Earlier this year, as I was packing for a summer sailing trip, I reaffirmed my own suspicions, namely that: 1) I’m a mega-geek and 2) I’ve become over-digitalised. I looked at my little carry-on sized roll-on trolley only to find out that, in addition to all my gadgets, I had room for one or two swimsuits and not much more. Granted, there isn’t much that you need to survive on a boat, I thought that going to dinner in a bathing suit in the evenings might not be the most socially acceptable choice.
There was my laptop, its charger and two headsets, my SLR camera with its charger and spare battery, an external flash and two lenses, my Kindle and its charger, my tablet and my smartphone, luckily sharing the same charger, a hard drive (for backup in the absence of cloud backup options) and a powerbank. This was completely unreasonable and highly impractical; there is only this much room for storage on a sailboat!
Travel packing simplified
As I was starting to think about what I could do without, the following options came to mind:
- Forget the laptop. Although I wanted to do some work on my trip, I realised that I probably wouldn’t get that much done while on a shaky sailboat with a sketchy WiFi connection, and that it wouldn’t be a truly restful holiday if I did any work during it.
- Abandon the e-reader. I did want to catch up on some reading while on vacation but I realised that I had the Kindle app installed on my smartphone so I could use it to read, if I absolutely wanted to.
- Ditch the tablet. This one was easy. With all the tablet apps replicated on my mobile phone, this was certainly an unnecessary piece of equipment I could do without.
- Free the camera. My beloved Sony DSLR, albeit old, comes in handy when capturing extreme beauty and the zoom lens is useful when spying on beach-goers or roaming seagulls. It is no replacement for my (also old) iPhone 5 (not even a 5S!), but the phone camera should suffice for close-range shots of the boat sails or the waves.
- Minimise the knick-knacks. One pair of headphones would also be enough, now that I didn’t have three pieces of equipment I would need to switch between. I could now also ditch most of the chargers since I no longer needed all the stuff they were going to feed.
Eureka, problem solved! I now had plenty of space in my suitcase to fill with synthetic Hawaiian leis, hula skirts, captain hats and other sailing paraphernalia. I still retained my music, my camera, my books, and the ability to conduct the occasional research or writing through Google Chrome and Keep, all on my phone. My sizeable powerbank also made the cut as I knew power would be hard to come by on the boat, but I was confident I could survive a week with my one versatile gadget alone.
The sailing trip went well and I never once missed or regretted not having my full range of geeky tools. In fact, despite being a digital nomad, I have since been able to permanently downsize my arsenal by getting rid of my tablet and Kindle. I now travel with a laptop and a smartphone only most of the time and I only take my more professional camera on trips where I know I would miss it due to the highly photogenic scenery or moments to be captured.
Ready to dump?
You, too, can simplify your life and your travel packing by foregoing some, if not, most of the items you need to worry about charging and losing. Digital technology is supposed to make our lives easier, after all, not add on kilograms of equipment for us to carry everywhere we go.