I remember years ago having a fun chat with one of my pals about imagining traveling the world, but we could each carry only five things on us, just enough to fit into our pockets and with no luggage.
We came up with these five items: keys to whatever house we were each living in–or at least a storage compartment where we kept our stuff. In addition, we would need a passport, a credit card, a cash card, and a driver’s license. We figured that we could use our passports, credit cards and drivers’ licenses to go wherever we wanted to go and buy whatever we needed when we arrived. Whatever we didn’t want to carry, according to our no-luggage rule, could be sent back home by mail.
One month, two months, three months, who knows how long we would be gone.
I returned to this thought experiment in more recent days, and technology makes all the difference. If I were to imagine this today, I’d need not only those five things, but my technology! I would need a cell phone, some type of small notebook computer and chargers for each. One important new item would be a special travel jacket. Yes, folks I am so nerdy that I have thought about this.
Perhaps one that National Geographic photojournalists use, with enough pockets to carry all their stuff on them: Orvis.
But on a more practical level, I recalled this recently when I was away at a church conference last month. We were all checking out on the last day, there was a service taking place, and I was a participant. It was taking place outdoors, but I couldn’t carry my coat, since I was going to be wearing my vestments. I checked my luggage with the hotel staff, but what about the most important things I didn’t want to misplace? I was thankful for denims with deep pockets for my phone, wallet, keys, pen and note paper. I wore a wool hat, a hooded sweatshirt on top of my clerical shirt, a scarf on top of that, and finally, an LL Bean fleece jacket zipped up over everything. I only needed to be sure my clerical collar was peeking through.
All those years ago, I didn’t imagine what I would be doing as we traveled the world. Was I merely going to be a tourist? I think so. But if I had to talk to my younger self, I might have told her about becoming a travel writer. Or even a romance writer doing research on the ground. Historical novels, perhaps?
Alas, I have always been too practical to imagine the fanciful existence of traveling the world with only the clothes on my back. I’m firmly grounded in writing contemporaries, where my research is limited to the internet, and that is fine with me.
Copyright Barbara James. All rights reserved.