Rolf Potts travels around
the world with no luggage

No-baggage field report: Full circle (week 6)

October 5, 2010 by Rolf Potts

Rolf airport

The no-baggage journey is complete! After six weeks and more than 30,000 miles on five continents, I’ve come full-circle to New York — and be honest, it feels kind of surreal. I didn’t pack many items for the journey, but I did manage to pack in a lot of experiences — so many that I feel like I’ve been gone a lot more than a month and a half. I feel both happy and tired (and I’d reckon my exhaustion has less to do with my lack of luggage than the fact that the world is a big place to cover in such a short time).

The final week of the journey went by quickly: After indulging in all manner of thrill sports in New Zealand, I flew across the Pacific Ocean to Los Angeles — and from there had just a few days to cross the North American continent. This leg of the journey ended up being pretty utilitarian: Justin and I hunkered down at the Circus Circus Casino in Las Vegas and edited videos for a couple days before flying on to New York.

Before I started this trip I wondered how light I could pack, and I wondered which items might be essential to the enjoyment of other countries. As it turned out, I didn’t require much — the less I took, the less I had to worry about, and the less slowed me down. As my videos and posts from recent weeks attest, I managed to have a lot of great experiences over the course of my journey, and I rarely found myself wishing I’d brought more things. All too often, I think, we pack a bunch of “just in case” items when packing for a journey (be it around the world or to the corner grocery store), and most all of these “just in case” items are either available on the road, or not necessary in the first place. We also tend to pack unnecessary things because certain items feed into our psychic “bubble of comfort” — a kind of half-hearted attempt to bring home with us — when in fact not much is required, in the material sense, to enjoy a great time on the road.

Once I got into a travel rhythm, the no-baggage aspect of the trip was pretty simple. Two-a-day showers kept me as clean as I’ve ever been on the road, and daily clothes-washings (of my socks, underwear, and t-shirt) kept my wardrobe fresh and odor free. In fact, one of the reasons I started doing these weekly field reports is to have a pretext to comment on the no-baggage aspect of the trip — since it became apparent quite early that not having luggage wasn’t going to add a lot of drama or complication to my day-to-day activities (which meant, happily, that I could focus my journey on the joys of travel instead of the idiosyncrasies of packing light).

So does this mean I’ll spend the rest of my life traveling without bags? Probably not — bags do serve a purpose, they make some aspects of a journey easier, and one can still travel ultra-light while carrying a small bag. Moreover, the No Baggage Challenge was an experiment in traveling light — not an edict that luggage-free travel is a universally superior way to go. That said, I’ll probably continue to experiment with no-luggage travel — if nothing else because it’s fun and liberating and not all that hard to do. I encourage everyone who’s been following this journey to try their own personal no-luggage and/or ultra-light travel field tests.

In field report #4 (as well as in the video above) I boiled down my no-baggage travel-kit to what I felt were the bare-essential non-clothing items: toothbrush/toothpaste, small bottle of liquid soap, small tube of sunscreen, iPod or iPhone (and charger), deodorant, sunglasses, ball-cap, passport, cash/credit card, and emergency cash. (I also packed glasses and contact solution — though not everyone shares my mediocre eyesight; in total I carried less than 4 pounds of gear, including spare clothing.) Since I’ve already touched on gear in previous reports, I’ll take a look now how my travel clothing performed.

It’s no accident that I approached ScotteVest as a clothing sponsor when I first dreamed up this journey: SeV makes good-looking, quick-drying, high-performance travel gear that features lots of ingeniously designed pockets; I can think of no clothing line better suited to the rigors of a no-baggage journey. Since ScotteVest was basically agreeing to have me test their gear in intensive, public, real-time travel situations for six weeks straight — to effectively pummel their clothing through safaris and airport screenings and Kiwi canyon-dives, often on video, for 42 consecutive days — their investment bore no small element of risk. Happily for both ScotteVest and me, my SeV wardrobe performed brilliantly. Here’s my take on each item from my wardrobe (including a few non-SeV items):

ScotteVest Tropical Vest/Jacket: This was the key item in my round-the-world wardrobe — it’s essentially why my no-baggage aspect of my journey ended up being so painless — and it ranks among the most useful items of travel clothing I’ve ever owned. I almost didn’t pack this (I was strongly favoring the standard Travel Vest), but SeV CEO Scott Jordan talked me into bringing this at the last moment. I’m glad he did, since the zip-on/off sleeves made it versatile from climate to climate, and the vented, lightweight design performed well in hot weather. The truest asset of this jacket/vest, of course, was the pocket design: I was able to bring my entire no-baggage trip-gear in its 18 (mainly interior) pockets, without looking overloaded (watch the videos for proof of this) or feeling lumpy or lopsided. The no-baggage journey might have been possible without this jacket, but it certainly wouldn’t have been as easy.

