Thoughts on health, happiness and sustainability

Hero image

The benefits of travelling light

We visited my parents for a night before setting off on our holiday to Thailand and Australia at Christmas, and I was feeling rather pleased that Vineeta and I had both managed to pack for a three week holiday in one small hand luggage sized suitcase each, and that we even had space to spare.

We weren’t scrimping either as we both had two pairs of shoes, enough clothes for a week, Christmas presents for our family in Australia, rain jackets, books, and I had my DSLR camera. It wasn’t so difficult to achieve. All we really did was ask ourselves tough questions about what we really needed, rolled our clothes tightly, selected more space efficient clothing, such as minimalist footwear, and wore our bulkier items, such as jeans and a jumper for the plane journey.

Inside the suitcase

Not such a brilliant idea?

My Mum, however, was not so impressed. In fact, she found the idea of not taking a big suitcase so ridiculous and hard to compute that I thought her brain was about to explode. Apparently, instead of impressing her with our efficiency, we had once again demonstrated that we are a pair of weirdos who can’t do anything like normal people. Our plan was foolish and she didn’t want to hold back in letting us know it. I tried to justify the benefits but I was so taken by surprise that I couldn’t actually remember why we had decided to travel light.

The pro’s and con’s in hindsight

Now that I have completed the trip and am back home, however, the practical benefits are thankfully reminding me that we did have some good reasons. So here goes.

  1. You don’t have to spend ages queuing to check in luggage at the airport. You just print your boarding pass and walk straight in.  This might not sound like much, but when you see the queues at the airport, you suddenly feel like you are travelling first class as you breeze past everyone.
  2. You don’t need to risk hurting your back lifting big, heavy cases in and out of vehicles, up staircases, and on and off trolleys and baggage carousels.
  3. There’s no risk of the airline losing your luggage, as I realised when my parents-in-law arrived flustered in Bangkok thinking that Thai Airways had lost their luggage.  Luckily for them, it turned out that it was just a misunderstanding, but it was a stressful situation that could have been avoided.
  4. You don’t need to worry about your luggage getting damaged in transit or about anyone tampering with it.  No travel padlocks or shrink wrap required because your luggage is always with you.
  5. It’s more eco-friendly because less weight needs to be transported to 30,000 feet. It in no way excuses me flying across the world for a holiday but any saving in emissions is not to be sneezed at.
  6. Less bags means that you don’t have your hands full. Having at least one hand free makes me feel more secure in foreign cities and also allows me to use my other hand for all the other things that hands are really good at.
  7. It makes it easier to catch taxis with smaller luggage because the limiting factor, especially in a group of four, is often not the number of seats but the size of the taxis boot.
  8. It makes it far far easier to cross towns and cities on foot or public transport when you don’t have heavy, awkward suitcases to drag behind you.  You feel less exhausted and put less strain on your back.
  9. It makes you think twice before buying things on holiday that you really don’t need.

Those are just a few of the benefits that I experienced after a few days on this trip. The only downside seemed to be that you can’t take liquids over 100ml in your hand luggage on a plane, but that’s hardly a deal breaker.  Overall, I can honestly say that I enjoyed my holiday more because I carried less.

It wasn’t the first or the last time

Actually this isn’t the first time that we’ve travelled light.

The first time I ever tried was a few years ago when I took the train with a friend to Yorkshire to run a half marathon. I took everything I needed for a weekend away plus running gear in a small day rucksack. Yes, it was tight but it worked perfectly and I didn’t feel that I missed anything. Then we went for a three week holiday to America and packed everything we needed, including both hot and cold weather clothing into our hand luggage.

Since then, with the exception of travels by car in which we tend to treat the car as our suitcase on wheels, we’ve not been on a trip with more than a small hand luggage size case and a small rucksack each.

Travelling light makes travel easier and less tiring both physically and mentally. Now I’m wondering what it would be like to go away with no luggage at all.

No comments yet.

Be the first one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *