Starting tomorrow, travel writer Rolf Potts will embark on a trip that will take him around the world without using a single piece of luggage. This post will explain how he’s going to do it, and there’s a kick-ass giveaway at the end…
For six weeks he will explore 12 countries on five continents, crossing the equator four times, without carrying so much as a man-purse. The few items he does bring will be tucked away in his pockets. Though he’s a seasoned minimalist traveler (famous from his book Vagabonding), he usually travels with a single overhead-bin-perfect backpack, the Eagle Creek Thrive 65L. It’s been his go-to bag for the last 3-4 years.
So why attempt to travel the world with no luggage at all?
Rolf sees his journey as a real-time experiment in traveling ultra-light, and “a field-test for a more philosophical idea — that what we experience in life is more important than what we bring with us.”
While circumnavigating the globe with no luggage sounds like a clear enough proposition, it can raise a few semantic issues. What, for example, counts as a bag? Rolf has set up a set of ground rules to guide his own journey, including:
– No bags on the journey (not even a man-purse or grocery store bag, unless the latter is used en route to a meal).
– No borrowing items from his cameraman or using his cameraman as a pack mule.
– Borrowing or buying items along the way is permitted but excludes bags.
Since most people don’t travel with a film crew, Rolf’s advice for the average no-baggage traveler is a bit broader than the rules he’s set for himself. Here are 8 key tips from Rolf on how to plan and execute a no-luggage journey.
In Rolf’s words…
1) Manage the journey from your mobile phone.
A smartphone could well be the most important tool for a baggage-less traveler. It can store your boarding passes and other important documents, make phone calls from virtually anywhere in the world (with a swappable SIM card) and even act as a miniature blogging tool.
I recommend an iPhone with a foldable Bluetooth keyboard, which allows you to fit your mobile office inside a single jacket pocket. The iPhone can be loaded with a series of applications to replace everyday day items carried on a normal trip. The Kindle app lets you leave behind bulky books, and Genius Scan lets you use you iPhone’s camera as a makeshift scanner so you can quickly save receipts and email them to yourself on the fly. Wikihood utilizes the phone’s GPS to serve location-relevant Wikipedia articles, which is a unique and interesting alternative to a guidebook. Throw in your favorite currency converter, phrase book, and flight tracker, and you’ve got a single device in your pocket more powerful than its dead-weight paper counterparts.
Lonely Planet series of phrase books (multiple links depending on language)
Currency converter: “Currency”
2) Keep your footwear simple and practical.
With no bags, the only shoes you’re going to want to bring is whatever you’re wearing from day to day.
I’m traveling with a pair of Blundstone boots I bought in Australia in 2006. I’ve worn these boots all over the world the past four years, from Paris to Ethiopia to the Falkland Islands, and they’ve served me great. They work for hiking in remote environments, yet they’re easy to slip off and on at airport security.
Some travelers might prefer Chaco or Teva sandals (if nothing else to save packing socks) — and I won’t fault them for that — but my Blundstones look nice enough that they will get me into places where sandals might seem too informal. You are on your feet constantly when you travel, of course, so whichever footwear you choose to bring (be it sandals or boots or running shoes), make sure you aim for comfort, simplicity, and durability.
(Note from Tim: I opt for darker-colored Keen Newport Bison Leather Sandals. If you use black or dark socks, since they have closed toes, you can easily get into restaurants or even pass for business casual if you tuck the tightening strings in.)
3) Buy or borrow certain items as you go.
An old vagabonding adage goes, “Pack twice the money and half the gear.”
The same notion applies to no-luggage travel — even if you’re only packing a tenth of the gear. If a journey takes you to a beautiful beach region, odds are you can buy rubber flip-flop sandals there for a few dollars. If a given city is rainy, cheap umbrellas should be in plentiful supply — and if you get sick, the world is full of pharmacies (many of which are better-suited to cure local ailments that whatever medicine you might have packed).
Should you travel your way into cold weather, thrift stores are a good place to buy a warm jacket (which can be given way to a needy person or left in a hostel swap-box when you leave). You can also borrow things from other travelers along the way. You don’t want to be obnoxious about this, of course, but most travelers don’t mind sharing a spot of toothpaste or a couple of aspirin, and asking for these kinds of things can be a great way to strike up a conversation at the hostel or on the hiking trail.
4) Be disciplined and strategic with what you choose to bring along.
Packing light can be enough of a challenge when you have a small backpack, let alone when you have to keep all your gear in your pockets. This in mind, don’t bring anything you’re not going to use every day.
Nail clippers can be borrowed along the way; rain ponchos can be purchased on rainy days. I left my razor out of the equation (it was better to let my beard grow and then get a hard razor shave in Morocco), and before the trip I cut my hair so short I won’t ever need shampoo. Any big-box retailer should have bins of tiny deodorants and collapsible toothbrushes to keep your toiletries micro-sized. Camping stores will sell 3-ounce snap-top storage bottles that work well for toting concentrated laundry detergent or multipurpose liquid soap. Err on the side of minimalism; you can buy or borrow items along the way.