ScotteVest Performance Tees and Q-Zip pullover: I was a fan of the Q-Zip before the trip began, for essentially vain reasons (I like the way they look) — but consistently warm weather on my itinerary meant that the Performance Tees bore the brunt of my journey. I rotated a black one and an olive one, wearing one or the other every day of the trip. Early on I expressed concern that the polyester fabric might not resist odor over the long haul (this was based on a good-looking but poor-performing polyester Starter shirt I once owned) — but this fear never bore out. Daily washings, combined with quality SeV design, kept the shirts largely odor-free for the duration of the trip (and, while many readers have recommended merino wool as an odor-resistant alternative to poly, I’d still recommend daily washings, be it poly or wool, in the simple interest of not being gross). Odor-performance is, in fact, a big reason I went nightclubbing in Thailand, four weeks into the journey: I don’t typically seek out nightclubs (I’m more of a dive-bar guy), but I was so tired of people assuming that “no-bags = unbearable stench” that I wanted to prove my clothing’s performance in a very tangible and objective way. And, if you watch the Bangkok video, you’ll see that my SeV ensemble passed both the smell and the fashion test at one of the city’s most exclusive nightclubs. Did I miss the feel of cotton t-shirts from time to time? You bet I did — but the “performance” aspect of the Performance Tees (quick-dry, durable, wrinkle-resistant fabric) made it a worthwhile trade-off.

Scottevest Ultimate Cargo Pants; SeV boxer shorts; Blundstone boots; SmartWool socks: I like to think of these four items as the “workhorse” components of my wardrobe, since the surest sign of their effectiveness is that I rarely had to think about them. The socks were comfortable, fast drying, and odor-resistant, as were the boxers (and I’ve noted in previous field reports that the boxers doubled as running shorts and a swimming suit during the journey). I love my Blundstone boots — and anyone who’s looked down at my feet since late 2006 knows that I wear them rather obsessively. Finally, the cargo pants proved their utility, day in and day out, for the duration of the trip — especially after I coupled them with a belt in Egypt. [The cargo pants were actually the victim of one slight wardrobe malfunction on the journey, when the pants’ cinch-string broke in Egypt. Several readers have since pointed out that cinch-string in question was never designed to keep my pants up — it was meant to fine-tune the belt-fit of the pants. In this way, bearing the weight of my pants with the cinch-string was kind of like using my truck’s parking brake whenever I needed to slow down in traffic: It worked, for the most part, but that’s certainly not what it was designed for, and there were better ways to implement the tool in question. Sorry for my confusion on that — and thanks for the clarification, everyone!] In addition to having quick-drying linen-cotton fabric and deep, well-designed pockets (in 42 days of constant use I never lost anything from the cargo pockets, even while canyon-swinging in New Zealand), these pants also passed the velvet-rope fashion-test at Bangkok’s Bed nightclub (note how the club’s general manager compliments their looks in the video). If you’re looking for the Ultimate Cargo Pant in the SeV pants/shorts catalog, be advised that they have been discontinued in favor of an updated cargo-pant model, which will debut in coming months.

Elsewhere, I have lots of new reader questions to address in this field report — and the first one comes from SeV CEO Scott Jordan:

From your experience in the No Baggage Challenge, what other styles of clothing should SeV develop that would help the traveler?

To be honest, I’m the kind of person who values simplicity and sticks with a system that is already working. This in mind, I’d reckon it’s hard to beat the SeV Tropical Jacket/Vest as the central, most essential item for a no-baggage round-the-world trip. That said, my travel-style is very much unique to my own sensibilities, and another person’s no-baggage or ultra-light travel strategy will also hinge on their own circumstances. Female travelers, business travelers, and cold-weather travelers — to name a few obvious examples — will have significantly different needs than the ones I encountered on my own No Baggage Challenge. This, in mind, I’d love it if everyone would give Scott J suggestions of their own. What kind of clothing items might enhance your own ultra-light travel endeavors? Pocket-intensive sports coats and button-down shirts? Your own fine-tuned pocket-scheme to address female travel-needs? Fabrics and design-features that enable extreme-weather travel? Please share your ideas and suggestions in the comments below (just be sure to check out the full ScotteVest catalog first, since SeV already designs clothing for a wide variety of situations).

Any advice for people at home who love the concept of the No Baggage Challenge and want to incorporate some lessons into their own travel, either without checked baggage or with less baggage?

My simplest answer to this is “just try it.” I spent a lot of pre-trip time worrying about the ins and outs of no-baggage travel, but once I got on the road I was amazed by how simple it was. Everybody has their own system, of course, so I encourage you to discipline your own packing system in such a way that you lighten your load for the better. Seriously, just suck it up and give it a try — it’s easier than you might think, and even mistakes and bad experiences can teach you useful lessons.

Did washing the same clothes every night ever become excessively tiresome?

