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You know you're a Ricknik when...

...you debate the merits of a 4.5 lb bag vs a 5.5 lb bag on this forum for days

...you weigh two pairs of flip-flops on your kitchen scale so you can pack the lighter pair. 5 ounces saved!

...you wear every stitch of clothing you're considering taking around home for a day (including underwear) to find out which pieces pinch, chafe, ride up or ride down so you can leave them out

...then you wash each piece of clothing and measure how long it takes to line dry and how much it wrinkles

...you bring your fully-packed-and-weighed 20" carryon to a dinner party and preach to all the unbelievers about the virtues of carry-on only. In January. The guests, your traveling companions on your upcoming June trip, begin to worry about spending ten days with you.

Come on, tell me I'm not alone. What odd things have you done when following the "pack light, pack light, pack light" mantra?

Posted by
2252 posts

You are NOT alone! I pack and unpack pairs and pairs of shoes for weeks before a trip, experimenting with the "pack one/wear one" before I actually decide which two pairs are actually going to Europe with me. For some reason, clothes are not as big a problem as the shoes . And yes, I'll admit it; I know I drive my family crazy before I actually get out of town-unless they are going with me!

Posted by
27278 posts

I keep a cardboard box full of travel gear. Much of it is filled with empty bottles of every possible size so I can take exactly the right volume of toiletries, vitamins, etc., on a trip of any length. Most of those bottles are freebies that originally contained pills or hotel toiletries so I am free to disposed of them mid-trip as they are emptied.

I measure my usage of toiletries so I know how many days 1 ounce of each one will last.

I select my tops/blouses partly by length. Extra length adds weight and bulk without really doing anything positive for you.

Posted by
2261 posts

Not so much. Sure, I'm very conscious of how much I bring with me, but that's just logical. I think that where Rick shines is in putting himself into his business and leaving his rather unique mark on an industry. Tech had Steve Jobs, Finance has Warren Buffet, the NBA has Mark Cuban...like him or not it's about passion for your work.

I also really enjoy watching Rick do dumb things in the outtakes from his shows-he's not afraid to be human.

Posted by
985 posts

-The television is set on PBS every Saturday at 2:00 pm

-You read the forum.... every day.

-You find yourself trying to help others travel more efficiently.

-The fear of NOT traveling is greater than any fear of terrorism.

Posted by
2788 posts

I do as Nance does. Plus, I have taken 13 RS tours, soon to be #14 in June. Ricknik charlie

Posted by
1068 posts

You "hear" his voice as you read his guidebooks.

Posted by
683 posts

I have a scale on the kitchen table right now, have been weighing all kinds of things, packing for a European trip that is still three weeks away :-)

Posted by
14098 posts

Oh gosh, too funny!! Yes, I'm a confirmed RikNik. My brother introduced me to light packing and the RS philosophy and I have embraced it.

I've done everything on your list except wear the clothing. It's usually my everyday stuff anyway.

-after weighing said flipflops you write the weight somewhere on the sole so you can remember because it is January and you are not traveling til June.

-you see just how long you can wear a pair of Smartwool socks at home before they get whiffy so you don't need to experiment on tour.

-You have a packing list that you pretty much stick to, then when you come home from your trip you make notes on it so you can remember your thoughts and hopefully pare down a few more ounces next time.

-You also weigh the packing cubes and decide whether to take the plain sil-nylon light ones or the compression ones with an extra zipper. A part of an ounce VS space saved in the suitcase.

-Consider cutting off hidden buttons to save a fraction of an ounce and then decide that you probably are going overboard, need help and turn to the forum for some soothing time with friends.

-You agonize over signing up for a walking tour because it will require boots. Will the 2 weeks on that tour outweigh (lol) the need to haul them around for the other 4 you'll be gone. They are Ok comfortable but not comfortable enough to wear around big cities.

Thanks for the laugh...and therapy!

editing to add: Joel, you'd better get cracking! You are behind schedule!

Posted by
51 posts
  • You know most of his TV scripts by heart.
  • You read this forum plus his Facebook postings daily.
  • You subscribe to his e-mail updates.
  • You play the Rick Steves Drinking Game when you watch his shows (one sip for every "evocative", one sip for every "delight", etc.), which you found out about by reading his Facebook postings.

I recommended him to my doctor, who was planning her first trip to Europe. She ended up behind him in line at one of his recommended lunch spots in Ireland. I've met him at one of his Travel Skills lectures, but I've never bumped into him in 15 years of European travel.

