Traveling takes effort and planning. From booking flights to creating an itinerary, there’s no lack of things to figure out.
Deciding what to bring tends to be allocated to the very last minute. We rummage through our closets and throw anything we think we might use in our bag. Then we’ll bring a bunch of things that fall into the “just in case” category.
We end up with a bag that has a few essential things, but mostly unnecessary stuff. Having a bag that’s full makes us feel better. There can be a sense of security and safety found in bringing a bunch of extra stuff with us.
We’d rather be over-prepared and deal with the extra bulk and weight than be under-prepared.
But there’s another option: only bring what you need. It can be a scary thought, but once you try it you’ll never go back.
Here are the benefits of traveling light:
Less weight to haul around.
Traveling requires a lot of walking. Even if we plan on dropping off our bags at our destination, we still have to carry them through all the airports, train stations, and sidewalks to get there.
It’s much nicer to arrive at our destination without a sore back and shoulders from carrying a heavy load.
A small backpack or a small carry-on bag is as much weight as we need.
Less to worry about.
The more bags we bring the more we worry about keeping track of them all. But when we have one small bag or backpack, it’s easy to keep it accounted for.
With a small bag, it’s easier to find what we’re looking for. Instead of spending time digging through our bags to find stuff, we can spend more time enjoying our trip.
When there’s only a handful of things to bring, we can travel care-free knowing we didn’t forget something because everything is accounted for.
Traveling can be unpredictable. An airport terminal can close without notice, traffic can pile up, and cars can break down. But not all unpredictability is bad. It’s just a detour.
Having flexibility makes traveling become an adventure rather than an inconvenience.
Traveling light enables flexibility.
If you only have a carry-on bag when you hop on a plane, you can get out of the airport sooner. And you’ll have an easier time walking, biking, or taking a train, scooter, or rickshaw.
I more often regret bringing too much rather than too little. Forgetting to bring one or two things can be annoying, but it’s not a big deal. Having to haul around unnecessary stuff is a pain.
Traveling is the perfect opportunity to get away from stuff. There are endless opportunities to explore and discover the world around us, we shouldn’t let stuff hold us back from it.
Packing becomes simple.
We dread packing because we know we have to make difficult decisions about what we choose to bring. When we already have the resolve to pack light, our options are fewer, making it simpler and easier to pack.
Less stuff means less time spent packing. And for everyone who packs the night before their trip — like me — it’s super convenient.
The question is, what do you really need to bring?
You might be surprised at how little you actually need to take with you when traveling. My absolute essentials are a phone, charger, wallet, passport, a pair of shoes, and some clothes. The rest can be purchased at the destination or might already be provided by the hosts.
But sometimes it’s nice to take a little more than the absolute essentials. It’s ok — you can still travel light and take some extras. Before committing to bringing something extra, ask yourself: will bringing this make the trip more enjoyable?
Last month I spent almost three weeks in Europe and I decided to bring my big DSLR camera because I wanted to take some nice pictures. I thought it would be something that would make the trip more enjoyable, but it turned out to be more of a burden. The camera stayed at the Airbnb most of the time. It was too heavy and bulky to take with me every day.
Now I know that I’d rather use my phone as a camera while traveling abroad.
What are your absolute essentials?
Enjoy the journey.
Traveling is a beautiful opportunity to see the world with new eyes. Every trip brings a fresh perspective. The people, places, and experiences are what matters — not the stuff.
Don’t let stuff get in the way. Let go, and enjoy the journey.