5) Wear travel gear with strategically located pockets.
If you travel without any bags, this means whatever gear you bring will have to fit in your pockets. My journey is co-sponsored by ScotteVest, an Idaho-based sportswear company that specializes in travel clothing with multiple pockets.
Most of my gear fits into the ScotteVest Tropical Jacket, which has 18 pockets of differing sizes. A majority of these pockets are accessed from the inside, which (a) is a nice deterrent against pickpockets, and (b) saves me the “dork factor” of looking like I’m traveling the world dressed like a confused trout fisherman. I can carry a majority of my gear in this jacket without looking ridiculous — plus the sleeves zip off, so I usually wear it as a vest. I’m also wearing a pair of Ultimate Cargo Pants from ScotteVest, though I’ve packed light enough that I rarely have to use the large cargo pockets. ScotteVest isn’t the only company that makes travel gear with utility pockets, of course; your local camping outfitter or travel-specialty store should provide you multiple gear options, and you can choose the clothing that best fits your needs.
6) Use a minimal rotation of clothing.
Essentially, you’ll want to travel with little more than the clothes on your back — but you will want to bring a few spare clothing items to keep things fresh and ensure you won’t get too stinky.
Given that I wear cargo pants, a travel vest, socks, underwear, and a short-sleeved t-shirt under a long-sleeved shirt on a typical day of my trip, I keep one spare t-shirt, two extra pairs of socks, and two extra pairs of underwear in my pockets.
Each night I wash the day’s socks, underwear and t-shirt in the hotel/hostel sink, and these items are dry enough to pack by morning. I’ve been washing the cargo pants about once a week (and I have yet to wash the travel vest). Some people take short no-luggage trips with even fewer clothes, but my arrangement isn’t bulky and ensures that I always have a rotation of fresh socks, underwear and t-shirts.
(Note from Tim: Here what I pack for an uber-light trip, in this example less than 10 pounds total. ExOfficio underwear are a lifesaver.)
7) Utilize the postal system for souvenirs and extra gear
With airlines baggage fees quickly spiraling upward, many travelers these days are saving money and hassle by mailing certain items to one or more destinations along their itinerary.
If, say, you’re traveling from warm climates into cold climates, you can mail your warm clothing to the first cool destination (just make a pre-arrangement with the hotel you’ll be staying at in that location). On that same token, traveling without luggage doesn’t mean you have to forgo buying souvenirs — if just means you won’t be able to carry them. To solve this problem, just hit the local post office and mail that Balinese mask or Latvian amber or Syrian silk home.
This is actually a strategy that can be employed when you’re traveling with luggage: The souvenirs you find along the way might be nice, but there’s no sense in dragging them along with you. It’s worth the expense to ship them.
8) Remember: Travel is about the experience, not what you bring with you.
In the end, that remember that going without luggage and packing ultra-light need not be an extreme act. It isn’t a contest, or a rite of travel-superiority: It’s just a great way to eliminate distractions and concentrate on the experience of the journey itself.
Freed of baggage, there’s little to forget or lose on the road. You don’t have to stow anything, guard anything, or wait for anything (aside from the occasional train or bus): You can just throw yourself into the adventure and make the most of your travels.
If you’ve ever fantasized about taking time off to globe-trot, I would highly recommend Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding. It is one of only two books I took with me when I traveled the world for 18 months. Outside Magazine founding editor Tim Cahill calls Vagabonding “the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written.”
I recently partnered with Rolf to release the exclusive audiobook for Vagabonding. For more on this incredible book, click here.
Afterword: So how’s Rolf doing? How’s he actually holding up? Check out his progress here, in real-time on the RTW (Round-The-World) blog.
Question of the Day (QOD): What tricks for light travel have you learned along the way? Please share in the comments. The more detail, the better.
Prize of the Post: Leave an answer to the QOD by this Sunday at midnight PST (8/22), and one of the best comments (hard to objectively say one is “best”) will get a Sonos ZonePlayer 120 ($499 retail) and two Klipsch speakers ($389 retail)! Just download the Sonos app for iPhone/iPod Touch, and you’ve got a killer home stereo system that can play just about anything, including Pandora and Rhapsody.
The goodies will ship directly from me in an S5 box (as I now have a new S5 setup). Look forward to your tips!
