside from their linguistic benefits in politically-correct
society, they’re often favoured by those whose gender identity is
neither male nor female.
A a means to take a break from the code I was working on for half an hour (I’m doing some freelance work for SmartData in my spare time, since I
left them to go and work for the Bodleian Library, in order to
help wrap up a project that I was responsible for at the end of my time there), I decided to go downstairs and do some packing in anticipation of our upcoming house move.
I packed about four boxes worth of board games, and then stood back to take a look at the shelves… and damnit, they look just as full as they did before I started.
I swear that my board game collection must be breeding, somehow. “Perhaps that’s where expansion packs come from,” suggests Paul. Perhaps: but that wouldn’t manage to explain the optical illusion that makes it look like I’ve got four boxes full of games when in actual fact
they’re all still on the shelves, unless they’re breeding as fast as I can pack them.