Why Filipinos Can't Seem to Pack Light And Other Musings on Travel
Heavy luggage on the way to a destination presumes that any attire brought on a trip is projected to be worn no more than twice, including underwear. There is the supposition too that one is not to spend for such luxuries as laundry while on the move. The
The proponent of
Underwear, he believes, is seldom seen except by someone intimate who will not hold it against him. Thus he can pack old threadbare pairs and toss them out after each use. Better yet, he can purchase disposable ones. Work out the math and
This Spartan approach applies to outerwear as well.
The biggest mental block to hurdle in light travel is over-preparedness.
As for sleeping, even at a friend’s house (more of this later), isn’t the blanket sufficient? This house has laundry, after all. As one goes down the list, it is easy to see how light one can go with this type of thinking.
There is also some cultural baggage that needs to be discarded. This means rejecting gifts other people want one to pack and to give to other people in a different time zone. Why should total (or even partial) strangers dictate what goes inside one’s luggage? Should one become the donkey for delivering other people’s gifts? Should FedEx be deprived of its core business? The person who can’t say “no” to this kind of emotional blackmail deserves to have his retina detached from carrying relief goods to distant municipalities.
What about bringing meals to eat at the destination like preserved fruits and pork rinds? Aside from the
The biggest mental block to hurdle in light travel is over-preparedness. This just-in-case mentality taxes the imagination, and with it luggage space. What if there is an invitation to visit a casino in Monaco requiring a tuxedo? What if your host suddenly asks you to go skiing in Aspen? What if the weather suddenly turns chilly? The possibilities, which in statistical terms have a much likelihood as getting praised behind your back by someone you despise, results in unused garments one takes back home in their original plastic wraps.
One must discard the Boy Scout’s motto of being always prepared. On the contrary, it is good to be unprepared for eventualities that are not on the schedule. This is, after all, the thrill of the unexpected that travel offers. And if you do get asked to jet to Monaco for a turn at the baccarat table in a tux which is not in your luggage? What the heck, just buy one! You will need it anyway for some anniversary party of your
Business or pleasure?
Does business travel promote lighter luggage? This special category of frequent
It is important for the business traveler then to communicate that he is a reluctant corporate soldier being sent off to battle.
The proponent would rather not travel himself but can’t think of anyone else to do the job. He himself is tired of plane food and considers it a distasteful task somebody, unfortunately, he has to do. Who needs the jet lag and the hassle of looking for a bag in the carousel? But, hey, somebody has to do it.
So busy is the schedule confronting the business
It is important for the business
Hence, the light luggage is further proof of reluctance to undertake a business trip. Having bulky impedimenta arouses suspicions—is this trip really going to help the company?
A “friendly” place to stay
A travel itinerary, even for those on supposedly business trips, often involves some temporary visits with those near and dear. Staying with friends or relatives entails a special
After brief introductions, the migrants churn around the conversational whirl like a pair of old socks in a washing machine hanging on to each other for comfort in the process of being
There is an accepted etiquette for the unexpected guest being thrown into unfamiliar social ponds. Pick the edges of the long table or the farthest corner of the entertainment area. This allows a frictionless ability to stay out of everyone’s way. Regular friends have their own inside jokes and common gossip objects. Being on the fringes allows you to be comfortably ignored, in the process appreciating the training of waiters who disregard frantic hand signals. Choosing social Siberia as your comfort zone allows the host and his original invited guests not to work too hard to include you in their conversation. They are not obliged to explain punchlines of obscure jokes which send everyone else rolling in the aisles or provide additional details on absent characters who invite whispered comments on their latest misadventures.
To altogether avoid this social version of the Stations of the Cross, it is best to inform the unauthorized inviter off the bat that “sorry we can’t join that party as another friend from Phoenix (Steve Nash) is driving over and picking us up for dinner on the same night.”
Being already occupied with the other unexpected guest you came in with removes the obligation for the host to try to “entertain you.” (“Are you okay over there behind the potted palms? You still have your corncob?”) The social chore of showing even a modicum of interest implicit in engaging you in conversation requires the same hard work as lifting weights for those meeting you for the first time. Even with clues from your cousin about the work you do (he observes people and jots down their unflattering traits—you will surely be in his next piece), it is a grind to keep several sentences going in a
Polishing your conversational skills
What do you talk about with these strangers in a strange land? Safe topics should be those that cause no trouble even when overheard, like renovation plans for the kitchen back home, common friends in Manila, flight schedules and the latest NBA rankings.
Only when it is time to eat are the regulars obliged to acknowledge your presence. (“Hey, you’re still here.”) Still, this is a comfortable time to be harmlessly engaged as food provides its own stock of small talk—“isn’t this salsa dip amazing? Are those small spiders floating in this glob or are they watermelon seeds?”
Getting away on your getaway
To altogether avoid this social version of the Stations of the Cross, it is best to inform the
This getaway is preferable to being the object of nervous neglect in somebody else’s party. While a gatecrasher chooses to attend a party he has not been invited to and expects to have fun in with the photo ops, the dragged-in guest really wants to be somewhere else, even if he has to pay for a cheap dinner oozing with cholesterol.
It’s always best to travel at your own pace and pay for different hotel rooms to call your own for two weeks. You can still meet up with the obligatory relatives and friends for lunch or dinner at a restaurant, and you won’t have to see them nightly in their