It all started in the international terminal’s departure gate destined first for Bangkok. The 6 lucky media people selected by Oman Tourism, and our tourism rep/guide, were meeting each other before what was about to be a very itinerary-intense and exhausting 10 days together.
One of the members, Dusk, makes it known to the group that she has terribly overpacked, and is over the baggage restrictions, with a 28kg checked bag.
I gasp! Twenty-eight kilos… that’s over 60 pounds… for a short 10-day trip!
Thinking I’m more in-line with what’s normal, I respond, “My checked bag was 7.9kg.”
To which every other person in the group gasps and wonders how in the heck I only packed a 17.5 pound bag for a long 10-day trip!
Ah… the very opposite ends of the spectrum in packing styles with me at one end, and all the other girls at the very other.
Here’s what I learned about my packing style on that trip to Oman:
I am not your typical packer. I know that over the years I have surrounded myself with the advice and knowledge of other backpackers looking for the best, lightest and easiest packing list to carry on our backs… but when compared to other travelers, I’m a bit of a freak of nature. That’s OK. My back thanks me every day of travel because of it. So does my sanity.
I am not fashionable. So, I’m sure this makes it 100 times easier for me to pack light. I’m like this in my normal life, too. Have a look in my closet and you’ll be met with a handful of clothing items… period. I like to dress myself up with accessories – big rings, flashy earrings, scarves and bags.
The Pros of Packing Light:
I can carry what I pack. It’s part of the female travel manifesto our belief that you should bring what you can carry yourself. Why? Because it makes travel easier, less stressful, and helps you, a traveling female, be more in control of yourself and belongings.
When everyone else was loading their giant suitcases up on hotel trollies, marking their room numbers and then waiting in the room for said bag, I had already carried my own to the room, unpacked, and hopped in the shower… without needing to wait. I didn’t need to call ahead for a bellboy to collect my bag, and I definitely didn’t need to see those workers struggle up a flight of stairs with my 60 pound load.
I have no backpack space waste. Not a single thing was put in my bag that did not end up getting worn. That was a major win! Nothing worse that having to lug around items that never see the light of day.
Repacking my bag is simple. For the other girls, it became a chore — something dreaded the night before checking out of a hotel. It became a worry when bags at the airport were being weighed at check-in. Not for me… I only gained 2kg in weight for my trip home.
The Cons of Packing Light:
I can feel underdressed at times. I shouldn’t have even worried about it… I mean, our itinerary said that jeans would be fine for our daily dinners and gave no indication really of needing something “dressy”. However, I was traveling with a few ladies that I think were a bit more into fashion and getting dressed up than normal. They were constantly changing clothes, constantly talking about what to wear, and one even blogs about fashion (enough said). That did have its way of making me second guess myself.
I might re-wear smelly clothes. When our itinerary got too busy, I didn’t have time to wash big clothing items like jeans and wait for them to dry. After sitting around a fire in the colder mountain area, my jeans and scarf sucked up that smoke smell that didn’t quite fade away completely. I did wear them again regardless. Meh.
Packing for Oman
Packing for Oman was my first experience in packing for the Middle East. The essential rules to note are that shoulders, knees, and cleavage should be covered, and heads should be covered when entering a mosque. I never realized how much I love tank-tops and meshy see-through layers until I was trying to pack for this trip. My favorite Exofficio Savvy Dress-up dress was out of the picture seeing how it was both sleeveless and too close to the knee to work. Instead, I brought loads of light layers, scarves and no bottoms shorter than capri pants. In addition, I brought a few key pieces of technical clothing — quick drying with sun protection — for those really hot days out in the desert. I’ll try and work out an official packing list in the near future.