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John says about this photo: "It's in Churchill, Manitoba. That's Hudson's Bay in the background, listing curiously to starboard. It's from a trip last fall to see the polar bears, one of which was spotted nearby right after this picture was taken, resulting in a quick sprint back onto the bus." (photo courtesy of John Flinn)

You can find John's travel columns for the Chronicle here.

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From: John Flinn
Date: Mon Feb 24, 2003

Hi Liz:

Congratulations and good luck on the trip. The two trips like that I took
were, and will remain, the highlights of my life. (And the reason I got the
travel editor gig.)

I looked at your gear list. My prediction is that two weeks into the trip you're going to send two thirds of your stuff home or give it away. It doesn't take many days of humping a backbreaking pack and trying to do the clean-and-jerk onto the overhead luggage racks in trains before you realize you don't need all that stuff. Everyone, I think, makes this same mistake. At the end of the first week of my first round-the-world trip I went to the post office in London and mailed home 20 pounds of excess clothes and gear.

The trick is to load up your pack, leave room for a bottle of wine, a novel or two and some souvenirs, and go walk two miles with it, including some hills. Then lift it over your head twice. My bet is you'll go home and take a lot of stuff out.

These days I find I can travel indefinitely with just a carry-on bag. Paring
your life down to the basics, and nothing more, is an enriching thing to do, and one of the great lessons of travel. Make do, do without, improvise, do what the locals do. Just remember that if you keep moving, no one is going to notice that you wore the same shirt in Sydney on Monday as you did in Noosa Head on Tuesday.

And remember that perfection is achieved not when there's nothing more to add, but when there's nothing more to subtract. Same is true of writing.

Have a great trip!

John Flinn
Travel Writer
San Francisco Chronicle


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