Seven Thoughts for Traveling Light
A lot of people ask me how I travel so light. Obviously, traveling light is the reason we invented the Onli Travel line of products – to help people feel the joy of travel, rather than being burdened by the luggage and logistics.
I regularly travel with just the Onli Travel backpack, sometimes for a week or more. I don’t find it difficult; it’s a lot easier than lugging around too much stuff! There are a lot of travel bloggers and writers out there who offer very good advice, so you may have read much of what I have to say below before. However, here are some of my thoughts on the topic of light-weight travel, and making travel easier and less stressful:
- Traveling light is a skill and a mindset… not a set of specific rules. I’m constantly learning new things about how to travel light, and my skills (and therefore ideas for the next generation of Onli Travel products!) are constantly evolving. If you envision how much more fun you’ll have, and how much less stress you’ll endure, traveling with just one bag, with (preferably) both hands free, you’ll naturally be drawn to learning how to do it. Two hands free is a cell phone you can use, and a cup of coffee you can drink, in any airport!
- Traveling light is easier than it ever was before! There are several reasons for this. Smartphones have consolidated what used to be many separate items – maps, guide books, alarm clocks, cameras, notepads, etc, - into a single small device. Modern fabrics have developed clothing that is lighter, dries faster, wrinkles less, and packs tighter than ever before. The shift to more casual clothing and business casual norms has also eliminated unneeded jackets, ties, etc. It is now possible for everything you need for a week long trip to fit into a small backpack – with room to spare.
- The bad news is that traveling light is also more necessary than it ever was before. Airports and airplanes are more crowded than ever. Airlines are under financial pressure, so they are charging heavier fees for bags, and restricting carry on luggage in ways that they never did before. The whole movement to “basic economy” allows passengers to travel more inexpensively than ever before… until they are charged extra for bags, and denied any carry on unless it fits under the seat in front of you. If you can pack light, you can take advantage of lower fares without the stress that they sometimes bring.
- Traveling light is easier if you have the right stuff, and are ready for it. For example, if you have a separate travel wardrobe, with light-weight/quick-drying clothes that pack easily and don’t wrinkle, then it is much easier to simply go to that part of your closet and pack what you need. It is also a good idea to have shoes that are good for travel; flats pack better than heels for women, and compressible loafers pack better than stiff dress shoes for men, for example. There is also a lot of ultra-light-weight workout gear and shoes available that can be packed very compactly, if you like to work out while traveling. If you already use an Onli Travel Venture backpack as your everyday commuting bag, then you simply have to unzip it, fold those travel clothes into the packing cubes, and drop the cubes into the expansion gusset and go.
- You almost never have to pack for more than a week, because some time in a week of travel, you’ll probably want to wash your clothes. Quick drying travel clothes can be washed in minutes in a hotel room sink, and are dry the next morning – without wrinkling. So, you never really need to pack more. You can fit a week’s worth of clothes in a small backpack; in fact, the Onli Travel backpack was designed to do exactly that. Note also, that most high quality light-weight travel clothes are also odor resistant, so it is possible to wear them for more than one day if needed.
- If you are able bodied, a backpack is superior to a suitcase, a duffel bag, or even a rolling suitcase. A backpack leaves both hands free. A backpack doesn’t slow you down if you have to maneuver through crowds or lines. A backpack also doesn’t impede you if you have to go up stairs or an escalator. And modest-sized backpacks are scrutinized less thoroughly when airlines check if carry on restrictions are met. And, as tastes and fashion have evolved, backpacks are now as accepted in business meetings or in the Boardroom as briefcases… and they are a lot more versatile… for example, if you ride your bike to the Board Meeting!
- Finally, to reduce stress, use a set of packing cubes that helps guide you to what you need. If you are traveling, for example, on a four day business trip, lay out what you plan to wear on each day. Then, a good idea is to pack for “one more day” in case you experience a flight delay or cancellation. A good set of packing cubes can help guide you because each cube will be designed for a specific purpose (e.g. shirts, shoes, underwear, toiletries, etc), so it’s harder to forget anything. And, if the cubes are designed specifically to fit in the suitcase, then if you pack what you need in the packing cubes, you know if it will fit in the suitcase, and you won’t have to worry about making it fit at the last minute.
I hope these thoughts are helpful! We’ll share more insights on how to travel light easily in future blog posts.
Dave and the Onli Travel team