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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485 Replies to “How to Travel 12 Countries with No Baggage Whatsoever”
Hey Tim and 4HWW community….
thought id take the opportunity to ask some advice regarding my 7 year old son…Im a divorced Dad and im looking at moving to thailand as my TMI is at a point I can do so. I have had this dream since i visited there at the age of 16 and have been there back and forth since and now im 32. With all the capabilities of modern tech regarding staying in contact….skype, email, youtube, blogs etc…. is it ok for me to go and not feel guilty about leaving my son in Australia. i can afford to have him there every school holidays, and his mother and i are on pretty good terms….to follow my dreams or conform to norm….. help…
loving dad and dreaming traveller
@Chris Dunn: Carrying stuff in the pockets is comfortable so far. The vest can be hot at times, but then so can a backpack on your back. So no worries so far on pocket-based travel.
@Dave: Haven’t had customs hassles yet in regard to not carrying anything — but it could still happen. Stay tuned!
@David Miller and others: Regarding my liquids, airport security has been no problem so far. My detergent and soap are already in a ziplock, so I just add my toothpaste and contact solution and put it all in the tray. Takes about 15 second and I don’t have to take the vest off.
@Ari Herzog: I’m with you on not carrying a cell phone! That said, on a no-baggage trip it can do a lot more than communication — it can carry your books and translation tools, etc. But I’m all for traveling without one if you don’t want to.
@Anon: Regarding washing clothes, see the video in this post:
Wow this is great! 🙂
I was already impressed by your own video where you showed us how to pack lightly but this is really pushing it!
This is also the first time I’ve seen Rolf even though I am familiar with his work. It’s funny how people sometimes look completely different than you imagined.
Anyway I’m really looking forward to the progress of this, I bet it will be of great value!
@Peatt Raftis: I love your female traveler tips! And I completely agree that a smile goes a long way on the road (though I’m less sold on bringing a knife — I used to carry one, but I rarely used one.
@Katie Joy: I love the “salt rock” idea; I’ll have to keep an eye out for one…
@madteckhead: I dig the tech tips – cheers!
@Ultra Ultralight: The problem with going commnado is that is just transfers the travel-funk straight to your pants, which are harder to wash. Love the idea about washing the clothes while wearing them, though; I’ll have to try that.
@dave: Good point on emailing yourself your vital info regarding credit cards and passport #, etc. You might even consider emailing yourself scanned images of your important documents so that you have everything about them you could possibly need.
In Madrid and running out of online time here in the hostel — thanks to you all for the comments and suggestions, and I hope to reply to more of them when I have a moment in Morocco this weekend…
@ Rolf: My justification for a knife is that, as mentioned, I like to be prepared for emergencies, especially medical ones. I also like to eat meat and apples. I prefer to cut them both. Sometimes I whittle. Okay, not really, but I could. If I’ve duct taped something to something that I need to retrieve later, I cut it off. And I have a penchant for fur, so imagine the road-kill-booty-turned-fuzzy-foot- gear! I like to have options.
Aren’t the safety pins a weapon?
@Jaya: there is a city by the coast of Sao Paulo called Guaruja. The city is very beautiful, but unfortunately there are very striking social inequalities in the place. While on one hand many millionaires have houses where they spend the summer in the city, on the other hand many of the locals live in the slums. Try going to a club wearing an Armani shirt and Diesel pants, and coming back home at 5am (when the party ends) through the beach. High chances thieves you’ll get all your clothes! And if you’re wearing fancy underwear….
mannnn i wrote like 2 pages and it didn’t post i don’t know whats up with that but if if its saved ill repost if not some other time
great post though
I’m more of a self-contained traveler or as they would say a “girl scout” but I must say the idea of replacing any hand carry with utilizing the pockets of your travel vest is great especially if you are to bring only the essential stuffs that you would realy need along your journey. So goodbye to vanity and excess toiletries because for sure you’ll definitely be able to find a passable substitute at your destination. But I would strongly suggest bringing along at least a few of your trusty medications for headaches/colds and an all-in-one gadget (like a camera-video-roaming fone) which saves pocket space.
I would admit this would be a great challenge for someone like me but then I guess there are those who really can pull this off. Cheers to you Rolf!
Realised I missed the many uses of Lavender and Tea Tree oils.So here are some.
Lavender is good for:
For the skin lavender helps abscesses, acne, allergies, athlete’s feet and fungal infections, boils, bruises, burns, cold sores, cuts, dermatitis, eczema, hives, inflammations, insect bites and stings, lice, psoriasis, rashes, ringworm, scabies, scars, shingles, stretch-marks, sunburns and wounds.
Circulation, muscles and joints aches and pains, helps reduce cellulite, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, Lumbago, reduces swelling and pain, relaxes tight
muscles, joint pain, rheumatism, and sprains.
Respiratory Asthma (when associated with emotional trauma), bronchitis, coughs, colds, congestion, flu, laryngitis, throat infections, whooping cough, and sinus infections.
Digestion colic, improves digestion, nausea, gas, and is soothing to the intestines.
