Arrivals

Learning to Lighten your Load

Looking for a better option?Too much stuff?There's no question: overpacking tops the list of biggest travel mistakes.

Thus OneBag.com, a non-commercial Web site that teaches — in exhaustive (exhausting?) detail — the art and science of travelling light.

Here you can learn how to go pretty much anywhere, for business or leisure, for an indefinite length of time, with no more than a single carry-on-sized bag.

Why Travel Light?

Of all the travel skills you might acquire, travelling light is the one most likely to result in enjoyable, productive, stress-free travel experiences. For two thousand years, seasoned travellers have written of its many important benefits, including …

SecurityWith a much reduced need to hand your belongings over to the care of others, you are less likely to lose them to theft, damage, or misrouting. Similarly, you foil those who would enlist your unsuspecting aid as a conveyor of contraband goods. Attaining peace of mind is rarely this easy!

EconomyYou can laugh at checked baggage fees. You don't have to pay porters and others to carry and store stuff for you. You are more able to take public transportation (just like flight crews and airport personnel do from airports), rather than limos, shuttles, and (often scam-prone) taxis. You can even walk. All of which also bring you into more intimate (hence rewarding) contact with the people and places that you have come to visit.

MobilityLess stuff means greater mobility, thus more options. With no checked or awkward-to-manage luggage to limit your travel alternatives, you can better cope with delayed transportation & missed connections, and exploit unexpected opportunities. You can switch to earlier flights when space is available, and use alternate transport (trains, rental cars, etc.) when it isn't. You needn't arrive at airports as early (no luggage check-in), and will be among the first to leave, while the hordes wait for baggage carousels and customs inspection queues. You can board trains, trams, and coaches with alacrity. You won't feel compelled to take the first hotel room offered, but can comfortably walk down the street should the ambience be unsuitable or the price unreasonable. You can sell your airplane seat (by volunteering to be "bumped") on full flights. You can travel as an air courier. You can be more spontaneous.

SerenityTravelling lightly reduces stress: it is simply a more hassle-free way to get about. You have more time, because packing takes little. You waste less energy hauling stuff. You know what you have, where everything is, and that it's sufficient. We've all seen those anxious folks at the airport, struggling with too much baggage, concerned that they have lost track of something, or left it behind. Foreign travel can be particularly challenging, because it is unfamiliar and unpredictable. But the one-bag traveller copes by operating from a solid, familiar, and — most important — well-considered foundation, with fewer unnecessary things to worry about.


EcologyAll of the above are concerned with short-term benefits to you. But travelling light also yields long-term benefits to the planet. Less stuff to manufacture. Less use of vehicles and other equipment to move you and your things about. Less fuel for the vehicles that do move you. Less greenhouse gas production. Less damage to our celestial home. Greater likelihood of upcoming generations being around and able to do some travelling of their own. (It's not often that the most convenient option is also the most environmentally responsible.)

I’m Convinced!  So How Can This Site Help Me?

He who would travel happily must travel light.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

If there's a "trick" to travelling light, it's the understanding and proper use of a packing list (albeit a different type of list than those you may have seen). Apart from that, however, there's no single specific secret. Travelling light is a skill comprised of a very large number of very small considerations. Taken individually, many of these might seem relatively unimportant (or unnecessarily meticulous); collectively, however, this selection of small sanities makes it possible to journey for extended periods of time carrying no more than will fit in a surprisingly small bag.

TraveLegoIf you're a typical traveller, don't expect the transition to happen overnight (unless you are unusually diligent). The expert one-bag traveller will have mastered the three core elements of light travel, listed here in order of importance:

  1. Packing Moderation, abandoning the folly of lugging around too much stuff;
  2. Weight Reduction, finding travel-friendly versions of the things you do carry; and
  3. Bag Optimization, understanding what to look for in efficient & effective luggage.

But there's no need to become an instant expert. Feel free to meander through this site, taking inspiration where you find it. Every single topic detailed on these pages can help you become a better (thus happier) traveller, but it's unnecessary (and perhaps even counterproductive) to tackle them all at once. Are you chained to your luggage?Start with those that most appeal to you, and leave the others for when you seek to further hone your skills.

And here's a promise: if you persevere, you will at some point reach a transcendent moment, in which your (one) bag will be small and light enough to carry without consequence, no longer of any meaningful concern. And — right then — your travel experiences will be forever changed, with an unfettered freedom that is forever denied to those who remain chained to their luggage.

Where Do I Begin?

start hereI strongly suggest starting with Using A Packing List, because that will yield the greatest benefit in the least amount of time. After you've begun creating your own personal list, continue as and where your interests lead you; you needn't assimilate everything immediately.

If you came here looking for luggage tips, you'll find much on that topic under the What To Pack It In menu. Appreciate, however, that merely acquiring a new bag, no matter how "perfect", will no more turn you into a one-bag traveller than a superb violin will turn you into a concert soloist!

You'll also find a collection of effective packing techniques (including how to pack clothing so that it doesn't get wrinkled), a detailed analysis of every individual item on my own personal packing list, and a considerable variety of supplemental information, including:

Finally — and perhaps even most importantly — don't miss the TraveLetters page, featuring comments from people like you, who have tried out these ideas and reported on their experiences, thus offering reassurance that this site isn't merely (or at least, entirely!) the ravings of some geek with a packing fixation.