Friday, 11 April 2014

The Logistics Of Travelling Light

My husband and I live in different countries. Or, more accurately, we both live in two countries, part-time. This means that we 'commute' between Homebases 1 and 2 (in Finland and in  the U.K., respectively) every week. It is not as complicated as it sounds, and it is not a temporary solution; we have been shuttling between two countries for almost 19 years.  So, I guess we can say that it works for us. Of course, there are some challenges, such as for example:


It's not that I wasn't organised (because I am), or that I didn't have enough shoes (I have more than I wear, even though I'm not into shoes). No, the problem is logistics.

Let me explain: I have a very nice, spacious dressing room in Homebase 2. Unfortunately, most of my clothes are in Homebase 1 (where I work). Also, to simplify my life, in late autumn I often leave seasonal bulky items such as shoes and coats in Homebase 2 (to avoid storing them in Homebase 1). This is also practical, as my autumn / spring coats and shoes pass for 'winter' wear in Homebase 2, thus I don't need to carry them back and forth throughout winter.

The problem arises if spring arrives early in Homebase 1, like it did in March this year (that time last year we were still knee-deep in snow), and all my spring clothes are in the wrong country.

Professor M, who is doing most of the weekend-only-commuting anyway (whereas I tend to spend longer stretches of time in each Homebase and thus 'commute' only once a month or once every two months), can bring me whatever I need, of course, within days. But that means he will need to take a suitcase with him, which means more hassle at the airport, and in general goes against our 'travelling light' philosophy. Not really worth it for a pair of shoes, right?

I can of course go and buy another pair of shoes / a new coat / whatever, but in the long-run that doesn't really make sense, either. I mean, as I already have perfectly good shoes / coats for all sorts of weather, I don't really see the point of getting more stuff just to solve a logistic problem (I am a bit of a minimalist at heart... or maybe it's my life-long obsession of fitting my entire life into one suitcase that makes me reluctant to accumulate things... But that's another story).


I have tried to come up with various solutions to this problem over the years. Let's review some of them:

Problem: Transporting bulky items (shoes, bags, coats) requires a suitcase, which is pointless on weekend trips.
Solution: Bags need to be assigned a permanent Homebase, (done that: I mainly need large work bags in Homebase 1, anyway, so most of my smaller bags can stay in Homebase 2), and have two pairs of the same shoes, one pair in each Homebase.
Outcome: Somehow both  pairs of shoes end up in Homebase 2 during winter...

Problem: Whichever item of clothing I want to wear on any given day is... yeah, you guessed it: in the wrong country.
Solution 1: Have a really basic, minimalistic capsule wardrobe with multi-purpose items and neutral colours, and have multiples of staples such as white T-shirts and well-cut trousers.
Outcome: I hate neutral colours as they wash me out completely, and at some point of the year I always realise that I have half a dozen white T-shirts in one Homebase and none in the other...

Solution 2: Plan more carefully what you want to wear during your stay in Homebase 2, think ahead what type of activities you might engage in, the events you might attend, what the weather is going to be like etc.
Outcome: I'm not going on a holiday, I'm just going to my other home, and I will do whatever I usually do at home, which could be anything. And the weather... the whole thing would probably be a lot easier if there was a bigger difference in climate, but with the exception of winter (Homebase 1: cold, snow, sleet; Homebase 2: not nearly as cold but very rainy), the weather is more or less as unpredictable in both Homebases .

Solution 3: Have two different sets of wardrobes, one in Homebase 1 and the other in Homebase 2, no need to transport anything.
Outcome: To some extent I have already done this: I have underwear, sleepwear, exercise gear, T-shirts etc. in both Homebases. However, I tend to have style crushes: there is always the dress-of-the-moment, not to mention accessories and jewellery... and what if the jacket in Homebase1 just aches to be matched to the dress in Homebase 2 (which usually hangs out with the 'other' jacket, the one that lives in Homebase 2)? And what if I find just the perfect dress in Homebase 1 but want to wear it in Homebase 2? Am I giving you  a headache yet?

So, is there a solution to this oh-so-trivial logistic problem, or am I just making my life more complicated than it needs to be?

It is not perfect, but this is my current strategy for travelling light:
  1. Toss whatever you feel like wearing / whatever is clean into a holdall (for a weekend visit) or a suitcase (for anything longer than a week), and do NOT spend more than 30 minutes packing. 
  2. Just accept that whatever you packed will turn out to be the wrong thing, and whatever you decided to leave out at the last minute is just what you will wish you had packed. Just deal with it, and get on with your life.
Travel Light, 
Tiina L,
Lifestyle Commuter

PS: this post was inspired by Sheila's fabulous dressing room ( Ephemera) 
and Patti's post on minimalism (Not Dead Yet Style

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4 comments

  1. Although I understand it IS a problem for you, I was laughing... laughing because I know the situation from a previous long-distance relationship between Germany and the UK. My problem is that I have never been a light traveller and also when I go on holidays I tend to pack for any possible occasion and weather ;-)
    Probably there isn't a real solution unless you spend lots of money and don't worry about duplicate pieces...

    Thank you so much for your kind comment today. BTW, where is your moto jacket at moment ;-)
    Kind regards,
    Annette | Lady of Style

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    1. Thank you Annette. Yes, I always try to prepare for everything, too, but you can't really, can you? I am actually quite good at fitting a lot of stuff into a small suitcase (mainly to get through the airport quickly and avoid waiting for luggage), but I always end up missing something I left behind. BTW, the moto jacket is in Homebase 2, too cold for it in Homebase 1 still. At the moment I'm planning what to take to Homebase 2 later this week, then to Barcelona, then it's back to Homebase 2, then Homebase 1 for a few days and back to Homebase 2... sounds complicated? Stay tuned...

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  2. It all sounds quite wonderful to me! I wish I traveled more. When I do, I frequently pack all the wrong things, despite trying so very hard not to. It's weird. My next trip is to the Caribbean. I don't do hot weather very well, and the last time I went I was totally overdressed. I'm thinking t-shirts and cool summer skirts, basically. I don't wear shorts. Throw in some accessories and I should be done. Ha! We'll see. I loved your final conclusion, although I hope to prove that one wrong for me.

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    Replies
    1. I know what you mean about packing the wrong thing... And I struggle with hot climates, too, maybe because I'm not comfortable with hot weather. And when I travel I usually take a suitcase and more stuff, but as I don't consider going to Homebase 2 as travelling, I often just get on a plane as if it were a bus, sometimes with nothing more than a handbag. This is also because I 'commute' so often, and to keep the costs down take budget airlines that charge you extra for luggage...

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