Nervous system balances the emotions, it’s calming and uplifting. It just makes you feel better. It also helps with convulsion and epilepsy, delusions, depression, insomnia, headaches and migraines, nervous tension, trembling, panic, relaxing, stress, shock, and vertigo. It even helps with pms.
Some other uses are scanty or painful periods, and it even is said to help with breaking bad habits.
Lavender can be used neat or straight from the bottle. Most essential oils aren’t safe to use this way
Tea Tree is good for:
Tea tree oil has been proven to be a powerful yet natural antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal medicine (essential oil).
It is being used as a very effective first aid remedy and against countless skin ailments, infections, cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites and skin spots etc.
Tea tree oil is effective against nail fungus, ringworm, athlete’s foot, dandruff, acne, blackheads and many types of infestations including lice, mites, scabies and mosquitoes etc… (For humans and animals alike)
Tea tree oil is not just soothing and disinfecting, it is capable of penetrating into the lower skin layers with its anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, analgesic (pain-killing) and cicatrizant (wound-healing) qualities.
An anti-fungal for treating Athlete’s Foot, eczema, various yeast infections, etc.
An antiseptic to be used on cuts and burns.
An anti-viral: it may lessen the symptoms of colds and flu. Try using a few drops
Tea tree oil exhibits expectorant and balsamic characteristics, which are especially beneficial in the case of throat or chest infections, having a generally soothing and clearing (mucus-expelling) effect on the entire respiratory tract. It is also effective against head colds.
Both can be used as a cleaning aid as they are anti fungal,anti viral, and work against mold.
Both can be used as insect repellent.
Both can be combined on insect bites or blisters.
Both can be used a few drops in shoes/clothes that are stinking!
There are probably more uses than in the above!
They come in small dark bottles starting at 5ml size so thats not that much size or weight for a “mini medicine chest” and all the other uses it has.
Enjoy your time!
@CW I had little 2.5″ sewing needles taken from me by Guatemalan security, after I had gone through the US and Ecudaor without a problem. So, I guess the safety pin is a crap shoot.
Loved Vagabonding, almost as much as some other book called 4 Hour Workweek…
This advice was passed on to me in preparation for my four month stay in Europe and I still use it to this day regardless of duration of trip.
1) Layout what you *think* you need for the trip.
2) Divide items into three parts.
3) Only pack 1/3 (if not less).
Even then, I don’t end up using everything I pack, nor seldom end up missing anything I left behind.
It is just insane. Many of my friends are hardly managing to pack for a week within the 20kg limit. I look forward to see Rolf’s journey. Good Luck!
Scottevest now has iPad compatible jackets!
Well, I’d just add two tips for ladies:
*use a monthly cup instead of pads or tampons. It’s tiny, small, and really changes your life since yon don’t need to change your protection during the day, don’t need to find some bin to throw it, etc.
*take a pareo: I use mine as skirt / dress / sheet / protection again AC / sun / light / bag (if properly folded)…
Lots of awesome advice here so don’t want to sound repetitive. However, I’m in the minority on this board at least and don’t really ENJOY traveling TOO light. My personal time on vacation is super valuable and I don’t want to spend any of it hunting down items at stores or having to leech off others or use random hotel products that may not suit me. And as long as I’m fine carrying what I’ve brought, I don’t care to spend too much time or thought on how to be even lighter. If anything, it’s a great workout carrying my stuff around!
That said, a few things that I do like to do/advise: 1) I carry a copy of my passport in my wallet — I was recently stopped by in Thailand by a cop at a drug/alcohol checkpoint while riding in a taxi and it probably saved me a ton of trouble, 2) Print out all itineraries – we may be in an electronic culture, but overseas having printed copies is essential, 3) I wear my heaviest clothes on planes — usually because it can be quite cold, 4) Ex-Officio underwear is great to have esp as a backup when you can’t really do laundry, 5) I always bring tons of extra medicine — overseas pharmacies often don’t have items you would normally expect (like Nyquil).
@Chris regarding “dri-fit”. Do you or anyone else know of other brands of fast drying clothing? I’m especially looking for the most comfortable and not sports style. What I’d like is a regular button long sleeve shirt that you can where almost anywhere. I find that fast drying clothes is a big bonus in many ways but still haven’t found a brand/style that I really love.
That is awesome. Btw, like Tim mentioned above, ExOficio boxers are the best!
Who won the Sonos? Curious what you thought was (one of) the best tips.
Not sure I subsribe to this theory of literally no baggage. I hate having stuff in my pockets, I have a pretty fat wallet and an iphone, and it really bugs me to have to walk around with these, and whnever I come back home or I’m at the office, I empty out my pockets. coins, keys, wallet, phone everything.
It would be my worst nightmare to have to walk around with all the necessities that I require from day to day, and I would much prefer to have a packpack on a small hand luggage..
