Traveling is most relaxing when you bring less.
Bringing too many possessions leads to stressful travel. In a way, excess baggage is symptomatic of our consumer culture: we stress ourselves by purchasing too much instead of making do with what we have.
Purchase less, reduce clutter, and simplify your travel plans. If you bring only carry-on luggage, you can avoid waiting for hours for your baggage at the airport. When you travel aboard a train or bus, you can easily carry all your possessions with you. Packing light makes for more flexible, more enjoyable travel.
Hsinya and I are going to fly to Taiwan this December bringing only carry-on luggage (1). We will be staying for three months, but we will only bring three backpacks worth of possessions to last us for the entire trip.
Here’s what I’m going to pack (including what I’ll be wearing):
- 1 pair of pants
- 1 pair of shorts
- 2 shirts
- 3 underwear
- 3 hand towels
- 2 pairs of socks
- 1 pair of pajama pants
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 beanie
- 1 sweater
- Wallet, Passport, Documents
- Gas mask
- Digital Camera
This gear will last me for three months. I will try to avoid making purchases while in Taiwan, aside from basic food and drink. My strategy for light travel: be resourceful with what you have.
- We hand-wash our clothes every day under the sink or in the bathtub. We sun-dry or air-dry with a fan. It only takes a few minutes.
- We layer our clothes so we don’t need to bring too many sweaters. Taiwan has moderate winters, so summer clothing worn in layers is probably enough to keep warm.
- All our cooking and eating can be done out of a single pot. We may purchase or borrow a used cast-iron pot to stir-fry, stew, bake, and eat out of. It’s the only dish we’ll need. The same idea applies to utensils: I’m going to stick with a single fork and a single spoon.
- Instead of bringing a bulky bath towel, I’m going to bring several hand-towels. They pack much smaller and I can use them to wipe my hands or dry off after a shower. Simply wring after use and let it air-dry.
- I’m going to rely on my laptop for reading e-books, working online, making phone calls, looking up map directions, sending faxes, and possibly checking snail mail (2).
When you are resourceful with what you have, you won’t need so much.
If you could only pack a single backpack worth of equipment to live with for 3 months, what would you bring?
- Flying is bad for the environment. I regret having bought the plane tickets. I’m considering traveling by cargo freighter next year.
- Earth Class Mail is one of many solutions for checking snail mail online. I haven’t ever used it personally, though.