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The Art of Packing

​I count myself lucky that I am an expert packer.

Some people think that packing is just a matter of throwing things into a suitcase.

Others believe in complete order as they neatly stack their socks into their shoes and play a real game of tetris.

For people like me, a suitcase has nothing to do with packing for a long trip.

The game of tetris is completed within a few minutes of action. It bears no extraordinary challenge, other than verifying that nothing has been forgotten, even those nicknacks that never feature on any list and that most people don't think about; needle and thread for emergency button repairs, bandaids stuffed into a wallet, etc. The sort of items no one really thinks about, until it's too late, and you start to wonder: "how do you say 'splinter' in Korean?".

Instead of stuffing things into my suitcase, packing, for me, is more likely to encompass going to a pretty viewpoint and taking a photo of my hometown. Or to walk in the fields to stock up on silence, because I know that in a big city like Seoul, silences a rarity.

Packing has to do with what I fill my mind with as I prepare to leave one place and go to another. It's not so much about how my shampoo is screwed on with plastic wrap and has been put into a plastic bag too so that it won't leak all over my duvet. It is a matter of appreciating what I have and be ready to have none of it wherever it is I'm going.

To pack is to appreciate that I currently have acces to the comfort of a wood-burner in winter, and to enjoy candlelight of a chandelier in the evening and appreciate that I have the freetime to watch films and tv series too. It means acknowledging the every day things that mark my daily life as I know it now, and prepare for it all to change.

When I travel, whether it is a long trip or a short one, I don't expect the same comforts that I have at home.

This is the sort of mistake I often see novice travellers commit without even realising it. Whether you travel half-way across the globe, or to a different country, or even a different town, when you go somewhere that is NOT home, then you cannot expect things to be the same as they were.

Comforts like being able to drink tap water may not be available where you're going, so count yourself lucky that you have had it the last place you were, and don't be stubborn and complain that "where I come from, I didn't have to check the water before drinking it, so I really don't know why I got sick, Doctor."

The ability to be able to accept new things doesn't come without preparation. It's not that some people are born with this ability and others are not, it's a question of carrying the right mindset.

So next time you start packing for that trip, do yourself a favour, and pack an ease of mind too, and a willingness to accept new surroundings and conditions different to those you are used to from home. Pack a hunger to explore and leave your expectations of daily comforts at home, where they belong.

That is what I consistently do, so I have packed, and I am ready. Tomorrow we fly.

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