If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my travels, it’s to pack light. My mom gave me this advice many years ago:
Pack the minimum amount of clothes you think you’ll need. Then take out half those clothes before you zip your suitcase (or backpack).
I took that advice to heart 20 years ago when I backpacked through Asia, the USSR, and Eastern Europe. Here’s a peek into those months.
I started out in Hong Kong, where’d I’d just spent a year studying at the Chinese University. Can you tell I’m bummed to leave? I bought this skirt in Mexico City eight years earlier. A family friend hand painted the Chinese horse on my t-shirt. I’m also wearing one of two long-sleeved tops I packed that summer (along with two sundresses and one other t-shirt).
Here I’m wearing the same outfit at Angkor Wat, where I traveled just for the day because planes only flew to Siem Reap once a week back then. I walked through the temples with a kind Mexican father and son who offered to take my photo along the way.
The horse t-shirt and purple skirt served me well in Thailand, too. Visiting all those Buddhist temples, I felt fortunate to have something semi-decent to wear. Sometimes shorts don’t cut it. Those sandals I wore were the only shoes I brought on that three month trip and they usually did the job, except maybe when I reached a chilly Moscow later that summer.
Getting tired of this outfit? I did, too, but not before I reached Beijing almost two months after I left Hong Kong that spring. But as much as I grew sick of this outfit, by the end of my trip, I couldn’t even look at the one below.
As soon as I arrived in Chicago at the end of that summer, I promptly donated this pastel drop-waist sundress and its companion t-shirt. I don’t know what happened to the purple skirt and horse t-shirt.