Sorry Tim but I have to agree with other posters, its just too impractical to lug around all my day to day items in my pockets.
I just finished travelling throughout Europe for 2 months with a small jansport backpack. 16 flights and 5 ferries later, I find it just way to convenient.
All flights will give you one piece of hand luggage (even Ryan Air).
Rolf seems to be treating this as a challenge more so than practical advice. Carrying clothing in my clothing just sounds uncomfortable, especially in summer.
I think the point of this ‘no baggage’ trip is to make people rethink the way they travel. It’s so easy to carry a bag that most of us instinctively do so. But there’s no harm in rethinking WHAT we’re carrying. I’ve done this over the past year, and now find that the ‘maximum carry-on dimension’ backpack bag I bought a year or so ago is almost always much more than I need for my trips.
While I admire the challenge of traveling with no bags, I don’t feel compelled to try it myself.
I’d stuff a small rolltop drybag into one of the pockets. SealLine and Sea To Summit both make good ones. They roll down to nothing when they’re empty but can save any electronics or papers you have on you if you end up someplace very wet. Also protects from the really fine dust you find in places like the middle east.
Thanks for all the great tips. I have to head to Mongolia early in September for a ten day horse back trek in the Altai Mountains.
My challenge is carrying my own camping gear (I need my comfort at night otherwise I just can’t sleep) and clothing that works in tempuratures from 20 degrees Celsius down to -10 at night. And it might get colder in the high passes…
I got two memory foam mattresses which also blow up, and a goose down pillow. A Roman -10 degree oversize bag (90×200) has heaps of room to move in plus a Canada Goose Snow Manta parka works as a blanket over the top. I also got a couple of space blankets to keep out the cold from below.
I also have a complete video documentary kit including tripod, laptop and solar recharging gear. And some geocaches to lay out as well.
This all has to be under 20 kg (I am not gonna pay $45 a kilo excess baggage) plus carry on.
An interesting challenge and really makes you think about what’s necessary and what’s not. I also busted a rib last week falling off a horse, so gotta carry tape and pain killers too lol.
I think we’ve got this travel thing down! Thanks for all the great tips!
I am also curious, who won the contest?
hi Tim, i’m Korean.
I’m not fluent in English,
i’ve read your book, impressed..
so came here..
by the way..
have you been to Korea.???
if you haven’t .. come to Korea!!
Autumn is the best season to make a trip!!
Great post. Quick question. What about a phone charger and country plug adapter? Those things are always bulky and fiddly. A solar panel charger would be great.
Found a solution to my previous post regarding bring a phone charger and plug adapter. http://bit.ly/aJo3fk
On phone charger: The charger for iPhone/Touch is not bulky at all. It’s a white cube about 2 cm on each side with a US style 2 prong plug on one end and a USB port on the other. Works with worldwide voltage and can charge almost any USB device. Just add USB sync cable and (miniature) country-specific plug adapter!
Or, if you’re feeling brave, just bring the USB sync cable. Borrow computers to plug into when available…
Thanks for the fantastic tips – especially about shoes! I tried the BT keyboard you linked to on Amazon, and found that the one they sell here: http://iphonebluetoothkeyboard.com/
works better and folds smaller.
Enjoy your travels!
I would say hat the most important piece of luggage while traveling is a shoulder pouch worn under your shirt that carries your passport and a thick stack of travelers checks. I once met a traveler in Europe that had virtually no luggage other than the above plus a relatively small shoulder bag containing toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, razor,a bic lighter, two pairs of underwear, some tissue and a small, serrated folding knife. When his clothes got dirty, he would throw them away and buy a new set of clothes.
I used to travel to Italy and the IPad was a lifesaver! I purchased in advance an italian prepaid SIM-Card (www.saveonroaming.net) and could activate a flat rate for 30 days for just 24 €, so I had high speed internet wherever I was.
Another great tool that has not been mentioned are prepaid credit cards.
I had a few Visas each loaded with a few benjis and hidden in different places, so even if one was stolen, I had the others.
Nothing happened to me but a friend of mine who was robbed, could purchase a flight thanks to the extra reserve and this saved her life.
I’m an anomaly…. a girl who very rarely totes a purse. You know, clothiers are not very generous what it comes to putting pockets into women’s clothing!
I did 11 countries w/ 33 lb pack and $500. The big thing I learned: I didn’t need all those clothes I brought. 3 pants 3-4 shirts…
I jettisoned the clothes as I dirtied them, I als0o wore pants that I cut off once I got to Italy…warm weather.
For deodorant I use mineral salt.
No chemicals. Stay fresh for 20-24 hrs. A small 1/4 credit card sized piece can last months. (just make sure it’s smooth. Jagged piece scrape the skin.)
