Sometimes I fantasize about dropping my backpack over a bridge or just letting go of it as I walk along the street. It would be so easy…
While traveling, a few people have commented on my luggage, specifically the lack of it. “Is that all you have?” they say.
The photo below, taken in my hotel room here in Hoi An, Vietnam, shows my 40 liter Osprey backpack and contents since I left London about 2 months ago. The only changes have been the loss of my Gortex boots and additions of a pair of green cotton trousers and rain poncho.
This is what I’ll be traveling with for the foreseeable future. It’s also everything I own. My trip doesn’t have an end date so it’s vital I stay light.
I had more stuff when I began traveling seriously last year and this post was originally intended as a document of the evolutions my luggage has gone through since then. It was going to include reviews of the different bags I’ve owned and links to where to buy them. However I realized there was something more fascinating at stake – where is my obsession with reduction going?
I mean, I’m never going to acquire more stuff, this is a process that can’t be reversed. Besides, I get too much pleasure from thinking about how to reduce my gear – sometimes I even think about it while falling asleep, visualising each item, probing what might stay or go.
And there’s the joy of giving things away. In a coffee shop in Bangkok a few months ago, I was reading a blog post by someone who hates taking hiking boots when he travels. I looked down at the boots on my feet and laughed. A minute later they belonged to the woman serving in the coffee shop. And just last night I gave the rain poncho I bought in Hanoi to a British guy on his way to Vietnam. I’ve never regretted giving anything away.
Getting rid of my boots made a huge impact. Not just in terms of weight, but psychologically too. It was as if a new depth of being and possibilities had opened up within me. If I could part with my boots so easily, what next? How few possessions could I survive with? And what will I have become if I had none of it?
Sometimes I fantasize about fast forwarding the process and dropping my backpack over a bridge or just letting go of it as I walk along the street. It would be so easy…just a small release of my fingers…the bag falls away…
UPDATE JANUARY 2017: The next stage of minimalism has begun!