Europe on Five Bad Ideas a Day takes an interesting look at European travel (and packing for it) before the groundbreaking work of Arthur Frommer’s Europe on Five Dollars a Day encouraged “normally provisioned” folks to take a crack at Europe on a budget—and well in advance of the day that airplanes became huge, lumbering buses for the masses to cross the pond in, too.
Despite the occasional urge to travel with a sterling-silver paper stapler or mink-covered beer-can opener like Temple Fielding did in his day, the Frommer method of travel, with its “freedom from excess baggage” philosophy, seems normal today. Steamer trunks full of the things we have at home are out, and carry on roll-abouts stuffed with a few changes of clothing have become the norm.
I’m wondering though if the “less is more” philosophy has gone too far. Every available corner of the internet seems stuffed with the deleterious promises of bliss based on saving a whole $5 or so on your $3500 vacation. I don’t even read them any more. Do you?
Sure, I go to the open air markets and occasionally load up on bread and stinky cheeses to eat for lunch. I don’t do it to save money though, I do it for the sheer pleasure of it. I do it because I’m often stuck in unfortunate places where “cheese” denotes a kind of chemical slurry of orange matter produced in a laboratory and ending up with a shelf life of several millenia. Hurray! (but mostly for salt, which is the primary flavor of the stuff.) I do what I enjoy, not what someone tells me saves money. That’s idiotic. We work our fingers to the bone, why not take pleasure in a vacation? Besides, the stuff the locals eat is usually better, local, and cheaper than the stuff they cobble together for tourists.
As Frommer recommends, I pack light. But that’s mostly because I do not go all orgasmic over dressing in a particularly frivolous and personal way—so why not do less of it? Clothing, to me, simply covers the body parts people usually report seeing to the local constabulary on account of they’ve been told their brains will turn to mush if they see too much of God’s creation, a point that nobody has successfully proven but stands as one of the most commonly agreed upon lies in the entire universe.
But should you pack light? That’s the question. If you really think you need that 14 pound Mongolian mink-handled meat cleaver, why travel without it?
Go ahead. I’m not the packing police; I’m not going to stop you.
That’s airline security’s job.
A great read: The things we no longer carry