5. Reduce my material possessions to <30kgs

This is a big deal for me. I’m a massive hoarder. Not quite worthy of a 60 minutes episode, but I hate to waste things or even throw things out that may have a potential future use.

The mental process required to just cast my possessions aside, no matter how precious, useful or expensive they were has been made a lot simpler as I really don’t have much of a choice. I haven’t yet booked a return flight, and while I could leave things a bunch of things with mum and dad in Wellington, my bedroom was long ago converted to a guest room. My bright yellow walls painted inoffensive pale blue. My Enrique Iglesias posters removed…*

My objective is to get through every airport (I have to pass through 5, not including landing in Aarhus) with no overweight baggage issues. On every single long trip I can remember I have been well above the weight limit, but I have always managed to talk my out of a fee. In fact on many occasions I have really pulled out all the stops. Everything from befriending businessmen on day trips in the queue and convincing them to check in with me, to flirting, to doe eyes as I explain I am moving back to NZ and it was oh-so-hard to pack my whole life in to this here giant suitcase.

My favourite was a full on spectacle of crocodile tears in Tokyo with a number of classmates and my Japanese teacher in on it (she was actually the orchestrator of this fiasco). As we tore items out of my suitcase and put them in to others, completely blocking the check-in queue, the poor, polite little Japanese check-in counter operators did not know how to deal with this noisy mess of 14-year-old girls, clothes and newly purchased Japanese electronics blocking the counters. Eventually they waived me through just to get us out-of-the-way and I got my extra 10kgs of accumulated souvenirs to New Zealand, free of the $600 charge.

Packing my life in to a 20kg suitcase and 10kg carry-on bag has been an absolute mission. Especially considering I am packing for winter in Denmark, summer backpacking all around Europe and then transitioning back to winter in Prague, all whilst being properly equipped to study. It has almost been like a game show, with round after round of ‘Suitcase Idol’ gradually heading toward the winning collection of items.

The first auditions were held in Dunedin, once I decided to stay in Brisbane to save up for my travels. There were a number of instant no’s from the judges. Just like the obese Texan who describes his occupation as a professional World of War Craft player and is in a cowboy hat yodeling, it was entertaining going through my things but most items didn’t stand a chance. All furniture was donated to my sister for her first flat next year; study notes, posters and things that can only be described as ‘crap’ were chucked out. Judging was more difficult on some things: piano books, winter clothes to take to Denmark, sentimental items. These were boxed up to be stored with the parents. The vast majority was culled, but a great deal either made it to the Brisbane round or skipped to the next round in Wellington.

About 10% of contestants made it to the Brisbane round. For the lucky few, they made it through customs and got a fair bit of use in Brisbane. Largely summer clothes and of course the necessities: laptop, phone, iPod, backpack, straightener, hairdryer, a few special photos to stick on my wall and make me feel at home, and a tonne of cosmetic products. Upon leaving Brisbane, things were stepped up another notch. Half the contestants had to be cut to make room for winter clothes, the backpack had to fit in to the suitcase. There were a few special guests featured on the show. Never in the running but always quick to pop in to my mind were the things i would have to buy when I get to Denmark, despite already owning. Sheets, towels, blankets, shampoo, conditioner etc. Seemed such a shame to throw out the things I already owned in Brisbane when I was going to have to buy them again in 2 months, but I didn’t really have a choice.

Things really heated up in Wellington. This was where the audience got to vote and there were a number of guest judges. First guest judge: family friend who lives in Copenhagen and recommended a number of items to buy in NZ. Woollen tights (mmmm Merino) added to the suitcase. Guest judge number two was a very helpful man named Rick Steve, who writes a blog about travelling in Europe. He strongly advocates for travelling for as long as you can with everything you need in a backpack small enough to qualify for hand luggage on a plane. Loads of useful tips, but ultimately not necessary until I go backpacking in the middle of the year. A number of other blogs from international students and travellers proved very helpful, as well as chats with friends who had been travelling before. Handy hints included a NZ multi plug to go with my travel adapter and some good packing secrets.

The semi finals were held the weekend before I set off. I put everything in my suitcase and weighed it. It was under 20kgs but I would need to have all my shoes in my carry on bag. No contestants were eliminated but the judges had a lot to consider before the finals.

The final is always a long episode and this time the audience weighed in heavily. I put everything in my suitcase, then realised my carry on backpack fitted less than anticipated. Many elimination rounds ensued and items of clothing were individually voted on and eliminated. Everything was tightly rolled, most cosmetic products and jewellery were thrown out or donated to my sister. I tried not to think about how much they were collectively worth. Many suggestions were received from the audience and a few different carry on bags were auditioned. I opted not to take the largest one as small ones are less likely to be weighed. After 3 more quickfire rounds of weigh – cull – weigh, finally I had 20kgs in my suitcase and one small backpack. Just in time to down some dinner and race to the airport.

*I wish I had had Enrique on my wall. My teenage years would surely have been that much more enjoyable…

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