I love a game, a relaxing puzzle, it is easier to think when there is less at risk, so let us play the hand luggage game, and like most games it is also useful preparation for serious situations. Whether you are contemplating self-exile either from Trump, Brexit or any other form of dictatorship, if you worry about the collapse of civilisation or zombie apocalypses, you might have already played the bug out version of the game. It is certainly a game that many people have played in real life situations running from genocide and political oppression, but the best practice is to game out what you would do before it happens, as when it does, it can happen too quickly, you might only have five minutes to make rushed decisions, so be aware of the decisions that you would have to make before circumstances catches up with you.
Hand luggage regulations give us a useful rule and restriction for the game, a 40 litre backpack (40cm x 30cm x 20cm) is large enough to carry more than you would think but small enough to be able to run with, which is useful for catching planes as well as escaping zombies. There is no going back in this game, no storage facilities for antique tables or valuable sentimental paintings, you are leaving your old life behind and starting a new life with a blank sheet, no assets or resources other than what you can carry, what do you take to start again, what is important enough not to be left behind, and you only have to carry water filtration devices if you are playing the bug out version of the game, otherwise assume that you are going somewhere nice with the basics of life.
You have to consider both the essential but boring, and what luxuries will bring you the most joy. There are plenty of videos on You Tube of the young and carefree minimalist world travellers who only need a pair of sandals, a laptop and a microphone. The experience junkies, who only want to be in the moment and then blog about it to make money, who sell a lifestyle of non-materialism which ironically is supported by a few thousand dollars worth of equipment and advertisers who want to sell you things to help you not need things. Whether that is online business support that whilst being a non-physical item is still surprisingly expensive, or a space aged packaging solution for the tools of their trade.
Be inspired by them, their videos are fun and useful to identify what items might be essential to you. However they do represent a certain lifestyle that they are selling, we are all different, whilst some people enjoy being naked all the time and have a limited need for clothes, it is not always practical or desirable for all. You might not need a dozen warm jumpers, but having the right one at the right time can be a luxury beyond belief. Pants, trousers, socks, shirts, raincoat, funky sun hat, sunglasses, are boring practical things that you use every day, as are things like soap, shampoo and beard trimmers (which might not be applicable for all ladies, though I am reliably informed that they come with their own electronic devices). And whilst normally boring, there is no luxury like a good shower with moisturising soap and an Egyptian cotton towel after a seven day trip through the African desert. Of course, depending upon who you are, your list will be different, a coffee press and grinder might be a luxury for some and essential if you are French, a short wave radio to listen to the cricket might spark joy for an Englishman but just be white noise to an American linebacker.
We all have different needs and that is why this game is so interesting, what is in your bag tells you so much about yourself and your priorities. Whether it is pictures of your family that tells us that you are loving parent, a writer might insist on a thesaurus, an artist might need a sketchpad, a juggler needs their balls to play with and at the same time, if you could happily leave behind the tools of your trade perhaps it is time to leave that trade behind as it is not important enough to make it into the bag.
There are of course many ways to avoid the restriction, and I encourage all kinds of cheating. Why take a library of books when a single e-reader can occupy you for a lifetime, you do not need a case of records when you can stream high-quality audio from a fast online catalogue and laptop Netflix can replace a giant television, and whilst the purists will tut, sigh and say that these are inferior copies, I am truly grateful that these no longer need to fill up my bag with them. Whilst the game is primarily about what you will put in your forever bag, never miss an opportunity to be grateful for the things that we can not carry but bring us joy as well as recognising those things that we no longer need to pack to enjoy a mere holiday. I am of an age where I distinctly remember having to fill half a bag with tapes for my cassette Walkman (which use to be just called a walkman) as there is no way I was going to choose between De la Soul and Primal scream, there was an agony in selection that is just unnecessary nowadays. As a stoic I never miss opportunity to be grateful and the amount of luxury that we have available to us should not be underestimated, I hope this game will underline that fact to you.
Our non-physical world has grown to such an extent that each of us carry a vast library that would shame our cities attempts at the sharing economies of public libraries and even all the bookshops combined. That leaves us with what to do with all that space within our bags, we get to fill it with things that bring us joy, so what does bring you joy. For me a notebook and a pen is luxury as I have a laptop, speech recognition software (so much easier than trying to fit a secretary into a bag, probably more legal as well) and note taking apps on my phone, but there is something in that physical experience, that that cannot be produced digitally, but that is just me, what is interesting to me is what do you not want to leave behind.
And whilst not all of us need or want to escape, this game helps us to focus on what we need in our lives right now. By asking what would make it into the bag, we can see clearly whether all the things that do not are actually needed in our lives at all. We are grateful for things that have served us, but if they no longer are necessary or spark joy, maybe it is time to take a photo of them and pass them on to someone who needs them now. Keeping something our of sentimentally comes at a cost of space, and space is more valuable than most people think, space allows us to give all our things their own separate homes, it gives us room to breath and move around, think and expand. One of the reason hotel room feel so luxurious is because they are not full of stuff rather they are almost empty except for the essential. That is the point of this article to turn us towards what is essential in our lives and to ruthless cut out everything that is not, to give us the ultimate luxury of space.