Now that travel for work is back on the menu, I’ve been trying to upgrade my “pack light” game.
I’ve been inspired in part by Beau, who I first met during my trip to South Africa in 2019 during my Automattic onboarding. Beau travelled from the US for a two week jaunt with nothing but hand luggage, and it blew my mind.
For my trip to Vienna earlier this year for a divisional meetup, I got by with just a backpack and a laptop bag. Right now, I’m waiting to fly to Rome for a week, and I’ve ditched the laptop bag in favour of just a single carry-on backpack. About 7kg of luggage, and well within the overhead locker size limit.
I’m absolutely sold on this approach. I get to:
- walk past the queues for luggage drop (having checked-in online),
- keep the entirety of my luggage with me at all times (which ensures it goes where I do),
- breeze through security1, thanks to smart packing2
- walk right out of the airport at the other end without having to wait for the flingers to finish smashing everybody’s luggage into the carousels.
As somebody who’s travelled “heavy” for most of my life – and especially since the children came along – it’s liberating to migrate to a “pick up a bag and go” mindset. To begin with, the nagging thought that I must’ve forgotten something essential was challenging, but I think I’ve gotten past that stage now.
Travelling light feels like carefree: like being a kid again, when all you needed was the back on your back and you were ready for an adventure. Once again, I’ve got a bag on my back3 and I know that everything I need for an adventure is right here with me4.
1 If you’ve travelled with me before, you might have noticed that I sometimes have trouble at borders on account of my damn stupid name, as predicted by the Passport Office. I’ve since learned all the requisite tricks to sidestep these problems, but that’s probably worthy of a post in its own right.
2 A little smart packing goes a long way. In the photo above, you might see my pre-prepared liquids bag in a side pocket, my laptop slides right out for separate scanning, my wallet and phone just dump out of my pockets, and I’m done.
3 I don’t really have a bag on my back right now. I’m sat in a depature lounge at Gatwick Airport. But you get the idea.
4 Do I really have everything I need? I’ve not brought a waterproof coat and, looking at the weather forecast at my destination, this might have been a mistake. But worst case I can buy a cheap poncho at the other end. That’s the kind of freedom that being an adult gets you, replacing the childlike freedom to get soaked and not care.