I’m not ashamed to admit that I was pretentious enough to think that I can strut the streets of London and Paris. We were traveling in the fall, after all (September to October 2011)— also known as the height of Fashion Week.
I wanted to be dressed to the nines while roaming around two of the world’s fashion capitals that I even splurged on a new bag and two pairs of shoes.
(All purchased specifically for the London & Paris sojourn)
Carry-on: Stella McCartney for LeSportsac
(Save for the shoes, everything else I own pre-travel)
And it didn’t end there. We expected the weather to be “nippy” as we have been warned by friends and family and countless websites. Thus, I was obliged to stock up on thermals and heat-generating undergarments. Needless to say, I spent a fortune on firming up my wardrobe . . . and I haven’t even arrived yet.
So, it wouldn’t come as a surprise that my suitcase looked like this.
Yes, shame on me. I brought my entire banyo. 80% of which I didn’t end up using, especially the moisturizers, because lo and behold— it was friggin’ (and unusually) HOT in Paris.
Movement became increasingly difficult because I had BAGGAGE. It was tedious to lug it on the bus, on the train, inside the hotel (i.e., our rooms were tiny since we booked at budget hotels), and all over the airport.
On the way home, my loot doubled that I bought a new suitcase at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. All because I SHOPPED. I hoarded Longchamp bags for my family, braved the iconic Goyard flagship at Rue Saint-Honore, trooped up and down Selfridges for a Cambridge Satchel. Not to mention I sweeped cookies, toffee, keychains, notebooks, pens, posters, and every souvenir imaginable at Shakespeare Town and the Louvre.
It was ugly. I was a mess. That is why (among other things which I will reveal in later posts) I was severely Eurotraumatized. It’s common knowledge that I live(d) for shopping but I reached extreme madness in London and Paris.
Six months later, this month particularly, I flew again for a week-long bornday celebration in Siem Reap. I was, however, on a mission: to abide by Ryan Bingham’s philosophy on The Empty Backpack. While I couldn’t possibly bring just my self to an entirely new country, I did manage to narrow down my belongings to a 6.5kg rucksack.
Rucksack: Stella McCartney for LeSportsac
A few thin shirts, shorts, pants, and underwear, three pairs of footsies, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, and two books— I was set. When I ran out of clothes, I just bought at the Night Market. Europe was a rude awakening to my travel lifestyle and I was determined to do a total 180.
It was liberating. I was on a high. Turns out, I never needed those things I thought I needed. I’ve proven that I could live without them. That I could be supremely happy touring with only a small camera and few loose change.