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7 Reasons To Travel With One Bag

by Ian MacKenzie Jan 31, 2007
Whenever you pack for a trip, the temptation to take too much can be overwhelming. Here’s 7 concrete reasons to leave most of your stuff at home.

When planning for our 2 month trip to Southeast Asia in winter 2005, my girlfriend and I decided we would only take a single bag.

And no, this wouldn’t be a large, cumbersome backpack like the ones perpetually seen by eager backpackers around the world. We each pledged to stick with a regular size backpack, like one you would fill with schoolbooks and a lunchbox.

Others thought we were crazy. “How can you travel for two months with that little thing?” Truthfully, we didn’t really know how we’d manage it. But we arrived at the airport, boarded the plane, and journeyed into strange new lands with literally little more than the clothes on our back.

And it was the best decision we could have ever made.

But don’t let me tell you why. Here’s a variety of authors around the web offering sage wisdom on why you should travel with one bag.

1. You Can Usually Buy Clothing On The Road

Sharpen your packing skills and save yourself loads of travel stress. Choose light, wrinkle-free fabric clothing. Make sure that some of your clothing does double-duty: a sarong can be used as a skirt and beach cover-up.

Place clothes in a plastic bag and squeeze out excess air. Always pack a swimsuit, and wear layers on the airplane (which saves room in your suitcase). And remember: You can usually buy needed clothing on the road. — from National Geographic Traveler

2. You Will Conquer Your Fear Of The Unknown

People overpack because of timidity and fear of the unknown, both largely results of inexperience. Pack your chosen bag with the items you plan to take. Put on the shoes you plan to wear.

Then take a one-hour walk around town, ideally including an ample assortment of stairs, poor walking surfaces, and the like. Stop for brief rests as necessary, but don’t spend the hour in a café! If you’re still happy at the end of your excursion, make your travel reservations. — from

3. All Your Luggage Is Carry-on

When your luggage is carry-on you won’t lose your luggage, you bag doesn’t get thrown, dropped or otherwise abused, and if you have a tight connection you know your bag will be with you, wherever you end up. If you really need to change your clothing (or get something out of your bag) you can. You will spend less time fighting with your bags, have less to keep track of, and less to worry about losing. — from

4. You Can Discover What Is Truly Essential

Packing light offers less tangible but very real benefits. It’s a chance to pare down and simplify our lives, to discover what is truly essential and what is not. It’s a reminder that we’re more than the sum of our possessions. There’s really no difference between packing for a week and packing for a month or longer. — from San Francisco Chronicle

5. You Don’t Have To Worry About Lost Luggage

In this age of airline fare wars, globalization, and the euro, traveling across multiple borders is increasingly common. Combined with the horror stories of lost luggage that never made it to the baggage claim, the option of traveling with just one bag is becoming more and more attractive.

Unless your trip is highly specialized or requires carrying certain items, it is possible to travel and even live indefinitely out of one bag. — from WikiHow

6. Your Transportation Options Are Flexible

Transportation becomes simpler because you don’t have to find someone who can transport a number of large bags. For example, some remote towns use motorcycles as taxis. Imagine trying to hold onto a number of huge bags on the back of a motorcycle.

Remember the traveler’s motto: It’s better to bring half of what you think you need, and twice as much money. — from

7. Because Rick Steves Says So

You’ll never meet a traveler who, after five trips, brags, “Every year I pack heavier.” The measure of a good traveler is how light she travels. You can’t travel heavy, happy, and cheap. Pick two. — from Transitions Abroad

Any other reasons you can think of to travel with one bag?

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