“People in Hong Kong dress up,” my mom warned. She was going on memory from her last time there in ’65, when people in the US dressed up, too.
But I was happy to pack two dresses I could wear to nice dinners. Back in 1990, college girls dressed up in the same way as forty-year olds. Now it’s the other way around. It’s a good thing I gave those dresses away decades ago.
When it came time to leave Hong Kong and set out for Southeast Asia, the USSR, and Eastern Europe, I donated some clothes to the Caritas Lodge in Kowloon. I also sent those two aforementioned dresses and knick nacks back to my parents’ home in Chicago. For the next few months, I traveled with a couple t-shirts, a couple pastel sundresses, a sweater, and the lavender skirt. Oh, and one pair of sandals.
My rule of thumb is to pack what you think you’ll need, then take out half of the clothes and shoes and reassess what’s left. I usually take another 40-50% out and call it a day.
With three kids, two of whom still use car seats and strollers, packing lightly is impossible. Just thinking about all the diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, and other baby accoutrements sends my head splitting.
So when I travel sans enfants, it feels especially liberating to walk onto an airplane with nothing but a purse and a good book.