Rolf Potts travels around
the world with no luggage

Reader challenge #5: Take your own No Baggage Challenge

October 4, 2010 by Rolf Potts

Ever since the journey began, I’ve promoted the notion that the No Baggage Challenge isn’t just about traveling around the world without luggage — it’s also an inquiry into simplifying material concerns and seeking rich life-experiences. This in mind, I’ve invited readers to join the adventure by participating in a weekly series of challenges — including challenges to lighten your load, explore your own town, unplug from the virtual world, and optimize your time wealth.  Each week’s challenge has had a competitive component (and the first few prize-winning entries have been announced on the No Baggage Challenge Facebook fan-page), but ideally this should be seen less as a competitive undertaking than a way to set personal goals and consider new ideas.

This week’s challenge — my final challenge, as the journey winds down — is for readers to plan and execute their own no-baggage adventures.  There are two ways to tackle this challenge: First, as a participant in an official contest, sponsored by ScotteVest, with prizes at stake; and second, as a more private and self-motivated challenge.

I’ll start by explaining the former:  If you’re interested in becoming the next official participant in the No Baggage Challenge, please surf on over to the audition guidelines at  Here you’ll find a full set of application rules.  Contestants are encouraged to record a video of no more than five minutes explaining what they would do on their very own No Baggage Challenge. It does not need to be as extensive as mine in days, miles or concept. Questions to consider in the audition video include: Where will you go? How long would it take? What would you bring? What challenges do you foresee? How would you overcome them? What special skills and perspectives do you bring to the table? How would you document this (writing/blogging, video, music, photos)? Is this something that you could realistically take time from work to accomplish? Basically, what would make your No Baggage Challenge informative, enjoyable and compelling to follow?

Because this final contest requires a bit of creativity and planning, ScotteVest will not start judging entries until November 1, 2010. The winner, who will be announced before December 1, 2010, will receive a ScotteVest travel outfit similar to my own, plus a $500 air travel voucher.  Again, the full rules for this contest are online at the ScotteVest website (while you’re there, note that No Baggage Challenge readers get 15% off any SeV product, through October 11 — just use the promotional code “NoBaggage” at checkout).

Since there can only be one official winner this time around, I encourage you to keep exploring the notion of minimalism and ultra-light travel at a personal level — regardless of whether or not you win the contest.  Thus, the challenge-within-the-challenge is this: Even if you don’t win (or even compete in) the contest, go ahead and take your own no-baggage adventure.  It needn’t even be a complicated or ambitious trip — it could just be a one-week journey to Europe, or a weekend road-trip with your family, or a no-baggage business trip of a day or two.  The idea isn’t to challenge yourself in relation to everyone else, but to fine-tune and improve your own way of traveling — to honestly assess what you really need on the road, and to emphasize experiences over possessions (both in travel and in life).

As you experiment with this, some of you might find no-baggage travel easy; others might find it incredibly difficult.  Your goal, however, need not be to do away with baggage forever, but to challenge yourself by testing a specific extreme, and to discipline yourself into making a serious inquiry into what “things” are really necessary in order to have a great time on the road.

Thus, while you prepare your official entries for the next No Baggage Challenge (and even if you elect not to formally enter), please feel free to sound your no-luggage and ultra-light travel ideas, plans, fears, and questions in the comments below.  Once I return home and have full-time laptop access, I’ll drop in regularly to give ideas and encouragement (and, no doubt, learn from your ideas and examples).  I especially encourage female travelers to give this ultra-light form of travel a try — so please share ideas and strategies

Good luck, and happy travels, everyone!

Share |
  • I can't believe your journey is already winding down… congratulations on all you've accomplished so far! I can't even get out of my house without several bundles, but, then again, I have a baby. I'm working on figuring out the minimum I need to take with me every day.

    When it comes to “travel” – I've got three more years as I cook and eat my way around the world – but my travel is virtual, from my kitchen. Kudos to you for being able to get out there and see the world!

  • Congrats on an awesome journey! I plan on travelling to Japan from the US for an extended stay, and plan on taking less with me than you did for your current trip, actually. I'll take a gander at that contest, thanks!

  • Thanks again for this wonderful blog, it was one of the highlights of last month for me! :o)

    I'm going to do my best to fit everything I'm taking with me to South-East Asia into a carry-on bag (besides my handbag) instead of the usual 17kg bag. I'm actually going to be there for 6-12 months, so I see that as quite a challenge. It will be marvelous not to have to wait for my luggage to show up on the conveyor belt after a long trip when all you want to do is get to a bed as soon as possible. Also, I won't have to worry about careless taxi drivers throwing my baggage around and damaging it (as has happened several times before) as I'll be able to keep it on my person at all times (until I leave it at my hotel room).

  • Lt401

    I'm definitely going to give this a go when I next go travelling, the freedom and conveniance of it must be fantastic. Congratulations and thanks for such a great blog!

  • I'm going to Japan for 10 days in November and am likely going to be doing it ultra light, but not no bags. It's a somewhat formal trip that is going to include frequent visits to fine restaurants and museums (traveling with my parents, so this is very out of the norm for me). But I think I can do it all with a small day pack to hold a slightly more robust extra set of clothes.

    I do want to try a no baggage trip and am confident I can do it when traveling by myself. Oddly, going with my girlfriend and family makes it a bit harder for me to go no bags.

  • Pingback: No-baggage field report: Full circle (week 6) | No Baggage Challenge -- Around the World with no luggage()

  • earthmother65

    i'd love to see a woman's version of this and also like the business travel edition, too. Rolf, what will we do without your blog? As so many have said, it's been a highlight of the post-summer vacation months!

  • Rolf

    Thanks, everyone — and good luck with your own no-baggage adventures!

  • If you want to enter the next SCOTTEVEST No Baggage Challenge, your entries are due by tomorrow Nov 1. Please see for details.

  • Pinegrove

    So, did your cameraman buddy carry any luggage items that you used?

    • Nope! The rules said: “I will be accompanied on the journey by Justin Glow, my video cameraman. Justin will carry a daypack for his computer and camera equipment, and he will assist me in getting my stories and videos online. On a practical-logistical level, however, Justin will not exist during the No Baggage challenge. That means I can’t stow items in his bag or borrow anything he brings with him. Not even a spot of toothpaste.”

      You can read all of the rules here:

  • After discovering your blog, I made my first and successful attempt right after. I went to Germany and Jordan from and back to Japan with no luggage whatsoever. The only problem I had was the persistent nature of my relatives begging me to take food and whatnot back with me (all stuff that can't be sent to Japan nor taken along with me due to the complicated and strict nature of Japanese customs.)

  • Wow nice idea to travel without baggae :)