How to Simplify Your Travels by Traveling Light

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Buttercup Field - Guilherme RIbeiro
Buttercup Field – Guilherme RIbeiro

So you’ve asked for some time off, you’ve booked your flights and accommodation and you’ve even planned most of the places you’ll visit! Well done! But as you get closer to your long-awaited holiday you realize you have to pack. What are you going to take with you?

As much as you’d like, you’re not going to be able to take all your clothes with you. It’s normal to freak out a bit and start wondering about all the “What if’s?”: What if it gets cold? What if I need to dress smartly? What if I need to iron my shirts?

The truth is, you’re probably not going to wear everything you take and your bag or backpack will be a massive burden if it’s too heavy. I feel sorry for the people sweating and agonizing as they carry their 15kg of stuff, while I pleasantly saunter along carrying my 8kg.

But the light weight is only one of the benefits. Let me tell you the other ones:

1. You Don’t Have to Deal With Airport Check-ins

To be honest, I can hardly remember the last time I checked my backpack in. As I tend to carry very little, it’s easy for me to always travel with a carry-on and because of that I just need to check in for the flight online.

Likewise, as I land at my destination I don’t have to wait with the horde of travelers at the baggage carousel. I simply walk past it and go straight to the exit. I’m usually long gone by the time the others leave the airport.

2. You Can Move Around With Ease

I once traveled with a friend who had to pay extra tickets for her backpack as we took buses around Goa. It was so big that she needed another seat just for it. It was impressive and sad at the same time.

My backpack fits everywhere, so I rarely even put in the baggage holder. This is great as I never worry if it’s going to be stolen or messed with. Also, if for some reason I have a late flight and have to check out from my hotel early, I can just carry my backpack with me for the whole day as it’s just slightly heavier than a day-pack.

3. You Can Pack and Dress Quickly

It literally takes me five minutes to pack my stuff — it’s bliss! When you think that within that 8kg is my laptop, you realize that I really don’t carry much. Yet, I have enough outfits for a whole week!

The trick here is to have all your clothes match each other. So if I take any shirt and pair of shorts from my backpack, they’ll go together. I don’t even need to think about it. And in case I’m facing some bad weather, I can always wrap myself up in layers and finish it off with a rain coat.

4. You Focus on the Experiences

To be fair, even if I wanted to buy lots of stuff I wouldn’t be able to as I own a 30L backpack. I used this same backpack to spend six months in South America and another six months in Southeast Asia. It was more than enough.

Did I buy stuff? Yes, I did, but I can probably count on one hand the amount of things I brought back home. The thing is that I prefer to spend the day visiting sunny beaches instead of window shopping in a mall. I’d rather attend a traditional Balinese dance show as opposed to buying loads of useless trinkets.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love markets, especially the local secret ones. But not to buy stuff. I like to taste the wonderful exotic food, appreciate the intricate arts and crafts, and “attempt” to converse with the shopkeepers.

At the end of day each person is different with different priorities. But I have never seen someone who wished they’d taken more stuff on a trip! It’s actually common for someone to carry clothes or pairs of shoes that they use only one time. I call it dead weight.

So the next time you embark on your new adventure think hard if you really need to take everything you want to. Remember that unless you’re going to a remote village in a third world country, I can guarantee that you can buy all the mainstream items in any capital.

Guilherme is a Brazilian freelance travel writer. He is the Co-Founder of the Slow Spirit Blog, where he writes about a minimalist, sustainable travel lifestyle.