Follow the Decluttering:
Last November I wrote about my trip to visit family
and how I managed to pack everything I needed in a backpack. Doing it again for Memorial Day weekend, I started preparing by reading my old post and updating my packing list. For this trip, I needed some multipurpose clothes since I was going for a graduation but also needed to help my dad with his house. For travel light tips, I checked out the Go-Light Guru at OneBag.com.
One of the great debates for cramming as much as possible into a bag without it all coming out a wrinkled mess, is should I fold or roll my clothes.
In the Army, we were always taught to roll everything, and depending on where you look on the internet, some travelers insist that this saves space. Other websites recommend packing containers and folding boards.
Well, I was surprised to find that the Go-Light Guru actually recommends none of these. Instead, he recommends a method called bundle-wrapping. The basic idea is to wrap your clothes, in a specific order, around a core object like a pouch roughly 11 x 16. This avoids folds which cause creases. I don’t think I can explain it better than he does, so go read about his method here, then come back.
The obvious disadvantage to this method appears if you need something from the middle of the bundle.
Certainly you want to be smart about how you bundle so you don’t put important things you need in the center. Also, don’t put something in the center that may look suspicious on the X-ray machine when going through security at the airport.
I decided to give it a try for my trip.
Unfortunately, it was getting late the night before I left so I was in a hurry and didn’t think to take pictures. Also, I couldn’t decide what to use in the center to wrap my clothes around. I didn’t want to pack something just for that purpose. Extra stuff would defeat the point of packing light.
Then, I remembered the tin my sister had mailed to us filled with her home made peanut butter cups at Christmas. I always make sure to return them so she’ll send us more the next year. I filled it with some small things and although it was smaller than what I was looking for, I figured it would do.
Either I did it wrong (which is entirely possible) or the round tin was definitely not the right thing to use for bundle-wrapping. When I arrived, I pulled my clothes out to find the shirts very wrinkled. I’ll keep researching and let you know if I figure out some tips. On the way home, everything was dirty, as it should be, so I just folded it and slid the pile into my bag. It didn’t seem to take up any more or less room than when I bundled it.
I’m still a little skeptical on the bundle-wrapping thing
but curious if anyone else has tried it. If so, please share any packing tips or travelling-light tricks you have for everyone’s benefit. Thanks.
January 2018 Update
I thought I would write a follow-up to this post and it just made sense to append to the original. In December, I took another trip to visit my family, carrying just my backpack. I also made the trip by car last summer with my family as we do every summer. Packing for each is a very different ordeal. I can travel light by myself but when we all pile into the car, everyone seems to have three times as much stuff as I think they need.
My recent trip was for a wedding and travelling light turned out to be a blessing since the trip didn’t quite go as expected. When my dad wasn’t feeling well he didn’t make it to the wedding. My only opportunity to see him was to borrow my sister’s car and make the 70 mile drive.
Without going into details, the rest of the trip was a lot of time hanging around the hospital and an unexpected night in a hotel. My flight home was delayed causing a missed connection in Chicago. I had a leisurely 6 hour layover at O’Hare airport and got home around midnight. Every bit of that was made easier by having nothing but a backpack to keep track of.
A new resource:
I could write pages on how we travel as a family over the summer. But I recently found an article with a massive list of packing suggestions. They have tips on everything from your carry-on to how to pack jewelry. There is a section devoted to packing tips for families. You can check out the list at Your RV Lifestyle. While it’s geared toward air travel, many of the suggestions are just as relevant to other forms of travel.
I zeroed in on the family packing suggestions and the first one is spot on. Bring snacks. My kids are always hungry and unless you want to spend a fortune in money and time to feed them, you will want plenty of snacks on hand. Other tips from that group include bringing a small first-aid kit or at least some bandages, and have the kids each carry their own small backpack.
I may not agree with everything on the list (like bringing three pairs of shoes), but there were suggestions that were new to me. Everyone knows that when flying, liquids need to be in a plastic bag, but the idea to put some plastic wrap under the cap and screw it back on over that is genius.
One final note:
The writer recommends rolling rather than folding your clothes and doesn’t mention bundle-wrapping at all. I have to agree based on my limited experiments. In the Army we were taught to roll our clothes to save space and I remember cramming what seemed like an impossible amount of items into a rucksack. When I travel now, I take into account what I’m packing and what type of luggage it’s going in. Some things fit better folded flat and others seem to work out better rolled up. The bundle-wrapping thing seems too complicated and inconvenient for me.
Whatever your favorite packing method is, go check out the packing list at Your RV Lifestyle and let me know your thoughts either in the comments below or on Facebook. Everyone can benefit if you would like to share your packing and travel tips as well. Thanks.
