Traveling is always hard. Traveling for months is harder. Traveling for months while having a collection of interests that each require heavy things to accompany you is almost impossible. Assuming you don’t want to have to pay the oversized luggage fee. Here is what I’ve learned from my journeys and adventures in carrying around heavy crap through Turkey and Germany. (For context, I was in Turkey for a month and a half doing archaeology and just hanging out in Germany for a couple of weeks, seeing friends and whatnot.)
What are you really going to use?
Let’s face it, we all make plans. So many plans. Most of which end up falling through. Remember when you were going to read Dante? Remember when you were going to learn Elvish? Remember when you were going to clean out your desk? Those were good times. Good, probably imaginary times. Now, there are many people who have done these things. I’ve managed to clean things and read Inferno. But many times, things just don’t happen. You may want to read the complete works of Shakespeare while on your adventures, but lugging that thing around only to never read it will lead to nothing but disappointment and a headache when it comes to bringing things home. For example, all of those comic books I brought? Didn’t use them. I had also brought along other books. There wasn’t time to read all that I brought. Much of it came with me in a sort of maybe-I’ll-be-in-the-mood-for-this way. Committing to something, or bringing a small, small sampling of a couple different genres, would have sufficed and been less heavy. Don’t be afraid to commit to a couple of things. It’ll do you a world of good.
Do you really need that?
Sometimes, you will use things. And you’ll enjoy them. But they’re also added weight. At this point, you have to ask yourself “Is this necessary?” This question is harder than the last, especially since, at the end of the day, we all need some unnecessary things. And the border between a necessary frivolous thing and what is just unneeded is blurry. For example, I used my Nook while in Turkey. Was it absolutely necessary? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it unneeded? No. I think I can honestly say that my time in Turkey would have been at least a bit less enjoyable had I not had something to read. There were a couple lazy afternoons (more like lazy those-two-hours-between-the-main-work-time-and-the-evening-work-time). I also brought and used the copy of the Nibelungenlied I brought to Turkey (I make notes on the pages, it doesn’t work in electronic form—it’s just not the same). Was it necessary? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it unneeded? Yes. Ultimately, the Nibelungenlied weighed the same amount as my Nook and took up twice the space. More, if you consider that I also had to bring my Middle German dictionary to understand it. It didn’t increase my enjoyment of my time substantially enough to make up for the weight. Also, I can bring a variety of books in different genres in my Nook, whereas my Nibelungenlied will always just the Nibelungenlied. And sometimes containing both heroic and courtly poetry just isn’t enough.
Look for ways to make things lighter.
I love books. I really do. The feel, the smell, and all those other sentimental things people say about books. But I also own an e-reader. In the weight of a medium-length novel, I can carry hundreds with me. There was also internet. Especially in Turkey, where I was for the vast majority of the time. And the internet is always entertaining. In all truth, my laptop and Nook would have provided sufficient entertainment. Also, putting some of my Turkish notes and movies on the laptop would have also lightened the load. Some of these things were not done because of laziness. Laziness I regretted.
Remember who you’re traveling with.
I’m not talking about your friends. I’m talking about the people you’re paying to get you from Point A to Point B. While the trains you may be using when bumming around Europe might not care how heavy your bag is, but European and American airlines certainly will. Unless you’re flying Turkish Airlines. They’re pretty chill with their extra five kilos of weight limit. And they will feed you like no other. Seriously, if you can, just fly Turkish Airlines. The theme song is annoying, but the airline itself is pretty awesome. If you don’t mind not knowing what gate is yours until right before your flight. But, when you can’t take magical, awesome airlines, make sure you know what you can get away with. There’s nothing more depressing to be tired and excited to get home, only to be told to repack your bag and make it lighter or pay 30 euros. It’s just not a good time.
Beware the souvenirs.
Always remember that the cool things you’re bringing home for your friends and family take up space and weight. So does that first printing high fantasy novel you just bought on impulse. This sad fact will also prevent you from owning the new printing of Sailor Moon manga in German. (And also the realization of the fact that you have no money.)
All of this seems really obvious, and for the most part it is. But it’s really hard to leave that comic book behind. Or that Nibelungenlied. Especially when you’re gone for a couple of months. But remember, your geekiness can take a break.
Well, it can’t. But somethings can live at home for a bit while you do other things. In your Batman shirt.