Rolf Potts travels around
the world with no luggage

Reader challenge #1: Lighten your load (and win a free plane ticket)

August 30, 2010 by Rolf Potts

As I stated in my introduction post, the No Baggage Challenge isn’t just about traveling around the world without luggage — it’s also an inquiry into simplifying material concerns, seeking rich life-experiences, and traveling lighter (both on the road and at home).  This in mind, I’d like to invite readers to join the journey by participating in a weekly series of challenges, most of which can be applied at home.  My sponsors will give out weekly prizes to honor the most compelling reader submissions (see below for details), but ideally this should be seen less as a competitive undertaking than a way to set personal goals and consider new ideas.

My first reader challenge, “lighten your load,” involves simplifying your approach to the “things” in your life, either on the road or at home (or both).  For the past week I’ve traveled through through Western Europe with just a few items in my pockets — and I’m actually hard pressed to think of anything extra I’d pack on this journey if I had the opportunity.  This attitude could well change in the next five weeks of travel (stay tuned!), but as of now it would seem that extreme simplicity has only reminded me that you don’t really need to bring all that much to travel and have a great time.

My first initiative for readers, then, is to reconsider what “gear” is and isn’t necessary in life.  For some of you this might mean evaluating what you bring on your travels, and cutting your normal checked-luggage gear down to the size of a carry-on bag.  For those who already pack light, this might mean reducing the carry-on pack-list to the size of a daypack.   Others of you might want to propose a weekend road-trip with little more than a toiletry kit.

Of course, this challenge needn’t be travel-specific.  Perhaps your initiative can be to scour your closets and cabinets and give away (or sell) every item of gear or clothing you haven’t used in the past year.  Maybe you’ll choose to bicycle (or take public transport) to work, and offload the second family car.  TV is always a good thing to cut out of your life (I haven’t owned a TV in years, yet I still watch a few favorite shows online; it’s amazing how much time I save not channel surfing or sitting through commercials).

Hence the specifics of the reader challenge: Explain, in 500 words or less, how you will lighten your load in the next 12 months. Leave your response in the comment section below.

If you elect to pack lighter, tell us what items you won’t bring on your next journey, and why.  Tell us how you think this might make your travels different (and you can admit it if you think it might be hard).  If, on the other hand, you elect to make no major electronic purchases (or quit smoking) in the coming year, tell us how much money you think you’ll save, and where those funds might take you.  The point is simply to set a goal that will help you focus on new experiences (travel, family, self-education, etc) instead of “stuff” in the coming year.

Using no more than 500 words, please share your strategies in the comments below.  The deadline for submitting is next Monday, September 6th, Tuesday, September 7 at midnight — which means you have a week to come up with your plan.  The good folks at BootsnAll will convene to choose the most compelling load-lightening scheme, and the winner will receive a flight voucher for up to US$500 from BootsnAll Travel Network.

PRIZE: $500 flight voucher from BootsnAll Travel Network
GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 11PM PST
ELIGIBILITY, ETC: One winner. One entry per person.

[Even after the contest has finished, I encourage everyone to continue posting practical load-lightening schemes and goals below.]

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  • Will three pictures, each easily worth 1000 words, represented by three URLs violate the limit?

    • Siempre Vacation

      I'm planning a month-long trip to Gautemala in December. I plan to lighten my load by eating tons of street food. There's no quicker way to lighen your load then a nice case of the runs.

      I'm just kiddin with that. Honestly, I plan to carry nothing but borardshorts and dryfit tshirts. I am flying with SpiritAir. Anyone that has flown with that company knows how shitty they are…but they also know, that the price is right. I am taking a small carry-on bag with 2 pairs of board shorts and 3 tshirts. I have done my fair share of traveling; and I have learned that whatever you take and don't need is extra weight. My sisters birthday is in January, so I plan to buy her a present. This means I need to leave extra room in my bag. Wish me luck.

    • Sandyseale

      My daughter who is a travel writer has taught me so much about traveling light. Not only by the amount of luggage and material possessions that are taken along on a trip but also by the travel attitude & expectations I previously had taken with me. Several years ago she took me on a 3 week trek of Europe: Prague, Lake Como, Venice, Croatia, Paris & Burgundy region of France. Needless to say for the 3 week trip I thought I needed to take almost everything I had from home…just in case . Since that trip I have consistently lightened the load. Of course, depending on where I travel & what type of trip it is, which determines what I really will need. I've found with each trip I've needed less & less & get tired of schlepping around all the excess baggage. I have vowed never again to take many of the so-called necessities that have accompanied me on those previous trips. But even ignoring the logical baggage of travel….the literal baggage…I have learned to also adjust my mental baggage about travel. The first part of my life I was a tourist on vacation which is the way I perceived travel to be. However, thanks to my daughter, I have now come to realize that I am no longer that tourist but have evolved into a true traveler. As Shelley says, travel with a purpose. I now travel with a true intent to become part of the place I am lucky enough to be in; to truly experience the place in its natural form as a local & not from the typical “tourist” viewpoint. Of course, I still see the basic points of interests as they have their purpose & many I've heard of & longed to see most of my life. But now I've been enlightened to the broader scope, looking beyond the normal. I love to go off the beaten path. We often say the most wonderful & unexpected experiences have been while we were “lost”…..wandering aimlessly down one street or path to another; never knowing what or who we'd find around the next bend in the road. It has totally changed my perception of travel & shown me a new way of looking at often familiar places. Shelley also believes in volunteer travel; leaving your footprints behind; making a place better than when you arrived.. Sharing these experiences & learning from each other now is what travel is all about; a totally different & more meaningful experience from my earlier days of just being a “tourist”.

  • Ray

    Hi.. Great blog. Continued good luck on your trip.

    I have always been a big guy. 6'8″ and I topped out at about 398 lbs last summer. Not terribly out of proportion, but too big for a lot of the situations I come across at theme parks and while traveling. Between the length of my legs and the girth of my saddle, long flights have always been uncomfortable and have kept me at home, as much as I would love to travel to so many places.

    So I have committed to doing something about the part that I can control. My height is what it is and I will continue to beg for exit rows. But, since the first of the year, I have lost 75 lbs. My goal right now is to lose another 75 by spring. Meeting that goal will open up a lot of experiences, such as excursions that have weight restrictions like zip-lining through Costa Rica. It will also lighten my baggage as the amount of material required to clothe me decreases.

    That is how I will continue to lighten my load over the next 12 months

    • Steve

      Great Progress. Good Luck.

      I'm 6″6″ so I understand many of your concerns. I'd love to buy lots of SeV stuff but the only thing they sell that fits is their hat. They don't make tall sizes.

    • InhabitYourDreams

      Ray, congratulations! Isn't it amazing how once you start losing weight, and your metabolism speeds up, it becomes increasingly easy because you see your goals really are in reach? You are doing it, and should appreciate your self all the more for getting right with you. Yea! May you travel with joy to all the places on the globe that call to you!

  • I've just returned from a visit to Peru taking just a satchel for my 'stuff'. I still managed to take one too many pair of socks though! Don't know how you manage with no baggage, it'll be interesting to follow your journey.

    In answer to question posed in this post, I am at the start of a 6 week process of jettissoning/selling/donating all of my household junk, quite liberating after you overcome the initial pang of regret at having wasted so much cash in the process of buying the stuff in the first place!

  • I'm always looking for ways I can save money. The more money I save, the more I can invest in my favorite pastime – travel! Recently we took a long, hard look at our satellite TV bill and decided that was money better spent on plane tickets. I went online,did a little research and purchased a TV antennae that claimed to have a 40 mile reach. My husband installed it in the attic, hooked it up and viola! We have clear as a bell picture on a wide variety of channels. Ok, so we don't get The Food Network or Discovery channel, but we get all three networks, a slew of PBS channels a couple of retro stations and a host of Spanish and religious programming. I really don't miss satellite TV, and I certainly don't miss the bill. If I ever feel the need to see a show we don't get I can easily hook up my laptop to my television and see most anything I want through Hulu. Eliminating this monthly bill has lightened our load and given us a little extra cash to put away for our next trip. We couldn't be happier! Now, let's take a look at this cell phone bill…

  • James

    As part of my preparation for a year long travel I began to live as a traveler. For me it has been mostly a change of mindset. I have deliberately spent less on the physical and more on experiences. For instance, I love cooking and could do with buying a good cast iron skillet but I kept thinking 'why'. I knew I wouldn't be able to use it when I leave for travelling. Hence, with every possible purchase, I starting thinking of how I could live without that item. Almost every time it's an easy choice not to buy. I have however gone climbing, done a wild game butchery course and made a deliberate effort to meet new people.

    In the end it has made me realize that each item we have causes a burden. This is both physical: be it storage, maintenance, or just another thing to carry. As well as mental, the less you have to worry about the more you can enjoy the ride.

  • Mark

    I'm 6'5″ so I have to pack a little heavier than the average person since I can't walk into a random store and find long sleeved shirts, pants, and shoes that fit.

    I recently negotiated Fridays off at work which allows me to travel more on the weekends and not have to worry about using vacation days and missing work. I save my vacation days for longer out-of-the-country trips.

    I haven't had cable TV, a land line, or internet for the past 3 years which easily saves me $100 a month. My cell phone has internet and email so I can get my online fix that way. My public library has a huge selection of up-to-date movies, music, books, and TV shows on DVD…plenty of free content to keep me happy. I've also stopped eating out for lunch which saves me at least $50 a month.

    My goal is to take more weekend trips by creating a vacation fund. I'm going to open a totally separate savings account where I will contribute money each week. I've decided to save the equivalent of an hours pay from each day I work. Each week the money will be automatically transferred into my vacation fund bank account. I can't wait to see the money add up and spend it on new travel experiences!

  • Bleicke

    I just hiked through western Greenland for 12 days, so my experience of what you need and what you don't need is quite fresh. These tips might apply more for outdoor and hiking, not so much if you stay in hotels or hostels.

    1)Bring only two sets of t-shirts, underwear and socks, all made from merino wool

    I brought 4. I thought it wouldn't make much of a difference (I was right) in terms of weight and that I could wash cotton along the way (I was wrong). I ended up wearing only the two merino wool shirts. They don't stink, they dry quickly, they are warmer when it is cold. The two cotton shirts were unusable after one use each. Stank, looked like crap and felt disgusting. Don't ask me about my underwear or the socks. I threw several pair of underwear away when we got to the hostel. They hadn't dried properly hanging from the tent and started to mold.

    Next time I'll just bring two pairs of merino wool and switch every day. No need to wash these, really, but if you do they'll dry quickly.

    2)Before you go, get your body used to fat metabolism. Then bring less food.

    The body can burn blood sugar or body fat to get energy. If you eat often and eat lots of carbohydrates, your blood sugar will be high a lot of times and your body will get used to it. The problem is that it makes you hungry when the blood sugar drops. And you carry your body fat around anyway. So why not utilize it? You'll need to take less food, you won't go hungry at all even on 12 day, 100km hiking trips as I did. All the other people had more food than I did, but they were hungry just an hour after breakfast. I never was really hungry, even though I weighed 20lbs (2″ taller) more than the next guy and brought 1kg food less than the next guy. To get used to fat metabolism, try a low-carb diet or intermittent fasting.

    3)Get the lighter hiking boots

    While mine felt nice and secure, they weighed 800g each. That's just too much, even when carrying a 20kg backpack. I'd definitely get lighter ones. And we didn't hike along trails or anything. We climbed mountains, crossed glaciers and walked through swamps.

  • I will lighten my load by ridding myself of all extras. Extra calories, extra clothes, extra thoughts, extra expenses, extra debt, extra work, extra belongings, etc.
    Life is too short to be walking around with all these “extras' that only weigh us down and make our minds flooded and cluttered and make us feel generally overwhelmed.
    By ridding myself physically, mentally, and emotionally I will BE happier, quicker, and lighter all the way around.
    This way, when I do travel I will be able to really live in the moment and enjoy the rich experiences.



  • Bdillahu

    The entire No Baggage Challenge has come up at a perfect time for me… I have been rather taken with “simplifying” some of my life, which in many ways involves lightening the load of “stuff” I deal with.

    I rearranged my office at work and had some of the furniture removed instead of yet more added. Around the house I've been culling old clothes and if nothing else noticing all the “stuff” that I don't really need and that if I didn't have to store, how much less cluttered and easier to deal with things would be. On the other side of this, if your family isn't in the same “simplification” routine, you may have to tread carefully.

    I have a vacation coming soon and am struggling with how I can lessen the (large) amount I usually carry. I have always been the “boy scout/be prepared for anything” type and can't (won't?) totally get away from that, but there is a lot I could live without on a trip, especially clothes.

    All that said, my big “no baggage” moments are simplifying my computing and email environment. I have ran my own mail server at home for years, and received literally hundreds of thousands of email messages from various mailing lists I have been involved with. I will never have time to read all these, but they still keep coming.

    I UNSUBSCRIBED! I archived off the old stuff, unsubscribed and if I want to read them, they are available from various locations online. It's really liberating to see how little email I get now. Adding to that limiting my “at home” server farm down gives me a lot less that I have to administer, which gives me more time to do other things.

    I know, a bit different than some people, but it means something to me.

  • Chris at Masterstravelandtours

    I am getting a new camera bag this fall. The Naneu K4F. I chose this one for the ability to carry two laptops and have the camera bag with space.

    Honestly, if my wife and I need more than this one bag for the two of us for a weekend-week away, i'm not doing something right. Certain trips may require more or formal wear, but in general or on a mileage run weekend, this will do it for us. Gone are the days of the multiple bags to travel.

    The nicest part of this is also limiting STUFF in the home too.

  • I have just made my daily travel lighter but throwing away my wallet. Now I just have my Driver's License, insurance card, and one credit card held together with a rubber band. I thought about getting a clip, but that's buying more stuff to keep up with. Plus the rubber band helps keep the little packet in my pocket without fear of dropping out. I strongly recommend to everyone that carries a wallet to try this for a few days. It might be hard to not carry around photos of the kids at first, but you'll get used to it!

    Coming up very soon will be a change over to all white socks and khaki pants. This is more simplification than traveling lightly, although if I don't have to match black or blue socks to black or blue pants, then that does simplify what I can take on a trip. If I just have khaki pants and white socks, I probably won't feel the need to pack a ton of clothes on our planned multi-country European trip next year.

    To help accommodate this switch, I've changed my closet to where all the hangers are turned around backwards. This way I can determine what clothes I actually do wear (since re-worn clothes will just be hung back the proper way). I forget where I read about doing this, but so far I'm noticing a distinct patter of just 5 or 6 shirts, and 3-4 pants, so I'll be purging my closet soon!

    Lastly, the biggest type of change that I would like to accomplish in the next 12 months is to get my wife and children on board. I can reduce my travel weight only so much, and yet I will still have the weight of 2 children and a wife to carry along. My daughter loves her clothes, but I suspect she only wears a few (based on the laundry). So, all of their closets will be changing to backward hangers soon if my own experience holds true. I doubt I can talk them into the socks thing, though, since the girls in the family seem to love their multitude of colorful socks!

  • I got rid of a job and a house, what more can I dispose of. ;-)

  • Laurabanks

    I am an Over Packer. There I said it. I'm over it. I am buying one of the No-Baggage vests and going for a trip with only that, like Rolf Potts. At home, I am throwing out bags of clothes, giving away books and really anything I am not using. I'm also going thru my storage and throwing out lots. I am already pretty thinned down, with a roommate and all my stuff in one room give or take a table. She pays cable, internet, and electric. In two years I plan to travel extensively and have everything streamlined. Oh, and I broke up with someone – a 7 year relationship that was more backage than I could ever had handled, considering he was a hoarder. Wow, what a journey there. I like the idea of all white socks and even clothes to set up a cleanse enviroment. Going to Opitimum Health Institute in November to detox vs. overeating thru the holidays. Debt mgt, weight loss mgt. The no-excess tour.

  • Adooling

    What timing. I'm about to get married and in an effort to pair down the stress in our lives, my fiance and I have decided to pair down our lives. We are fortunate enough to own a house but have consolidated all the bills we could and gotten rid of credit cards, keeping one for emergency. We've gotten rid of TV, are selling a lot of unnecessary furniture, and (after a hiking trip, when we realized we basically only wear five outfits on rotation) gave most of our clothes to charity.

    I'm a light packer so this was a natural progression in life, and although I do miss some things when I give them up, a week later I can't even remember what I tossed.

    • Therese

      congratulations on the PAIRING up , but everything else is PARING down (congrats on that too).
      spelling nazi

  • Miin Chan

    I have been travelling for 19 months, bare boned, along with my co-creator. We have accumulated a few unnecessary and necessary items, our biggest purchase being our van/ home, Suzie Wong. We are definitely letting go of a lot of things for this next step of our trip (driving the Americas). We do not collect souvenirs, only carrying gifts which are given out to various couchsurfers, strangers and friends along the way (and mostly second hand/ thrifted).

    Our Canon 300D with lenses will be donated to a yet to be discovered worthy recipient, we are giving away most of our clothes, and we are paring down our other items e.g. kitchen stuff, books etc to the bare minimum. A hand crank blender re-gifted to us will find a new owner too, not to mention our lovely “solar shower” (black bag with water and holes!)! And of course, we're carrying less money too, as we spend it on experiences and adventures.. a little cash, an ATM/ Credit card and crossed fingers.

    The great thing about travel is that we already unburdened ourselves of many things- no bills to pay, no house to pay mortgage on, no furniture, no idiot box, no taxes, and having only what we can carry on our backs. We are also improving our already vegetarian/ vegan diet by eating less cooked food, and therefore lessening our use of gas and electricity- and upping the health stakes by lightening our frames of a few kilograms!

    But what we are getting rid of the most, through all our adventures, is our emotional baggage, our attachment to desires and “things”, expectations, fear and all the nonsense “knowledge” and history we've been fed throughout our lives. This is the heaviest load and the most important to let go of- we'll keep only the lightness of LOVE!

  • Francis Coulombe

    On September 1st, we’re taking a pay cut. Over the next four years, we’re having 20% of our income set aside so that in 2014, we can take a year off, buy 4 Round-The-World tickets, board a plane in Toronto and teach our kids… something. We haven’t figured out that part just yet!

    And frankly we don’t care. We know they’ll learn something; we know we will. Sophie and Samuel will be 8 and 6 by the time we go on our tour. They’ve already been to Europe, when Samuel was 10 months old. Does Sophie remember anything? Barely – but she loves to fly! And she saw that French isn’t only spoken by her Dad and her grandparents in Quebec; it’s spoken in Switzerland and in France too.

