” You're an idiot,”? was the exact reaction I got from my mom when I told her that I would be packing ultra-light.
What do I mean when I say I'll be packing ultra-light? Well I'm trading in my 65 litre Eagle Creek Explorer LT for a Futura 28 Day Pack, and that is the only bag I'll be taking on my 4 month trip to South-East Asia. OK, so now you think I'm an idiot too, don't you?
It's not an original idea and it has been done successfully before. I first heard of this style of travel through a series of blog posts on Gadling called Life Nomadic. I was intrigued to the learn of author Tyan, who has been a huge proponent of this style of travel, having traveled this way for years.
I've always traveled light. On my first trip, my backpack weighed in at under 20lbs, fully loaded. I smirked every time another traveler would walk into my hostel wearing a 90L monster packed to the brim with whatever didn't fit hanging off the side like a traveling salesman.
Scaling down my gear to a 28L pack may seem impossible but really it's not, the golden rule is light, thin clothes and less of them. That coupled with upgrading my gear to the smallest option available will make it possible. For example, instead of taking a day pack I'll be taking a Kiva Key Chain Pack, which is a full day pack that will scrunch up into a little zippered package small enough to fit on a key chain.
For my trip to Cuba, I used an even smaller bag as a test. Though I was staying in one place throughout the entire trip, it wasn't a true test, but it did assure me that my plan was plausible.
But why would I want to put myself through the strain of having to do without?
Besides the obvious advantage of not hauling around the extra weight, I will enjoy several other benefits, mainly that I can take everything I own everywhere. I probably won't always, but if I ever feel that my room isn't secure then I won't suffer when I take it with me. I will also be taking my pack on treks with me. In particular, if there is a trek that follows a point A to point B route, then usually guest houses will arrange for your bags to be sent to your destination.
Maybe it's just my obsession with reading horror stories, but I don't like the idea of parting with my only possessions on the continent for extended periods of time. By packing ultra-light, I won't have to.
Considering I'll be on approximately 11 flights in the next year, across multiple countries and carriers, packing this light will allow me to keep my possessions within arm's reach at all times. If my bag were to get lost even for a few days it would be a monumental setback. Doesn't skipping the baggage claim after a long flight sound like a little slice of heaven?
The most enticing reason for me to travel ultra-light is the sheer challenge. It will make me a more disciplined, and efficient traveler. Even when I want nothing more then the roomy comfort of me old bag, I will have no choice but to persevere.
Travel is all about pushing yourself and your comfort zones, and what better way is there to do that than by taking the road less traveled? Below is the video explaining how to pack ultra-light that inspired me to push myself.