Packing light gives you loads of advantages while traveling. Here’s my top reasons to leave your heavy bag at home for your next backpacking trip.
It challenges you – in a good way
See it as a fun challenge trying to fit your life in a 40-50L – or even smaller – backpack. You learn to carefully select what to bring on your travels, and it makes you an expert on sorting out things you don’t necessarily need. It could also be an eye-opening experience, sorting out stuff you believed was needed for your survival, but in a second thought is not. Packing light makes you less materialistic – It’s the experiences along the way that will make your journey memorable.
A lighter bag gives you more freedom and flexibility
Trust me on this. It will make your life on the road easier in so many ways. You can have your backpack between your legs, in your lap or on the luggage rack inside the bus, instead of putting it on the roof or in the luggage storage underneath the bus with risk of getting things lost or stolen. You can easily walk longer distances. Traveling light is awesome when you are exploring a place for a couple of hours with no possibility to store your luggage. It will be more comfortable for you (and your back) to walk towards your guest house arriving to a new place. And best of all, it makes it easy to walk between accommodations trying to get the best deal available. When I traveled with a heavy backpack it was always in the way, traveling light your backpack will become a part of you.
Your back will thank you
In my early days as a backpacker (without sounding too old) I did the mistake of bringing waaaay to many things with me. Walking distances longer than 10 minutes made me exhausted and gave me a terrible back pain. Arriving to the Italian seaside town of Riomaggiore, realizing I had to make a steep uphill walk to reach to my accommodation, I cursed myself and my heavy backpack. I was close to dropping my backpack on the ground, leaving it there without looking back and continue my travels with only the clothes I was wearing. I made it in the end, but promised myself to NEVER EVER travel with a heavy backpack again. Except for my 21 day long hike to Everest Base Camp (with my bag overloaded with snacks) and me moving home from London traveling to the airport by underground with several changes, two hour of sleep and three bags of probably 60-70kg weight in total, I have kept that promise.
It makes your airport visits easier
With carry-on luggage you can forget long waits to pick up your bag after arrival. It also removes the risk of your backpack getting lost and sent to some unknown country on the other side of the world. The majority of airlines makes it possible to check-in online before your departure, which makes your visits to the airports even smoother. Check-in online, arrive to the airport with carry-on luggage, walk through the security straight to your departure gate, saving time and hassle.
It gives you the opportunity to buy things along the way
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking you to go wild doing tons of shopping whenever you have the chance. But having space left in your bag gives the opportunity to buy something small along the way. Especially in Southeast Asia; I’ve found super cheap and useful clothes to bring with me on my travels. My multi-purpose skirt from Myanmar that also works as a sarong, a blanket and a beach towel. My lightweight cotton shorts from Thailand which are great to sleep in or to use in warm weather. And my small shawl from Nepal, covering my shoulders visiting temples and my hair in Muslim countries. While traveling for months , or even years, it’s a nice treat to buy something memorable along the road.