Years of traveling have ensured that I travel light where ever I go. There is usually an argument when we pack and I keep reminding my wife that we have to lug heavy suitcases around something she does not always appreciate till we are puffing and panting on our way. Choose your luggage carefully. Weight could cost you and don’t do what my wife does when she can’t find an elevator at a station. Let it roll down the staircase wherever she is, much to my embarrassment.

I also recall once when I was returning from the UK in the early days. I had just got married and on the eve of my return visited my wife’s aunt who smiled at me sweetly and said – would you take a few chocolates back for my sister.  Sure I said – it would please my mother-in-law, but I already had a 10 kg extra luggage coupon since I was bringing back a lot of reading material from a course. When I saw the parcel I gasped.  It must have weighed at least 12 kgs! I said I can’t carry this – but the look on the lady’s face suggested that I was being mean.  So I took it back to my hotel and sat contemplating what I could do the next morning.  Sure enough when I got to the counter and loaded my suitcases I was overweight by 20 kgs.  But my hand luggage was 15 kgs alone at least to boot! The lady looked over the counter and exclaimed.  You can’t carry more than 7 kgs hand luggage! I was caught out.  Get rid of it she promptly said.  Believe it or not I was going to bin all the expensive chocolates but I saw an Indian cleaner at Heathrow and said – Bhai Sahib would you take these for your kids otherwise I have to bin it.  He finally took it most suspiciously.  I had learned the lesson of my life – Travel Light always.  And it’s even more rigid now.

So here are just a few simple but essential tips:

  1. Pack clothes that don’t crush. Wash, hang to dry and then wear again. If you intend to shop for clothes then why carry so much – wear what you buy! You don’t need to carry formals if you are on holiday and if you have to, wear the suit you need when traveling. Two pairs of shoes at best. I co-ordinate my clothes with one casual and one formal pair.
  2. Be clever if carrying gifts. Keep them small and light. We usually carry water-color paintings – without frames of course! Much appreciated we find as on a return visit its up on the wall!
  3. Use duty free AT THE END of your destination. It costs all the same anyway - give or take.
  4. Keep copies of your travel documents in every case you carry and make sure the originals are in your hand luggage and also make sure you and your hand luggage are never parted except through the x-ray machine.
  5. Original documents can be asked for at any time so make sure you carry them in a carefully transparent leafed folder so you can produce any you are asked for. Hotel bookings and letters of introduction are critical. Remember someone can be difficult at any time when passing through emigration.
  6. Wear slip-ons – no laces no studs. Some airports ask you to take off your shoes. Avoid belts too. Make sure your mobile and purse are kept in your hand luggage at all times. 7. Never show annoyance at the handling staff or at the immigration officer. SMILE, SMILE SMILE even if they are insulting.

If you are a frequent traveler you can add to this list for sure. Oh yes! Ensure you note the Sl No of your computer. Hundreds of people leave them behind at airports and it’s very difficult for the airlines to identify them later. I know you will say – it can’t happen to me but when you are under pressure anything can happen at an airport, believe me. A colleague had the time of his life getting his laptop back – they said 10 of the same brand were left behind at Frankfurt Airport in that one hour and he was sitting in Berlin!! Yes it was finally sent to Berlin in two days thanks to the persistence of a young staffer at our hotel who took it upon herself to talk through to just about everyone in German. Remember you may have a language problem if you are abroad.

Happy – LITE – traveling!