    We’re taking a 20% pay cut to make this happen. Something’s gotta give, but what? We’re blessed, as it won’t prevent us from living a comfortable life. But we’ll have to tone it down. No more travelling for the next 4 years? Not an option. Let’s try to keep the costs down. Fly to Vancouver then head to Banff and Jasper with a rental car? Great idea, wrong timing. Instead we’ll spend a few days in New-York City on our way to visit family in Quebec and put the $5,000 difference towards our Fund.

    What about the weekly get-together at a restaurant with a glass of red for the much-deserving parents? We’ll go every other week at a cheaper place, and we’ll skip the wine. Ka-ching: over 4 years, that’s Samuel’s RTW ticket right there! And when I’m tempted to replace this computer (because it is so old, you know), I’ll think of what I could do with a thousand dollars. Could be a night or two in a hut in a motu over the Pacific…

    Kids will learn how to ski, just not on brand-new gear. They’ll still go to dance class and take swimming lessons. They’ll learn to play hockey too, but maybe not wearing an official NHL jersey. Will they cry when they realize all of their friends (ok: some of them) have one and they don’t? Will they really miss it?

    I should remember to ask them when they see a giraffe, somewhere in Africa.

  • Matt

    Rolf, really enjoying your trip so far! It's great to hear your experiences on this whirlwind, no-baggage tour.

    To answer your question on lightening my load over the next year, I have actually already been in the process of lightening my travel load, for a trip I'm hoping to take next year to Southeast Asia. I'm replacing my guidebooks, my journal, all my travel plans, and my pleasure reading are all being replaced with my ipod touch. Only a small amount of toiletries, and a few clothes, my passport, and I'm fully packed!

    For the next year though, I'll be applying the same minimalism-inspired packlist to my life and my apartment. Knowing how little I can live on quite comfortably with only the stuff in my backpack, I can reduce what I live with day-to-day. I shouldn't need excess clothes (and I'm getting rid of the things I haven't been using recently), and I'm trying to keep all my entertainment digital (only ebooks, only downloading/streaming TV and movies — no dvd's or paper books). Finally, I will consult this train of thought everytime I'm tempted to buy something new, “If I was traveling, would I need this?”

  • Hi!

    How could I lighten my load? SIMPLE! This time I would travel without Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Google Reader…OK, I would use my email once in a while (eh eh eh)!

    I Have so many applications that consume my free (and work) time! I'm 100% sure that without them my travel would be much lighter, less stressful and gossip-free! This would allow me to discover the real people around me, it would force me into conversations and new adventures. I'd be light as a feather!


  • Sharon Miro

    Several things have gone into my desire to lighten up, and live more when I travel. Stuff not only weighs you down in the physical world, it clouds your mind and makes it harder to connect when you travel.

    1) In 1994 I made my first trip to Italy with a 30″ bag with teeny wheels & a second smaller bag to carry on. YIKES, what pain getting that thing up Rome's transit system. This year I went for 3 weeks with roll-a-board and a big purse. Each trip I find ways to not take as much “stuff” as I once did. I start my packing process weeks ahead and do several elimination runs. And then finally call the “packing queen” who makes the final cut with me.
    2) A netbook and a kindle keep me as connected as I want or do not want to be. A good point& shoot camera is used only for “trip bookmarks”. They key off the memories that I am making by just being where I am. No big camera equipment bag.
    3) Parents died 2 years ago, and we are STILL cleaning out their stuff. Every time I come from home from one of those trips, I go on a cleaning frenzy to make sure that I am not accumulating more than I can really use, and I have stopped buying for the sake of buying.
    4) My shoulders can't take the weight any more! Everything I think I want to bring with me I gauge as to its weight.

    In 30 days I leave for Cambodia, and I confess I am taking 2 BIG bags weighing in at 50lbs each-both will be filled with donated items for schools there. My stuff? Well, there's the little 15k carryon….


  • This is a really great subject for me. The past few years, I've done a total 180. Going from owning a house with mountains of debt and car payments to hardly any debt, cheap rent and very few belongings. Currently I live with a bed, a computer/desk, a hand full of clothes (less than 1/4 of my closet and it's a small closet), and my old faithful truck that's paid off. Living as a minimalist as allowed me to change my life for the better. I have much more free time to do as I please and not to mention the financial freedom.

    In the next 12 months I plan to finish eliminating my almost ALL of my stuff I have left and fitting it all into a 40 litre backpack. My plan/hope/dream is travel the world with only what I can carry on my back. To me, the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life is about to start. The end of the beginning or the beginning of the end…either way, I'm excited!

    Thanks to folks like Rolf and many other minimalist writers and bloggers, I've been able to keep my dream alive and I regularly write about it on

  • Richard

    A lot of people can talk the talk, but my wife and I can walk the walk. We are both 22+ years younger than the official retirement age of 65 and have no kids. In 2008 We sold our 2700 sq ft home for a 2000 sq ft home, only to realise 2000 sq ft was still way to much! In 2009 we sold that home, had a three day garage sale and sold everything that didn't fit into our new 385 sq ft travel trailer. Neither one of us had ever stayed a single night in a travel trailer before we made the transition!

    We have been living in 385 sq ft for just over a year now and we have plans to get even smaller in the coming months by replacing our non-travel friendly cotton clothes, jeans, t-shirts with plenty of multi-use fast drying, cargo travel clothes from Scottevest, who we had never heard of until your journey! We are planning to house sit around the world (, Couch Surf (, backpack and of course use the great advise we have picked up from the No Baggage Around the World Challenge (, to keep light on our feet and see where the world takes us!

    Our first year of living in 385 sq ft has been a fun and exciting time, filled with “learning” moments, a newspaper interview, floods, ice storms, blizzards, and of course temps between zero and 105F degrees. But of course we can't forget the MANY beautiful days outdoor grilling, having ice cold frosty beverages while enjoying the joys of nature and meeting some very interesting and genuinely great people from all over the country and a few from outside of the United States.

    Our story “Family downsizes Edmond home, gets bigger view of life” ran in the local metro newspaper in 2009 and was re-printed again at the end of the year because it was selected as one of the “favorite” stories of 2009! (

    In early 2011 with ZERO debt we both plan on quiting our jobs and slowly traveling around the world on $2500 per month!

    Good luck to everyone!

  • Victoria

    Because we run a farming enterprise that will not allow us to be permanently on the road (although we are looking at traveling during the coldest months of the winter), our strategies would not be considered nearly as extreme or impressive as those outlined by Richard in his comments above.

    So, what can you do when you can’t chuck it all and hit the road full-time? Here are a few things we’ve done and are in process of doing.

    After moving again last month (the third time in five years) we again purged a large number of items and set them aside as Donate and Rummage Sale. Our front porch is quite full of stuff that will soon belong to someone else.

    Our next priority will be to get a handle on the massive amount of paper that finds its way into our home. From current (bills and statements) to archives (taxes, business papers, medical records), paper can quickly get out of control. Following some of Leo Babauta’s tips from this post on Zen Habits will certainly help us organize and reduce the paper clutter in our office.…. Likewise, all the hard-copy photographs and all those photo albums I’ve been collecting for twenty years need to be digitally converted.

    There are also ways to simplify and reduce even in a business as typically equipment-intensive as a farming enterprise. We have worked very hard to eliminate our debts, and we don’t plan on changing that in order to farm. Using many of Joel Salatin’s techniques, we plan on building a small-scale, sustainable farming enterprise that is low-input, low-capital, high-yield. Renting land instead of outputting large sums of cash for acreage is the first step. Using portable, movable livestock housing instead of building a large, expensive, permanent barn is another example. Portable electric fencing for interior paddock division and rotational grazing yields flexibility and low-cost pasture rotation, not to mention, increases pasture yields and reduces hay and grain inputs. The examples are limited only to one’s creativity and willingness to think outside of the box.

    I truly do believe what has been stated in this Blog before – that “what we experience in life is more important than what we bring with us.” My goal is to live that philosophy. Many thanks to the examples and inspirations here – I look forward to reading what others will share.

    • culprit

      Awesome! Not everyone can chuck it all and hit the road–certainly not those upon whom the rest of us depend for food. Would love to hear more about your farm. Maybe you can write an article for BootsnAll by pitching your farm as a travel destination! (Working holiday, anyone?)

  • Through a combination of a 1980s fat-flush liquid diet and pregnancy due date on November 11th, it shouldn't be hard to lighten my load. Following Erica Jane's birth, I will proceed to remove 2 of my 4 limbs, get a buzzcut, and become a nudist.

  • Lindsay

    I am used to airline travel with a carry-on and a purse/tote bag. However, because I am a standby passenger and therefore towards the end of the boarding process, my goal has been to pare down to one bag that will fit under the seat in front of me, to avoid having to gate check my carry-on because of lack of overhead space. I've only had one weekend trip for a test run, but in general I have found that if I can travel for a weekend, I can travel for a month with the same amount of stuff.

  • I’m greatly enjoying the No Baggage Challenge and look forward to more adventures to come. For me personally, the challenge is a way of challenging me to get off my arse and do something I already wanted to do. It’s much easier to do something hard when challenged instead of doing it alone on sheer willpower.
    I’ve taken it upon myself to greatly simplify my life. I have way too much junk in my house and this translates into way too much junk in the suitcase when I travel. To help with this effort I’m basically selling everything but my kids. By that, I mean that I’m keeping the non-essential items. I’ll keep enough clothes around to avoid going naked to work and at least one pair of shoes are good. I’m either listing at least three items a day on eBay or piling three items into a box for a future garage sale. This helps me in two ways. It pares down my possessions and gives me money for adventures. At three items less a day, I’ll get down to the essentials pretty quickly. Many of these items are mementos or souvenirs from past trips and adventures, so it’s a struggle for me to reconcile their sentimental value. I’m working on it though, even if it’s just one day at a time.
    It’s really hard though with a family, especially when my wife isn’t on board. I have a hard time convincing her that we don’t need another cake dish or new pair of shoes. Recently we had a big setback when she decided to spend her money on a new couch instead of accompanying me on a trip for a speaking gig. I’m working on it though. I was so proud of my 6-year-old son Abishai when he recently declared that two action figures are enough. They can either fight, be friends, or both, but two is good.
    Although this path is hard, it’s well worth it. Less attachment at home to “things” makes it easier for me to pack a bag, toss the wife and kids into a car, and hit the road. With less to lose if there should be a break-in or disaster at home I also don’t worry as much. As a family we’re slowly coming to see our house as a temporary base station and home is now wherever we are all at having the time of our lives.
    How will I know when I reach this goal? I’m not sure yet, but I’m looking forward to the day one of my kids comes up to me and says, “Daddy, do you really need that ______?”

  • Nicole

    My closet needs to go on a diet. So I plan to give away most of my clothing – everything that is too big (I also lightened my load under my clothes!) or that I haven't worn this year.

    I'm a light packer when travelling for pleasure, but travelling for work is more difficult. So the next challenge is to pack light when I need to look professional.

  • I already travel pretty light by most standards. I do carry-on only even for trips of multiple weeks. That being said I am still always looking for ways to travel lighter. I use a lot of cameras and a few microphones to capture photos, videos for the Amateur Traveler podcast. I have currently decided:

    1) I am never ever taking my desktop podcasting mic on a plane trip again. It weighs a ton
    2) I am resolved to take one less camera and am trying the video built into my new Canon SLR
    3) I am trying to see if I can get down to one lens with my SLR, because changing lens is a pain anyway
    4) I am not sure I will take my Kindle again. I don't seem to use it and there is no point carrying anything that does not get used.
    5) I usually take clothes for 7 days but am thinking of reducing that to 5 and just doing laundry more often

  • Peter H

    I was thinking about this challenge and I realized I'm holding an open-ended swap meet. Yesterday I sold a wifi station for $40, a calculator for $10, a keyboard for $8. Today I ordered my pack for $55.

    In this fashion, I've swapped designer jeans for wool socks, swapped a bike pump for a microfiber towel, swapped a set of pots for a rain shell, swapped a drill for toiletries, swapped pliers for a flashlight, donated dress shirts to the charity resale shop and borrowed guidebooks from the library.

    The junk is paying to get rid of itself. I'm getting my travel gear together by
    getting all the clutter out of my life. The lighter I get, the easier it gets,
    the faster it gets. Furniture and books are easily replaced when I return, so they'll be swapped out for plane tickets and hostel lodgings. Everything heavy I part with will bring me an experience that weighs nothing.

    I'm swapping a ten-year career plan for the first steps of my route. I'll start
    by catching up with old friends who are happy to see me whenever I arrive. I'll
    plan the next step or two as I move along, never so far in advance that I can't
    float with the current. My travel is a marathon, not a sprint. I have
    cities I want to spend weeks in, countries to spend months in, a world to spend
    a life in.

  • LizL

    Lightening my load when travelling is something I've been battling with for years. My weight loss battle is not about diet and exercise but smaller shampoo bottles and less books.
    First time I set off backpacking, I was massively over-packed; lugging nearly 18 kgs on my back around SE Asia. About 2 days in I jettisoned around 4 of them but over the next 3 months, more than replaced them. My pack-to-back manoeuvre was finely honed; should strap in each hand, hoist, balance on knee, one bounce and twist into it before it falls. Bam! Loaded!
    These days, for a trip of 2 weeks+ I usually clock in around 13kgs for cooler climates, 11 for sunny spots.
    The heaviest items in my bag are books, cameras, toiletries and shoes.
    The item I really resent is the shoes. It seems ridiculous taking 3 pairs but I need flipflops (if only for showering), I need sturdy (and therefore; probably heavy) shoes for walking and I need a tidy pair of pumps or the like for going out to dinner. It sucks to be a girl!
    Toiletres you can cut down to a certain degree; taking travel-size and buying en route, but it doesn't always pay, esp in hot countries where it can be hard to find high factor sunblock at reasonable prices, etc.
    These days I'm not so keen to carry large weights on my back and have even considered getting a grown-up wheelie suitcase, but am just not quite ready to admit defeat.
    Reading Rolf's adventures has been fantastic wake up call and even a call to arms; I'm off to Cuba and Mexico for a month and, damn it, I'm going to do it; I'm going to get down to my goal weight of 8kg! Do you think WeightWatchers will give me one of those wee badges?

  • SpunkyGirl

    Over the years I've become very minimalist in a lot of areas in my life. I stopped using things I didn't need (like microwaves) and only bought furniture I needed. In fact I've lived the past 2 years with a bed, a book case a chair and a TV and have been quite happy.
    When it comes to travel, I tend to pack light. If I'm away for a week or less, I usually pack what I can into a carry-on bag and that's my luggage. I have to admit that as I prepare for my rtw trip I'm tempted to pitch my backpack and use my carry-on bag instead. I haven't found the courage to do that just yet. But it is definitely something I aspire to.

    Good luck with your project, Rolf!

  • K Sexton

    The idea of travelling with less baggage is relevant for life outside of travel. I’ve learned that choice is not always a good thing; it seems the more options I have the more complex a decision becomes. My goal for lightening the load in the next 12 months is simple, eliminating the daily choices that have little or no impact on how I experience life.

    I started this experiment about 6 months ago when I found out I was going to be a father in December, nothing like a baby moving in to let you know how cluttered your life is. We decided to visit the grandparents to tell them the good news. Over the years my wife and I have accumulated various suitcases and duffels, in total about 6, and I always felt like we overpacked. Prior to this trip I decided I would run an experiment, so I made up a story that our cats had urinated on all of our luggage, except for the 2 smallest pieces, the day we were leaving. I even took the luggage outside and cleaned it so it would need to dry and we really couldn’t use them for this trip. We ended up eliminating excess and packing everything we needed into those small day-packs. We had a great trip and ended up traveling to a few different locations that we probably wouldn’t have except our luggage was so easy to move around. When we returned home, I broke the news of my experiment. Her reaction was not what I expected, she said we should do the same things to our closet, well to my closet, hers we would attack post-pregnancy.

    I eliminated my clothing down to 10 shirts, 7 pants, 1 suit, 3 pairs of shoes, and a few sets of workout clothes. The new feeling of zen in my closet with the absence of clutter is amazing. I have yet to find a situation that I did not have the proper clothing to attend. I wear everything in my closet now, and almost on a weekly basis and it takes me less time to get ready in the morning.

    Next we went to the kitchen, we asked ourselves how many skillets one family actually needs. We found out the answer is one. It’s been great when we reduced the number of choices of cookery we focused instead on the great food we could make with one skillet. I have actually had a hard time finding anything I can’t make in my cast iron skillet. It even does well baking cookies.

    We’re going to hit the office next. I don’t know how it’s going to go since I love electronics, but I can’t argue with the success so far. My wife and I spend more time together and less time worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter.

  • Robin

    I became a carry-on only traveler when I was in junior high after my luggage was misplaced two years running when I had layovers in Dallas/Ft Worth. However, I've noticed that my light packing ways have begun to ebb and flow. Sometimes it's because I'm taking a road trip and it is just so easy to throw another item in the car. However what I want to work on is not bringing more stuff than I like because of external influences (whether real or perceived). For instance I attended my half-brother's wedding and felt I needed a different outfit for every occasion so that I mailed everything I needed for a week-long road trip after the wedding and stuffed my carry-on to its limit with wedding outfits. Another time I took a two-week train trip with two extra shirts and a pair of pants kept specifically for when I visited my fashionista friend in NYC so I could look fresh and not embarrass him. Goofy. I'll be able to test this when I drive to Glacier National Park next month with my Mother – she brings a different outfit for every day plus some extras (and don't get me started about her shoes!) and still wants to do laundry at least once. I find when I travel with her I tend to emulate that style because I think she'll be more comfortable that way. Again, goofy. I don't believe my brother, NYC friend or Mother would care if I'd done what I do when i travel alone (2-4 shirts, at least one long-sleeved, and 1-2 pairs of pants depending on activities). So my goal is to pack for me and not for what I think someone else wants me to pack.

    • Robin J

      This worked great. I took what I wanted with the exception of my laptop and that turned out okay [it was in lieu of my mother's bigger, heavier laptop]. And, I got my mother to pare down. She wore clothing more than once!! We only did laundry once!! However, the car travel thing did us in in one way — we brought food so that added a couple of bags. However, it was actually nice and relaxing [as well as cheap] to eat in our hotel rooms in the evening.