Posted by
2261 posts

"You play the Rick Steves Drinking Game when you watch his shows (one sip for every "evocative", one sip for every "delight", etc."

Now that's funny!

Posted by
19119 posts

"...you debate the merits of a 4.5 lb bag vs a 5.5 lb bag on this forum for days"

No debate. A 4½ lb bag weighs less, and is therefore better than, a 5½ lb bag. A 1¾ lb bag (Essential Carryon) is even better.

"...you weigh two pairs of flip-flops on your kitchen scale so you can pack the lighter pair. 5 ounces saved!"

Obvious. Don't take either. More ounces saved.

A few years ago, I grew a beard so that I could save the pound that my rechargeable electric razor weighs.

"-You have a packing list that you pretty much stick to, then when you come home from your trip you make notes on it so you can remember your thoughts and hopefully pare down a few more ounces next time."

Guilty as charged.

"-Consider cutting off hidden buttons to save a fraction of an ounce"

What a great idea. Why didn't I think of that?

Posted by
1078 posts

OMG, I thought I was the only one!

I do owe Rick because I enjoy travel so much more than I use to, and yes I weigh everything going into my backpack!

Posted by
528 posts

My husband has finally fallen into the deep end. He just asked me to go to Wally World to purchase razor blades. He said three blades would take up less space and less weight than three disposable razors. Pam, I understand your dilemma, I am in the process of deciding which waterproof/resistant shoes to bring along, as we have a four day hiking trek at the end of our tour. However, I will wear said shoes during the tour. My issue is comfort, which will be most comfortable. As of today, thinking I will go with the less waterproof option. I am sure I will still be dithering as I head to the airport!!

Posted by
1209 posts

You spend hours on the internet reading reviews of various travel laundry products (dry vs. wet????), and actually lose sleep debating whether it's worth the extra weight to take the liquid Woolite packs that you prefer. And then you lose more sleep counting travel days and figuring which clothes will need to be washed when. Also.... You have a wardrobe of under-garment moneybelts and cross-body pouches, and are the go-to person among your family and friends when they need to borrow one for an upcoming trip.

Posted by
6346 posts

Debra, maybe he should follow Lee's example, and grow a beard!

Posted by
8 posts

Guilty of many things as charged, although I might be less a Ricknik and more a light packerista..

Other symptoms: You spend a good twenty (or more?) minutes during a long drive with your spouse reciting a trip itinerary event-by-event that is taking place in 8 weeks, to fine tune the wardrobe choices you have already made. It was worth it, I realized I could eliminate one outfit. This is a relatively structured trip that includes a lot of formal events with French and American attendees in France, so I'm straying slightly from my standard packing list - as it turns out, just replacing a day skirt with a linen dress, all else will be the regular list.

You go to 4 day continuing ed conferences with just your oversized 11x16x6" handbag (briefcase stuff? check. Clothes? check. purse items? check.)

I have started playing a game for the flight home - how much can I wear simultaneously? You'd be surprised!

Oh, for the smartwool socks, they rock and if I swap 2 pairs (avoid wearing same pair 2 days in a row) they seem to do fine with quarterly rinse outs. Really. But I do use (and bring) a scrub-brush for nice clean feet :)

Posted by
2613 posts

Although there are other travel guides out there I seem to get the most from Rick's books so have stopped bothering with the others. I do plenty of internet research to find special things that appeal to me for my trips, but for the basics he's my man.

Although I've hit on a tried-and-true perfect packing list for my typical 2 week trips I still mess around with weighing some items, especially for this trip where I'm going to the Opera and a play in Budapest; my nice dress, tights and spiffy shoes weigh 2.5 lbs and they aren't something I'd usually take but feel it's worth it this time--at least I'll wear them twice.

My non-travelling friends and a friend who packs literally every item she might possibly need (and pays the over-weight fee EVERY time) are all sick of hearing about the merits of packing light, in-room laundry and all the other things I've learned from Rick and the wonderful people on this forum.

Posted by
1040 posts

I agree, I think Lee's got this one nailed! I do need my flip flops though for those tile floors in Italy. My feet just can't take standing on them for long. Definitely not for walking around town.

Now, having been packed for six months, I've ripped everything apart and I'm having another look. Especially for those spare buttons :)

We've all got this! I love moving around freely with one small bag and one even smaller cross-body nylon pack.

