Being mobile, able to carry everything you've got, is the key to easy foreign travel. If you think you're strong, try picking up all your equipment and walking around the block.

Paul Heussenstamm
American surfer


Final Exam

People overpack because of timidity and fear of the unknown, both largely results of inexperience. I've written these pages to provide — in some measure — the benefits of a not inconsiderable amount of urban/rural and business/tourist travel experience. Of course my solutions may not be optimal, or even correct, for everyone.

So how will you know if your ultimate choices are good ones (and it's particularly important to evaluate this prior to any major — possibly once-in-a-lifetime — trip)? Fortunately, there's a simple, reliable test, a kind of "Hudson's Bay Start" to your travels …

DestinationsPack your chosen bag with the items you plan to take. Put on the shoes you plan to wear. Then take the bag for a one-hour walk around town, ideally including an ample assortment of stairs, poor walking surfaces, and the like. Stop for brief rests as necessary, but don't spend the hour in a café! If you're still happy at the end of your excursion, make your travel reservations.

And have a great trip!

Getting Serious: The Post-Graduate Degree

Ph.D.As you might expect, people often ask me if I consider that they are genuinely travelling lightly. Should I sense that they are seeking an honest response, I pose three simple questions:

  1. Can you show me your packing list?
  2. Aside from simply packing less, what have you done
    to reduce the weight of the things that you carry?
  3. What does your bag weigh when empty?

Anyone who has trouble answering any of these questions (or offers poor answers!) likely still has significant room for improvement. It's one thing (a good thing) to haul around less stuff, but it's quite another to become a truly effective light traveller. For most people, though, it is eminently doable.

And I wish you the very best of luck on your — both figurative and literal — journey!