  • Sam

    Lightening my load in the next 12 months is more internal than external.
    For me it means leaving behind comfort.
    A safe job, a safe life and safe friendships just won’t cut it anymore. Goodbye safe.
    Instead I will pack passion to pursue my purpose, risky adventures to enhance my life and deep friendships to share the passions and adventures with.
    This means that I will have to leave behind “this is the way it’s always done” and replace it with “it’s not wrong, it’s just different.” Goodbye old way of thinking.
    Fear of the unknown is too big for my backpack. I’ll have to leave it behind and bring optimism instead. Goodbye fear.
    The stuff I can live without, but if I don’t leave behind the internal things wherever I go, I won’t get very far. Goodbye same old same old. Hello change.

  • A few months ago I came back from a six month stay in Holland, where I lived in a small studio with just the bare minimal (a couple of plates, a very simple bed made out of a mattress, one chair, one table and a handful of items I brought with myself from home). When I returned home I had and Aha! moment. Looking at the bag that served me as a storage compartment and even as a wardrobe for the last few months, I realized that it held all the clothes and objects I’ve needed to comfortably live for half a year, in winter time, in Holland.

    That was the moment it all began for me. I was looking around my room and couldn’t understand why there is so much stuff I never use. I made a list of all things I didn't need and sold them, got rid of a ton of old t-shirts and pants I never used. I am now looking twice when I see something cool in a store and think hard if I really need that item. I've even asked my friends not to buy some piece of useless stuff for my birthdate and explained to them that if they want to make me a present we should just go out and have a drink.

    But the real change came after reading a book by Tom Peters, The Little Big Things, where Tom talks about how companies can keep their costs under control by cutting 1% of them every month. That sounded like a great idea and decided that I should adapt it and apply it to my life.
    So every first of the month I think back and try to cut 1% or more of:
    – the clothes and things I own
    – the things I own
    – my monthly expenses (subscriptions and so on)
    – the blog and newsletters I'm subscribed to
    It really worked for me because it makes you think about what you need to have around and it's a process that has some structure to it. I’m a guy who doesn’t like to let go of old things, and I invent different excuses why to keep something. I used to look through my stuff a couple of times every year and every time I was surprised why I kept some piece of paper or some t-shirt. By doing this regularly, it’s much easier to keep the things I won to just the essentials.

    As today is the 1st of September I took the time to unsubscribe to two RSS feeds I never read, will go home to sort through more of my T-shirts (every month you see one more thing you don’t need), and last Sunday I’ve realized I can reduce my phone plan with 2 euro. It all adds up.

  • A year and half ago, my husband and I decided to sell all of our possessions to travel abroad with our two-year old in tow. After a lot of hard work and a few tears, we chiseled our stuff down to 144 items, all of which fit into two backpacks!

    Now that we are back home, stuff seems to clutter up again so quickly! I’m embarrassed to admit that when I leave the house now, I carry a diaper bag, unorganized purse, and a camera bag. Did I mention my purse has two wallets?! (I literally only keep one of them because it has a zipper pocket for coins.)

    This morning, I sat down and devised a plan. I realized, I only need to carry one Pull-Up, a few wipes, a spare cotton dress, and a granola bar for Milli. I condensed my wallets to one and put all my change into a baggy.

    I’m happy to announce that I’ve condensed my three bags to one! While I could fit everything into the smallest bag, I realized that it wasn’t going to be easy to maintain without getting frustrated. And we all know that we have to create habits that we will be able to maintain ;)

    You can check out my before and after pictures here:

  • Audrey

    In the last couple of years, I’ve jettisoned the tv, the landline, the excess clutter, and my watch. What I’m left with, paradoxically, is time, the amount of which continually surprises me. What was I doing before that was eating my days? I can’t remember, because I’ve tossed yesterday and tomorrow overboard as well. My days stretch out; after work I garden, cook, read, ride my bike, visit friends, sit and think, and sit and not think. All that living I was saving for the weekend, for next summer, for next year, and for retirement is going on right now. So. My challenge for this coming year is to travel with as few trains, planes, and bus connections as possible. Riding my bike and walking means no waiting for anyone, no running for the bus, no hurrying. Why should I? I have all day.

  • Liz

    I will lighten my load by leaving pessimism and stress behind!

    I work as a teacher in a PK-12 school that is struggling with issues of governance, management and finances, leaving the teaching staff often stressed and stretched to the limit. You never know what to expect next…leaving many to ponder the most horrible possibilities.

    This is my third year at the school. I chose to return to make a difference in the lives of my students by working hard and giving them examples of how much you can accomplish with virtually nothing. Still, the rumor mill, the constant chaos of the campus can get the better of us, leaving us tied in knots about what tomorrow will bring.

    From now on, the begining of a new school year, I chose to lighten my burden by leaving stress at the bus stop. I will leave the troubles of the work day at work, so that I can live a more beautiful and productive life. I have set goals in health, fitness, finances and travel to guide me forward.

    I know that by lightening my load in this way I will actually gain so much…and have so much more to give.

  • Barbara Dove

    Years ago, when the economy began to tank, I said that if I were to ‘lose it all’, I would go “Forest Gump” and simply walk across the country. It was a crazy idea, and my family did not take it seriously. But out of curiosity, I started looking into what that might be like. I discovered “Vagabonding”, then Couchsurfing, and more. I dreamed of far off lands and interesting people.

    Then the economic downturn arrived at my door. I lost one job and then another. I eventually lost a relationship. Finally, I lost my house. Each piece was violently ripped away from me. It sundered apart my beliefs about how life ‘should be’. I almost lost my mind. Then I remembered I had made that statement, that promise; that wish.

    I began to wonder if what I had so blithely proposed could become a reality. Could I become a gypsy, a vagabond: traveling light and living adventurously each day? I knew I could travel light. But could I LIVE light?

    I began to accept that my wish was coming true. I started to go with it. I began to downsize. I packed only what was truly important. It all had to fit on my motorcycle: some tools, some clothes, my camera, a phone, and a GPS. What didn’t fit on the bike went in my car: my bed, photo albums, etc. and I took them to my daughter’s house. My car is now garaged. As for the rest, I gave away half of my belongings. And the other half I gave away.

    I ride alternately between my daughter’s house and my mother’s, caring for my grandkids and my father, who has Alzheimer’s. I travel with only what fits on my motorcycle. Sometimes, only what fits into my pockets.

    Over the next year, I’ll be streamlining more. I’ll trade my laptop for an iPhone or the like. I’ll have to put my bike into storage for winter and rely on public transportation, or my own sturdy legs!

    With so few possessions now, my lifestyle has drastically changed. If I am in a store, I spend less time looking at goods and more time talking with people. I have time to discover new places, go to local events, and slow down and appreciate where I am and who I am with.

    This week I find myself fielding that annual question from my family: ‘What do you want for your Birthday?’ They cannot get me chachkas or clothes. I do not need fancy electronics, perfume, or frippery. This seems to frustrate them. But all I want is to enjoy time, a nice meal, and perhaps some wine and memories with them.

    In conclusion, here is what I have found about living with less: You do more LIVING! You learn to spend more time in the moment, and relate more to people and experiences. Add to that an exponential increase in appreciation of everything around you. I call that a recipe for happiness!

  • Kate

    The first time I realized I was traveling with too much stuff was when I was 19 and I went to San Francisco to visit a friend on my way home for the summer. When my friend ended up at the wrong airport, I had to take a train and a bus by myself all while lugging around two carry-ons and two huge checked bags in a mostly unfamiliar city. That trip taught me to pack less and every trip I've been on since I've tried to pack with purpose. Certain things that seem like necessities in day to day life, such as hair straighteners, makeup and a variety of shoes and clothes, seem less important when traveling. I see traveling as a way to escape that thought process, escape all the objects we see as “necessities.” But traveling has taught me that instead of escaping them only when traveling, I can escape them all the time. My plan for this year is to weed out any clothes I don't wear and stuff I don't use. But, more important then that, I plan on cutting back on things I buy, since traveling has taught me I own more then I need to survive and the money I save could be used on my next trip.

  • Chuck

    I used to be cheap, too. However, since upgrading my clothes, furniture, and lifestyle I am much happier! Call me crazy, but when I used to live in a studio apartment without tv and penny pitched my way through life I wasn't happy. I worked hard to achieve a career that paid me well enough to actually afford some of the comforts in life. I love my automatic espresso machine, leather couches, and full-suspension mountain bike. I love the way I feel when I am well dressed. I love owning a SUV. Variety is the spice of life, and you can't take it with you when you die. Live a little people! I think Rolf is a pretty cool dude, and his minimalist approach to life is pretty awesome. But, along the same line of thought why not minimize his travel experiences as well? Why does he need to travel the world? Why not just check out all of the cool places in Kansas? Do you see what I'm saying?

  • Tyler

    Rarely a day goes by without someone commenting to me, “You look so happy!” which occasionally is followed up with, “What’s your secret?”

    Well the answer is simple and complicated all at the same time. At one point in life I was a banker to some pretty wealthy people. I was firmly rooted in the rat race. Then I quit; all of it, and moved overseas, with a major pay cut included. I sold my car and almost every single possession and whittled everything down to two bags. I moved off to Singapore for a new adventure in life.

    As I travelled I saw so many things all around the world including Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. I saw some of the poorest people on the planet living in utter poverty, but surprisingly the same people were the richest in terms of knowing how to live.

    What’s my secret? I tapped what they have.

    As an American, at one point all the ‘stuff’ in my life had clearly gone from being a blessing to a burden. I’ve gone full circle, but the second time around it makes me feel alive when I appreciate all the little things in life. It’s one thing to ‘say’ things are a blessing. It’s quite another to feel it and be enlightened by the idea.

    Near the end of that chapter of my journeys I found myself standing in the Singapore airport about to depart. When I checked in I was informed that the airlines now charged fees for my big bags. With less than an hour until take off and being short on cash I had to make a decision quickly. In the next 30 minutes I found a worthy individual and bestowed upon them more than half of my worldly belongings—free luggage included. It was extremely humorous but it was quite liberating too. I didn’t just travel light. I began to live light.

    My whole life now is much more about who is in my life and my experiences with them.

    Everyone needs stuff, but the trick is all in your head and how you view it all. When you literally have nothing even the smallest treats can make you smile–if you notice them and pay attention with the right mindset. Life is beautiful but you just have to see it as such. Be bold and get out of your comfort zone. Aim for the experience. Daydream and then make it happen. If you do you too will grin ear to ear pretty much on a daily basis.

  • bc

    In 2008, I survived a serious plane crash where 5 people died and I walked away with herniated disks in my lower back after jumoing out a half inflated emergency slide in the back of the plane. check out the following links

    Not to start off the topic on a negative note, but it certainly has changed my life in many ways. Regarding travel, I lost my luggage both checked and carry on to thievery and damage. The only things that saved me was the grace of God, and the passport and credit card I had in my back pockets.

    I mainly travel for work and now leave work essentials in the various places I conduct business in. This includes business attire, hygiene products, small electronics, etc. For personal trips I use only the Jansport backpack I have maintained for sometime now. Depending on the location I go to, depends on what I take. If the climate is colder I will also bring my Underarmour shirt and tights which work quite well and take up no space in my bag.

    I have read the other posts here and I am inspired, intrigued, and interested in the lives of other travel adventurers. People really do make places interesting and the stories they tell genuinely leave a mark on the casual traveler. Who hasnt met an eccentric or weird character on a journey only to laugh and smile about them later in your home? :)

    Recently I have had the yearning to get rid of “stuff” in my life. Things don't mean the same to me anymore. I even put up 10 things I could remember off the top of my head and posted it on Ebay to sell! Connections with people and family is what makes life a much more positive world to be in. Recently I have been sitting in my hotel room a little bored and started using Stumbleupon to see if I can come across anything of interest on the net. After countless sleepless nights of stumbling, I came across the Rolfs no luggage trip around the world. I was stunned. There is actually clothing with pockets to do this kind of trip? Scottevest who?

    How will I lighten my load in the next 12 months?
    Purchase the Scottevest Jacket and 2 Pullover Quarter Zips to start
    Track the progress of Scottevest and buy future products
    Buy a couple pair Exofficio underwear
    Wear one pair Vibram shoes
    Continue to sell the misc items I have in my household including my TV I never watch
    Scan all documents I have in my household and make everything pdf or jpg format
    Sell the various luggage I have and dont use anyway. Vow never to use again.
    Exercise my mind reading various inspirational books
    Exercise my body to alleviate stress
    Make a written and verbal commitment to never travel excessive luggage
    Encourage others to accept this challenge even when it expires!

  • Rentsch

    I have a nice daypack that I used, with a 22″ roller, travelling around the alps (4 countries, 2 weeks, changes in weather). I'd like to do the trip again, with only the daypack, and/or the Scottevest jacket. Items: smartphone, credit card, passport, multi-function tool/knife (purchase when arrive), 3-pairs: washable underwear, socks, and shirts. Lightweight pants, hat, sunglasses, readers. Toiletries. Still deciding on shoes.

  • Docwoodx

    Most of my trips have been in my truck with camper shell. I like to continue my workout program while traveling so that has meant spending time looking for a fitness center (plus the day use fees). I now travel with my kettlebells and depending on which ones I take it adds 30 -100 lbs (2 30 lb KB's and 1 40 lb KB) to my weight. Also carry running shoes and trail runners plus sweats. I've decided to put together a bodyweight workout regimen which will address strength, flexibility, endurance and cardio and can be done within a 6 ft. by 6 ft. area. Next is to lose the kettlebelss which saves 30 to 100 lbs. Also working up to where I can run barefoot and eliminate the use of running shoes and will also work out in cargo pants and quick dry shirt which will do double duty. The saving of time I also consider a weight ruduction so I can spend more time experiencing the travel

  • Jamie

    I will be traveling for the next five weeks throughout Europe. I started reading your blog the day after I quit my job and it immediately change my train of thought. I began my planning with the idea that I would take a large backpack, but quickly switch to traveling with just a day pack. Large reductions: instead of bringing my tent and camping gear for Oktoberfest, I found someone to stay with through couchsurfing. My back-up plan is to buy a tent and sell it 2nd hand in the next city I’m in. To save room on shoes, I’m bringing my vibram 5 fingers (barefoot running). My favorite way to explore a new city is by a morning jog. To save on smelly, wet clothes I will just be running in nylon shorts, no liner. This way I can easy clean them in the shower when I get back to the room and they dry within 20 minutes. I’m also a avid photographer, so I purchased Sony’s new light weight DSLR, NEX-3. Great photo’s and video at half the weight! While, I don’t have an iphone. I do have a i-touch that I borrowed a microphone and speaker for. This will give me the ability to use the skype and keep in touch with friends/family as long as I have Wi-Fi. While sometimes I wish I can always use Google maps on the go, it will be worth it for me to be able to spend some time “unconnected.” Asking directions is a great way to strike up conversation and find new places to go. Good luck on the road, I will be checking back for more tips!

  • LJFro7

    I have spent the last few months focusing on making life ‘lighter.’ I went from working 70 hours a week at a hedge fund in Manhattan, to coordinating grants at a university in New England. While the changed lightened my bank account to the tune of $20k a year, I am lifted. Instead of being bogged down by stress from work and living in the city and never really having much time or available money to see friends and family or go anywhere, I can now do it all. I automated all of my banking, my once a month paycheck is deposited and all bills, savings, health costs, retirement, is taken out within a day, leaving me with my guilt free fun money, now I never worry about if I can afford to buy something, I know. I got rid of clutter, gave away clothes and books to Goodwill, unsubscribed to newsletters and magazines (I can read them online), got a library card, stopped needing to buy the hottest shoes or clothes to keep up with the ‘in crowd,’ got rid of those friends who only cared about stuff, and now I feel amazing. With the money I have been saving and the 5 weeks vacation I get, I can travel whenever and wherever I want. Whereas last year at this time I was scrimping and saving to make a trip to Key West and felt guilty about taking time off of work and stressed about spending the money for the long weekend I was there, now I am planning a two week romp through England and Scotland in a few months, just to start. Maybe next year I can go to Indonesia for three weeks, or a cabin in Vermont, or take a cruise to Alaska, it really doesn’t matter where or for how long, the point is now I can. I don’t have to be bogged down with appearances, staying in swank hotels, packing six pairs of heels, carrying huge suitcases instead of my trusty Deuter Futura 32 and a pair of hiking boots, which is how I travel now. I’ve always read how people who cut down and simplify love life, but never really believed it, I was so concerned with material goods and keeping up appearances, but now I feel lighter, happier and freer to do things than I have ever experienced.

  • OceanMinded

    A huge thank you Rolf for sharing your journey. I'm really enjoying it thus far. I recently returned from Spain wear my wife and I shared a similar tapas curiosity. Bring on the pimientos de padron! I'm captivated by the concept of no luggage and will adopt it in my own way. Most of my recreational travel involves surfing or snowboarding. Lightening the pack frees me up to focus on my equipment, friends and surroundings.

    In a Moroccan back drop, you resemble Jason Bourne in your functional attire:) An aggressive look but a good one none-the-less. I going to check out some Scottevest gear.

    • OceanMinded

      I forgot to thank Justin too. No glory on that side of the camera.

  • Caitlin

    I'm mentally unloading. I'm already a light packer, a frugal shopper, and have few possessions. What I have are years of trepidation and 20/20 specials about being kidnapped and sold into harems or killed in the Congo. I'm going on my first big trip sans family in November and am determined to not get carried away with what-ifs.

    Travel is not about worrying nor is it about doing the supposedly quintessential tourist stops. My camera will be for snapshots but it will not constantly be on waiting for the perfect frame that sums up an entire vacation. Life, travel especially, is not meant to be experienced just for a photo or to post about on some social network. You have to do these things for yourself, for the emotions and memories they will create.

  • About a year and a half ago, I decided not to buy anything “material.” I have a backpack of stuff; I wear (old) travel clothes, don't have a cell phone or a bed, my shoes are held together by duct tape, and I use free wifi on my old clunky laptop for keeping up with the travel world. Like Rolf said, it's surprisingly easy to get by with next to nothing. Not only is it easy, it's actually preferable, for me. Liberating isn't the right word, but it's something in that genre, for sure.
    I'm really looking forward to following the rest of this journey. And seeing what's coming next–the only way to top this challenge is to do it all naked.

  • I almost never travel with a guide book. It's so much better to bumble around a city and put feelers out, trusting that my senses will guide me to the historic center, the nightlife district, the markets, the landmarks. In most cases, they do, because cities are built or have grown to do just that. Then, standing in the central square my feet found for me, I get to see everything as it is right now, not as it was portrayed by someone else years (or decades) before.

    Sarajevo, for example, was full of people standing in random intersections reading a paragraph from Lonely Planet about how so-and-so did such-and-such in that spot that is now a lovely park. Much of the time it's better to order an ice cream and enjoy the park with the living locals. History (and current news reports) can put a film over our eyes that is difficult to shake, but places–like people–deserve to be looked at with fresh eyes once in a while.

