Business travelers are no strangers to the idea of bringing everything they need in a carry-on, and I have been privileged to interact with a lot of die hard business travelers in my current (but outgoing) job. These people are all about efficiency , and they know that it is asking for trouble to trust your financial and emotional livelihood (wardrobe, work, and personal life) to an airline. That’s why they rely so much on those wheelie-rollie suitcases, that technically count as carry-ons, while affording the utmost luggage space possible.
Don’t get me wrong. These things are well-designed for their purpose. They pack a lot of stuff in a U.S.-airline-sized carry-on that you can wheel on the well-paved areas between your cab rides. They also hold all the things business travelers like to have on the road: things like laptops, multiple changes of clothes, cameras, iPods, papers, books and the like. But for travelers who are unlikely to be able to rely on things like pavement and cab rides between A and B, these heavy, big bags just don’t cut it for mobility.
On the opposite end of the spectrum , you tend to find the hippyish backpacker types. Usually no less materialistic than the average business traveler, these people tend to emphasize the freedom of a functional backpack, advocating large packs that hold a lot of stuff relatively comfortably. Unfortunately, this also tends to scream “budget-traveling Westerner.” These people also tend to take up the space of two people on buses and trains, and often deal with the chronic back pains of lugging way too much stuff around on their backs.
That has left us with only one real option: the one-bag movement. Don’t judge this idea by the ’90s web design–the message is pure. These folks advocate taking a small carry-on bag that is also extremely mobile in other modes of travel. The idea is to pack light enough that you can carry everything you need on your back all day if necessary, while still enjoying yourself. Obviously, this is an approach that involves trade-offs, but it’s the approach we’ve chosen.
For instance, “hand-washed laundry” is going to be a phrase that takes on whole new meaning for us. But the benefit is a degree of freedom that is generally unheard of in travel: we can leave our possessions behind, in a very spiritual sense. That may sound cliched, but anyone who, like me, tends to carry a man-bag or purse around everywhere they go also knows the feeling of freedom you get when you don’t have to babysit your bag or its contents. By traveling ultralight, we’re only responsible for a few core things.
This is the nature of the travel we intend to undertake, and the reason for my puritanical anti-materialist, one-bag fixation. Of course, the biggest contradiction to all of this is my own camera gear. I’m still working on that.
I think we’ll post more detailed info about exactly what and how we are packing (although you can see some pics of our bags above), so please stick it out. Who knows, you may learn something useful for your own travels…