Almost a year ago, I was traveling from Nepal to Australia. The airport in Katmandu had a series of security checkpoints, but this time my routine of chucking everything on to the x-ray conveyor belt at one end and absentmindedly collecting it at the other end was stymied.
â€śThere is something in your purse. I need to look at it,â€ť said the security official.
I blinked and handed over my purse for inspection. It has been through x-rays with no complications many times before; nonetheless this extra step didnâ€™t phase me. I had lots of time, and there were no crowds to contend with.
Slowly and methodically, the security official laid the contents of my purse out in front of us. This wasnâ€™t nearly as simple a task as you might imagine, since my purse has several pockets and compartments. We were both increasingly amazed at the variety â€“ and quantity â€“ of things I keep in my purse.
He held a pack of cigarettes (I casually smoked at the time) and an asthma inhaler in each hand and looked at me critically. I blushed and said the inhaler was for allergies (which is true).
He took out a piece of cord and asked me what itâ€™s for. â€śItâ€™s string, for hanging up laundry, fixing shoelaces, many things,â€ť I replied to his increasingly stunned expression. I mentally observed that Iâ€™d not once used this item in four years on the road and maybe it didnâ€™t need to be in my purse.
He continued to dig through pockets and empty their contents onto the table in front of us. Lipstick, hand sanitizer, passport copies, receipts, notebooks, cell phone, camera, headlamp, shopping bag, sunglasses, you name it â€“ it was there. Every time he thought he had found the item that was causing the scanner problems, he put the purse through the x-ray again only to discover heâ€™d missed yet more pockets, with yet more things in them.
â€śYou have too much in your purse,â€ť he said, shaking his head every time he found a new pocket with something in it. I couldnâ€™t help but laugh. And agree.
Next up: a padlock. (Actually, itâ€™s one of three in my possession). His expression lit up, and he sighed with relief when he determined the padlock had been our x-ray machine culprit.
After this somewhat embarrassing display of the contents of my purse, I sheepishly stuffed everything back into their pockets before moving on, promising myself that Iâ€™d go through my purse and see what I could eliminate.
But over time, complacency set in, and I never did. It all continued to fit into my purse quite easily, and I figured as soon as I took something out Iâ€™d probably need it.
Iâ€™m in a tricky position since as a full-time traveler I travel with everything I own, which means everything is fairly tightly allocated and packed. Moving things around involves tetris-like dexterity, and if I get rid of something, itâ€™s gone (I donâ€™t have a drawer to store it in for later use). So itâ€™s usually easier to just keep everything.
But my day of reckoning has now arrived.
I am doing a No Baggage Challenge.
Iâ€™m leaving my full-time travel gear in Toronto and using it as a base for a few smaller trips this summer. And Iâ€™m stepping way out of my comfort zone â€“ Iâ€™m even leaving my purse behind.
Iâ€™m doing this with the help of Scottevest, who designs clothing purpose-based for travel. The trick: itâ€™s all about the pockets. With up to 37 pockets in one jacket alone, this clothing is designed to allow you to leave your bags (or at least some, if not all of them) at home.
Which is exactly what Iâ€™m doing!
My first trip is a flight to Florida to visit a friend for a week. As my no-baggage travel companion, Iâ€™ve got the Womenâ€™s Essential Travel Jacket, which has 18 pockets (I think Iâ€™ve found them all). I expect the zip-off sleeves will come in handy with the summer heat.
The timing of a No-Baggage trip is impeccable; Iâ€™m flying with Air Canada, who was recently on strike. Although they have promised passengers close-to-normal service, theyâ€™ve issued strong suggestions to check-in online, and not to check any bags.
Sweet! Not only am I not checking bags, but Iâ€™m not even carrying any bags.
Wanna see whatâ€™s in my purse? Wanna see the Essential Travel Jacket? And do you wanna see me â€śpackâ€ť for my trip? Then watch this video!
(Email subscribers click here to watch).