Washing clothes every day was no more tiresome than washing myself every day. In short, if you can get into the habit of taking a shower every day (and I hope you have), you can get into the habit of washing a few clothing items every day. In fact, you can do both at once — many nights I took my clothes into the shower and washed them as I washed myself. There were a few nights where I didn’t wash my clothes at the end of the day (including late nights in Madrid and Bangkok, as well as some safari nights in South Africa and the Thailand-Malaysia train transit) — and this is when having two sets of socks/undies/t-shirts came in handy. To catch up, I just washed both sets the next day.

Do you think that this minimalist approach is feasible for someone with no (or limited) previous travel experience? What about solo travelers?

Since I’ve more or less been traveling-light for a living over the past 12 years, I’ll admit that the No Baggage Challenge might have come easier to me than it would have to someone with little on-the-road experience. That said, I’m a big believer in starting small and fine-tuning your travel strategy from there. If you don’t have much travel experience, just get out on the road (read my book Vagabonding for ideas and inspiration), pack a small bag, and save your no-baggage experiments for later. The more travel experience you have, the easier it will be to go ultra-light.

As for the second part of the question, I think it should be no problem to travel solo with no baggage. I traveled with my cameraman Justin, of course — but the rules of the No Baggage Challenge stipulated that I couldn’t borrow anything from him. I suppose he would have been there to intervene in an emergency — but most solo travelers are never as isolated as the term implies. Even if you leave home alone, a given vagabonding journey will be rich with the company of local people and other travelers. For the perspective of someone who has done extensive luggage-free travel on his own, check out my earlier interview with Jonathan Yevin.

Isn’t it easier to travel without luggage if you have lots of money?

I suppose loads of money can’t hurt — but money certainly isn’t the central component of a no-baggage journey. In six weeks of travel, I bought only two new gear items (a mineral salt deodorant stone, and a replacement tube of toothpaste — each cost roughly $1) outside of standard food, lodging, transportation, and admission-fee needs. And while I stayed in more luxury hotels than I would have on a normal vagabonding journey, this had everything to do with video editing and upload needs, and very little to do with the no-baggage component. In fact, I think it would be easier in many ways to travel in a backpacker-friendly setting than a luxury setting in this situation, since independent shoestring travelers are more likely to understand the charms of the no-baggage enterprise (and to help out a no-baggage traveler along the way, if need be). Plus, the most important strategy of a no-baggage journey is keeping yourself clean, and even the cheapest hostel or guesthouse will have a shower.

Did you ever do things like camping in remote locations, or do you mainly stick to hotels and hostels?

I did get pretty remote while on safari in South Africa (which is why my cameraman Justin indulged in a bush cure that involved elephant poop) — but even then I slept overnight in comfortable safari lodges. The trip was largely designed to avoid independent camping situations, but I’m not opposed to the notion. If any of you out there has ever tried a no-baggage back-country camping journey, please tell us about it in the comments!

Did electronic technology help or hinder this trip?

Electronic technology does a lot to make travel easier these days — and the iPod/iPhone alone is a very powerful tool for organizing a trip and communicating from the road. That said, I’m a big believer in balance when it comes to electronic gadgets, since being “wired” can disrupt a trip as readily as enhance it. If at times it seemed like I was slow to return emails and answer blog comments on this trip, that was no accident — since I feel I have a better travel experience when I’m mostly unplugged on the road.

In Thailand, how did your feet fare wearing socks and boots? Were you tempted to purchase sandals while in SE Asia?

Socks and boots worked great in SE Asia, but — as I said in my previous field report — I was only there for a week (and even then I was thankful to be wearing boots in many SE Asia situations, including the monsoon rains and my foray into Bangkok nightclubs). I suspect I might have been tempted to go with sandals had I been in SE Asia for, say, a month — and if anyone has done long-term no-baggage travel experiments in the tropics, please share your experiences in the comments below.

Are thrift stores common where you’ve been? If your friend Dan hadn’t lent you a sweater in New Zealand how hard would it have been to find a used one to buy?

To be honest, New Zealand was the only place I kept an eye out for thrift stores, since that was the only place I had warmer clothing in mind (and Queenstown did have an excellent Salvation Army store). But on other journeys I have seen thrift stores in places as far-flung as Iceland and Argentina — and warmer countries like Thailand and Egypt sell plenty of cheap hot-weather clothes. Moreover, even if you can’t find a thrift store, it’s not hard to borrow (as I did) — and if all else fails it’s worth it to spend a few dozen dollars on a brand-new insulation layer.

Which has been your favorite destination to date?

I can never answer this kind of question, since I liked all my destinations for different reasons. I was blown away by the beauty of New Zealand, however — and it’s always have a place in my heart for Thailand (where I lived for a couple years in the early 2000s).

What are your thoughts and feelings about the trip ending? Any further adventures in the pipeline?

