TRAVEL SECRETS AND TIPS
|Travel Light - The How
by Steve Gillman
I learned how to travel light from lightweight
backpacking, then found it was just as useful
to keep it light on trips overseas or driving
across the country. The last time my wife
and I went to Ecuador, I had 10 pounds of
luggage, all in one carry-on bag, and Ana
had just 8 pounds in her carry-on bag. This
wasn't a short trip. We spent six weeks in
Ecuador, at times on glacier-covered mountains,
and at other times lounging on Pacific coast
Why travel light? Travel simplicity. Everything
is simpler when you travel light. With only
carry-on luggage, we were on our way to a
restaurant in Quito, while others were still
waiting for their checked luggage. When we
took busses our luggage was safely with us,
not on the roof or in the hold below being
cut open, like one time when I was in Mexico.
While others struggled down the street with
three heavy bags, we had our hands free and
were walking comfortably because we use daypacks
or small backpacks. We had less to lose, less
to be stolen, less to wait for, less to pack
and unpack in hotels, and less to worry about.
Light Travel Issues
There are a couple minor problems when you
travel light. First, expect an extra question
or two from the customs officials at the airport
(Six weeks with only this?). Second, a small
bag won't work if you plan to bring back many
souvenirs. In this case, you can still go
light. Just plan to buy a second bag at some
point during the trip, to carry your acquisitions.
As for the seemingly obvious issue of not
having enough clothes and other things all
in one or two small bags, I'll explain below
why that isn't as big a problem as you may
How To Travel Light
Silk shirts weigh 3 ounces, and travel well
if rolled up. Nylon dress socks weigh less
than an ounce, and they are cool and comfortable.
Poly-cotton blend t-shirts weigh 5 ounces.
Supplex or other lightweight travel slacks
weigh 9 ounces, and are sufficient for a fine
restaurant or a walk in the woods. All of
these weigh less than half of the typical
travel choices, and take less space, yet function
the same. There is no sacrifice involved here.
For this exercise in travel simplicity, you
even get to go shopping for new clothes.
You don't have to buy new clothes, however.
You don't have to buy a scale and count ounces
to travel light. Just choose the lighter alternative
whenever you can. Set aside your lightest
jacket, socks and pants for your next trip.
Travel simplicity is the goal, not more complicated
More Ways To Travel Light
Money replaces weight, especially in the form
of a debit or credit card. Why carry two pounds
of your favorite shampoo when you can simply
buy small bottles as you travel. It really
won't cost much more to buy things wherever
you go, instead of carrying your bathroom
and wardrobe with you. Also, you really don't
know exactly what you'll need, particularly
on an overseas trip. Buy what you need as
you need it, and you won't have a pile of
useless things in your luggage. Don't we all
regularly unpack things at home that we never
once used during the trip?
Take a lesson from long-trail hikers (backpackers
who travel a trail for months). They send
things, such as new shoes, to a post office
on their route, ahead of time, so they'll
be waiting for them. They also send home things
they no longer need, such as a winter coat.
The latter may be a useful practice for other
travelers. If you buy bulky gifts for family
or friends, why carry them around for weeks?
Put them in the mail.
A Light Travel Example
What I Took For Six weeks in Ecuador:
8 pairs of thin nylon socks (less than an
ounce per pair)
2 silk shirts for restaurants and discos (3
4 poly/cotton blend t-shirts (5-6 ounces each)
5 pair of light underwear (2-3 ounces each)
1 extra pair of lightweight slacks (9 ounces)
Single layer nylon shorts for hiking or swimming
Thin gloves (1 ounce)
Thin hat (1 ounce - honestly)
Thin wool sweater (11 ounces)
Waterproof/breathable rainsuit (14 ounces
for the set)
Light plastic camera (3 ounces)
Sunglasses (1 ounce)
Small chess set (3 ounces)
Bathroom kit (5 ounces)
Maps, notebook and various small things (3
or 4 pounds)
My pack weighed ten pounds, and my wife's
weighed 8 pounds. We never felt deprived.
I'm not suggesting that you start counting
the ounces (that comes from my backpacking
days), or that you buy all new lightweight
things. Without spending money or thinking
about it too much, you can just start setting
aside your lightest shirts, socks, etc., so
you can travel light on your next vacation.
About The Author
Steve Gillman first hit the road on his own
when at sixteen, and traveled alone across
the United States and Mexico at 17. Now 40,
he continues to travel and backpack with his
wife Ana, whom he met in Ecuador. Many of
his stories, plus tips and information on
travel and lightweight backpacking, can be
found on his websites, http://www.EverythingAboutTravel.com,