    Anyway there's always a map to be had, and if you really need it, any hostel will hand you a guide book to jot down notes on the counter.

    But, since this is about pledges, the plot twist is that my pledge is to use My Google Maps to create my own travel maps of the places I love, leaving brochures and travel guides behind. I did this in Mexico City, wandering, taking photos and notes, many of which I am now putting into my own Google Map to show friends. Then they can make one for me. It's safe to say that my friends tend to like the things I like, so when they see a map full of wine/book bars, bicycle rental stations, indie art galleries, and parks…and that map is a place they didn't think they would like, it might nudge them to go, or it will at least give them another source of information.

    My notepad and camera (well, in this case my iPhone and various apps) is much lighter and less bulkier than a guidebook, and it allows me to take part in crafting something, including perceptions of a place, rather than following along on a zombie-beaten path.

  • I've banked about 250,000 air miles just this year. I never exceed a carry on despite having gone to places such as Thailand or Argentina for a month. With that said, I’ve identified the purpose of my own decision of lightening my load which is to divert less attention, time, money, preparation, and resources on the other end in managing these material items.

    I’ve decided my 12 month challenge is to be engaged in the people around me. I had the opportunity of taking a story telling class this year, and I was utterly amazed at the transformation of my experience from the first day to the fifth day of the class. Over the span of 5 days, I had the chance to hear everyone’s various stories. It transformed me, made my experience so much richer, and part of this process was engaging to get stories from people. Within each journey and everyone human along the way exists an opportunity to not only hear but to share an experience, a joy, a pain, a lesson learned, or even a smile/joke/laugh. I had the chance to do this, and I know my journeys would be far richer if I made the deliberate intention to either share or hear someone’s story. Putting this into practice over the twelve months isn’t necessarily an exercise in reducing my baggage, but what it will do is load me up with a richer, more personal experience of my travels. In the long run, it’s the purpose of why I even go on my journeys/adventures. I seek a change in perspective, a new experience, or perhaps something that might change me. Engaging in people, hearing their stories, finding a way to make the moments in our journey richer is a way to increase the value of the journey.

    I already travel with less material baggage, but if I can share and hear someone’s story along the way, I can take with me some memories, perhaps a different perspective, or see a place in a different way based on someone’s story/perspective/etc. Experiences like that are things you don’t need to worry about fitting into an overhead bin. They stay with you like a wonderful journey. I remember some of my journeys being wonderful because of them. Over the next twelve months I intend to seek that richness in all of my travels.

  • OceanMinded

    Quick tip for the light traveler… If you plan to wash your shirts by hand pack deodorant over antiperspirant to stay fresh. The antiperspirant accumulates in the fabric, repels water and takes serious scrubbing to get out. Without a good scrubbing it holds odor big time. Especially with quick dry materials.

  • Sueengmail

    In July, my family (including husband and 13 year old son) went on a European adventure for 3 weeks. We lightened our load by packing light. Each of us carried one 21 inch (including wheels) rolling suitcase. Not too difficult for the guys, who were able to rent tuxes for the cruise portion of our trip. I got creative to lighten my load by scouring my closet for easy care item, sticking to neutrals, using 1 accent color and packing versatile scarves. After 3 weeks of the less is more philosophy, I came home and started lightening the load around the house, donating old clothing, linen and books which hadn't been used in ages, along with kitchen accessories which mainly sat gathered dust. With our son just entering the teen years, he was ready to part with old toys, although we packed away a few sentimental items. This less is more philosophy continues with the next step of if something new comes into the house, whatever we are replacing is donated. We have everything we need, we don't need more, just need things which function best for us. Having less things makes life easier and more carefree. We spend less time caring for things and more time caring for our family and friends. And we our planning our next 3 week, 1 bag vacation extravaganza.

  • Michelle

    A year ago Marcellus–father of two young children–died suddenly. We'd recently split up after living together, but still maintained a dear friendship. Mars was always full of plans, but so burdened with truckloads of stuff, home debt, a job he didn't like, bills, doubts, and what-if's that he never followed any of his dreams. In his death, the last gift Mars gave me was the realization that the time is NOW to lighten my load. Life offers no guarantees, and if I wanted to live my deep, passionate life, I needed to change. I started to lighten up.

    And in January, I'm taking a 6-month leave of absence from my job to explore the world–my 17 year old son and I are packing up and heading to South America. In the past year, I've paid off my car, my credit card, and my son's braces. We already live small, but recently I've divested myself of over half my closet, all my CDs and most of my books (as an English teacher, you can imagine there were many!) I'm whittling down the rest of our possessions over the next few months. I'm biking more. I mindfully consider each purchase, skipping anything that's not either necessary or contributing to our trip. I'm creating new employment opportunities so that I can become more flexible and live lighter when we return. Finally, so that I can really fly light on this journey, we are letting go of our fabulous little house, trusting the universe to provide something equally wonderful when we arrive back.

    I'm learning the power of lightening up: when you come to the edge, you can leap, 'cause guess what–you're either gonna be rewarded with wings, or a soft landing spot.

  • Jen

    After moving across the world at the start of this year, and selling all of my possessions save two suitcases (travelling light is one thing–living light is entirely another), I initially thought there wasn't too much else I could do. But on deeper reflection, I'm burdened by poor quality and flimsy items that I buy as stopgaps and end up wearing out so quickly it feels like I always have to buy new things.

    Over the next year, and beyond, I'm going to start replacing the few possessions I do own with long-lasting, high-quality, expensive (probably) 'investment' pieces that will last me ten or twenty years instead of weeks. Goodbye cheap sandals, ill-fitting underwear, worn-out jeans and a jacket that's coming apart at the seams. Hello quality, reduced waste, lower impact, and ultimately a much lighter mental and financial burden.

  • Zenmaster57

    My life is in a transformation process that will lighten my load in numerous ways over the next 12 months.
    First and foremost the load of mental and emotional stress I carry is being reduced through meditation and communing with nature. Unloading negative thoughts and emotions is a daily practice and very liberating.
    I have begun to simplify my surroundings by selling and donating items not necessary for my day to day survival. Life has more breathing room.
    Finally, I am working toward financial freedom by unloading my bills and moving forward to a debt free life. I hope to free up more time as well, I want to make a life not just a living and do what I love, help others.
    My attitude is gratitude!

  • TravelMaster

    I travel for a living – ok, I travel for business. Pretty much the same thing. Most of the last decade, it's been 40+ weeks a year on the road. When I started, I'd take a carry on, a computer bag and a large (LARGE) checked bag. I wanted to “live,” to feel like I had my “things” with me. And I slowly realized (1) I had no time for things, (2) the things were never (rarely) used and (3) my back was really hurting. One of my first moves: I bought the very first style of Scott eVest, and I still use it today. The travel pants came next. Then a fleece jacket. But what was missing????? Something … something big!

    The No Baggage challenge made it all clear! It wasn't what was missing! The problem was I was still carry around bags!

    Now, my situation is different from Rolf's. I need to “dress.” Suits, shirts, etc. etc. However, in the spirit of the Challenge, I have made a single adjustment for myself: I can leave things behind or ship them ahead, but I canNOT carry baggage. No luggage. Nothing. Except when I transfer assignment/regions/cities, I am now doing something I never dreamed of: I walk into the airport with nothing but the clothes I am wearing, and what is in them.

    What am I wearing? Standard business casual: the awesome scottevest hidden cargo pants (usually), dress shirt, slip-ons … all the usual, augmented by a well-loaded seasonal Scott e-something. Right now, it's the Fleece 5.0 jacket, as the local temps just dropped into the low 60's daytime. What's in the pockets?

    No more laptop! Steve Jobs and all you Apple engineers, thank you for the iPad. It is amazing for a road warrior, from email, to reading books, to practicing piano, to writing simple documents. Toss in the light weight recharger, and we're on the move! Ten hours, pretty much ANY flight to ANYWHERE, and I'm enjoying the simple life! Minimalism, yes, that's for me!

    In the pockets: an ID (or two). Tickets. Pens. Amazing Grass' Greens super bars. Water (filled after going through security – note to Scott, I need a Camelback pocket!.) Phone. Small set of “personal items.”

    A minimal change of clothes in the large pocket. We're ready for an overnighter or in-flight spill recovery.

    On the iPad is Rolf's Vagabonding book (bought on the “fly,” literally, after seeing this Challenge for the first time) and I am now observing things, feeling free, and enjoying travel in a whole new way.

    Thanks Rolf and thanks Scott. This is a wonderful way to travel!

  • AC

    Next time, if you really want to travel light, you might want to consider only one pair of underpants. You wear them, wash them and they are dry and ready to wear again the next morning. They are pretty cool!!!! If I remember correctly, the packaging boasts “16 counties, 6 weeks, 1 pair of undies!” Exoficio travel underpants. They are great and very comfortable.

  • I love this challenge and it's timely for me – I just moved to China for a year to teach. In my life back in the states, I'd already gotten rid of a lot of things because I knew a change was coming but didn't know what. I thought I packed pretty minimally with 2 duffel bags and a smallish backpack. A lot of my possessions were some books and gifts I brought to give here. I also needed some “professional” clothes for classes, but I still think I brought too many things… it's my goal to return home with only one bag of personal items. Someone check on me in 10 months… :)

    This challenge is very similar to the 100 Thing Challenge that has been going around the blogosphere – many folks (not traveling) are paring down their possessions to less than 100 items. I'm not quite there but it does intrigue me.
    Thanks Rolf and Justin for creating such a great and inspiring project!

  • Great thing you asked how I'm going to make my light pack even lighter. I'm currently traveling with a 28L backpack and heavy side bag.

    I've been downsizing as I have been traveling for these few weeks and here are the following steps I am (some already) taking to reduce my pack weight and get rid of my side bag.

    -Get the Tropical Vest Jacket you have for my electronic gear and clothes (I can get rid of my side bag and a bulky jacket which makes my backpack bigger and heavier than necessary
    -I've been reducing the articles of clothing I use and have been getting quick drying, odor resistent merino wool clothing.
    -From 5 shirts to 3 shirts. From two shorts to one shorts. From 4 socks to 3 socks.
    -I've given away my X-L pack towel and use a medium sized very tiny towel.
    -I'm picking up the iPhone 4 to replace both my camera and my video camera. I get rid of all the wires and charges and devices themselves, I'm way lighter.
    -I gave away my first aid kit, but kept the first aid stuff, reduced my weight even more this way.

    Basically, I'm working toward only needing my Tropical Vest Jacket. Once a good tablet comes out with the functions of a computer (iPad is not close enough) I'll pick one up and get rid of my macbook. Get a bluetooth keyboard and have the way with my world. A note about why I mentioned the iPad is because the Tropical Vest Jackets can hold iPads well, so most tablets will do fine.

    Once I get rid of my notebook and have my tablet, I'm reducing the clothing needed and washing daily/every two days. Merino wool I found dries faster and doesn't stink like cotten clothes or synthetics.

    And from there, I get rid of my bag and go bag less. For the small bag I have, many folks I meet and talk to think it's not enough, which is why many folks think Rolf is crazy, though it works.

  • Kendra Sato

    Admittedly, I have been one to occasionally loose things. There’s always a silver lining, and the “blessing” in this little curse is that most of the time, what I’d lost I realized didn’t really need in the first place. I like to think of it as a sort of natural selection. That being said, I took my first real trip a couple months back to Costa Rica and true to form, lost a good few articles in hostels here and there. Upon my return home, I came to find that most of my stuff is exactly that…stuff! So over the last few months, I’ve been taking inventory and downsizing. I’ve started a love affair with that word…downsizing. Thus far, I have donated about four hefty bags of clothes and random chick accessories I hardly knew I had, my beautiful dirt bike that I haven’t made time to ride in years is up for sale along with all my gear, accompanied by a plethora of other superfluous things I once wanted but never needed. I’m thinking my bed frame is to go next, it doesn’t have any drawers, and it only serves to be aesthetically pleasing, so why not? Otherwise, I am holding strong against smart phones because I don’t need all that, or cable, the latest Apple gadget, and everything else the masses are buying into. I’m putting what I can save into my nerdy little “Travel” envelope. The grand plan is all this downsizing (see, there it is again) can either aid in funding my next trip or make leaving that much easier. Who knows…depending on where I go, maybe I won’t come home for a little while. And nobody likes a bunch of crap lying around.


  • Plan A
    In 2006 I was commuting by bike every day. I was fit enough that I'd walk
    anywhere, anytime. An 80 mile bike ride was no big deal, just pleasant time
    on the bike. Then I quit bike commuting. Quit doing longer rides. Four
    years later I've gained 40 pounds and start to breath hard climbing one flight
    of stairs.

    Each day I do my 22 mile round trip bike commute I save $4 in car expenses
    and get a couple of hours of aerobic exercise. This month the local
    advocacy group, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, is sponsoring the Bike
    Commute Challenge. I'm 100% so far. Riding to work has the added bonus
    of not driving the extra miles to go out for lunch.

    The plan: keep up the commuting after September is finished and ride
    my way back into the fitness I used to enjoy. Without the added special
    lunches I easily save $100 a month by not driving. Use the $1,200 a
    year for overseas travel with my wife. Use the bike ride fitness to be
    able to hike the Cinque Terre for enjoyment instead of challenge.

    Plan B
    AAAaaarrrrgggghhhh! It's here somewhere. I know it is. Searching through
    piles of stuff while threading through the paths through the piles of
    stuff to find what has to be here, because I know I have it.

    Sound familiar?

    How about having several tape measures (or whatevers) because you had
    to have one and couldn't find the ones you already had?

    A half dozen tape measures, four utility knives, three battery chargers
    for the camera, the list is embarrassing. Most gets lost when “cleaning
    up” is stuffing things in a bag or box and stashing out of the way. Then
    I shove the box or bag into one of the piles. The garage is stuffed,
    the basement is stuffed. There are boxes I haven't used the contents of
    in decades.

    See any bit of yourself, past or present?

    The plan: Fill the recycling bin each week, get on a first name basis with
    the guy at the Goodwill donation station, trash what cannot be recycled
    donated or sold. The goal is to have 50% of the floor space cleared out
    and be able to find what items I keep – because I use them enough to know
    where they are and they're not buried in a heap or stack of stuff.

  • Zac Bowland

    I am simplifying the “luggage” in my life quite dramatically. I am in the process of selling/donating everything I own (except for my books, which my family will store for me) and leaving the US for an undetermined amount of time in order to travel and experience my life. I am also hoping that my journeys will simplify my more metaphysical luggage as well, in that I can lose my preconceptions about the world and define my own existence. I want to free myself of any prejudicial concepts relating to other cultures, religions, languages, customs and every other defining feature of a far corner of the world. I am thinking of becoming a college professor in the future, and learning how to sacrifice myself, and my ideas, into the world will be invaluable to me as an instructor down the road.
    I have spent the last few years filling my house with antique decorations because to me it represented a different time that I wished to surround myself with. It feels like home, and my living space is filled with craftsmanship rather than soulless Ikea particleboard. However, as I am presented with a singular opportunity for vagabonding-style travel at the present, I look around on all of my treasured antiques and start to see them as anchors. Though I still enjoy the classic and historical material possessions, I realized that they just take up space and keep me locked into a single location because they have eliminated my mobility. Besides, why must I own these things in order to appreciate them? I can always see much better examples in museums anyway. Thus, to completely submit to my anti-materialistic new viewpoint, I am giving the finger to my old life and leaving the country (and my career, and the expectations of my family and peers) with nothing but a few changes of clothing and a handful of books in my backpack. I have been finding that reducing the amount of clutter in my life is a very rewarding experience, and I cannot wait to set off on my adventures.
    To conclude, we all become victimized by the self-delusion that if a little is good, then a lot is better. It is critical to our freedom that we learn to prune our possessions to keep ourselves free. To paraphrase Dan Millman, most people define themselves as rich if they can purchase anything that they desire. My belief is that we can all be wealthy by cultivating a lifestyle of simple desires and pleasures (such as travel, experiences, etc.) Thus, I encourage everyone to reduce their “luggage”, both tangible and non, to find freedom in simplicity as I am learning to do myself. Best wishes.

  • Airy

    How will I lighten my load in the next 12 months? That’s funny. I was actually planning on getting more things since I’ve been “making do” without for so long now.
    There is one area I do plan on lightening up on, and that’s my load of fear and shame, my fear of failure and the shame that I can’t get to where I want to be in life like I had dreamed. These two feelings sure bog me down every day, they each consume a lot of my mental RAM, and make me exhausted physically and mentally. I’m not positive on how I will eliminate the fear and shame but I know the first step is to just absolutely and completely accept myself as I am. That doesn’t mean I’m going to be satisfied with myself, but just to say that where I am in life is okay and I can do better. The next step I’m guessing, is to do some fear-based work including making myself more tolerant in the face of fearful situations/stuff, to do things I would normally be scared of in small increments and building up. Third is to make some friends or find a mentor who can be there beside me as I do the things I want to do but am too scared to do. Someone to be there with me come action-time. Fourth step will have to be accepting myself no matter what happens and to get back up on the horse if/when I should fail. So that’s my plan, to lighten up on the fear and shame I have of myself – that’ll give me so much more freedom to try new things, feel good about myself, and live life fully.

    • PG Downes

      Of all the sincere postings above and below, this strikes me as most valuable. With all the compassion you will learn, you might make the most humane traveler if not the traveler with the lightest pack. In peace.

    • InhabitYourDreams

      Airy, These are all honest, valid endeavors, but I suggest that none of answers or counterbalances to the fear, shame, disappointment you've heaped on your self are “out there”. Your plan needn't be in the future; in fact, if it remains in the future, you'll probably never “get over your self.” Today, start today to shift your inner conversation and make a practice of positive self-talk (check out You are human. We all fall short. Get the support, find your joy, forgive your self (who else in inside your head?) and move forward. Take action now, fear or no fear. No one else can do this for you…and you can do it!

  • Alex

    I am a 22 year old college student working on my undergraduate degree in mathematics. Ever since I studied abroad in Prague I fell in love with traveling. This upcoming summer I plan to embark on a journey that will take me across almost ten states. It is more impressive to me is that I will be doing the 2000+ mile journey on my own. I will be riding my bicycle across America form cost to cost.

    I plan to be entirely independent; I will be carrying all my belongings for the duration of the trip. There will not be any van or car fallowing me for the duration of the trip. This being said, it is vital that I only take the bare essentials and pack efficiently. Because I plan to be self-sufficient, I will prepare all my meals and stay at camp sites allowing me to completely immerse myself in the autonomous aspects of my trip.