I’m thrilled to have completed it. The journey sparked my imagination — not only in the traveling-light sense, but also in its reminder of how many amazing places there are out there to experience (and re-experience). That said, I am completely exhausted after having circled the globe in just six weeks, and I’m looking forward to getting back to Kansas to rest up and read some books. I have plenty of new adventures in the pipeline, so please drop by or my Vagabonding Blog for announcements on upcoming journeys (as well as great vagabonding advice from my blog writers).  One event already on the docket is the inaugural Travel Hacking Conference in Rotorua, New Zealand, from Jan 24th-26th, 2011.  I’ll be talking about no-baggage travel here, among other topics, so if you’ve enjoyed following this journey, please consider coming out to New Zealand to join the conversation (for 10% off the registration fee in the month of October, just use the promo code “RP1” when applying for the conference).

Before I sign off on this field report, I want to extend a heart-felt thanks to my sponsors, ScotteVest and BootsnAll Travel Network. Thanks to the support and enthusiasm of SeV founder Scott Jordan, ScotteVest has been an essential partner from the first planning-day of this journey, and (as I detailed above) my SeV gear performed splendidly for the duration of the trip. Please check out their catalog at for a full rundown of clothing options for your next journey (and keep in mind that the coupon code “NoBaggage” will get you 15% off all items at checkout through October 11th).

I also want to give a huge shout-out to my other primary sponsor, BootsnAll Travel Network — and in particular BootsnAll co-founder and CEO Sean Keener, a longtime friend and colleague, who was gung-ho about the No Baggage Challenge from the very beginning. BootsnAll hasn’t been as visible on this trip as ScotteVest (they don’t, after all, make anything I can wear on camera), but they’ve been just as essential to the journey: They donated round-the-world plane tickets to both Justin and me, they gave technical support to the website, and they were hands-on in helping us organize countless aspects of the journey (from our hostel in Madrid, to our safaris in South Africa, to our transportation in New Zealand). Sean and the folks at BootsnAll have always loved connecting and providing resources for independent travelers — so if you’re into or thinking about international or around the world travel, check out the BootsnAll Travel Network and tell them I sent you.

Thanks also to Justin Glow for doing such a spectacular job with the videos, and for being such a patient, competent, reliable travel companion.

And, finally, a huge thanks goes out to everyone who’s been following the journey since it began over six weeks ago. I’m humbled by your support and enthusiasm (as well as your questions and insights) — and I wish you all the best in your own ultra-light vagabonding journeys!

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  • Many congratulations Rolf! It's been real fun following your trip. Do give me a shout if you need help with visiting Hong Kong. :)

    • Rolf

      Cheers, Richard — and thanks for your help in London!

  • I'm glad the trip went great I and I had an awesome time reading your posts and watching your videos! I really hope there is another project around the corner for you.

    Being a huge supporter of minimalism and the less is more concept, I think traveling with one backpack or in your case no bags can carry tons of merit. Keep up the awesome work and hope to see more from you soon!

    If you ever happen to be in Central Oregon let me know!


  • Dawn

    Thanks Rolf! I really enjoyed following your journey and found myself looking forward to each new post. I love the idea of travelling with no bags because I find luggage to be such a hassle, but carrying things (and things and more things) is something we all put up with almost every time we step out of the house. I'm somewhat of a minimalist anyway but you've commented several times about the “just in case items” and that has really resonated with me, even in my day to day life. So, thanks for the inspiration.

  • Yea and boo-hoo! I don't want it to end…but I'm excited to follow you on the rest of your journeys! Thanks to both of you for such a great project and inspiring a different way to travel!

  • Doverider

    I've said it many times… you are an inspiration!! I loved learning about the products and the daily details of your challenge, as well as the (mis)adventures of Rolf and Justin! :)

    I look forward to more stories in the future: yours and Mine!!

  • Jacob

    Congratulations Rolf and Justin! The blog was truly spectacularly done. I first found out about your trip through PSFK Salon ( 3 weeks ago and have since been hooked onto your blog (though am regretful to say I missed your article in the SF Chronicle even though my family subscribes). I think the idea of of no baggage travel is awesome and love how it relinquishes you completely from everything that may tie you down in your life – no baggage travel can truly allow one to LIVE IN THE MOMENT!

    Rolf, if I may ask a question:

    Do you suggest any readings for beginner minimalist travelers besides Vagabonding (which I look forward to reading), biographies giving insight into travelers and travels, or books of any kind even somewhat pertaining to the subject of minimalist travel? I would really like to explore the topic to a greater depth.

    Enjoy your rest up time at home and I look forward to your next trips and/or projects!

    • Hey Jacob, you might take a close look at the resource listings in Vagabonding; a version of those resources is online here:

      • Jacob

        Hey thanks! I'll definitely have to explore this more.

  • I know how you feel – on my last trip I visited nine countries over six weeks, and felt like I needed to just do nothing for a nice, long stretch of time… I even had a bit of culture shock upon coming back to Australia! Thank you for being your usual charming and articulate self throughout the journey, no matter how tired you were! Glad you enjoyed NZ enough to return, and I hope you make it back to Thailand soon too, I agree it's an endearing place with so much to offer… did you know that it has the highest level of gender equality in Asia?