Posted by
14098 posts

Christa's post reminded me of a friend who doesn't travel much but was going on a cruise recently. Her daughter told her it would be hot and she might have to change clothes 3X a DAY!! My friend was trying to figure how to pack 36!!!! complete outfits!! I was able to talk her down....lol.

Posted by
1068 posts

Don't forget..... you can cut the pockets out of your pants too....... may save a fraction of an ounce!! If you aren't wearing slip on shoes, don't forget to trim the extra off the shoelaces. Always ways to save weight.

Posted by
2349 posts

Can we get a convertible shoe? A little velcro and a flip flop turns into a walking shoe. Maybe the walking shoe upper could be reversible so you can make it into an evening shoe. A little more velcro and an additional thicker sole and you've got a hiking boot. I'm off to the design studio.

Posted by
1068 posts

I'm sensing a business opportunity here.

Posted by
2261 posts

Make that sole thick enough and you can design in a toothbrush compartment.

Posted by
2393 posts

"Can we get a convertible shoe? A little velcro and a flip flop turns into a walking shoe. Maybe the walking shoe upper could be reversible so you can make it into an evening shoe. A little more velcro and an additional thicker sole and you've got a hiking boot. I'm off to the design studio."

Google Tanya Heath Paris - a whole line of convertible shoes!

You are a RikNik when ... You spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing luggage and packing cube design and construction. Was that YKK zippers? lockable? compartments? Weight? Straps/wheels? Cost? I have become a self-educated expert on luggage for no particular reason.

Posted by
19119 posts

I was in Boy Scouts, and I can remember, it must have been in the middle-late 50's, an older scout who had been at Philmont ranch. They had to pack in everything for a week. They had actually torn towels in half and only taken half to save weight.

Posted by
15620 posts

This reminds me of an article I read years ago about mountain climbers. You all could learn from them. I remember they would carve out the handle of their plastic spoon to save weight.

Posted by
128 posts

Uh, oh, think I am truly in deep as I check this forum "several times a day". I've also been known to watch many, many U tube videos on "packing light" and our first RS tour isn't until this fall, my, oh, my this forum does get addicting. But, seriously , I've gotten some great travel advice, so keep posting everyone! Okay, one more confession, I've already done a "practice pack", when my trip was 5 months away!

Posted by
1068 posts

This reminds me of an article I read years ago about mountain climbers. You all could learn from them.

As an aside: So Chani do you carve out the handles of your spoons, only take one credit card, cut off your pants pockets/extra buttons and stop shaving in order to save weight when on a trip?

Although I have read the OP about packing light, I don't think that really qualifies one as a Ricknik (if indeed that is a good thing.) . Lots of people espouse packing light. IMHO, it is the other elements of the RS philosophy which makes one a Ricknik. For example:

1) You appreciate the big and the little sights. Sure you see the Louve, and then stop into a local church. You visit Paris, but also Quimper.

2) While the big sights are generally what they are for a reason, we also appreciate local experiences. These include public transportation, talking with locals, getting exposure to local customs. This is often eating in restaurants with no English on the menu and hotels with tiny (or no) elevators.

3) Seeing travel as a political act in that you learn about the world and expose the world to a (hopefully) good example of what Americans are like

4) Appreciate travel as a special type of learning activity.

5) Being open to new experiences...... okay, I'll order X the local specialty here. As opposed to people who insist on bringing their comfort zones with them. (Not saying they are wrong, just not when I think RS espouses.)

I'm sure there are others I am missing, but IMHO, it is the appreciation of several/most of these which leaves you in agreement with Rick and "qualifies" you as a Ricknik. Again just an opinion. (sorry to keep stating that, but it is somewhere between laughable and annoying to me when people write opinions as though they are speaking Ex Cathedra.) And I am onboard with packing light.... I just like to do it my way!

Posted by
14098 posts

" I've already done a "practice pack", when my trip was 5 months away"

Bkmat, the really bad thing would be if you took your packed suitcase to the afore-mentioned dinner party! Otherwise, practice packing can be classified as "recreation". You will thank yourself when you are not furiously throwing things in a suitcase at the last minute. You already know what fits.

deeeep breaaaaaths.....deeeeeeep breaaaaaths....No, Pam you cannot go do your final pack for August today. But I could practice pack!!

