And of course, desperate to prove this fact, I decided that I could manage my round-the-world trip with a carry-on size bag. When I go visit New York for a weekend, I can't keep it to a carry-on size bag. So why I thought I could do it now is anyone's guess. The two people I showed my bag to before I left both started laughing hysterically when they saw it. "You're fucking joking," one of them said, flabbergasted.
The other said, "Well, it will be a great conversation starter...like, so, you here for the weekend, mate?"
I had made a well thought out and very conservative list of items to bring. At T-24 hours I started panicking and adding things willy nilly. I need to bring a thermometer, right? I'm not playing Russian roulette with my health, here. I've brought at least 8 or 9 over the counter remedies for various ailments that I like to diagnose myself with frequently, and another 3 or 4 under the counter medications to help me "chill out." In the last few hours I added a self-help book, a polka dotted tank top, a collection of gummy candy that looked like pizza, a grimy white t-shirt, compression bags, hair serum, nighttime moisturizer (to compliment the daytime moisturizer, body lotion and hand lotion I already have) and a guide to reading menus in Japanese. I had to sit on my bag to get it to close.
The plan had been to "travel light" but by the time I made it to Paddington Station I knew that I had royally fucked up. Once I boarded the Heathrow Express I sat down on the floor and unpacked my entire bag. "Be ruthless," I kept muttering to myself under my breath, trying to avoid the stares of the businessmen wondering why I was counting and recounting my underwear and talking to myself. "Be ruthless." By the time the train pulled up to Heathrow I had filled one of the compression bags up with items that I had ruthlessly abandoned and made a solid commitment to myself to divest myself of even more of my possessions on arriving in Tokyo.
One of my friends was trying to understand why me, of all people--me, who considers a trip to the mall a sacred journey, me, who thinks of bric-a-brac as a fundamental human right, was even bothering to try to travel light. The only reason I can give is that I like challenging myself. I like putting myself in situations that I find very difficult, like Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I have a believe that the more excruciating I deliberately make my life, the better a person I will become. And this is why I have packed this child-size bag.