    How did you like Madrid? I highly recommend Barcelona if you go back to Spain, it's unlike anywhere else in the country (or so everyone tells me) – gorgeously outlandish architecture and a vibrancy that I'll always remember. :o)

    If you ever come down to Sydney let me know – I know all the best Thai restaurants and groovy pubs here. :o)

    • Rolf

      Thanks for following along, Epiphanie! I thought Madrid was great (so did Justin) — definitely worth going back to. I need to do some serious slow travel in Spain — thus far I've only been there for stints of less than one week…

  • Ah, that was great. Can't wait to try it all out!

    Elmore, Vermont

  • Mike Pugh

    Nicely done, Rolf! As a reader/viewer, I wish it was a six month blog/journey, but, hey, it was sweet while it lasted.

    Now change that shirt! Sheesh :)

  • Congrats Guys. Great Job for Justin providing us with great videos. ;)

  • Linzthom

    Unfortunately you arrived in NZ to be greeted by one of the wettest and wildest spring weather 'bombs' in living memory. I can assure you it isn't like that all the time. I've lived here ( West Coast) all my life and am still in love with the country. Just wait until you come in summer. Then you'll see NZ as it should be seen.

    Lindsay (NZ)

    • Rolf

      I actually enjoyed the weird little snowstorms when I was there — it was quite the contrast from 107-degree days in Morocco! Indeed, I look forward to seeing NZ in the summer…

  • Steven Westman

    Hi Rolf – Loved your journey. Too bad it's over. For over a month my morning ritual was to check your blog to see if there was a new post. I'd love to do a RTW trip but it's practically impossible since I have a job, kids etc. Maybe once I'm retired! Keep up the great work.

  • Alex Perlstrom

    I couldn't agree more with the essential items he lists. When I was on my trip across Canada a few weeks back (incidentally it looks like me and him both left around the same time!), I immediately found that I was using only a few items the entire time. Sure, I brought extra clothes (maybe too much), and more 'just in case' items than I probably could fit in my truck, but what mattered most was the experience. Maybe next time I won't go solo though ;).

  • As for Scott Jordan's question what other styles of clothing should go into the catalogue: trousers for women! Not sure if it is a different style so much though. Trousers for women are very difficult to design in general, and I know all about it… But that's also why men's trousers just don't work, so in Scottevest's line of products, I would not buy the travel or cargo pants. To give you some advice: find a well-fitting design that also works for the girl with a slightly too big ass, and start from there.
    Anything else I'm not sure. I like the way they look, nice and simple and clean lines and everything. I'd love to try it out!

  • Thank you for taking us with you on your journey, Rolf! It was a lot of fun to read… and very inspiring. I will be going to Lebanon soon, let's see how my normal purse-like bag holds up!

  • Next challenge: Around the World in 80 Days, No Baggage – Michael Palin style!
    (his reasoning, jets are shrinking the world, making it too impersonal)

    My favorite for travel is still SouthEast Asia, so obviously I'm interested in hearing more about how the clothing performed under the extremes of heat and humidity (especially trying to get anything to dry out after washing). Otherwise, six weeks with a mix of heat and cold, wet and dry, Europe, Africa, and Asia, I'd agree that it was a pretty fair test of the “No Baggage” approach and “No Baggage” certainly passed with flying colors!

  • Elai

    Convertible pants (with belt loops!) made out of the same material as swimming shorts, using only plastic chain zippers and have zippers on every single pocket so you don't have to worry about anything falling out while your running or upside down or doing any sort of activity (Not to mention it makes it harder for pickpockets to steal from you.) They also would double as swimming shorts when you actually go swimming and using them as pants while swimming is actually useful, since they're 24/7 waterproof sunscreen. They also dry extremely fast, not feel uncomfortable when wet and would be the most useful travel pants ever! I am going to get these pants tailor made when I go to thailand some time in the indeterminate future, but if scot-e-vest has already made them then I might consider getting it online vs. going through the hassle.

  • My solution to the boot/shoe/sandal quandary is a pair of Keen sandals, the Newport in my case, and medium weight wool socks. The sandal by itself is fine in hot weather, with the wool socks pretty good in cold weather.

    I used the ScotteVest Tropical Vest/Jacket for the first time recently on a 2 week trip to India; I also had a small backpack where I carried 2 changes of cothes, my iPad and some iPad accessories, and some documentation. The vest is functional. The biggest advantage I experienced with it was when you get to the xray machine in airport security and just unload the vest with everything securely inside that was otherwise floating in other pockets. Those are the positive points.

    On the downside, the vest is too hot when the temp is around mid-80s and up (as it was in Delhi, Varanasi…). The other thing is that, used on a daily basis, the garment is too heavy. I admit the design is good in terms of weight distribution and flexibilty but the bottom line is carrying around my small digital camera, some documents, my audio recorder and little else made the thing too heavy. A small, well-designed backpack with the same items feels to me lighter. I haven't actually weighed the difference but I'm sure it's there.