My supermarket carries it.
tips: I took an emergency blanket, too. It looks like thin aluminum foil and folds to the size of a thick credit card. Nice and toasty for sleeping in cold places when one is low on on-the-fly (train stations, parks, porches…) Good for rain too. It’s a HUGE bummer to be wet while you travel.
I always take a few ziplock bags with I travel. They’ve come in handy for a multitude of reasons.
Pick your own ride. Explain your situation to someone, or a family, in a restaurant, or shop/grocery, in a public place. If they are going your way, they” probably have sympathy.
Critical travel card management:
1. tell your credit card company you will be out of country and what countries through what expected day.
2. tell you bank with ATM the same thing.
3. Get your ATM limit raised.
4. Find out the phone numbers that work from overseas for contacting bank or card issuer. 800 numbers usually don’t.
All learned from sorry experience.
Thanks for your post. One question:
What advice do you have for trying to pack light while planning to do activities that involve more gear, like camping or hiking. And also when you traveling for a length of time that requires different belongs for different seasons?
I think too many posters are putting all their eggs in a single digital basket, and acting as if their smartphone is invincible.
@MC: Better still, call your credit card company and see if you can get your credit limit raised. If you’re using your CC more than you would at home, you want to keep your credit utilization rate in check (I prefer <10%) to maintain your credit score.
@Joy: Smartphones aren't really a single point of failure if you're accessing data and services from the cloud. If you can't get a signal, or if you lose your phone, you just use your brain and deal with it. No solution is invincible, but it's unhealthy to go through life trying to prevent every problem that could possibly occur.
Getting ready to leave on an overseas trip, Not sure if I can take only a vest, but usually travel pretty light.
Too late on this for the giveaway, but my tip is Practice! Well before the BIG trip, take a couple of weekend trips fairly locally.
Take your first trip with your normal stuff, then half it on your next one and half it again on your next one. Set up certain goals to achieve while you’re there that you would normally do or think you would do on a bigger vacation/tour- example see x amount of tourist things, go hiking, find a gym to workout, etc… Figure out which smartphone apps really help and which ones are just clutter.
This will give you the confidence to then be able to travel much more minimally on your BIG trip.
@lisa – Yep, zip lock bags are great packing light tools. Use the quart size to put in the TSA allowable liquids, and a gallon size (half full) for a razor, tooth brush and few other small items. One can then ditch those bulky toiletry bags.
I like a lot of these ideas and am re-reading Vagabonding right now.
Don’t borrow nail clippers or toothpaste. Nail clippers can harbor fungus and diseases from its owner, and most people wipe their germ-ridden toothbrush over the mouth of the tube. You may travel light and strike up friendly conversations as you borrow stuff, but you’re also increasing your chance of bringing some unwanted travelmates home with you.
If you are traveling to many different countries, I would suggest bringing a bag, any bag, filled with anything (shoes, jacket, etc) when going to the airport. Being bag-free is at the top of the ‘trigger a search’ list, and you can end up neutralizing the pleasure of traveling bagless if you end up being questioned and searched at every airport for 20+ minutes.
QOD – I always carry a neck gaiter with me. Works to cover the ears against cold, or as a scarf, hat, blindfold (always important when sleeping en route), or covering the face against bugs. And when not in the US, I bring a TravelMate (women’s urinary device ) to avoid filthy restrooms and the dreaded ‘squat and hover’ over the toilet.
If you really can’t afford Lasik, Go to India, seriously, you’d be surprised that the surgeons are much more confident and have very sophisticated equipment. The Dr who performed lasik(actually zyoptix which is way better than lasik) for me had 10,000 patients experience and 99.99% success rate. Zyoptix is one hundred percent blade free and best of all it costs downward of $500 (arnd Rs. 22,000) which is what you’d roughly pay for you Contact lenses+ spare glasses + Solution and maintenance for lenses in the US. And finally it takes only 24 hrs to fully heal and you have new pair of sight. Zero maintenance. Do yourself a favour and save the trouble.
For all who don’t want to unlock/jailbreak your iphone, or can’t afford and iphone :
Buy an iPod touch(great if you already own) phoneless iphone for 1/3 of an unlocked iPhone cost. $229 if i am right.
For an unlocked GSM phone buy a Nokia 5230, I am not a big fan of nokia but i’ll show you why this is gets better, Price:
Asian markets <USD200
Europe = USD200 approx
US = $213
There is simply no other free comprehensive downloadable maps that doesn't charge you than Ovi maps.
It is free for lifetime throughout the world.
works very well with voice navigation.
Can run offline without expensive data requirements.
You can preplan your journey and load the maps onto the device.
3.2 inch resistive touch. Resolution second only to itouch.
A-GPS if you have data works well.But the point of buying this phone is free GPS for life.
I think this is better combination than have an iphone if you really need GPS.
iPhone does not have free GPS service. if free it requires data. Downloadable maps charge you separately for each country/city.
