A heavy wooden door separated the convent from the outside world. As it closed behind me, I stood surrounded by silence. Flying anywhere from Australia takes a long time, and after a night and a day and a night I was exhausted. In true Roman style the taxi driver had careened down tiny streets where footpaths were more a suggestion than reality, before double-parking on the wrong side of the road.
The convent Le Soure di Lourdes was just a short walk from the top of the Spanish Steps. Once inside, the world became peaceful. Large wooden doors shut out the chaos of the street, and I stood in the quiet of a marble foyer.
Lugging my bags over the cobbles of Venice I vowed never to travel again with an ocean
of luggage in tow. The essence of elegance is, after all, simplicity. To travel lightly and so leave a small footprint benefits not only the environment but also the soul.
The problem was amplified by the fact I was in charge of my mother’s bags as well as my own. And it was raining – the only rainy day of the whole trip. There is always a time when travelling when you have to manage your bags yourself – not just over cobblestones, but lifting onto trains or buses, boats, or struggling to the second floor of a hotel with no elevator. The boot of a hired car is rarely spacious, and I don’t like tripping over bags in a hotel room.
So now I have some basic rules:
i) if I can’t lift my bags myself, I’m taking too much.
ii) if I can’t lift my bag over my head (to put on a rack in a train, for example) I am taking too much. Taking a bag down from a height can be just as difficult as lifting one.
iii) if I have to put down my carry bag and rest after 10 minutes of walking, I am carrying too much. Airports and railways involve a lot of walking.