    I think if the fabric were much lighter and transpired better I might give it some thought. One other thing: I also wish the zippers were smoother to operate. I often had to use two hands to get some leverage to open a zipper pocket.

    Regarding the other garments, at least as far as the shirts and underwear are concerned, I now universally stick to wool. I used to use Patagonia capilene tshirts and over time I became part of the permanent odor of thoe shirts. I've had the same experience with other polyester-based shirts from Mountain Hardwear and LL Bean. The quality is there; but the fabric underperforms wool in terms of smell. Wool takes a little longer to dry than synthetic but not enough to make a difference for me and it also works well on the body if you get wet.

    As it stands now I will leave the vest home from now on and bring along a large-ish and lightweight hip bag to stuff everything in at the airport for the security process, the single biggest advantage of the vest.

  • Congratulations Rolf and Justin! I have to say that I have enjoyed following your challenge immensely and I am actually quite sad it is all over. Checking my RSS feed every few days I always hoped for a new update from you guys (and I was rarely disappointed).

    The video and write-up above was a splendid round-up for the trip and I couldn't thank you more for that. I am now truly inspired to try out my own form of no-baggage adventure.

    I've not travelled much so far in my life (I'm 22) – I visited France and Germany on school trips, but I only actually flew for the first time in March! I did as you said and stopped thinking about doing something – and just went out and did it. I visited Paris (somewhere I'd never been to despite living in London for the past three years), then visited a few friends around France, before taking my first ever flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Prague airport.

    From there I explored Prague, before quickly heading up to a small town on the German border where I visited a friend who was taking a year out to teach English. The train journey between Prague and this town (Usti nad Labem) was one of the most amazing parts of the entire trips – a true “Wow, who'd have thought I'd ever be here” moment.

    From the boiling hot temperatures of Usti and Prague (central Europe was going though a rare heat-wave at this point) I flew to freezing Stockholm, which the residents insisted was in the process of 'de-frosting'. As the plane descended into Stockholm Skavsta airport (very far out from Stockholm) it struck me how immensely beautiful the surroundings are. Having been bathed in glorious warm sunshine only a few hours before, we were now circling a winter wonderland. If anybody is visiting Stockholm any time in the near future, I'd certainly recommend Skavsta airport over the more central options. It's about an hour and a half out of the centre, but the (inexpensive and frequent) coach ride though the Scandinavian countryside up to the city is worth the extra couple of hours. Stunning.

    I am now planning my next trip. I'm currently undecided whether to go completely baggage-less with a vest or to buy a small secure rucksack. Due to my total naivety when it came to travel and airports back in March I took a suitcase that was just too large to be classed as hand luggage. It's fair to say whatever option I choose next, that will be the last time I'll ever require checked luggage!

    In summary, congratulations. Not just for completing your trip, but for inspiring so many others to do the same. I've since subscribed to the Vagabonding blog, and I just bought Vagabonding on Kindle (as a side note, Marco Polo is yet to be available on Kindle – would love to see this if possible).

    If anybody's interested in the write-ups on my short trip listed below, check out the following: (France), (Czech Republic) and (Sweden).

  • Hooray! What a great trip, my mind is just buzzing with possibilities since you began 6 weeks ago! It's been a hoot following you both around the globe. I hope you are recovering and resting up for your next big adventure.

    Cheers –

  • Chrissy

    A great blog! I have been following you & Justin from the beginning and have thoroughly enjoyed reading your updates and watching your videos. Do you guys have another adventure lined up in the near future?

  • Shari

    Congratulations Rolf! It has been so much fun to follow your adventure on this challenge! Welcome home!

  • Simonlavender

    Hi everyone, I love travelling light/lite, I only take a laptop bag with me and that contains a spare t-shirt, boxers, socks and a towel. I backpack for 2 weeks at a time usually and would be interested in losing the bag.

    Whilst in SE Asia for 4 months I found trainers/snickers were great and didn't feel I was requiring sandals, however when I reached Australia I bought some expensive neoprene lined sports sandals.

    Overall I would opt for trainers/snickers, as despite requiring socks (to wash daily) they allow you into more buildings and you have a smaller risk of injuring exposed toes! Cheers Rolf.

  • Great trip Rolf, thanks for sharing it with us.

    In terms of other clothing for Scottevest, I recently got the Travel Pants and a Q-Zip. I love them, but so does my girlfriend. I'd highly recommend making variations of these for women. I travel for business a lot and the Travel Pants seem passable for me in work settings, especially the Stone colored one. I would love to see a Scottevest sports coat – that would really open up possibilities for ultra-light business travel.

  • Rolf, great writing as always, thanks for giving myself and my coworker a series of mini-escapes from our office through your videos and posts the last 6 weeks.

    Regarding Scottevest products I'd like to see: I bought two of the qzip pullovers like you were wearing as I like the way they looked, and I figured it would make a nice breathable base layer for under my motorcycle jacket. I'd love to wear them around other than when on my bike, but I'm 6'3″ and about 240, and although the XL is more than wide enough, it's too short!

