Sunday, October 31, 2010

Baggage-Free Travel

I have written before about the concept of travelling light (Travelling Light, Travelling Lighter, and my Guide to Packing Light), and I’ve tried to practice what I preach – with less than perfect results – but Rolf Potts has taken the concept to the extreme. He recently completed a round the world trip which saw him spend 42 days on the road covering 34,440 miles; 12 countries; 3 oceans; 12 flights; and 4 train journeys - all with no luggage what-so-ever. Not even a man-bag or fanny pack.

Rolf is a travel writer, and his trip was sponsored by ScotteVest, a manufacture of travel clothing, and the travel website Boots-n-All.

The No Baggage Challenge, as it came to be called, essentially required Rolf to carry everything in his pockets. I have spent several hours already catching up on Rolf’s blog posts (the trip is now over), and I have become very excited about the possibilities of travelling with the absolute minimum of luggage (I don’t think I’m quite up to travelling with no baggage at all).

Here he is introducing the trip.


If you are interested in the concept of travelling light, I highly recommend you spend some time reading Rolf’s blog. Having no luggage was clearly very liberating, for him, but obviously it is not for everyone.


  1. In principle I agree that it's perfectly possible to travel with one small backpack (let's say 20 to 35L) without missing anything and enjoying your travel much more than with 20 awkward kilos on your back or wheeling behind you.

    But, it only works for uncomplicated travel where your only objective is to have fun on the beach or bars and generally do much of nothing in warm parts of the world. It sort of works if you're doing much on nothing in colder parts of the world during winter as well but where the concept completely disintegrates is if your plan is to actually have some fun or do some work.

    Want to go for a decent hike/climb, possibly multi day trip? You'll need proper shoes, extra clothing and miscellaneous gear (some, but not most of it could potentially be rented).

    Want to go freeride/touring skiing or mountainbiking? At the very least you need your own clothing, quite possibly your own boots and skis/bike, helmet and other protective gear (rental companies rarely stock decent stuff usable for more than the basic ride around town/resort).

    Scuba diving is rather easy in classic destinations as operators usually stock a lot of stuff but you're out of luck if you need prescription mask and/or if your face is just a bit funny and only one model fits you properly. Or if you end up somewhere like Ikaria where there are no diving outfits.

    There are numerous other examples and this Rolf guy admits as much although indirectly (in what I've read so far as least).

    What he was doing is your typical backpacking trip and it has to be said, I will never understand all those masses of backpackers in late teens/early twenties you tend to meet in hostels with 80L backpacks + 30L daypacks, chasing after trains and buses etc. They don't need 80% of what they carry.

    On the other hand I've had my share of heavyweight travel (looking exactly or worse like people mentioned above) but in all those cases there was hardly ever an extra item in my baggage. A charger I didn't have to plug in, extra pants and shirt that didn't get any use, a lens that could be missed... More often than not I would like to have many more so that I could do much more but I'm limited with what I can carry and how I get around.

    There was only one time where I totally failed in packing and was left with a largely extraneous 75L backpack full of stuff I didn't get to use. Rather than bringing most of my diving gear to Ikaria (but not all so I couldn't actually go for a dive) I should have brought my climbing gear. But that was not entirely my fault and I got over it by doing other fun things.

  2. Great input, thanks for that. My nephew on Ikaria loves to go spearfishing during summer (without diving gear), but quite frankly, I think hiking around the island would be much more interesting given the spectacular scenery there.

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  4. Thanks for sharing such useful information in your blog.

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