    In order to save money for my trip, I have been evaluating the amount of possessions I keep. Looking into my closet, I realized that I have an excess of clothes for an average man. There is no need for me to buy more unessential garments. I have made the decision to not purchase anything unless it is absolutely necessary.

    I am in the process of looking through my monthly expenses and cutting out wasteful or useless purchases and charges. First and foremost, I cancelled my cable TV subscription. I am happy with this decision; the stuff on television today is mindless and unimportant. I care much more about exploring and living my life than I do about what programs are running on the mind numbing tube. I feel that this is my first step in the right direction to simplify my load.

    Living more efficiently before I begin my journey will enable me to save money for trip expenses as well as acclimate to a minimal and sustainable lifestyle.

    I am resisting my tendency to procrastinate; in this I will spend my time achieving substantial goals, and living with no regrets. I can concentrate on the things that are important to me, learning new things before and during my journey.

    • Alex, I just read your comment and your plans to bicycle across the United States. That is so awesome! I did my first long distance bicycle tour when I was just 17 years old and did another long bike trip every single year when I was in college. Just during my college years I was able to cycle across 29 of the 50 United States, and while I certainly saw some great scenery along the way, it was the experiences I had with the people I met that truly changed me. No matter where you go on your trip, I know that you will have a great time and learn a lot. If I can help you out in any way, just let me know! If you have any questions or need advice on anything, just let me know! I'm happy to help in any way that I can.

      • Alex

        Hey Darren,

        I am really surprised to see someone comment on my post. I am currently in the process of preparing for the trip. For now I am just reading as much as I can about the trip, and how to prepare for the journey. I have found a website that has lots of information for some one that is new to this ( ).

        I do have to admit I am worried about the trip. It is strange I have these totally unlogical fears about the trip. I think to my self what if I will get board or lonely on the trip? Or what if I find the entire trip to be pointless or waste of time. Maybe I should just spend the summer going some places else, out side the country. But the truth is that I have lived in US for 12 years now and have not really seen the “real” america. Or maybe I should just take summer classes or better yet WORK

  • I've been a traveling minimalist for quite some time now. I am constantly looking for ways to cut out the excess in my life, so I've long ago gotten rid of my car, excess clothing, superfluous belongings, etc. Instead, I've been focusing on two things as of late: 1) Creating memorable experiences (some of which cost money and some of which do not) and 2) building up passive income streams that free me up to do the things I love.

    While cutting a few more possessions out of my life might be possible, what I am doing now is working to build up my passive income from my various online sources, which for the last 6 months at least, has been paying for all of my monthly living expenses – including the mortgage payment on a beautiful ski condo in the mountains of Park City, Utah.

    I've only lately realized that by working to increase my passive income, I can decrease (or lessen) the amount of work (and valuable time) I conduct on projects and activities that I am no longer passionate about. The more work I put into passive income creation, the more money I make, and the less I have to work on the things that I dislike (and the more I can concentrate on the things that I love!)

    So, over the next 12 months, I hope to at least double the amount of money I am creating from my passive income streams. If possible, my life will be totally transformed. I will be able to stop doing 100% of the jobs that I no longer enjoy and I will be able to concentrate 100% on learning more, creating memorable experiences and helping other people (things that I enjoy).

    Plus, I'm going to be leaving my home in Utah for South America in just a couple months… and I plan to spend at least 6 months of 2011 living and traveling about on the continent. I learned German while traveling through Europe for 9 months last year, and I hope to use this trip to South America as a chance to learn to speak Spanish. If I can do all of these things over the next 12 months (which I know I can), it will be absolutely incredible and totally life-changing.

    My plan to “lighten my load” over the next 12 months is to continue to GROW. To continue to grow my passive income streams… and to continue to grow as an individual and a global citizen.

  • Michael

    Lightening the load for me at the moment, is essentially just that.

    Some stuff I wish to get rid, but others more replace, for example:

    Selling a load of books to get a kindle, (or a lot of books to get an Ipad) or more like a book shelf to get a kindle/Ipad and your books to buy cheaper digital books, so basically you lose a lot of weight and basically get the same thing. (and I understand that you cant read for as long on a Kindle or Ipad as you can for books, so this would be a problem for “big” readers, but for more “medium” readers like me, then I think it sounds perfect.)

    Now personally with the traveling I fully intend to do, I think I couldn't do without a laptop (to stay in touch easier, to game ((Which helps me unwind)) to charge Ipods from ((Musical person)) Art ((to me it sounds nice to get non photographic images of the scenery in places)) to finish my education on, which is vital, and lastly to run a future online income, which I intend to create.) which interestingly enough, as I look around my room, could probably replace 90% of it.

    Now sadly unlike the creator of this wonderful blog (I'm really enjoying it, I salute and thank you) I couldn't exactly go with that jacket and the cargo pants, because it's just my personality that I need to wear great looking clothes, so I think that the outfit most suited to me would be a light bag for a my limited items, and a set of designer clothing. (alternately clothing designed by me and tailored for me)

    So my lightening the load plan for the next 12 months. . .

    Cut out more of the mindless browsing and replace with reading more blogs and sites like this one, to motivate and inspire me and teach me another way of life.

    Keep learning Italian

    And of course cutting the stuff I don't use, I personally do not own too much (there is still stuff that has to go) but my family is weighed down by a lot of stuff we don't use, and hence will be going up on eBay shortly.

    Also I'll be interested to try other methods and ideas other people are using and finding successful.

    And of course, to learn.

    Now I do apologize for the errors and random ranting, but I'm just so glad to have found this site, and amazed that a single blog post could change my life.

    I want to learn, I want to see the world from different cultures, and peoples perspectives, I want to see the world in a different light, and I want to change it.


  • Ryan Lile

    New York is the city of immediate gratification.

    Since I moved to this city two years ago I’ve developed stickiest, most difficult to escape addiction known to urban residents: food delivery. My routine repeats itself each night when I come home from work. I peek in the fridge, rummage through the cupboard, and glance in the freezer before I remember that I haven’t been to the grocery store in 6 months. Once that realization hits me (again) I hang my head in defeat and reach for the drawer below the microwave where a stack of menus lives that are tattered and dissolving at the creases.

    It’s just so easy. Grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes on rye? Done. Three roll spicy maki combo with extra soy? No problem. Popcorn shrimp with a side of sweet and sour sauce and a slice of deep-fried cheesecake for dessert? Be there in 10. My soon-to-be-clogged arteries are paying my local diner’s property tax.

    And it’s not just dinner. I also order lunch midday at work. Wine on Friday nights. Advil and green tea on Saturday mornings to combat the brain-swelling from the wine I had delivered the night before. I spend, on average, $35 a day on food delivery alone. That’s $245 a week, and just over $1000 a month. Keeping in mind that rent and utilities cost $800 each month and I take home a little under $500 a week, how the hell am I supposed to afford that yoga teacher training program in Costa Rica I have planned for this coming January?

    My addiction has hit its peak. I’m desperate to get out of this guilt-ridden trap that I’ve somehow come to know as a “worthwhile convenience” when, in actuality, I’m spending almost more than I make for (usually) poor quality food that comes to my apartment in Styrofoam containers and countless plastic bags that are turning our beautiful planet Earth into a toxic trash heap! Over the last two years, my carbon footprint has become a carbon crater.

    My plan is simple: In theory, my addiction to delivery will be sated by creating an online shopping list and clicking the “order” button via internet explorer. My budget: $70 a week, allowing me to, every month, save $700 a month (rounding up), and 600 lbs of trash from the land fills (rounding down). Should my plan work, not only will Costa Rica be within my grasp but I’ll be helping to de-clutter this beautiful planet that I haven’t seen nearly enough of yet.

  • I live and own a business in Southwest Florida, where the real estate bubble first burst and the economy is one of the worst in the nation. Travel is a luxury item for me, one I have never been able to indulge in unless it has been wrapped around a business function or in one case, the funeral of a beloved family member. Consequently, I have NEVER had a vacation, gone somewhere purely for the fun of it! Even now, I am hoping to wrap a 9 day trip around TWTRCON SF 2010 in November.

    I plan to travel as light as possible across the country because instead of staying at the Hotel Nikko at $164+ per night, where the conference is being held, I will be experiencing my first stay in a hostel (the HI-San Francisco Downtown, whose Facebook page I linked to this blog from), at the ripe old age of 54! Baggage will have to include my laptop and presentation materials for the workshop I am hoping to teach.

    To get the most out of the wardrobe I will pack, it will all be mix and match pieces of black and white and fit into the one carry-on. Not being a natural beauty, I will have to pack some toiletries, make-up etc. Twice now I have tried to interest Scott in sponsoring my travels to TWTRCON (I attended TWTRCON NY in June), especially since traveling light is a far more difficult task for a woman than for a man! I even promised to wear the SeV t-shirt every day! How many ways can I accessorize a t-shirt?! There's a video blog for you! Alas, because I am not a globetrotter, young single chick, or an influencer in the blogosphere, my quirky attempts to get a comped flight fell on deaf ears. JK Scott!

    To take advantage of the lowest possible airfare, I am planning my return flight on Thanksgiving Day, the first time I have not spent Thanksgiving with my family in 31 years. That includes my granddaughter and one military son who will be spending next Thanksgiving in Iraq – again.

    Meals will be the complimentary breakfast at the hostel plus dinner, most likely prepared in the guest kitchen.

    I have made do with so little for so long that I am confident I can make this trip without breaking the bank. In fact, because of the steps I am willing to take to economize, the $500 travel voucher from BootsnAll Travel WILL COVER THE ENTIRE COST of the flight and a 9 day stay at the hostel!

    I am planning this trip with excitement, anticipation and a deep appreciation for all I will experience, knowing I may never pass this way again. I will be able to say I have lived my motto: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

  • Mia

    I've been the same (over)weight for 7 years. No major health issues, but I notice it more and more as I run for the bus, or climb the stairs. Given the opportunity to climb up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty this summer, and being nervous about whether I'd make it (I did), was the catalyst for me to finally do something.

    Diets always worked great until a meal out became my excuse to 'start again tomorrow'. So I had to come up with a plan that would allow me to go out with friends and family. Portion control came to the rescue! I bought a small plastic bento box, which at home I fill with low calorie protein and veggies, etc. for one meal, three times a day and that's it!

    If I go out, the bento may not go with me, but every time I ask for a take out container at the beginning of the meal, and put most of my meal into the take out container, leaving only the amount that would fit in the bento as my meal. Not a soul has commented, but I noticed on my first outing that 3/4 of the restaurant plate went into the take out container! That means I usually would have normally eaten 4 times as much! I've been to restaurants at least a half dozen times since, and each time the bento is about 1/4 to 1/3 of the plate I'm given.

    The weight is zooming off, I can still go out with my friends, and oddly, I'm enjoying my food more (less guilt about eating maybe?)

  • Jbocam

    Down sizing rocks! I started 5 years ago, pitching stuff out, the more I pitched the better it felt. Such a weight off the shoulders! Kept the bed, pots and pans, 2 plates, bowls, cups, silverware, and my work tools. Sold the house too. Over the last few trips, I have left clothes at the locations I travel to. No need to pack a thing now, just wallet and passport. You can always buy what you need on the road, 2nd hand clothing stores are the best.

    I am going to go through my “stuff” and see what else I really don't need. Travel light, or wait in line!

  • Terry

    In my 20's, I was a zealot for light travel. I once spent five months in India carrying only a 'jola' (small shoulder bag). I seemed to need almost nothing, and the freedom to change my mind and jump off a bus in the middle of nowhere was exhilarating.

    The spirit is still willing, but the flesh would appear to be weak. In my 30's I added face cream and body lotion to my travel gear. In my 40's I put in vitamins, a dental splint, sunscreen, a spare pair of eyeglasses, and some decent shoes. In my 50's, I added hormone cream, orthotics, lots more vitamins, a massage ball for my back, and some trustworthy dye for my hair.

    Now, at almost sixty, I am planning another trip to India, and am thinking about what will happen to me when I leave all of the above behind. I figure I will have lots of oil massages– that takes care of the face cream, the lotion, the back ball and maybe the need for proper shoes and orthotics. If I break my glasses, new ones are readily available. A nice relaxed lifestyle will surely take care of the dental splint (no more teeth grinding), vitamins and hormone cream. I no longer have the slightest desire for a tan, and the hair can just go to hell.

  • With our natural resources dwindling, it’s becoming more and more expensive to travel. Now, I love to travel. I don’t know who I would be if I hadn’t had the opportunity to travel throughout my life. I feel most human when I am in the process of discovering something new: places, people, history, arts, foods.

    I’ve got a lofty goal, I know. I want share my love of travel and my concern about safe foods and the environment. I want to get the word out that it is actually possible for everyone to travel affordably AND responsibly by WWOOF-ing around the world on a bare minimum budget. “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” ( is a large international network that helps people share in more sustainable ways of living. In exchange for a few hours of work every day, travelers can get free room and board.

    I really want to make this happen. Showing how people in dozens of countries farm organically and live as simply and sustainably as possible could have a huge impact on the choices we make at home. Travel, and encouraging people to travel, is so important. So is taking care of the planet and ourselves, physically and financially. It’s all about resources and conserving them as much as possible.

    So — beyond already not owning a car and using public transport only for voyages of 3 km or greater, I plan to cook more meals at home, donate my unused clothing to charity, and use less paper (a lot harder than it sounds) – I’m going to magic up a plan to begin a worldwide WWOOF-ing circuit.

  • I’m a big believer in small choices (I was actually interviewed for a website called Tiny Choices a couple of years ago My new year’s resolution this year was to work on eliminating disposable things from my life – paper towels, takeaway coffee cups, water bottles… (I haven’t got quite as far as toilet paper yet, for now we just use recycled!) My handbag’s getting increasingly heavy because it’s now got a mini travel towel (which I use instead of the paper towels at work), a reusable coffee cup and a Sigg bottle in it, as well as my book to read on the train, my wallet, keys, lip balm, snacks, sunglasses, phone… the list goes on – so much for “no baggage”!

    The way I see it, though, I’m reducing the earth’s baggage. Sometimes we have to carry a little more because so far, we haven’t been carrying our share. We’ve been buying too many things, and leaving the trash for the earth to carry. And we can’t keep doing it.

    So my plan for the next year is to keep making the small choices, but having (practically) eliminated disposables, I’m going to focus on reducing the rest of the waste we produce – buying (or growing) food with no packaging, making sure what we do end up with can be recycled, and making sure we DO recycle it – all important steps. I’m going to set up a “recycling centre” in our kitchen – we already recycle paper, glass and numbered plastics, but we’re going to separate out everything that can be recycled and recycle it – batteries, CFL lightbulbs, household goods, books, etc for the charity shop if we’re not using them, egg cartons for our friends with chooks, rags, broken electronics – there’s a surprising number of things that can be recycled if you do a little research into where to take them. My ultimate aim is no waste into landfill, and even reduced recycled waste (it still takes energy!) – but like everything it’s a journey, so it might take us a while to get there.

    And to maximise the impact, I’m going to make sure I get back to blogging about it once a week in my “saving the world Friday” posts on my blog ( – hopefully I can inspire some other folks to get started on the journey towards “no baggage” for the planet.

    PS I'm absolutely loving the “no baggage challenge” – what an inspiration!

  • Dvilleneau

    I am looking forward to “lightening my load” as my two children both graduate from college within the next twelve months! We have been down to one income since my husband was downsized almost 18 months ago so this will be a welcome respite from tuition, books, etc. Travel has been on the backburner lately so I depend on blogs like this to take me away. I will definitely be traveling with a minimum of stuff on the next trip I get to take. The best philosphy I've seen said that a traveler should be taking one's self on the journey, not one's belongings!

  • Peatt

    My head is heavy and my heart is warm, so I figure that to lighten my load, I need to share more of what's in both. I've got stuff in my brain that's pretty practical, I've got strange factoids, I've got dirty jokes. Why not share? I'm a big smiler. Hell, I even smile at cats and dogs. But sometimes it's harder for me to strike up a conversation, so I hereby decree that I will open my mouth more while on the road. I really love to hear people's stories, so I've decided a little mind trick will help me be more vocal; I will pretend that everyone has a story that needs to be recorded and it's up to me to get it out of them. It makes people feel good when you're interested in them (and I am I just can't always speak). And then, I will share something with them. I once told a dirty joke to a guy and we ended up together for nearly 8 years. Note to self: more inappropriate joking.
    Second sharing technique comes from my heart. I do love and respect all kinds of people but, again, I may not always demonstrate it. (I admit that I am not so evolved that I can profess love for greasy guys who come onto me in weird places like banks, but I'm trying to get to the point where I filter my reaction a little better. I can drop the f bomb like nobody's business. Oh! maybe I can lighten the number of f-bombs! That'll lighten some serious weight from the collective consciousness! Wow, I'm more evolved than I realized!) But back to sharing. I used to work in an ER before this past year, where I've been so lucky to be able to travel quite a bit. And I have to say that touch cannot be over-rated. A simple hand on the arm can go a long way in bridging a distance, both figuratively and literally. There are so many lonely people that you can connect with in this simple way, that I further resolve to touch people more. (My apologies in advance to those of you who run into me after a few pints…I may be really into touching my then!) I hug people I know, I kiss close friends and I will continue to add folks to those lists. More love to spread that way.
    I will sit on more park benches, I will engage with others. I will listen to their stories. I will share some of mine. I will hold a hand that needs it, give a hug or just lend an ear. And I'll throw in some dirty jokes every once in a while…hope to see all of you on the road!

  • GypsyGirl

    I’ve been purging my life of stuff (and traveling) for about five years now. We, (2 horses, 3 big dogs & myself) live in a 32ft horse trailer. Everything thing we own fits in it, though it still seems like too much! I toss or give things away every six months. Up until this past week, I also owned a smaller horse trailer and a car, which both now have been sold. Over the next two weeks, I’m working on transcribing all my older writings and photos to digital form (Much lighter than paper) Usually I drive places, but sadly over the last year I was curbed drastically by a neurological disorder (which is what got me traveling perpetually in the first place) so I spent much of it over-seas, not driving or riding my horses (different but rough, and wonderful all at the same time) My plan, since I was 15 was to travel the world and be a long term resident of another country by the time I’m 30, with just over 2 years left I’m on target! And thankfully after several months of rest and physical therapy, walking (mostly) normal again!