Posted by
3972 posts

We don't pack much that is in rigid containers, toiletries for example, to maximize space. We transfer or buy things in squeezable tubes and put what few pills we take in snack sized baggies with a label.

Every hollow place, like inside of packed shoes, can hold something. Even rather large but hollow purchases can be looked at by how many millimeters of thickness they are displacing.

My most extreme and desperate pack hack was convincing my husband that he could get 3 pair of underwear in the cavity of the printer we had to take with us on a semester long travel semester. That worked fine until I forgot they were in there before I plugged in the printer one day in Munich...

Posted by
6346 posts

Mona, you really did have me laughing out loud. Here in a public library!

Ray, you're absolutely right. There's a lot that goes into the RS travel philosophy; packing light is what enables us to enjoy the many other aspects of traveling.

All this obsessiveness on shaving off weight! Let's go full throttle here. Let's just wear underwear and flip flops and leave all clothing at home to save on packing. Hey, let's just go to nudist places. Imagine how quick the airport security search will go! You can probably get by on barely more than a 3-1-1 kit with sunscreen and a money belt/ neck pouch strategically placed.

Posted by
1068 posts

Good points. I think someone who really wanted to pack light would go with a credit card and passport nothing else. After all, you can buy everything else you require and shopping can be a pleasant experience (according to some posters.) Everyone who packs more could shed some weight!!!!

Posted by
19119 posts

BarbnRob,

I have carefully selected my travel wardrobe, and everything does dry overnight, so I really could go with just the clothes on my back, and I have really considered doing it, just to make a point, but I prefer having a couple more days clothes for contingencies.

Of course there is also Cape d'Agde, in France, where you don't need clothes (but you can count on needing plenty of sunscreen).

"Although I have read the OP about packing light, I don't think that really qualifies one as a Ricknik"

When I first learned of Rick's philosophy, I was already saving money by using public transportation and staying in small, intimate places, "back doors", if you wish. The main thing I got from him was packing light enough to carry on. So, to me, that is an essential trait of being a Ricknik.

Posted by
15620 posts

Ray, I am in complete agreement with you. And I always check a bag. I do try to pack as little as possible and use as small a bag as possible because it's easier when I'm on the ground and moving from place to place, but I don't get the obsession some people have. I watched a video of one of the RS woman showing how she packed light. Maybe her nearly weightless garments suited her, but I couldn't see myself wearing anything that she extolled. And if I'm going somewhere for 2-4 weeks, I don't want to live without the small things that make my life and my travel pleasant. I've wasted enough time shopping in foreign countries for unexpected needs; it's really hard to find what you want when the packaging is different, the language is foreign, and the staff don't speak English. And then you end up buying a huge package of something you only need a little of and it costs so much more than you could have bought it for at home. That's okay if you have a fat money belt, but I think most travelers would rather use those hard-saved funds on something more rewarding.

Posted by
1068 posts

I have carefully selected my travel wardrobe, and everything does dry overnight, so I really could go with just the clothes on my back, and I have really considered doing it

Perhaps instead of considering it you should do it. And always travel that way...... one credit card, passport and the clothes on your back. I'm sure many of us would be interested in your travel stories and think of all the travel pounds you would save. Let us know.

Posted by
3275 posts

This thread depresses me. I have always assumed that "Rickniks" cared more about where they are going than what they are packing.

Posted by
1068 posts

Now you know and can avoid such monikers as they don't represent you. : - )

Or perhaps raytlapaks got it right and everyone who thinks the biggest thing about the RS philosophy is packing light is just a....... hmmmm, not sure what I would call them, but not a Ricknik. I have a few ideas though %)

Posted by
1040 posts

Hi, all. This was meant to be a light-hearted thread specifically about packing, as I put it in the Packing section. Not a moral judgment about your worth as a traveler or a human being, not a derogatory label, and not an indictment of traveling in packs with blue and yellow books. It got heavier than I intended, but it's still nice to see the passion that it invoked. I don't really have challenges or intense hangups about packing - I fit it all in a carry on, get on a plane and have fun. It's just a way to pass the time until that flight finally leaves!

Posted by
128 posts

Nelly- I loved your question and took it in a light hearted fashion. Most of the comments put a smile on my face. Being able to laugh at oneself is such a gift! I occasionally see comments on this Forum that come across as a bit harsh and I feel sad for these folks. In reality, the majority of questions on this forum are "first world problems" after all. We are all so lucky to be able to travel the world in a style that suits us best!