Traveling is the one of most delightful experiences of humankind, with all the associated highs and the lows, ecstasies and agonies. “The fool wanders, the wise man travels,” so the old saying goes. Traveling in modern times has moved beyond mere wanderlust. Workcation or traveling simultaneously for work and vacation has come into vogue, especially with the burgeoning popularity of careers such as travel blogging, social media management and ghostwriting. Add to that, business trips, study excursions and space travel (think of the Apollo Mission to the Moon and a working trip to the International Space Station) are the new face of travel in the 21st century.
Minimalism is chic – Minimalist design, minimalist homes and minimalist offices. The fact is that minimalism has been around since centuries, thanks to the intrepid traveler who has been traveling far and traveling light. But it has acquired a new meaning in contemporary times due to the availability of travel companions such as drawstring bags.
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware,” said the renowned philosopher and educator Martin Buber. Traveling teaches a person to be self-reliant – to use one’s personal ability and resourcefulness to navigate the travel maze. Traveling is an invaluable source of knowledge as a person who travels meets different people and visits diverse places.
Traveling is a better teacher than books. For example, a Geography student can learn the subject better by visiting the physical environment. A student of anthropology can learn much about society and culture by visiting people in their natural cultural settings. A foreign language can be learnt easily by immersing oneself in the lives of the people who speak the language.
Traveling brings us closer to nature – the beauty of snow-clad mountains, waterfalls, forests and the seas. Traveling opens a window to the reality of the world; the diverse habits, customs, traditions, food and clothing manifesting a common humanity. A traveler is an explorer into new worlds, meeting people in exotic climes, forging new relationships and discovering new cultural and educational horizons. Traveling nurtures a spirit of unity and brotherhood as it opens up countless opportunities for social interactions, understanding and acceptance.
Traveling light means focusing on the important and bare minimum, traveling into a world of freedom and limitless possibilities unencumbered by physical baggage and unshackled by mental chains. It is a humbling lesson on the futility of external possessions vis-à-vis that which is real, priceless and innate in every human being and in life itself, the qualities of mind and heart, the breathtaking beauty of nature, the captivating smile of a child et al.
Traveling light means a willingness to live with less, at least for the duration of the trip. It means making the right choices about the things to be lugged around and the things to be left behind.
Traveling minimally is the ultimate test of faith, the best way of proving that everything one needs is within us at all times, and an unwavering commitment to sustainable tourism or people-oriented tourism.
There is an inverse relationship between luggage and enjoyment; the less the possessions, the more pleasant is the trip.
The starting point of traveling light and packing smart would be the traveling bag itself. The foremost thing is to limit the number of bags taken on a trip. The more the bags, the heavier the travel load. Ideally speaking, there should only be one bag and the bag should be compact. The bag should fit into the plane’s overhead compartment with ease, making travel by air easier without cumbersome check-in and check-out procedures. A single drawstring bag would be ideal in such a situation.
Packing smart or packing small is essential for any globetrotter committed to embracing the charm and challenge of travel. It begins with zeroing in on the absolutely necessary luggage and learning the art of packing things in the most efficient way.
A small pack is a sure-shot means of making in time for the incredible trains in Japan, where punctuality is counted down to the centi-seconds, or squeezing into a crowded bus or train onto the next rugged, albeit exciting destination in India.
Packing undoubtedly involves very personal decisions. Comfort and style differ from person to person. There is no need for multiple sets of clothes as a hotel laundry or a local cleaner are always at hand. One can use travel-size versions of favorite products such as hairspray, lotion, and face wash, so as to save on space. There are also possibilities to limit the toiletries that are being carried, by using shampoos, conditioners, and soaps provided at the hotel instead of bringing one’s own.
Weather is an important component of travel planning or travel luggage planning. For example, there is no need to pack a heavy sweater or a rain coat if the weather forecasts suggest sunshine throughout the trip. In case of sudden changes in weather, appropriate clothing can be purchased or borrowed at the travel destination.
An organizer pouch, which is a flat, rectangular, multi-compartmented, nylon bag and packing cubes, could be a handy addition as these would help in organizing the contents of the travel bag.
Travel is more about rejuvenation, adventure and exploring new horizons than merely visiting places on the travel list. It is therefore important to arrive at the destination fresh and raring to enjoy the trip rather than being exhausted by all the lugging around. What better way to do so than travel light and minimalistic.