After many years of hauling a sixty litre backpack around the globe, we finally attained enlightenment in more ways than one. These days, a thirty litre day pack is our limit and we are passionate advocates of travelling light. We look at other travellers struggling with their huge backpacks and wonder what they have in them that makes them worth struggling with. Take it from us – travelling light is the way to go!
The Advantages of Travelling Light
No Need to Check Baggage. There is no chance of having your luggage lost by an airline! You can usually check in online and therefore don’t need to wait in line to check your bag at the airport. Additionally, you don’t have to wait to claim your bag on arrival at your destination because you don’t have one. (Please note that the rules regarding checking bags may be changing due to COVD-19. Consequently, make sure you check out the policy of your airline as regards to hand luggage).
You can carry your backpack onto buses with you. This alleviates security issues as everything you have is travelling with you. Furthermore, you don’t have to wait to have your bag unpacked from the hold. Sometimes this foils the touts and you can beat everyone else to the best guesthouse! Often, local buses don’t have storage facilities, and travelling with a full size backpack is extremely difficult on a crowded bus.
It is physically easier to handle a small backpack and will put less strain on your body. You can hop on and off buses, trains, boats or tuk-tuks with ease. You can walk further than someone carrying a large pack, sometimes eliminating the need to pay for transport. It is easier to pound the streets looking for accommodation if you need to.
You won’t be carrying anything you won’t use. You will be practising minimalism on the road. Everything you take will serve a purpose. You won’t be tempted to buy useless souvenirs which you shouldn’t be buying anyway, because you don’t have room for them in your backpack. (Admittedly, some people may see this as a disadvantage!)
Tips and Tricks
To achieve enlightenment, it is necessary to think very carefully about what you pack. If you are travelling with a partner or friend, it makes sense to share toiletries, a guide book, medical kit etc. Anything you can really.
A foldaway daypack is essential and should be lightweight. It allows you to take anything you need with you when you go out for the day, therefore avoiding the necessity to unpack your main backpack.
Toiletries should be packaged as small as is practical. Travel towels are incredibly light, small and quick drying. Do not even contemplate taking a traditional fluffy towel!
In many Asian countries, you can buy washing powder in tiny packets, which are excellent for use while on the road. Talking of washing powder, the secret to travelling light is to wash what you wear on a daily basis. In warmer climes, drying is not a problem and items will dry overnight. Once you get into the habit of washing your clothes out every day, you will find it is no hassle to complete such a minor chore. It is definitely preferable to the alternative of being loaded down with an outfit for every day of the week!
To pack efficiently, use strong zip lock bags, cubes or small stuff sacks to keep things separate and compact.
When we were in New Zealand, where we hiked and camped, we obviously needed more than we were carrying. We went to a store called Warehouse and purchased some amazingly cheap gear, which we donated to friends when we left. Someone leant us a full size tramping bag. Another option would have been to hire camping gear. The car hire company we used also had a room full of camping equipment that other backpackers had dispensed with and everyone was free to borrow.
Travel Light, Travel Free
There are, of course, certain circumstances which would make it impossible to practise travelling light. It may be a little ambitious if you were going to Canada in the winter, for example! In most situations, however, (especially if travelling in the tropics), minimalism is the way to go. We guarantee that once you try it, you will never want to return to the days of being encumbered with a heavy, bulky and a mostly unnecessary load on your back. Travel light, travel free!
We have refined our packing list over many years of travel and these days have it down to a fine art. In our next blog, we will itemize the essential items which we always take along on a trip.