Enlighten me if there is anything out there like this.
Really cool idea for anyone who ever wanted to go the distance! I assume this is the best way to get a hold of you. My boyfriend is a huge fan of yours, he sees life the way you do from what I understand and will be travling alone soon in this way you just introduced, I believe it was his own idea to do so. He told me recently that you are the one person he would want to meet. Is there any way I can make that wish come true? Are you giving speeches around the states or other countries? Would greatly appreciate if you could give me a reply! Take care!
I ship old clothes to the destination, then either throw them away or give them away as I wear them.
Nice tips. I travel a lot and many of the flights that I am on will not allow one to have a mobile phone on during the flight – even on in flight mode. So your Kindle App Iphone trick will not work for me. Recommendations for a good PDA with similar features, but no phone?
Your mail email@example.com you’ve mentioned in book doesn’t work. Facebook wall doesn’t accept long messages. So I write my message here.
I wanna say “Thank you”!
“4HWW” changed my mind and showed a way. It helped me to understand what I really want. I’ve been searching for this for 3 years after a friend of mine suggested to read “Think and grow rich”. That book helped me to go to a positive thinking mindset, inspired me but the way was not seen cleary.
You know, after it there was a period when I read about Warren Buffett and decided I wanna be an investment company CEO. I was so inspired by Warren Buffett’s lifestyle, principles, thoughts, etc that last summer I went to Omaha, NE because I wanted to tell him “Thank you” personally. I found business center where he works, called Berkshire and asked for a meeting but secretary slightly refused. Then I found his house but I was afraid of knocking the door though stood near. I was so afraid. I regret for chance missing but it’s also a pleasent lesson for future and a kind of motivation. Some time ago after it I understood I didn’t want to be an investment company CEO. I was inspired by a story of a man of principles, who found his way, what he likes to do, who did and continue doing it and I thougt it’s my way also. But that was a delusion which I realized only now.
For a period my searching stopped. And then I found your book. It opened my eyes and showed me what I really want. I understood my values. My life is full of positive now. I beat fear more often. It’s still in my life but I found ways of beating it and continue searching. You helped me to understand the value of people surrounding me. You’ve helped me to be myself.
I don’t know where you’ll check this message next time (Antarctic, Bali, Buenos Aeris, Tokio, Johanesburg, etc). If you’re in Russia or someday you’ll come here to study Russian and do some activities (what you usually searching in other countries) I’ll be very much glad to meet you here, shake your hand personally and do something special together.
I know a girl who found out your book 1 year ago and after that her life changed. Now she’s happy and do things she likes. She’s free. I’m at the very beginning but now I know the way. Guess many people told you “Thank you” for changing their lives. Here’s my appreciation.
Thank you so very much, Vlad! I look forward to meeting you in Russia some day 🙂
I am a pretty serious outdoorsman and need to admit that I’m anal about my equipment. If there’s one nuance that I dislike, it’s when my equipment give way. This is why I always get quality equipment to gear myself up and be ready for most anything the dusty trail throws at me.
Just curious, who won this contest?
Great article, and good timing. I am heading out on a similar journey but more like his cameraman Justin. I will be travelling around filming and recording audio, along with taking a RC tricopter and a goproHD to shoot aerials.
Knowing you like language I created a startup in early beta called blueplanet3.com a multilingual virtual world for kids. I believe if you can create a place for kids to speak and learn from other cultures you break down many social barriers.
Thanks Tim for your great book, I just bought rev 2, after giving rev 1 to my son.
Wow! I seriously didn’t think baggage-less travel IS possible. I guess that’s because I’m female :). I’m a normally heavy packer and the only thing I learned useful for my previous travels is to roll your clothes in bun-like way to save space PLUS bring foldable bags for extra shopping.
Thanks for this article! I’ll definitely file this under my “must-read-before-travel” list.
Awesome article Rolf and Tim and what an adventure. That vest looks bad ass too!
The best travel light trick I have found is to bring a small bag. Sounds obvious but most of us (me especially) have the tendency to fill whatever space we have. Same reason I am against getting a bigger house just for the sake and status of it–you will inevitably fill it with useless nonsense.
Save and adventurous travels fellas!
I’ve converted my normal, daily wear wardrobe to consist only of the clothing items I would travel with anyway. Today I wore the same Keens that Tim mentions (pretty much the only shoes I ever wear, every day), REI Adventure pants (quick drying, SPF-rated), Under Armour boxer briefs (can double as swimwear in a pinch), Under Armour Heat Gear undershirt, Columbia tech overshirt (trail worthy, but still looks nice). I also have a small travel toothbrush in a pants cargo pocket at all times, even at work. A North Face polar fleece is great for year round wear, and I usually keep a Marmot Ion wind/light rain jacket folded up in a pocket of the North Face. Grab a hat, passport, small microfiber towel, iPhone and charger (which fit into the jacket OR cargo pockets), and I’m perfectly willing to travel almost anywhere and do almost anything when I get there.
