Category: Planepack

Travel light with Planepack: enjoy your mobile home

Big is not always the best

For our first trip to New Zealand, Mr PetMan and I decided to rent a mobile home. We wanted to see as much as possible of South Island during our two-week holiday. Driving our own accommodation made sense: we could stop and stay wherever we wanted.

In those days, I was already traveling light, carrying only a small suitcase. Mr PetMan hadn’t yet made that transition.

On the day of departure, he heaved his red suitcase into the back of the taxi.

‘What have you got in there?’ I asked.

‘Not much’, he replied, ‘just my clothes and a few other things.’

Travel light in a mobile home

The problem occurred when we took possession of our mobile home: there isn’t much packing space inside the vehicle. It’s like a ship: everything has its place and those places are small.

‘What are you going to do with your suitcase?’ I asked. ‘It doesn’t seem to fit anywhere,’ I added, finding it hard to keep a tone of annoyance out of my voice: why hadn’t Mr PetMan thought about it?

Travel light in a Maui

Everything has to fit inside our Maui mobile home – even our toilet!

‘Oh, it’s fine here,’ he responded, placing the big red suitcase in the middle of the passage.

This passage was in the middle of the mobile home, in effect our sitting area, our dining room and our bed.

At night time, Mr PetMan moved the suitcase between the bed and the bathroom: not good for clambering over when I had to go to the toilet in the middle of the cold night.

So it wasn’t fine for me. For the whole trip I stepped onto or over the suitcase that filled our mobile home living space.

I self-righteously had done the right thing by storing my suitcase under the seating area – which is where suitcases were meant to be packed, I reminded Mr PetMan, but of course his bag was too big to fit so I suffered that inconvenience.

Converting to light travel

Mr PetMan never acknowledged that I was right and he was wrong about traveling with such a big bag, but he has over time learnt that he doesn’t need to take a big suitcase.

These days Mr PetMan travels with hand luggage only, just like I do.

Notwithstanding the big red suitcase, we both loved the Maui.

Rent a mobile home to see New Zealand.


Travel light? Start young and prepare to Planepack

‘Are you going to be varm enuff? Haff you taken a jersey? Verr is your handbag? Ai, Bobby – houww can you go out like dat?’

My mother bristled with exasperation: no handbag? What would the world think?

‘I’m fine, Mommy! This is 1972 – not 1952!’

I twirled around before heading out the door. Sixteen years old, with the whole world to explore, I could never be bothered with carrying things. Who cared if I got cold? I had love to warm me! Who needs a bag? My house key was folded into a R10 note inside my pocket: I was fine.

Travel light

My mother and I shared a love of fashion – evident in this early photo. She never taught me travel lightly. I learnt that all by myself.

I started young.

Exploring our streets, I climbed every wall and every tree, unencumbered by toys or gadgets, dodging grumpy neighbors and befriending dogs. Our street gang of neighborhood children criss-crossed yards and gardens, playing and tumbling through houses and flats. We never wanted things; we wanted life.

But what my mother taught me was to leave things behind.

Traveling less light

My mother was one of those mothers who always worried about my well being: Did I have a coat? Was a I wearing a vest? So you would have thought she’d advise me to travel lightly, but you’d be wrong.

A long time ago, packing for my first trip to Europe, I squeezed 14 t-shirts into my already bulging suitcase. My mother watched as I struggled:

‘Haff you taken warm tings?’ she asked.

‘Of course, I have Mommy,’ I responded, ‘and anyway it’s going to be warm there.’

Light travel with bag

My mother looks on as I squeeze a further 14 t-shirts into my already bulging bag. Not traveling lightly.

When she travelled, she took with her as much as she possibly could.

She saw it as a challenge to fly with more than she could carry. My mother would pin jerseys into the sleeves of her coat so that she could wear the jersey and the coat in the cabin. She swathed herself in shawls for the trip, claiming she suffered chills.

‘Why do you need all of those scarves, Mommy? They give you blankets on the plane, you know?’

‘But I vill get cold. My poor knees; I have to put someting over dem. Dose air hostesses never bring me nutting,’ she claimed, patting her knees as if to confirm their plight.

Traveling even heavier

Her luggage was always 10 kilos overweight, socks stuffed with bottles of rakija; presents from her Serbian family.

She willed herself through customs and was never pulled over for excess baggage or alcohol. But she handicapped herself, lugging bags, shopping baskets, suitcases, and trailing fabrics, from plane to plane.

When I travelled with her – only once did we make that trip to Europe together – I thought I’d die. We negotiated the airports with my pushing her wheelchair, balancing her walking stick and heaving her bags through customs. I never recovered from that struggle. It was the moment that defined Planepack.

Planepack: the art of traveling light

Planepack is my personal philosophy of flying and traveling light. I no longer lug bags in and out of planes, boats and trains. I don’t go near baggage claim. And my luggage is never lost. Planepack frees me to travel lightly and nimbly. How do I do that? I fly and travel with carry on hand luggage only.

In this Planepack series, I write about travel, the art of packing light, and how to do that with minimum fuss and maximum pleasure.

Planepack: how I fly and travel with carry on bags only

‘How do you do it, Bobby? You fly with hand luggage only? You have to teach me to pack and travel like you do!’ Read my new Planepack series to find out how!

Since 2010, I’ve travelled with carry on luggage only. Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand – it doesn’t matter where I go, I no longer lug suitcases. I pack and carry 7 kgs only – and you can do it too.

If you want to know how to pack and travel lightly, this is it: Planepack is my light travel philosophy. It’s my tao of travel: how I pack, fly and travel with carry on luggage only.

Planepack travel light principle #1: Plan your light luggage

My first Planepack travel light principle is to plan and prepare:

  • where am I going;
  • how long will I stay;
  • what must I take with me;
  • what will I do while away.

Once I’ve covered those off, it’s easy to pack accordingly. Next step: I use the lightest possible carry on luggage. Mine is a hard clam shell style suitcase. You might prefer a back pack. Whichever you choose, do so carefully: your carry on bag is your best travel friend.

Planepack travel light principle #2: Pack your light luggage

My second Planepack travel light principle is to pack with consideration:

Packing light is an art: roll, fold, vacuum pack – you choose the style that suits you best. But your contents determine how light or how heavy your bag is. I weigh, weigh and weigh again to get in under the average 7 kgs limit. I research airlines’ websites for their particular weight restrictions before flying with them.

Planepack travel light principle #3: Carry on light luggage

My third Planepack travel light principle is not to burden myself with unnecessary stuff.

For the past few trips, I’ve cut back on things I take with me: no unnecessary clothes; fewer appliances; no tsotchkes – just the essentials. But I carry the killer necklace for an evening out. My packing might be plain, but I still like a little glamour.

Planepack travel light principle #4: Enjoy the trip with light luggage only

My most valuable Planepack principle is to enjoy the trip. No schlepping of bags in and out of cars; up stairs; into minute lifts; over cobbled stones. No more waiting for bags at baggage claim. No more lost luggage. And no more anxiety. I’m a liberated light traveler – and so will you be!

Planepack product promo

Now this is the kind of hard case I’d like to use! Weighing in at a light 2.835 kilograms (6.4 pounds), this little blue baby is my colour – and within my Planepack weight range. Have a look at Tumi for this hard case and other travel products.