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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