What are you holding on to even though you know you should let it go?
I think everyone has something like this. Maybe it’s a collection of something you’ve had for a long time or something that belonged to someone you miss. Maybe it’s an old shirt that’s falling apart but you keep it anyway? Equipment for a hobby or sport you haven’t participated in for several years?
For me, it’s all my stuff from my time in the Army.
I still have everything:
I deployed to Iraq 12 years ago and left the Army Reserve 10 years ago. You would think I could have gotten rid of some of this stuff by now. The BDUs have been used as Halloween costumes a few times and I chose the most tattered set as painting clothes. I do wear the boots but really don’t need 4 pairs.
For some reason, I just can’t seem to get myself to get rid of these things even though I can list all sorts of reasons I should. I’m not getting back in the Army and they probably wouldn’t take me at my age anyway. Most of the uniforms I have are not in service anymore. I don’t even hunt or play paintball. Most of this sits around collecting dust and filling up closet space.
Why then, do I hold on to it all?
I did contact a friend from the Army who opened an Army surplus store after returning home from Iraq. Check out Battle Boy Surplus if you need anything and support a Veteran-owned small business. He offered to take some of it and asked me to send him some pictures. Even for him, I still can’t get myself to gather it all up.
I guess the real reason is that I still look back on my time in the Army as one of the best parts of my life. Being away from home for a year sucked but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I often wish I would have stayed in but I didn’t want to deploy again. I was so busy with grad school and my family that I couldn’t do everything to the level that I felt I should have. I couldn’t be a good student, good officer, good husband, and good dad all at the same time.
As long as I see those uniforms hanging in my closet every day and I can wear my old combat boots, I can still pretend that the Army is part of my life. Every time I look at them, I think of those I served with and especially those that didn’t come home. I know it is crazy to hold on to all of it though so I will start getting rid of some things.
Where to start though?
There are a few recommended strategies for getting rid of sentimental items. First, I need to gather it ALL together in one spot. For anything, just looking at the sheer volume will help you realize how much you have and therefore make it easier to eliminate some of it. Next, take pictures. I have a few pictures of me in uniform, but I could take a few pictures of me in each type of uniform. Then, get rid of the uniforms.
The challenging part will be the trunk full of newspapers, magazines, and pictures that friends and relatives sent me while I was deployed. I know that if I don’t do something with it, the paper will just decay in my basement. I need to start going through it and scanning anything I want to keep. It’s likely I won’t even remember why I kept a lot it.
It won’t be easy but as I’ve said before, I need to fully purge my own stuff before I hound my family to get rid of their own things. I’ll keep you posted of my progress and let you know what other tips I come up with along the way. Keep an eye on my Facebook page for updates and feel free to share some of your own suggestions for how you let go of sentimental items. Thanks.
The problem with having a blog about decluttering is that people give me a hard time when I buy something.
Then I feel I need to justify the purchase to them and myself. I guess I’m not like most guys and I actually have always kind of liked to shop. It’s probably from growing up on a farm a hundred miles from the nearest shopping mall. Making a trip to Fargo to go shopping was a treat that usually happened only a few times over the summer.
Back then, I could spend hours walking around the mall and looking. Later in the day, we would go to my aunt and uncle’s house and have dinner which usually consisted of a large bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. How else do you feed a bunch of kids on a budget?
We had such a big family that sometimes there weren’t enough seats for everyone. I remember many trips just sitting on the floor in the back end of the Suburban or whatever we drove. On the way home from shopping I would be surrounded by the day’s purchases.
I still don’t mind shopping. I just don’t want to take my kids with.
Most of our shopping is done online now because it’s tough to find time to actually go to a store. Recently, I wanted to replace my stereo and DVD player. Of course my wife rolled her eyes until I pointed out that our stereo was about 15 years old and had no modern connections like HDMI or USB.
In the end, I bought a new stereo and Blu-ray player and was able to reduce the number of things I had connected since the Blu-ray can stream Netflix and Amazon. The old stuff will be sold or donated.
I guess you could call it the turtle technique to decluttering. Don’t buy extra and as you replace things be sure to get rid of the old. If you can reduce what you have, you’ll come out ahead. Slowly, as you send more things out the door than you bring in, you will see progress. I still think a large purge now and then is good.
Minimalism for me isn’t about living without things I love or never buying anything fun like a new stereo. With my new setup I can listen to a CD in the living room and stream Pandora out on the patio - and control it all with my phone. That makes me happy.
That and watching my teenage son try to figure out how to open and play a cassette.
My family uses Cozi for our calendar, shopping, and to-do lists. The best part is that it's free.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2018
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