I’m a minimalist at heart, so I’ve been digging Rolf Potts’ No Baggage Challenge. He’s currently traveling around with just ScotteVest clothing (a sponsor) and the bare essentials, cleaning his clothes nightly and blogging from a bluetooth keyboard connected to his iPhone. If I ever dreamt about carrying luggage, that would have been the dream.
We’ve yet to truly vagabond and go on extended long term travel for months at a time so we still consider 22 days in Europe a fairly long term trip. Despite this I’ve still stuck to my policy of bringing just a single carry-on sized bag.
It’s been some time since I checked luggage. I believe the last time was a couple years ago on a cruise to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Montego Bay, Jamaica. For that trip it seemed to be a necessity because of a few formal (suit & tie required) dinners on the ship, although if I was to do it all over again I’d rethink how I’d handle those days. Other than that trip though I’ve traveled with just a simple messenger bag that can tuck under the seat in front of me on a plane. This works out ideal because it forces me to pack light and only bring the essentials.
This trip is just a bit of an exception to my rule in that this time my carry-on doesn’t fit under the seat, but I still stuck to my guns and only brought a single carry-on bag. Knowing that this is a longer trip than we’re accustomed to I did some research to find what would be considered the best of the best for backpacking. My final decision was the Osprey Porter 46. Aside from the rave reviews, the bag expands to the exact dimensions of the smallest of the largest sized carry-on allowed on any carrier. That’s ridiculously confusing let me try to clarify, the airline that has the smallest size restriction for carry-on bags will still allow the Porter 46.
Granted it’s a bit early to start judging the bag, but so far I’m very pleased with it. It sits well on my back, cinches down tight, and has a convenient duffle bag style side handle (conveniently in the exact spot where I instinctively go to grab after removing it from my back).
Although the bag has so far been flawless, there’s been one big downside, but that’s a result of my packing. Or better put, it’s a result of my packing needs.
Weighing in on Working from the Road
This adventure is my first experiment in living a location independent lifestyle so I have one major need. I need a laptop and an internet connection. Living location independent has of course different requirements for different people. For travel writer Rolf it’s simply an internet enabled device that he can easily write and upload from.
I wish I could swing that, but being a web developer my needs are a bit more hefty. Although I could technically write code from my iPhone, I have made adjustments in the past using FTP On The Go, it’s not an efficient use of time and completely rules out slicing the images necessary to make the sites that we design. There’s no getting around my need for a laptop.
This is what took me out of the comfortable weight range. By no means did I pack a lot of stuff and by no means does my laptop weigh a lot (around 6lbs with the powerblock), but when all is added together and placed on my back it tires me out more than is ideal.
Although Marla doesn’t have a laptop with her, the bag that she packed is also heavier than would work best for her. As a result of the combination of our time traveling from Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning (no sleep) and heavier backpacks than we’re used to wearing, we’re left to contemplate shipping some of our things back home. The extra weight wouldn’t make any difference if we were staying in one place, but since we need to be mobile, and the second half of our journey involves hiking the Italian Riviera, we’ve got to have our gear, and ourselves, in tip top shape.
I’m not sure that we’ll go that route it’s just a consideration at this point, but I think there’s a valuable lesson to be had. Once you think you’ve packed lightly for a trip go back and ditch 1/4 or even 1/2 of your things. If you’re not feeling uneasy by how little you’ve packed then you’ve packed way too much.
How much luggage do you normally travel with? What can you cut out from your packing that will make your bag uncomfortably light? Let us know in the comments.