The internet is full of great sites on how to pack light for your holiday to a developing country. Especially when you have a backpack to carry on and off buses, into remote regions and need to travel with the bare minimum of stuff.
However, for a lot of us, thats not how we travel. Thats all well and good for backpackers, but as a mid-level traveller staying in basic comfort class hotels and having minimal opportunities to lug my bag, I actually do the opposite.
I fill that backpack with as much stuff as I can cram in it.
“Are you crazy?” I hear you say… yes but thats not why I do it.
If you are anything like me you have dozens of items of clothing lingering in the back of your wardrobe that you haven’t worn in… well, forever. Perhaps items slightly out of shape, just don’t fit right or have a stain you can’t get out. Old undies that are comfortable but have seen better days. Shoes which only have few wears left in them before you ditch them.
These are the items I take with me. All of them. Plus some.
Over the course of my holiday, which tends to average 2-3 weeks away, I wear items once or twice and when done with them, I neatly fold the items and leave them on the top of the rubbish bin so its obvious they aren’t wanted.
In 90% of cases you won’t know what happens to this clothing. But in countries where people are struggling to make ends meet, these items will find a new owner. I know for a fact that the girl who cleaned our room in Tonga liked the shoes I left – I saw her wearing them a few days later. I also know the young men who cleaned our rooms in one of our stops in India were thrilled to find the items we left – we heard them calling the others to go through the items – we were waiting for our bus to leave.
These items to me are worthless. In many cases a charity here, would simply turn these items in cleaning rags, as they want really good quality items to resell. Travelling with them and leaving them is a great way to recycle them.
The other advantages are that you probably won’t have to do any laundry while you are away and your bag gets lighter as your trip progresses, you then have space for souvenirs.
Its my aim when travelling to developing countries to go with a full backpack and return home with pretty much an empty backpack and the items I’m wearing.