House Swap: Packing Light

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What to take? What to leave behind? These are the questions I've been debating for the past few weeks and now they have to be put into action; stuff has to actually go into my suitcase. But which stuff?

In the hopes of answering that question, last night I laid out everything I was considering and tried on clothes, imagining what activities I'll need to dress for. It's true I'll be traveling with a larger suitcase than the tiny rolling model I usually carry but travel, for me, seems like the ideal time to pare things down to the basics. I don't want to be encumbered by stuff. If I need something I can buy it there. After all, isn't that half the fun of traveling? I'll run out of toothpaste and debate among the local brands. In fact, I may feel more excited about the prospect of trips to the grocery store than I am about visiting any of the museums because it's in those mundane activities that I really learn about where I am.

Coincidentally, I've been doing the same thing with my home, whittling stuff down as I try to make room for someone else to put their things, organizing my home so it's easy for them to find what they need. With every piece that's left my home, I've felt lighter. There's more room for breathing, for me, for play and for people. The empty places feel less like lack and more like opportunities waiting to happen. The empty fridge can hold food for a party, the empty bookshelf urges a trip to the bookstore, the empty dresser drawers beckon someone to move in and share my home with me. They're spaces where my imagination can take flight, where my life can expand, where people replace things.

I'm hoping to sustain this feeling through my trip and beyond, collecting experiences rather than souvenirs, memories and photos rather than knick knacks, traveling abroad and through life footloose and fancy free.

Image: Abigail Stone

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