  • Sarah

    I have noticed here that many people’s love of travelling began when they were young, in the idyllic period after school and during university; and like them I too have discovered my passion for travelling while studying at University. After taking a year off before University I worked for a while and then suddenly decided on the spur of the moment to take off overseas. Needless to say that was the start of a love affair.
    But while being a student is a wonderful thing, it does make it somewhat more difficult to travel. However you do learn some excellent skills, including learning about the benefits of budgeting… i.e. you learn to feed yourself off $50 a week to afford that weekend snow trip.
    However I have also found the benefit of minimising the amount of possessions I have, considering how student housing can be, and having moved 4 times in 2 years, you learn to really only pack the basics, especially after carrying all your possessions up 3 flights of stairs to a new apartment!

    The greatest thing is when all the hard work has paid off, the two jobs while studying university, the night jobs that finish at 2am, with class at 8am. But I am lucky enough to be travelling to China to contribute to an international Design Exhibition, possibly the biggest and most important part of my career as a Designer so far. Yet being a Designer I love to challenge the status quo. So I have re-thought my trip and have decided on hand-luggage only for 2 weeks-including all my cameras, computer and design work-this could get interesting!

    Your story so far has once again ignited that somewhat dormant passion, and with the realisation that my trip is only just around the corner I have realised just how expensive the flights are! But some things in life are just too important, and that for me is travel.

  • Rachel Lissner

    Since I graduated from high school a little over four years ago, I have been to every continent at least twice, skydived, SCUBA dived, hitchhiked, worked on ambulances, been on TV and in newspapers, helped build a school, maintained fluency in four languages, and hit up over 31 UNESCO sites, and most importantly, met amazing people. I have a lot under my belt. My nomadic lifestyle has given me great pleasure but once I finish up my year of living down under and return to North America in December, I promised myself to do my best to stay put for one year.

    Travelling for me has a been a wonderful and educational pursuit but now that I have been all over, I have a strong desire to return home and grow my roots. By getting my own place, I'll be able to make more sustainable purchases like secondhand appliances, reevaluate my possessions and give to an organization I know will make a difference in a community I am attached to, and invite people into my home to show them why I have come back and help them cut down on their own costs while still continue to adventure around the world. It’s also a bit of a load off my mind in general, as I won’t be living out of a suitcase and I’ll be able to move forward with my goals. (There’s a time and place for everything!)

    One thing I am looking forward to in particular is a road trip around Eastern Canada. It’ll be the first time I’m really exploring my adopted country and my home, but it’ll also be a new way of travel for me that doesn’t involve running against time and worrying about my physical being in any which way. I’m a city girl without a driver’s license and the idea of travelling around the muted, quiet scenery of Nova Scotia with good friends is as thrilling to me as it is environmentally sound.

    My move is lightening my load in terms of material possessions and mental health, both of which are important and have an uncanny symbiosis. I am going to take a sabbatical, gather my thoughts, friends, and ambitions under one roof, and move on. But until then, I’m looking forward to exploring Central Australia and Indonesia next week with a backpack, microfibre towel, and three outfits.

  • SputnikLee

    In the house I grew up in, there were only three of us, and suddenly just two. But remembrances piled up: letters, photos, mementos, dishes, furniture, pianos, and finally the house itself. We became curators for the artifacts of our family and our ancestors.

    After my mother died, I sold a lot of things, and stored the rest. Weeks after moving the stuff that mattered into a warehouse, a hundred-year storm ripped through the single floor of the facility, ruining a truckload of family memories with water damage and mold. I wailed with grief as I discarded box after box of irreplaceable objects.

    I removed what was left to my own home, putting some of it to use, and boxing the rest. Leftovers from raising three children added to the stash, and when I was at last alone in the house, I was awash in objects that had varying hues of meaning. I realized then that the memory was what must be kept alive, not the perishable material.

    Thus began my regimen: one box (net) of stuff must be out of the house per month. Even with remarriage and consolidation of households, we have hewn to this program for years. Photos of remembrances have reduced the bulk of kids’ school projects and artwork; donations of useful items will hopefully make things easier for someone in need.

    I am still the family curator, but now it’s through learning the languages of our forebears (as my children are now doing too). It’s through preparing meals that go back generations, and staying in touch with my extended family and friends thanks to the Internet Age. Instead of buying things, money is spent on travel, enabling us to see both family origins, and a part of the world we inhabit. The memories are even more alive now, and added to every day.

    But I still have the piano, in case a talented descendant needs it.

  • NomadicLight

    Well, it won't be hard to lighten my load as I will be leaving my term of teaching English in Thailand. I'll purge all the stuff of being settled here in Thailand the past semester. I'll also be visiting the US where I'll purge a bunch of stuff in my squirrels nests of a few boxes stored with family and friends while I've been a nomad the past 6 years. Anything replaceable will go from my boxes. I'm going to scale back my travel packs to two ultralight packs: a back pack and a daypack. I'm going to cut my footware to flip flops and a pair of vibram five fingers (omitting the sports sandals, trail shoes, climbing shoes, and boots I've carried in the past.) I'm going to replace my down 4 season sleeping bag with a merlin snugpak which will be about half the volume. Every trip abroad my pack gets smaller. The first trip I used a 3500 cu. in. pack plus a daypack. The last adventure was with 3200 cu. in., and my next adventure I'm aiming for 2000 cu. in. Emotionally, I'm going to let go of worry and focus more on breath and presence, and trust more in manifesting the things I don't carry in my pack. One of my favorite adventures from my travels was two weeks doing a barefoot Hindu pilgrimage in India when I carried nothing but a sheet of plastic to sleep on, a couple of lungis, and a couple of shirts. The freedom of hopping on a bus or train with a mere shoulder bag is amazing. I've already gotten rid of the camera and mp3 player. I might look into a PDA to replace some of the writing journals I carry. And I'll do more online document storage to reduce relying on USB drives. My pack size will fit in carry-on on most buses, and the ligtheness will allow me to float about more easily. I hope to eliminate my practice of storing luggage so I can easily carry everything with me on my treks and not have to backtrack.

  • Test


  • <center>Over-Stuffed</center>

    Since deciding 2½ years ago to permanently rent out my home to vacationers and live elsewhere for free, I’ve become a lot more “stuffless.” I now travel (mostly driving) around North America pursuing housesitting gigs ( or fellowships at writers’ colonies ( while I complete my book about my work in the Middle East with Iraqi and Palestinian refugees. I was terrified a couple of years ago when I closed my small business. (Talk about being saddled with excess baggage! Office rent, employment taxes, payroll, bookkeeping responsibilities that were so complicated I had to hire a bookkeeper, etc, etc.) My heavily mortgaged California beach house was an albatross – until I turned it into an asset by renting it out, fully furnished with all my “stuff.”

    The most common question I’m asked is “Aren’t you worried about your stuff?” Reasonable question. I leave behind a lifetime of keepsakes, clothes, and just plain Stuff in strangers’ trust. I came to realize that it’s my Stuff no one else cares about, and that, in the end, it’s just Stuff that even I’ve come to care less about.

    Understanding what Stuff makes me feel good is an important factor in maintaining my sanity while I’m constantly on the road. I’ve learned that stuff is situational and, therefore, doesn’t need to be collected. For example, I’m in Bialystok, Poland, this month at a writers’ retreat and living in a non-descript, institutional dorm room. I bought 6 cobalt blue candleholders for 33¢ each to scatter around. Tealights sure cheer up my room at night! I’ll bequeath them to the room’s next occupant when I leave, because I won’t need them in the colorful mansion in Mexico where I’ll be housesitting this fall.

    Freedom from paper is the biggest benefit to my new lifestyle. All of my bank and financial accounts are handled on-line. No bills, in fact, no mail at all. That means I get no catalogs that sit around gathering dust and tempt me to purchase even more unnecessary things. No piles of unopened junk mail or unread magazines to make me feel guilty and disorganized. I can’t carry paper, so all scraps and notes get “filed” in my computer before I move on. Ahh, the environmental benefits from saving all those trees!

    For anyone considering long-term travel, I encourage you to assess your assets. We have more than we think we have! My goal this year is to gently keep paring away the stuff that I’ve stuffed into my garage over the past couple of years and turn it into a guestroom that I can rent out to vacationers, so the space produces income to fund my work with refugees. Also, I will bulk up on the things I like to collect: relationships, experiences and the ability to live a more uncluttered, portable lifestyle. And this year, I vow to allow myself the luxury of getting lost without the extra clutter of worrying.

    Kelly Hayes-Raitt

    • Beinvolved

      Funny! The first letter in each paragraph spells “STUFF”!

    • Loraefuller

      Seriously, how brave is that! How “freeing” that must feel! We would all benefit from a bit of clutter reduction! Kudos on the creativity that “Beinvolved” noticed!

  • Culprit

    I tend to travel lighter than most, especially since Delta stole my one suitcase 2 years ago! I did replace it, however, but will NEVER again check baggage. So my maximum-carry-on-size bag, while large to the eye, is usually half empty (and there's always space if I acquire any extra stuff).

    I always carry my Canon G11 (fabulous and compact) but I never travel with a laptop. Why do I need the complications of modern life when I'm travelling? If I really REALLY need to access the internet, I can do it at a library, friends' place, internet cafe. I don't feel the need to notify the world of my every move and thought. Nor to be in touch with everyone I know at every minute. I'm travelling to get AWAY.

    I may not ever be able to go back to the days of my youth, but I think I could've one this contest in 1986 when I travelled in China for 3 weeks with only a small, 1970s REI daypack. I even bought my Mom a tablecloth in Guilin, which I stuffed into the little pack & carted back to Tokyo. Ah, those were the days!

  • Khandilee

    I have been slowly downsizing since 2004. In 2004 I decided to take off on an adventure in Travel Nursing. I left my 2 bedroom fully crammed apartment and headed to Boston with a four door explorer crammed full of personal belongings that I felt I couldn't live without. Within a year, I had decided that travel nursing was for me and made a quick trip back to my 2 bedroom apartment to clean it out. I was able to down-size the apartment into a small storage shed. Getting rid of the things that I thought were important was easier than I thought.

    Shortly after, I downsized again selling or giving away everything in the storage unit to family/friends/goodwill. I am now living and working in Germany temporarily and have whittled it down to a small box of photos of my children and family (If I ever get the time, they are going digital!) and a couple of items of sentimental value.

    The first International backpacking trip that I took (Vietnam) I hauled around a 65 liter backpack, I downsized that to a 38 liter that I am currently using and have plans to go even smaller to a simple day-pack that can be carried on without hassle.

    Working as a travel nurse, I have no home, no car (currently) and no place to 'store' anything extra. I am free to come, go, stay, leave at any point without having to worry about anything. I consider that the experience is the souvenir and baggage is just that…..baggage. I urge everyone to eliminate the baggage in your life, whether it be literal or emotional. I know that I am much happier having done this.

    Happy Travels ;o)

  • I will travel lighter by listening. I'll be curious. I'll discard my 'tourist' persona and save a lot of weighty mental-baggage fees. I'll listen to stories from the Bulgarian musician who played in the Soviet Orchestra, the Turkish taxi driver who's trying to extort our money, the Australian travelers who got their passports nicked in Barcelona. How about lightening the load for others when I travel? That is what I'll do over the next 12 months. If there's a way to help someone else be lighter I will do it. I will listen to their stories of war in Bosnia. I will ask questions. I will make sure to be a human being, reminded that the only thing that separates my brand of suffering from this person's suffering is…geography.

  • Lsdourte

    I have been lightening my load since I started traveling internationally. On my first trip to England with my then 10 year old grandson, I carried EVERYTHING thinking that we might hit cold weather, etc. Two big roller bags, and a backpack apiece was such a lot to carry! I was exhuasted before we even got into London from Heathrow. The last trip was with 2 grandsons, and I only had a small school style backpack for each boy and a larger backpack for me. It was quite liberating to not be lugging stuff that we do not use! We take holiday each year, just the kids and me. We have been to some amazing countries, and have only the continents of Africa and Antartica to get to. We will then have been on every continent! I love all the tips here, and am going to invest in some Merino Wool shirts for the boys. I already own a beautiful burnt orange Scottevest for my camera and netbook. Can't wait to get on the road, again!

  • Suziesuchi

    Lightening our load should be beyond the physical as we travel. We should also lighten our minds and be open to where we travel by learning and applying with respect some of their language, dress, customs, (like females do not touch monks even accidentally for pics). We all leave an imprint and hopefuly it is positive and appreciative. Also, as a female: I definitely dont need as many shoes & outfits for those what if moments. I've learned to roll and use just two carry-ons but need to reduce to one for int'l trips.

  • worldtraveler2

    I read Rolf’s book before my 12 year old son and I headed out on a one year trip around the world on July 28, 2009. I just love what he is doing and wouldn’t mind trying the no baggage idea from a woman’s point of view! We have just returned from one year of traveling the world and what an awesome world it is! I have already started saving for our next big adventure.

    Before we left, I “detoxified” my house by having a garage sale and giving away stuff we just didn’t need or used. I put all my “personal” or “sentimental” items in storage and I felt like I had downsized and it felt so liberating. I don’t know where I found this quote but it has become my favorite “True wealth is learning to let go of your possessions”.

    When my son and I left, his backpack weighted 15 lbs and mine weighted 22 lbs plus a day pack of 10 lbs. We used quick drying clothes and traveled with bare minimum. After traveling for a couple of months, I realized that I brought way too much toiletries and medication that can so easily be bought on the road, so I gave it away. When we bought souvenirs, I would mail them to my sister’s house.

    Now that we have returned, I went through the storage before putting the stuff back in my house and found that I could get rid of even more stuff. I love the fact that I have truly become a minimalist and I love how “uncluttered” my life has become, not just in material things but emotionally and mentally.

    The one thing that has really stood out is how much less toilet paper we use! We use every last bit of our toiletries, and we eat our leftovers, we don’t wash our clothes every week. We just don’t seem to waste anything anymore. When I go out shopping, I don’t buy anything that is not on my list. We started lightening our load from a year ago and we will continue to do so as we found that we are happier and we spend more time together doing fun stuff, like traveling!

    • gypsymoth

      Can you give me some idea of your itinerary and how much you spent?
      I will be traveling solo-female 59 yrs old. Vegetarian. Problems?
      Thanks, KJ

      • worldtraveler2

        Hi KJ, we traveled to 18 countries, started in South America then NZ and Australia, Thailand, India, UAE, Oman and overlanded from Aswan to Istanbul, (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey). In the beginning of our trip, we spent more than we should have but we got smarter as we traveled more, but in the end, we averaged $100 per day for the both of us. I have always traveled by myself and have never had any problems. I was a bit skeptical in the beginning taking my son but that was only because everyone was saying that I was crazy to take my son out in this dangerous world! Which of course it wasn't.

  • jjaz

    For females, spandex. I know we don't all want to see people running around in spandex, but, maybe it will motivate you to work out and lighten your physical load as well. I have a few items I love from Patagonia, one dress that can also be a skirt, a pair of black wide-leg spandex pants with a flowy shirt, you can wear it, wash it, and even in a humid climate, it dries quickly.

    In our life, we have lightened our environmental footprint by getting rid of cable and turning up the air. We live in Arizona, and our air is on 90 most of the summer. We just sit under a fan when we’re home during the day. According to the chart on our power company’s website, our bill is less than half that of the average house of our square footage. Imagine all of the extra travel you can do with an extra $100-200/month.

  • Eventually just about every discussion surrounding travel turns towards gear and packing because, let's face it, what we pack is pretty darn important! Yet, I find that most of my memorable stories have more to do with what I failed to pack and how I made do or how it facilitated some sort of grand adventure than what type of underwear made it into my bag!

    So how will I lighten my load in the next 12 months? I'm going to worry less about what I take and far more about how I adapt and react to the adventures I find along the way. I guess you could say I'm leaving behind some of the most common and difficult luggage – mental luggage.

    I'll be striving to embrace random opportunities while conquering that inevitable sense of anxiety and hesitation every traveler battles while facing new adventures and challenges. Which is to say, I'll be leaving “NO” at home. Late night invite to a speakeasy? Yes! Invite to carpool with locals I just met to a nearby city to meet their friends? Yes! Spontaneous 3AM plans to strike out across the country with new hostel buddies on an 8AM bus? You bet!

    I'll be honest with you all; I can't wait to see what adventures I find along the way. I can only hope I've got the right gear in my pack and a bag light enough and flexible enough to let me do anything – from flying on a small island hopper to squeezing into a Guatemalan Collectivo. Let the adventures continue. I'm reader for them!

  • I have never been outside of North America. This January, that will change.

    I spent the first 25 years of my life being a pack rat. I have two bookshelves full of text books, fiction, non-fiction, self-help manuals, and graphic novels. I own a digital piano, electric guitar, amp, and acoustic guitar. I have a collection of over 150 DVDs, a dozen of which are various U2 concerts from different eras (why the heck did I think I needed 12 different concerts of them singing the same songs?). I have a closet overflowing with clothes, 90% of which I never wear. I own three laptops, a 56″ TV, a desktop computer, and a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

    Since turning 26 in June, I've quit my job, started an online business that can be run from anywhere, and begun making plans to travel to Australia and New Zealand in January/Februrary for a few months.

    To make it easy on myself to travel for such a long period of time, I'm in the process of selling EVERYTHING. My musical instruments are now listed on Craigslist, my dvds and books are going up on, my clothes will be donated to Goodwill, and my extra laptops and computers will be recycled properly. I'm even planning on selling my gas-guzzling SUV and going car-less!

    After spending so many years acquiring stuff, I am so freaking excited to just get rid of it all. I used to get joy from buying new things; now I get joy from selling things. I've realized that I would rather spend my money on intangible and unforgettable experiences than useless junk that quickly gathers dust.

    I want the freedom of ultra-mobility, and I know that is impossible if I continue to keep my pack rat mentality. I moved to Atlanta in 2007 in a big car overflowing with my possessions. I plan on moving out of Atlanta in December with nothing but a backpack, my guitar, and a small box of things to ship to my parents' house for safekeeping.

    I've never been outside of North America, so I'm doing this to expand my horizons and see the world from which I've been sheltered. I’m absolutely terrified to step outside of my comfort zone, which is precisely why I need to go. To quote my favorite movie, The Shawshank Redemption:

    “I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.”

    It sure is tough feeling free when you’re shackled down to thousands of dollars worth of stuff you never use!

    My friends all think I'm crazy (and I might be), but I am ready to start this journey. As they say, “get busy livin', or get busy dyin'.”

    I want to start living.


  • Nexttripp

    I lighten the load as I go along – I take clothes that I am not fond of anymore and as It ire of them and need to make luggage space, I'll have them washed and give them away to people who need them.