    Scott, please make something for the tall guys, even if you limit the colors and styles. I don't know if you'd sell enough to be worth it, but if I had to request, it would be for large and xl tall shirts.

    • I'm also 6'4 and have a Q-Zip that I love, but I think the sleeves on the XL could be about an inch longer. They stop right at the bottom of my wrist bone, which looks just a touch short. But it's an otherwise awesome shirt and I just ordered my second one yesterday, so obviously sleeve length isn't that big of an issue for me.

  • Thanks for the great feedback, everyone! I myself will miss the little community that has grown around this project. Good luck with your own ultra-light travels!

  • Oceanminded

    Thank you Rolf and Justin for taking us along on your journey. Your updates were an entertaining and inspiring break from the daily grind. Furthermore, you put on a clinic in effectively establishing brand affinity which I find equally as interesting. Let's just say I've already started my holiday shopping. I look forward to the next evolution of the challenge. Thanks again!

  • Tim

    Congratulations Rolf and Justin! It's been amazing watching the great field reports, and inspires me to want to make a trip for myself. I havent' left he US since I was a kid and I'm really liking the idea of taking a trip. Now if I can just swing the finances. Any idea how much a trip like this would normally run if you didn't have sponsors? Also, take a look at another journey going on as takes a 6 month trip down to Argentina from the US on motorcycle. He isn't going bagless but it is a personal journey for him that he is documenting through mostly youtube videos at

  • Robin J

    It has been fun following along on your adventure. And it has helped me be less timid about packing light.

    As for SeV, I have wanted one of their jackets since I first heard about them years ago. But, no big enough sizes for me. I understand it can be cost-prohibitive to carry all sizes in a complete line of clothing but I hope Scott will consider expanding the sizes for some of the basic items (who am I kidding — I want to be able to wear all the items) like the jackets and vests. Up to 5x/6x. There is a dearth of performance clothing out there for large people and yet, we love to travel as much as our smaller friends. In fact, packing light is critical for us since each item of our clothing weighs more.

  • Gigi Santiago

    FANTASTIC social experiment and I'm a fan! Will have to get a copy of Vagabond! I just have a question. What did you wash your clothes with? Did you ask for detergent from the hotel or brought as you needed on the road?

    • Rolf

      I brought concentrated Method detergent — but to be honest, hotel shampoo worked just as well. Dr, Bronner's soap also came in handy…

  • Unstoppablefamily

    Good on ya Rolf! I loved watching your ventures, 6 weeks was like a flash! You deserve some downtime.
    My family ( me, my husband and 3.5 yr old) just entered month 23 of our Endless Summer Journey and has traveled with our entire life in 4 bags… We started the trip with 8 and realized that you really do not require very much. My question…did you burn the clothes you wore?

    Best to you and keep inspiring.

    Rhonda Swan~ Mother of the Unstoppable Family

    • Rolf

      I can't say that I burned any of my clothes (too much of a sentimental attachment), but I will say I'm enjoying some fashion variety now that I've returned home…

  • Rolf, thanks so much for doing this. You have inspired me to travel with much less. My wife and I have been traveling perpetually for almost 3 years and you have shown us the far end of the spectrum when it comes to what can be left behind. I don't want to sound like a shill because I'm not, but I am getting some Scottevest items before we head to Germany and China. Thanks again.

  • Gavin D.

    Hey Rolf,

    Were there any apps you found especially useful while on the No Baggage Challenge?


  • Eric The Italian Chef

    Rolf, Congratulations on completing your trip! It's been a joy to follow you as a 20-something entpreneurer in LA and each post keeps me coming back for more. I spent a year abroad in Italy and it has impacted me so much that I now teach kids to cook Italian food and learn about Italian culture. On a more philosophical note, everyone I know wants to travel but it seems so hard: either one has the time or the money, but rarely both. After some soul-searching and creative thinking, I've figured out that I like to do mini excursions throughout the year, and then I'd love to do something bigger, but I'm in an apartment with a lease, and don't know how I could afford to pay rent, travel ticket and the price of the trip itself.

    How would you advise 20-somethings who yearn to travel but work 9-5 to realize their traveling dreams?

    • Rolf

      I'd consider saving up some travel funds, and taking a sabbatical (or unpaid leave). Then end the lease (or sublet) and hit the road. You might even consider working overseas, or doing location-independent work from some exotic locale. I have more info on this kind of thing in my first book, Vagabonding:

      Sounds like you're off to a great start. Happy travels!

  • Janice

    A fantastic way to meet people is through the global hospitality networks such as You can read people's references on their profiles and see how amazing this opportunity is. Rolf, any plans to visit Vancouver, BC?

    I am a dual citizen of Canada and New Zealand, and I'd have to agree that Thailand is also one of my favourite travel destinations. I've been to 42 countries so far….

