I recently was able to take a few days off work and go visit my family. It was a chance to see my dad and six sisters as well as my new two-month-old nephew. We typically make a long trip as a family each summer but it’s nice when I can make a second trip sometime during the fall or spring.
Since I didn’t want any of my kids to miss school (and to save money), I traveled by myself. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to practice what I preach and travel light. I decided that I would only take what I could fit in my backpack for the 5-day trip. In full disclosure, I’m also a bit cheap and didn’t want to pay the airline’s $25 fee to check baggage.
Packing light for a trip to North Dakota in November brought with it a few challenges.
Challenge #1: North Dakota Weather
I’m no meteorologist and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express but my theory is that the lack of any large body of water around North Dakota means that they get whatever weather happens to blow through. In general, you can count on it being really damn cold in the winter, fairly hot in the summer, and the wind never stops blowing. I think it’s on its way to Chicago.
Thankfully, the weather cooperated and it was relatively warm, especially for North Dakota in the middle of November. I wore layers for the flight out. A t-shirt with a hooded sweatshirt and my new coat with lots of pockets. I only had the one pair of shoes I was wearing. I wore a good pair of jeans and packed another one. It bothered me a little to not bring a pair of pants since I try not to wear jeans to church but I figured going in jeans and a nice collared shirt was better than not going at all.
Challenge #2: My Hobby
I wanted to do some writing and hoped to update my website but didn’t want to bring a laptop. I recently bought this rechargeable Bluetooth keyboard that I can pair with my phone and this simple stand to hold up my phone. I love the simplicity of the stand and it fits in the neoprene pouch that I also bought for the keyboard. I am using it right now in the Chicago airport and it works great.
As I’ve mentioned before, I like to use an app/website called stackedit.io to write my posts in Markdown, then export them as HTML. Unfortunately, I discovered that the Weebly app does not allow you to insert HTML code in your blog post the way the full version on the internet does. I’m not sure why. I tried using the Weebly website on my phone, but it just wasn’t cooperating on that small screen. Lesson learned: I may have to invest in a small laptop before I travel again.
Challenge #3: I Love Coffee
I also hate to buy bottled water and I had to leave home before 4 am. I made a pour-over coffee into my travel mug for the 45 minute drive to the airport and finished it by the time I got there. Then I tossed it into my bag and it doubled as a refillable water bottle. It seals pretty well so I didn’t worry about spilling. It also came in handy during the entire trip.
On the trip home, I spent a good portion of my 4 hour layover at O’Hare Airport doing some writing and a lot of walking. If I could change anything about the trip, I would have my flights scheduled closer together. Having everything with me in one backpack though, meant that I had what I needed readily available.
I learned that traveling light made the trip much easier and less stressful than if I had checked a bag and worried about it following me to the correct destination. That’s something I’m unfortunately rather experienced with. Several years ago, I flew out to visit my family right before Christmas and my luggage got lost in both directions!
It was great to see everyone again though. In his late 70’s, my dad has a pacemaker and had a triple-bypass a few years ago so I know I need to take every opportunity to see him. Make the best of the time you have with your family and friends. They won’t always be there. Bringing less stuff will free you up to do more.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2017