I’m one of those yuppies that always carries a Nalgene bottle, and all the pocket items fit nicely into an empty Nalgene for flight purposes (no liquids, so it’s empty).
If I wasn’t a figure skater and required to check my skates, I wouldn’t check anything. But, they’re considered a dangerous weapon because of the blades, so they go in the belly of the flying beast.
Personally, I think Rolf is waaaay overpacking. 🙂
This is such a relaxing way to travel! The Stowaway Keyboard is a huge advantage and I find them much easier to use than a laptop, so pleased to learn that it also works with the iPhone.
A TIP HERE, IF YOU WANT TO USE THE KEYBOARD TO WRITE UP YOUR WORK AND SUNBATHE AT THE SAME TIME. A GOLD COLOUR FILM SURVIVAL BLANKET, CUT DOWN TO COVER JUST YOUR HEAD CUTS THE INTENSITY OF THE LIGHT DOWN SO THAT YOU CAN SEE THE KEYBOARD. THIS IS GREAT IF YOU WANT TO CHECK AND EDIT THINGS!
I am going to use your article above as an example for an English lesson in Poland on Saturday. Thank you!
i agree with you, you should pack light and avoid carry things you dont need. when you are abroad you can also borrow something if you really need it
This is great! I think I will try this too. we should team up!
I had read above, that Ralf uses the 65L from Eagle Creek. Is this a pack that can be carried on to a flight or has the larger pack to be checked? Thank you so much.
Hi Tim and co-travellers,
I just found a great gadget online for travelling light. It’s called “Maptor”, looks like a flashlight and allows you to project a map on even surfaces, i.e. you don’t have to take maps with you. The thing determines your precise position and then gives you a map of the area, if I understand correctly. Here’s the link: http://geekproject.net/a-map-and-a-projector-2-in-1/ Don’t know if it’s on the market yet, but I just needed to post this here :=)
“Documentation, passport, credit card” – he puts in his cargo pocket.
Laster in the video – “The cargo pockets in my pants aren’t holding anything right now”
A very challenging decision. I travelled for six months with a 12-kilos backpack and I felt proud of my self….but not anymore!
Good job but be careful; protect your smart phone as much as you can!
The reason that boiling flasks or anything of that manner is regulated is not because of safety, it’s becuase of economics.
I’m developing a website site and I was thinking of switching the template.Yours looks pretty nice! You could visit my web site and tell me your viewpoint!
Rolf / Tim
Awesome post and something that i aspire to do on my travels 😉
Trendsetting at its finest!
All I can say is incredible. I was researching a few articles on light travel and ran into this one. This is the perfect example of how to travel without luggage. Unfortunately people like me wouldn’t benefit much from it since I am in the luggage industry. I can definitely see a future for this!
“Travel is about the experience, not what you bring with you.”
I agree, and the things that matter in travel or even in life is not just the things the you will bring to travel but the things and learning that you will bring from the travel. 🙂 And btw, don’t forget to get a right pair of travelling socks with you, eh. You can buy online like me. I often buy my travelling socks at Legs Therapy (http://www.legstherapy.com/) for better choices. 🙂
Actually I should have posted it here, lol Anyway, guys, here is a similar article about bagless travel
Being Norwegian I’m used to posting stuff being really expensive. I remember the first time I realised how inexpensive it could be overseas, and have since then utilized this great tip of mailing myself stuff while on holiday. It’s great tip! (It goes without saying that you need to pack it well, of course) But so far I’ve had only positive experiences with this 🙂
Amazing tips shared! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. I love to travel and traveling light has always been my criteria. Your points were of great help.
Thanks a ton!
I just switched to carry on only travel and it’s amazing! I never thought I could do it but so far I’ve been traveling for 2 weeks and haven’t missed anything! It has saved me both money and stress numerous times already. Am finding it’s hugely increasing my flexibility and it makes packing up after a hotel stay so much quicker and easier!
Great tips I wil try them 😀
A menstrual cup is clearly a more green alternative.
I was on a work course about the Environment and our impact on it and what really struck me was how much I contribute to landfill every month. I have never liked tampons or pads, they make me feel irritated and unclean, especially in the summer. Personally, I can tell you I love my MonthlyCup, so I’d always recommend giving it a try.
Wow impressive…you packed all your stuff in a backpack! I need to get my wife to pack like that. I like to pack lightly but don’t know if I can pull that off either unless it was a very short trip. Even when you can’t check in at a certain time, usually hotels will let you leave your luggage somewhere…though I guess you might not want that.
Can’t imagine traveling without at least a backpack of stuff. Props to Tim for trying it out!