  • Rolf

    I love Vancouver, BC! No plans to visit anytime soon, though…

  • Rolf – I really enjoyed following your adventure. I'm really glad you got a chance to experience this. It is very tempting for me to try something similiar in the future.

    Justin – Excellent videos on a shoestring. You are very talented. I'd love the option of buying a DVD with all the episodes of this trip.

    Scottevest – I'd love to see your take on a Photographer's vest with one pocket that could accept a DSLR with lense attached. I have a photographers vest but it isn't very stylish.

    • RolfPotts

      Cheers, Austin — and good luck in your own ultra-light journeys!

  • This was a great experiment and I loved following along so thanks for putting so much work into it (if you can call it work). I think it would be really liberating to travel without luggage. I might do a couple of short no luggage trips to see how I go, just for fun. Hope you enjoy your next adventure!

    • RolfPotts

      Thanks for reading, Andrea — and happy travels to you!

  • Chris

    That was excellent. I work from home and you kept my riveted for two full days with the video. Cheers!

  • Ugh! Week 5 of 52+ and I'm still way too heavy on the luggage. Time to purge again. Rolf, you are an inspiration to travelers everywhere. I can do this. Ireland this week, London next.

  • Frank

    Apply for the next No Baggage Challenge. Deadline in Nov.8th!

  • oh that sounds lovely! I think I could do it, except for the camera gear and a pair of comfy pajama pants, which is my little travel indulgence. Really though, not carrying anything sounds pretty freaking nice after lugging a broken backpage around Europe for 8 weeks. Good job!

  • Prhoward89

    You talked about shoes in SE Asia and asked for other comments. I am a relief worker who has spent considerable time in Indonesia, Thailand and other Asian and SE Asian countries and I always bring one shoe that I can wear into meetings etc (like your boots) and my standard Chaco flip-flops…and I usually end up wearing the flip-flops 95% of the time.

  • 1maia

    I'm glad you did it, i've always argued with my friends that the only way to travel without luggage is to be either a tramp (smelly) or rich (stay in hotels which provide towels etc) but i always envisaged only being allowed a toothbrush, phone, purse, biro, glasses, 1 spare knickers&socks, swimsuit and tampons. I've usually got much less than 2kg, except i always have lots of dictionaries and grammars. I took 4 dictionaries and 5 grammars to Germany alone, my back wished i hadn't. I never allow myself music or books and rarely a camera, because as you say you should experience the country around you, even on a 14hour bus trip. I've never not done my washing each night, but then i'm an older woman, i use fabric soap. I'm not sure about your no baggage thing being so extreme, you had quite a lot in your pockets, and you don't need a mountain of tampons etc. But i am extremely impressed with the no coat nor umbrella. In my case, i should always have taken more clothes (i am cursed with heavy extremely smelly sweat and and allergy to deodorants. great) and about one tenth of the books… It's money you can't travel light with. I agree with last poster about shoes, i just wear my hotters all the time (sensible middleaged ladies' laceup) if you walk 10 miles a day you need to be comfortable. From experience, a hairbrush is worth its weight: if your hair is long and you wash it constantly, you end up with one big knot on your head that has to be cut off at the roots! Currently i am purging my possessions because i wrecked my back again moving house. I can't have this much stuff! Although i am cheating by putting the vinyl on lossless format (not mp3)=same amount of possessions, just smaller, so no virtue.

  • Pingback: Best of the No Baggage Challenge | No Baggage Challenge -- Around the World with no luggage()

  • Scottevest

    Rolf- Congratulations of a great trip! We are now continuing the adventure and sending Jen and Marcus on their own No Baggage Challenge. This time for 90 DAYS!!! check it out here:

  • Kevin_Kelly


    What a fantastic challenge. I know this can be done because we did a bit of traveling this way in Asia in the 1970s. Just a small day pack with the barest essentials: just about what you had, toothbrush, extra shirt, etc.. Hop off and on buses, walk all day and then find a hotel.

    I want to write about this for publication, and would like to mention your awesome trip. For clarification purposes, where did you carry your bluetooth keyboard, contact saline solution and your one change of clothes? Did you carry then in a day pack? What kind (shoulder, backpack, in-hand)?

    I tell folks that no-luggage means carrying nothing that you would not carry around with you all day. One small daypack is allowed. Would you agree?

    • Rolf

      Hey Kevin,

      I just sent you an email with some details about this. You might also want to check out this link:

      The vest-packing strategy detailed in that video adjusted slightly when I was on the road, but that's the gist of it…

  • Great report Rolf – I'm a frequent business traveler and Scottevest Revolution jacket helped me in many flights.
    I never check-in a luggage anymore!!

  • This is a good post. We often pack unnecessary things, because some items into our comfort is a half-hearted attempt to take us home, there is not much need for psychological foam, the material on the road to enjoy on a great time.

  • Ren

    Check this out for a similar idea:

  • Wayne

    Thanks for inspiring me, I went bagaggeless and loved it