  • stephensonle

    In July 2011, I’m moving to Buenos Aires to start a new life (I currently live in the U.S.). In part, I’m moving to Argentina for career reasons, but what I want most is to acquire an intimate perspective of part of Latin America. I want to open myself to the different experiences, people, and ideas of the landscape and see how they change me. For me, the first step in that journey means bringing as little from my current life as possible.

    I’ve decided that I will bring one personal item, two books, and one suitcase. I will ship one box of personal mementos to my parents’ house; everything else must be sold or given away. In my travels, I’ve realized just how little people require to get by; a few pieces of clothing, plenty of friends, and some beer are my holy trinity of needs.

    The personal item will be a photo of burrowing owls that my father shot near the house where I grew up—it’s a unique photo that somehow reminds me of my family, the concept of home, and being a strong person (these birds have some steely gazes). It’s a small picture without a frame, so it will be easy to bring. As for the books, the first will be for reading and then trading, and the second will be for replacing the first book after I inevitably lose it. Books are a great way to start conversation and learn about a new place (if I’m smart, I’ll make one of those an English/Spanish dictionary). As for clothes, well, hopefully I’ll only take a small suitcase. After evaluating my closet recently, I discovered that I own four winter coats. Ridiculous! When you’re living in one place for a long time, it’s easy to justify silly purchases to fill your closet and drawers instead of buying useful garments that you can wear over and over again. I plan to sell any leftover items that I can, donate the money to my favorite nonprofit, and then give the rest away to charity.

    The point of narrowing down the things that I will bring to Argentina is that I only want to bring the items that will enrich and support my new life—things that remind me of where I come from but also the person I want to become. The problem with traveling to and even living in a new location is that with too many possessions, you get (literally) bogged down. You risk becoming too concerned with how your stuff is going to get there, how you’re going to drag it around, how it will look in your bedroom, and so on, instead of focusing on the experience that lies ahead. I want to collect memories and friends. If I come to Argentina with my hands full, I won’t be able to grab onto anything new quite as easily.

  • Dragonfly7

    I already pack light on the few occasions I do travel, but there are many ways I must continue to lighten my personal load. The first is to remind myself what the purpose really is of Sunday: not to clean the house, mindlessly surf the Internet, or stress over other unfinished tasks, but to spend time with family and friends and on spiritual self-care ( I have already started by committing to an eight month program with my church to explore our religion’s heritage and traditions and further define my personal beliefs. Avoiding work and staying off the Internet, especially, will be difficult, but I think it can be achieved over time. The second is to incorporate more of the saying, “Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without” into my life. For example, as much as I am tempted by new clothes, a closer perusal of my closet last week revealed that I actually have enough combinations of cooler weather tops and sweaters to make it through a week and a half of work. Thirdly, I will make those existing clothes fit better and/or again by resuming the slow-carb diet I followed earlier this summer and at least losing the twenty pounds I have put on in the past four years. A further ten to twenty pounds beyond that would be even better. Finally, when I do need to make new purchases, such as the new pair of dress pants I will inevitably need once I lose the weight, I will either find used items with life left in them or purchase higher-quality items that will last significantly longer.

  • Kia W

    I traveled in Thailand for 3 months with one bag, and found that to be quite easy. I would have liked to travel lighter. I found that the one thing that I brought with me that would have 'lightened my load' as it were, was my weight. I am carrying around an extra 100lbs on my body. In the next 6 months, in order to lighten my own personal load I have implemented several plans that will free up my wallet, space, and body.

    1. Picking veggies from friend's garden (lightens wallet burden)
    2. Biking to store/walking to store(lightens gas burden, helps planet)
    3. Use my gigantic energy slurping computer less, and my handheld Archos5 tablet more (saves energy)
    4. Purchase and trade books from the used book store instead of Borders.

    I think that once it is all said and done, I will be lighter on my feet, lighter on my bills, and lighter on my imprint! Which I believe makes for wonderful travel!

  • Jackied881

    Stuff weighs you down. You spend time taking care of and buying stuff.

    In 1973, I traveled for two months across Greece, Italy and Israel with a back back and sleeping bag and never had a better trip. Wore the same clothes and washed them, when I could, in available sinks. And this was before all these new quick-drying fabrics existed.

    For three months in 1984, I lived with my husband and toddler daughter in a furnished apartment near the ocean in Florida. We stored our belongings and did not miss our stuff. We even started wondering why we were paying to store things we didn't miss. My husband and I will soon move to a 800 sq foot cabin at 2500 feet elevation in Virginia. We will give away/donate much of our stuff and live with a minimum of clothing and belongings. I will store sentimental items and photos. This will be a year-long experiment to see what we actually miss or lack for daily living.

    Flying is better when you can move around unencumbered, especially the older one gets. Luggage is only good for building strong biceps and triceps. When we travel, we take Spirit Airlines, carrying day packs to save money and enjoy the freedom that less stuff brings! We love to travel with a broad itinerary only and let the happy serendipity of an open schedule and heart take us to new discoveries.

  • Ariana salvo

    I recently went on a six week cross the continent drive from Atlantic Canada (where I have been living) to California (where my parents live). Before leaving I sold/gave away everything that did not seem essential. Attempting to fit my life into a car was an eye-opener for how much I owned. My goal was help my parents sell their house (they did); move them into a smaller place (done); sell my car (done); sort through the boxes and boxes of things I had stored at my parents house since high school (70% done), and pursue my dream of moving out of North America, finding sustainable work that enables me to pay off my student loans, continue my passion of organic farming, write novels, and serve humanity. All the moving and packing has made me stop and look at how much I own, and to ask myself “is all of this really necessary for a happy and healthy quality of life?” My conclusion is that it is not. Happiness is being able to wake up and take a swim at dawn; being out in the fields harvesting organic potatoes that my community will be able to eat; a hot cup of tea with a good circle of friends at the end of a long day of work. The material possessions are a tool to me. A tool to facilitate spiritual growth. If they are not doing this something is definitely out of balance. My car took me on an amazing journey of discovery across the country reconnecting with old friends and exploring the mountains and desert landscapes. But now that I am in California it was tying me down and impeding my leaving the continent. Thank you for creating a space that illuminates the true value and purpose of the material (as a means to facilitate the rich experience of life rather than an end in itself).

  • Rose Bell

    I am lightening my load by filling up on what is important. For years I've gathered, collected, and hoarded “things.” From pretty trinkets, to books, furniture and clothes and everything else in between. I grew up in pretty extreme poverty, and once I started earning a paycheck I started to buy (and keep) everything. It was some knee-jerk reaction to growing up with nothing. But I feel like I've recently woken up. Things are no longer what are important, life is important. Experiences are important. Knowledge is important.

    So, I'm giving it up. I've loaded bags of clothes and taken them to clothing swaps (without taking anything else home!) and donated them to clothing closets for women. Books have gone to used book shops. Furniture given away through Freecycle. And television got the boot! I gave up that habit, that object, and that monthly cable bill.

    But, just as important as what I'm giving up is what I'm gaining. I've decided education is invaluable. No object more precious than a good education. So, I've gone back to school. At 32 I'm halfway through my bachelor's degree in World History (thought that would help me be a better traveler and global citizen). I'm learning a second language (German). I want to take lessons to become adept at violin, and painting. So…I am releasing all the physical objects that are weighing me down. And I am acquiring a new worldview, a new understanding of people and places and culture, an expressed creativity. Because when I double my age I want to look back on the joys of my experiences. I don't think I'll care very much about that cute little teapot I bought on sale at the Bargain Basement.

    Thank you, Rolf Potts, for showing us how you are lightening your travels and asking us to consider how we can do the same.

  • Steve

    My wife and I just turned 60. We are starting our “Perpetual Travel Retirement” with a 6-month stay in Costa Rica. Then to Panama, and after that wherever the wind takes us.
    We had many garage sales and sold almost everything.
    Sold the vehicles.
    Gave the house to our son and daughter.
    Have one pack each for everything we are keeping.
    Most important we became 100% debt-free.

    Thanks to you, Rolf, Tim Ferriss, WWOOF-USA, and others we have come to realize that all we need in this life is our good health…
    Everything else can be picked up here and there, replaced if and when needed.
    Simple meals, simple lifestyle, good friends, and a couple changes of underwear…What more could a guy want?

    steve laubly

  • Kahi

    1) I plan on trading clothes with people I meet on the road, preferably clean clothes.
    2) I plan on free-balling it but using a small bottle of baby powder to avoid nut stick.
    3) I plan on shaping my surfboards on the spot out of trees to avoid me traveling with 3 boards at a time. (see:, I can ride wood doors.
    Thats about it!
    Aloha from Hawaii,
    KP for

  • Allseasuntrails

    First, I never plan to buy luggage on wheels, in fact, I have never purchased luggage! I've been to Hong Kong and Japan (different decades apart), Mexico, Canada and around the USA using a day pack only. No small feat for someone who can be a packrat at home! Gifts/shopping: Take only pocket-sized gifts to give, or treat guests to meals out or other events while traveling. Buy only flat or small gifts for family and friends, afterall, it's the thought that counts when returning with treasures to give! Comfort level? Every trip is balanced by knowing that that everything I need (almost) can be found where ever I go. First stop in Maui last January: the thrift store where I found my token t-shirt and a couple small Hawaiian gifts. Save money and travel light! Found that great, must-have, carved stone buddah at Bourbador on Java? Ship it home. Lightening my load once home? I live in the Northwest and we love a big Potlatch! I make gifts from stuff I have, and will give away items I treasure that I already own.

  • Carrie

    I'm planning a RTW trip to start in the spring of next year but before that I'm taking a traditional 10-day vacation to Buenos Aires. Normally, I would take a carry on size suitcase and a school-size backpack. Compared to most travelers I know this is traveling pretty light. But after reading all the No Baggage Challenge blog posts I'm inspired to lighten my luggage even more. In preparation for my RTW trip, I'm planning to do a dry run on my trip to BA and cut my luggage by half – only taking what I can carry in my backpack and leaving the carry-on suitcase behind. Honestly, I think it will be really freeing. I was fretting about carrying a huge pack on my RTW tour and being worn out from it. I've had problems with my back before and a long-term load would eventually cause a flare up at the very least. I was thinking along the lines of easy-wash reusable clothes, but now I realized I can carry my clothes on my body instead of on my back. Oh, the novelty of it. I can't wait to try it out. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Shaunessy

    It’s my MENTAL BAGGAGE that’s weighing me down. Here are some things I’m getting rid of.

    My prejudices –– In my 37 years, I’ve considered myself smarter than the opposite sex, I’ve been afraid of big black men, I’ve hated teenagers. The brilliant thing about prejudices is that once you recognize them in yourself, they pretty much vanish instantaneously. I don’t know what prejudices I might have now, but I’ll be watching my mind and ready to chuck them out with last week’s garbage!

    My addictions –– They are robbing me of energy and, ultimately, my spirit, and I’m not just talking about addictions to substances. I’m addicted to thoughts: I’m not wealthy enough, I’m not hot enough, my landlord is a douchebag, and on and on and on. This year, I’m stopping these thoughts and calling my spirit back!

    My past and my future –– My friend blew me off last weekend, but when I see her, I’ll remind myself how much I love her and tell her I’m not holding a grudge. I’ve been afraid that AIDS might get me, but I need to jettison that senseless worrying. Taking the necessary precautions is all I can do, and when I’m in the moment, everything is fine and the lovin’ is good.

    It may take a lifetime or two to achieve enlightenment, but I should be able to lighten up quite a bit within the next 12 months.

  • PGD

    When we lighten our load we take on a load. Is this true? I think it’s the heart of the matter. As it happens, it’s hard to give up luggage. To carry less requires discipline. So we find a way to leave a suitcase home, to lose our televisions and our books, give up our attachment to e-mail, dissolve our fear, our loathing, our pride and envy only to take on, at the very same moment a fresh burden, a burden we can’t wait to shoulder. The burden could be called accountability. Consider the crazy paradox that tells us the greater our liberty the greater our accountability to each other, to the earth, to ourselves. We carry less to carry more. The less we wear the more vulnerable we feel, sure, but the closer we get to compassion. When we’re accountable, we close in on love, or at least tenderness. Tenderness to experience, maybe, which means we might hear a story we would never have heard or witness a life we might otherwise have missed tending to our own worldly weight. This is what we’re about when we lighten our load. Twelve months from now, wherever I am, my load as light as I know how to make it, by measures both mundane and spectacular, whether I leave shoes and shirts behind in a room in Delhi or donate every last book I own to my local library, I’ll have taken on more responsibility. I’ll ask myself to hear and watch more closely what surrounds me. That’s the joke of it, the serious, necessary humor in it. Travel light to carry more.

  • It has been very eye opening reading Rolf's posts, and posts from his many followers. When travelling in Europe this past summer (and yes, I had more than one bag!), I realized how many things we Americans take for granted, waste, and take more than our share of than Europeans. Two and three thousand square foot homes, so common place here in the suburbs, are no where to be found. SUV's, Hummers, and Dodge Caravans are few and far between. So many items are recycled and repurposed. So I'd like to try to reduce my footprint on this planet…smaller home, car, and really thinking about do I really need to buy another pair of shoes, book, dvd, etc. Looking forward to more vagabond postings!

  • Lindsay

    After giving birth to my son in December last year I was carrying a huge load, with a weight gain of 119 pounds during pregnancy and an emotional load having lost my partner in an accident a month prior to my sons birth. I was also living in a home filled with clutter, and was bogged down by a mountain of bills. This year has been, and will continue to be all about transformation and lightening my load in all areas.

    I moved out of my home and gave 90% of my possessions to charity, I joined a gym and started buying my groceries from the growers fruit & vegetable markets each week, and so far I have lost 79 pounds, and I will continue until I am in the healthy weight zone. I made a payment plan and am slowly but steadily chipping away at my bills and accounts. I reuse and recycle where possible to lighten my ecological load. I unsubscribed to junk email lists that are of no relevance to me anymore, and will soon begin lightening my emotional load with grief counselling.

    I plan on continuing all of these actions and am positive that I have made lasting changes. I am better able to sleep at night and my son is growing with a healthy role model. To reward us for my changes we will be going to Thailand for a month in May next year, and plan on taking only 1 bag – a carry on at that. Anyone who has children knows that this will be no mean feat with a toddler!

    I encourage anyone who is thinking they need to lighten their load to just do it, start small and before you know it will have a snowball effect and begin to transform your life!

  • Jackie Fawcett

    Load Lightening Travel

    I’m off on a trip to see the world again,
    But carrying much luggage is such a pain!
    I’ve got to reduce and go baggage less,
    But, how do I do it without much stress?

    Oh yes, I’ve just unpacked a large packet,
    Scottevest’s zip off pants, a T and jacket.
    Now is the time to put them to the test.
    Find a pocket that holds each item best.

    I wonder if they can really hold enough.
    Oh yes they sure do! They hold all of my stuff!
    Three oz bag, my kindle or book or mag,
    Tooth brush, some deodorant, and makeup bag,

    My camera, extra socks and underwear,
    Suntan lotion and small brush to comb my hair.
    A small picture of my young grandson Nash.
    Credit card and wallet with some foreign cash.

    My passport, a map, an additional T,
    My cell phone, and my Spanish dictionary,
    My sunglasses set for a sunny day.
    My ipod is wired and ready to play.

    Now to put on my clothes, will there be much bulk?
    No…, I don’t look like the Incredible Hulk.
    You’d hardly know so many things are there,
    And the weight is distributed everywhere!

    Into security I walk with a smile,
    Off with my jacket, there’s no need for a pile!
    No whistles or bells, no metal on clothes,
    No zippers to zip, or suitcases to close.

    On the plane I’ve no carryon to juggle,
    I can just sit down without any struggle.
    My reading and my gadgets are at hand.
    I can study my maps, and relax till we land.

    “We’re here!” I say as the plane we depart.
    I’ve a smile on my face and peace in my heart.
    With no baggage to claim I walk straight out.
    “I’ve lightened my load!” I can joyfully shout.

  • sumsolstice

    I started with a big write up, and in the interest of lightening, I distilled it to the following. In the next year…

    In order to travel on about any airline with only a carry-on – I intend to travel with no more than 7kg/15lbs of “stuff”.

    * No more than 2.25kg/5lbs of electronics (camera, laptop, phone, MP3) – including chargers, cords and plug adapters.

    * No larger than a 40L backpack that meets airline carry-on requirements.

    * I will take no clothing that can't dry overnight.

    * I will keep a list of what all I take on a trip, and at the end of the trip – evaluate whether or not I needed it.

    As I've been mostly practicing this style of travel already, the only thing that I should need to purchase to make this happen would be a new netbook and a smaller backpack.

    I intend to fund this by getting rid of my cable TV subscription and replacing with a TV antenna and NetFlix subscription, which will save me about $80 a month. The two items will be paid for in less than 9 months…

  • lulu

    So glad you changed the deadline, I thought I missed the boat. Don’t normally do this sort of thing… but after reading this post, I was struck at the parallels of this challenge and my life right now.

