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Could You Travel With Less and Enjoy the Journey More?

Don't let your luggage weigh your vacation down.

Carrie Knowles
Travel with less and enjoy the journey more!
Source: Carrie Knowles

We once took an extended vacation in Greece. Neither one of us spoke a word of Greek, so we first booked a ten-day archeological tour, in English, of the Peloponnese in order to get familiar with the country and its history.

As we assembled on the first morning to board the bus, I noticed one stately older woman standing alone without luggage. I asked if we could help her get her bags from the hotel.

She smiled, lifted her purse, and told us that her purse was all she was carrying. She said she never burdened her travels with luggage. Instead, she went to the markets on the first stop on any tour and bought several outfits from local vendors, then left what she’d bought for the housekeepers on her departure.

“I have fun buying local clothing and blending in,” she explained. “I carry my underwear, personal items and a little nylon tote for my purchases in my purse. It’s the best way to travel.”

She never burdened her travels with luggage. I think she was on to something.

At the end of our trip that summer, we stayed at a very small hotel in Crete. Our room was on the third floor. There was no elevator. In order to get to our room, we had to walk up an extremely narrow, tight spiral staircase balancing our heavy luggage on our heads!

Traveling unburdened, or at least lighter, was gaining traction with me. Once home, I bought smaller luggage and afterward, tried my best to take only one checked bag and one carry-on.

If I couldn’t carry my luggage myself, or balance it on my head, I needed to lighten my load.

Slide forward a couple dozen years.

For many years, the weight limit on checked luggage for overseas travel was 70 pounds with a two-bag allowance. Then it dropped to 50 pounds for both domestic and international flights. Shortly after that, many airlines started charging for the second checked bag. Then, several airlines began charging for any and all checked bags…and now, many of the discount airlines charge for carry-on as well as checked luggage. The charges for carry-on bags range from $15 to as much as $100 (WOW Air charges $49 on certain flights when you book, and $100 if you pay at the gate). In short, traveling anywhere by air has recently become an enforced lesson in downsizing.

I’m not so sure that it's a bad thing.

Could you travel for a week with only a carry-on? How about with just a personal item? FYI, a personal item must not be bigger than 18” x 16 x 8” W, (8” being the maximum thickness that can slide easily under the seat in front of you): plenty of room for underwear and a couple changes of clothing. It can work if you wear your raincoat and sweater and comfortable shoes on the plane and pack only a few clothes that can be washed and dried easily and combined in different ways to take you from a walking tour to dinner.

As for that issue with the TSA and toiletries, short of medications and a favorite toothbrush, you can buy shampoo, lotion and soap in even the most remote of countries. What you don’t use while you’re traveling, you can leave behind in the hotel for someone else.

I’ve forgotten many details about our trip through the Peloponnese, but have never forgotten that extraordinary woman who went boldly into the world alone with little in tow.

Could you unburden your travels of luggage? It’s a challenge, but one that comes with certain perks. You’ll be traveling with less to take care of, keep track of, lug up and down stairs, stuff into the trunk of a taxi or drag onto a train.

Plus there’s the added benefit of a cheaper ticket, no standing in line to check bags, and no more lost luggage.

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