    My husband and I have been plotting and planning our ‘lightening’ for several years now and our next twelve months will bring some serious life tests in lightening our loads for sure. We’ve spent the last six years preparing and doing ‘all the right things’ to reach our goal of finally relocating and traveling the world. First, we set about investing in a house and our financial future. Next, my husband needed to graduate college. Then we could finally relocate properly [for my husband to continue graduate school] but before we made the move, a year-long trip ‘around the world’ has been our constant narrative for the last five (ish) years. We have spent the last three years garage-selling and lightening our home’s load for the day we put it up for sale. My husband graduated with honors four months ago [as a 31 year-old former high-school drop out]. We’ve spent the last two years planning our itinerary and speculating on our future new hometown: loads of research/reading/watching/talking in preparation. We’ve whittled our possessions down to basics [plus a little extra, we’re not extremists by any means]. Finally, the time had come and two months ago, we contacted our real estate pro, which put us face to face with something we never seriously expected. Tomorrow morning we meet with a HUD counselor to discuss our sobering ‘lightening’ of our house that is apparently worth $25,000 less than what we owe on it. Now, a meeting to discuss how I can beg my mortgage giant to kindly accept our deed in lieu of suing us for foreclosure. Needless to say, we had hoped this investment for our future would’ve panned out a little better than this. It’s a harsh reality but we are forging on to lighten our proverbial loads still. Our travel load [or itinerary] is lightening by the day, with a two or three-month backpacking trip in South America as our new hope. Our travel gear “necessities only” list continues to shrink daily as well. This weekend, a decision to sell both cars to ‘lighten’ and recoup some lost equity. Everyday we fight to find new ways to lighten our load enough to make our last five years of dreams into our reality, no matter what life dumps on us :)

  • Sandyseale

    My daughter who is a travel writer has taught me so much about traveling light. Not only by the amount of luggage and material possessions that are taken along on a trip but also by the travel attitude & expectations I previously had taken with me. Several years ago she took me on a 3 week trek of Europe: Prague, Lake Como, Venice, Croatia, Paris & Burgundy region of France. Needless to say for the 3 week trip I thought I needed to take almost everything I had from home…just in case . Since that trip I have consistently lightened the load. Of course, depending on where I travel & what type of trip it is, which determines what I really will need. I've found with each trip I've needed less & less & get tired of schlepping around all the excess baggage. I have vowed never again to take many of the so-called necessities that have accompanied me on those previous trips. But even ignoring the logical baggage of travel….the literal baggage…I have learned to also adjust my mental baggage about travel. The first part of my life I was a tourist on vacation which is the way I perceived travel to be. However, thanks to my daughter, I have now come to realize that I am no longer that tourist but have evolved into a true traveler. As Shelley says, travel with a purpose. I now travel with a true intent to become part of the place I am lucky enough to be in; to truly experience the place in its natural form as a local & not from the typical “tourist” viewpoint. Of course, I still see the basic points of interests as they have their purpose & many I've heard of & longed to see most of my life. But now I've been enlightened to the broader scope, looking beyond the normal. I love to go off the beaten path. We often say the most wonderful & unexpected experiences have been while we were “lost”…..wandering aimlessly down one street or path to another; never knowing what or who we'd find around the next bend in the road. It has totally changed my perception of travel & shown me a new way of looking at often familiar places. Shelley also believes in volunteer travel; leaving your footprints behind; making a place better than when you arrived.. Sharing these experiences & learning from each other now is what travel is all about; a totally different & more meaningful experience from my earlier days of just being a “tourist”.

  • SATrekker

    In the past year I sold my car, gave away my furniture and moved in with the folks all in preparation for next year’s travels.
    Starting January 3 2011, I will be living out of my backpack for a year or more of travel.
    I am downsizing my desktop to a netbook, my comfy bed to whatever couch/mat/floor I can find, my health insurance for travel insurance and my job for volunteer opportunities. All starting with 2mths living on the banks of the Amazon helping in a wildlife refuge in Ecuador, no electricity, no hot water, just a hammock and a waterfall shower. Life couldn’t get much better.

  • Tortuguita359

    If, in the next 12 months, I could give up the burden of vanity, my load would be much lighter. When we are young, it’s often important to be the cute one, the sexy one, the one who gets the most attention. I used to say I enjoyed traveling alone as a woman because of the people I met. I was more approachable, and it was easier to talk to people. While that may be true to a certain extent, I believe more and more it had something to do with vanity. I was special. I was unique. I could go where I pleased and act on any impulse. When traveling we need things to demonstrate our self-worth to the world: cute outfits, shiny jewelry, fancy electronics. The accessories that prove our status weigh us down. When we get a little older we need make-up, we need conquests, and we need constant connection with people at “home” for encouragement and reinforcement. Even if you don’t go for the material glitz, we still want to be the popular one, the one with the good stories, the most followers on our twitter feed or the most subscribers to our blog. Just think of the accompanying accessories! If I succeed in stripping away vanity, I can also shed the extra pair of shoes, the anti-wrinkle cream, the “going out skirt,” the hair dye and the iPod. I will also shed the mental burden of worrying about it all. I will relish the time gained to truly appreciate the people and places I come into contact with. Without worrying how my extra pounds look in my bathing suit I will value instead the sunshine and the waves. Without wasting time fixing my hair to cover the gray I will use that time to have a cherished conversation with someone much wiser than myself. The most important way I can think of to lighten my load is to find my own vanity and simply let it go.

  • Girlgetawayjj

    I first realized the wonders of load-lightening when I went to Chicago for a six-week jaunt last spring. Armed with just one small-ish suitcase and a laptop bag, I wondered how I'd ever make it through a month and a half without my “stuff” back in LA. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the Windy City—I realized traveling light actually made life a breeze. (Pun fully intended.) The six weeks flew by, and I mixed and matched outfits and accessories with ease and precious little repetition. I utilized the lending library in the building where I was staying and was continually entertained by my (temporary) finds.

    Upon my return to the West Coast, I immediately hired a personal organizer and went on a hardcore mission to de-clutter my life. (Right down to the herbal colon cleanse recommended in the book “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui”…TMI?) A year later, I'm STILL de-cluttering—after all, “stuff” addicts don't change overnight. But even the act of doing so has lightened my proverbial load both personally and professionally…and I can't wait to see what happens when I actually reach clutter-free nirvana!

    So here's what I'm committed to doing to get there:

    1) FINALLY recycling all of those magazines that I've been saving….do I really need that 2004 Seventeen collection? I think not.

    2) Shredding old bills/contracts and scanning the remaining ones so that my filing cabinet goes virtual.

    3) Using the “one-touch” approach for all paperwork and correspondence—file, respond, or recycle upon the first read. (That includes email!)

    4) Try to only travel using carry-ons in an effort to save space AND money.

    5) Consolidate all those “cherished” T-shirts into a lovely T-shirt quilt.

    6) Burn or pitch that VHS collection! (Yes, VHS….)

    And when I do get there, maybe I'll reward myself with a nice juicy trip—fueled by a $500 travel voucher, perhaps? :-)

  • InhabitYourDreams

    Stuff is just stuff unless you want it, and once you get it you can't get rid of it…without a lot of effort! By then, all the stuff you couldn't live without has become the stuff you can't stand living with. And your mind mocks you with remembrance of all the hard-earned money you spent acquiring all that stuff that now has little or no value – to you or anyone else. Then, my friends, it's time for Radical Simplicity and Fierce Load Lightening!

    For the past 10 years I have lived in a fabulous 3,500-sq-ft home in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. My partner of 25 years and I designed and built it, hands on. When we moved in, we had 12 pieces of furniture. Now we have 77 (I counted). As a vacuum seeks to be filled, so does the space of a house. Every closet, drawer, trascadero, chest and trunk have gradually filled with stuff, from family, friends, travels, garage sales and, yes, purchases.

    An affluent friend once wisely said, “Everything you own owns a little bit of you.” It's not an issue, until it is; until priorities change and you can't afford it – financially or emotionally. When joy is buried under a mountain of burden, it's time to dig out..

    I am about mid-way through leveling the mountain, having divested my house of truck-fulls of books, clothes, “household items” and office equipment and furniture. In the next six months, I will get rid of all the stuff. Craigslist, eBay, consignment stores, charities and freecycle – here I come!

    I borrowed a scanner and am digitizing my portfolios, notebooks and all photos album and slides – going back to my great grand-parents, who came from Romania, Lithuania, Norway and Russia, to this land of hope and plenty. Little could they know, we'd one day be drowning in that plenty. Enough already!

    I will get rid of the house and the mortgage, the 4-wheel drive, and even the husband. I will have proof of my existence and value in digital form, backed up in cyberspace, a MacBook Pro, iPhone, Nikon camera, a small wardrobe and toiletries that fit in a rolling carry-on, and a world of Possibilities to explore. And no matter where I go and what I do, or don't, at least aspiring to this will clear the way for more joy.

    Sheer embarrassment at my life choices,

  • MEidelbach246

    Honestly, i travel across the USA usually hopping freight trains and hitchhiking nationwide, so I usually travel light anyway… but there are a few things I could get rid of. For example, it is a lot easier to hop off a freight by yourself than with a person who is an incompetent travel buddy or with a pack that is too big for you to fit on the train itself ;) I believe that travel shouldnt be encumbered with too many things- its not about how much stuff you bring with you. Its about the people you meet and the experiences you will take with you along the way.

  • I realise this is too late for the competition entry, but I want to throw my two-cents in anyway.

    I recently had to walk 45 minutes from one end of Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the other. I had everything I own strapped to me somewhere: A 60 litre rucksack on my back and a 30 litre daypack on my front. And by the time I reached my destination my back was aching and the sweat was consuming me in the gentle 8am sunshine.

    That was the morning I decided to empty out the contents of my bags entirely and only put back in what I truly needed. When I first set out I prided myself on how light my pack was and how I only had the essentials I needed to survive. However, after more than three months on the road, you accumulate stuff. I made grave efforts not to accumulate stuff. I bought only things I truly believed I needed and turned down offers for freebies I didn’t want. However, the extra fleece the lovely little Chinese lady at the hostel in Victoria gave me when she heard I was going to Alaska, the blanket I found and claimed while haunting the cold night-time corridors of the ferry travelling up the inside passage, that pot of ‘messy look paste’ I needed to make me not look stupid right after I had all my hair cut off, and the copy of Walden I found at a hostel in Juneau… it’s impossible not to pick up a few things along the way.

    It can usually be reasoned out with, Oh I’ll get rid of this once I’m finished with it (books) or, It’ll run out eventually (hair paste). But somehow the pack keeps on getting bigger and heavier. I pick things up quicker than I can discard them. So, with all my stuff splayed out on the living room floor of my CouchSurfing host’s house, I got to it. It was a slow process at first, with piles of things and stuff building up round my ankles. A pile of things I wanted to keep but didn’t want to carry (the send-home pile): a completed journal, the skull keychain a friend gave me, a badge of the country singer I saw on my birthday, the old Canadian phone that is too expensive to use right now but might be useful in the future, my Canada guidebook… Obviously I cannot send this pile home until I leave Canada, so I shall grin and bear it for now, and be happy in the knowledge that I shall not have to traipse through Ecuador with it weighing me down.

    Then there is the pile of things I definitely needed to keep: towel, current journal, sandals, trainers, laptop, camera, iPod, chargers, clothes (just enough to last a week), waterproof jacket, food (this is a whole other blog entry), toiletries, torch, books I haven’t read yet, memory stick, handkerchief my dad gave me (I cried a lot at the train station), photos of my family, water bottle (though I really should replace this soon, it’s gotten a bit crinkly and makes a strange whistling sound as it fills back up with air), my padlock, my buff, and earplugs.

    And then last, and definitely least, is the pile of things I don’t need or want and have no sentimental attachment to. Fortunately the place I am staying in at the moment houses six people who hoard things and hate to see anything go to waste. They are now the proud owners of: a compact mirror, two hairclips, a pack of cards, a pair of scratched sunglasses, two pens, a book light, a box of matches, a watch, a poncho and a half-used tube of Compeed. There are also a couple of things that are neither use nor ornament to anyone which made straight for the bin, including the outer case of my sewing kit, the case for my sleeping bag liner, and the pair of trousers with the huge rip in the crotch which I have failed to repair. Twice. I did manage to fashion a sunglasses case out of one of the pockets though. Hopefully my next pair of shades will not get quite so scratched.

    I originally wrote this in my blog (, but it just seemed approprtiate to post it here too!

  • Melissa

    This is fantastic! Reading about you journeys, and your challenge of “lightening the load” really struck a cord with me. Recently, I had this urge to do just that. I sold my furniture, all my kitchen things, such as dishes and pots, etc, got rid of probably 3/4 of my clothes, books, pictures, lamps, things, and moved to a completely different city with one small suitcase and a backpack. It is an absolutely exhilarating feeling of freedom, and I am so happy I did it!
    In the next 12 months I will be saving money like mad and downsizing even more, to the point where everything I own fits in my backpack (50 liters). I will then begin my round-the-world journey!
    Thank you for your courage to do what you are doing, and especially writing about it! Who knows, maybe soon I will only have a purse!

  • Erin

    I am too late for this challenge but that is okay since I don't need to win anything…a part of my new minimalist style of thinking. Really the thought of myself as a minimalist is a laughable thing. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am the anti-thesis of this movement. I am a collector and an artist and I have and own far too many things, not to mention that I am married to a very like-minded man and we have been successfully nurturing two very like-minded children. Sad, sad news for the state of our house. But that having been said, Miss Minimalist said something on her blog that struck a chord for me and since I will never get what she said right I will just tell you how I am adapting it to my life. She said something about learning to enjoy looking at things rather than owning them. What I realized was that I get a thrill desiring an object and the thought of owning it, but when I really have the item in my hands it really ceases to give me pleasure 9 out of 10 times. And so my goal, for the following year, is to reduce my consumption of material things and enjoy looking, taking pictures, creating moments and collecting memories. These really are the important things in life…the people, the moments and the memories…not the things we accumulate. As a beginning to this goal, because all journeys must start somewhere, I tried my darnedest not to purchase many things on our latest three week whirlwind tour of Austin and San Francisco. I was proud of myself. I took thousands of pictures, but bought very little…a notebook, a waterbottle, a book to read that I gave away once it was finished, some curry powder that I couldn't find at home… This is good for me. And although I will probably never be a card-carrying minimalist, this small change alone feels really, really good.

  • Alex

    Who is the winner?

  • Victoria

    Will you be posting the results/winner from this and all the other reader challenges?

  • Jean

    I do not know if I am too late for this or not—-! As a woman I do not take any jewelry with me other than my wedding ring and tiny stud earrings which keeps open the hole for earrings (mine close quickly). I do not need make up. I only take enough lotion to keep hands from being too dry and lip gloss for lips. I have been amazed at how much of these items mentioned take up big spaces in other womens packing. In the past I have taken too many clothes and I now think I have it down to the minimum with SeV products. Thanks, Jean

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  • Susi

    I can travel CHIC with no baggage! This is no small feat, it's a tiny one. Just work out the wardrobe with high-tech microfiber short skirt, leggings, top, shawl/scarf and vest that converts to a shoulder-bag. Leave the deodorant at home (using it makes you stink more anyhow, better to stay clean by washing often). Buy the odd clothing bit or accessory to suit the location, then give it someone less fortunate before you move on. No need to carry soap or shampoo or any other toiletries. Even moderate hotels provide that stuff, and if they don't you can buy small quantities to use as needed as you go. Shampoo is an excellent washing solution for the microfiber clothing, leaving it clean, fresh, fragrant and undamaged. Also, who needs sunglasses? I have lived in the tropics for 15 years, and never use them. Nor do I carry sunscreen. Who goes out in the sun in the middle of the day? Nobody. To be honest, I don't need to take anything other than what's on my body, and I can go anywhere, from a boardroom to a black tie grand opening, to a bamboo raft adventure in Burma . . . all in the same clothes with nothing in the no-bag. No problem. And I'll stay chicissime. Our poor Rolf will never make it into an embassy dinner or opera opening with his concept of no baggage travelling. He's limited himself to the grey underbelly of the world. What a shame. Both men and women can travel with TRUE freedom in chic no-baggage style, with a little smarts. Leave the camera, leave the iPod. Just take an iPhone, you already have a camera and an iPod in there. And who needs “travel products”? Everything you need is available without resorting to oddball “travel products”.

    My philosophy when I struck out on my own in 1987 (never looked back), was that there are billions of people living all over the planet, and they are doing just fine, for the most part. So wherever you go that there are people, you will be fine, too. Whatever has sustained them and clothed and comforted them, will be available to you as well. This notion has worked perfectly for me, from remote Tibet to Manhattan to Burma to Canberra to Sumba to Angkor Wat.

    For the bagless traveller, airports are you best friends. Everything you need, and everything you need to do, is covered there. And after all, what DO you need to do? If you are dressed well, you can go anywhere. If your dress is simple, high-tech, elegant and chic, you can go anywhere and meet anyone. If you can shampoo and rinse your clothes every night, like your hair, and they will dry by morning, like your hair, you have no obstacles to overcome, it's a done deal.

    Bring less stuff, and more money.

    And I recommend departing with an ensemble of really nice jewelry and a gorgeous high quality watch. You can go anywhere with that.

    Also, don't overlook the vast opportunities for borrowing and renting things for whatever you like to do. From dive equipment to fur coats, it's all available “short term” no matter where you find yourself and no matter what your needs might be.

    There are no limitations, other than your attitude and your hangups.



    • Susi, I just read your post and am amazed–how do you manage to combine the dress code required for a sophisticated black-tie event with the clothes required for say, mountain trekking all in one? Do you have a blog about your travel tips? I'm most intrigued.

  • Nice challenge! I try and benchmark my baggage weight with the minimum that airlines allow people to carry onboard–I believe the absolute minimum is 5Kg and the better airlines give 10Kg. Modelling my self on the sophisticated character James Bond 007 (with a bit of Mr. Bean thrown in for fun)–I always travel with a leather tri-fold carry-on suit carrier, navy blazer, 5 shirts (wearing one), 2 trousers grey and sandy coloured (wearing one), tie, black bow tie, black dress shoes, as well as mountain trekking boots, a * litre micro day sack, and ultra-light layered clothing (from The North Face) for adventure activities including skiing. I have managed to get my baggage weight from 9Kg last trip down to 7Kg (ish). I insist on taking a micro “LED Lenser” torch, micro first aid kit, sun glasses, mobile phone, an international travel adaptor, and travel toothbrush. By taking the above items, and wearing the heaviest, I can enjoy city activities, fine dining, and look the part for business / first class travel as well as enjoy wild outdoor activities like camping on top of a mountain under the stars with my range finder camera for sunrise and sunset shots. Bringing less stuff and taking more money is not always the best option especially if you have tailored clothing or are a bit of a fashion freak and want to look good in clothes that you like. I used to do the whole backpacker thing, but as I have grown older, I now want to combine the finer aspects of travel–the little luxuries along with the rough adventurous activities. I personally believe travel should be about taking your personal brand image and personality with you as well as growing it when on the road–while travelling on land, sea, and in the air. This is especially true if your wife / girlfriend is travelling with you and you might like to dine in nice restaurants in NYC, London one day, before jetting off to go on a little safari trip on the spur of the moment.

    All in all, I have taken out a linen suit and panama hat, as well as a sony vaio laptop. I do however bring 2 lightweight silk liners as beds are usually not clean (even in top hotels). I am considering leaving one shirt and taking only 4. I also insist on taking a lightweight quick-dry microfibre towel. My absolute minimum weight of my case is 7Kg down from 10Kg. I may not be the lightest, but at least this way I may be shaken but not stirred. ;)

  • Ps. everyone, you have got to read about this guy called Anders Ansar who travels the world with nothing but a toothbrush and razor (obviously and the one pair of clothes he wears). I read about him on amazing, but I don't think I'd be comfortable doing that!

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  • Rolf

    Congrats to Victoria Strauser for winning the $500 BootsnAll flight voucher for the first reader challenge. This result was announced on the No Baggage Challenge Facebook fan-page on September 14th — and the folks at Bootsnall tell me it was tough to choose just one from the 137 inspiring comments!

  • Excellent article, I wanna go anywhere now, I want that plane ticket!