So You Want To Travel Forever: Go Light

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This series is for those who are thinking of going away for a while, if not forever. It covers not just the financial and physical aspect of travel, it also deals with the the human side of it all.

Last week, we started with Living on Less so we can spend more on the things that really matter to us, like travel. This week, we're talking about downsizing your life to the size of a backpack so you can go light and travel freely. 

When I first went on a long term backpacking trip a couple of years ago, I had initially packed 12 KG of gear and clothes. I did have to consider that my first destination was India in winter and had to bring an assortment of jackets, hiking boots and a sleeping bag. Upon coming home, all I had was 7 KG worth of stuff. I've had to leave, give away or throw some items in my pack so I can give my aching back a break.


Some Items I Had to Get Rid Of: 

-Lonely Planet Guide to Southeast Asia
-Sleeping Bag
-Pair of Shoes
-Ego and some of my dignity

“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I learned a few packing tips along the way during 6 months of travel. I resolved to carry just a week's worth of clothing, bring only necessities, limit my gadgets and carry a lighter bag. You can read the complete guide to packing with only 7 KG worth of luggage.

In a nutshell, if you want to make your life a vacation, vacation clothes are unnecessary. 

You don't need to choose between 5 dresses, 4 tops, 6 pairs of footwear and accessories to boot. Choose light material that you can roll but doesn't damage easily. Bring outfits that you can mix and match. A few things like toiletries, flipflops and reading material are optional. Just get them at your destination.


A Few Essentials:

-lightweight, waterproof poncho and rain cover for your backpack
-comfy, heavy duty footwear (depending on the terrain you'll travel in)
-a healthy, fit body that can endure the weight of your pack

If you wish to travel for a very long time, remember that you only own what you can carry. 

That automatically makes you a minimalist. If you can fold up your entire life in less than an hour and fit it all into a backpack then you know you have only the essentials. When you feel the compulsion to buy something, your main consideration should be: ‘Can I bring it with me to the next destination?’.

“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.” – Cesare Pavese


When  I started to travel I was bogged down by a lot questions: 

What if something happens to me?
What will my family and friends say?
How do I deal with the money side?

They could only come from a place of fear and insecurity. Early on, I came up with a strategy on making choices. I looked at all the options, chose the one that scared me the most and did just that. I was not going to live my life in the comfort zone. As for insecurity, I need to keep reminding myself that not everyone's opinion is valuable.

Traveling light should not only refer to luggage and the weight we carry on our back. It should also mean letting go of the things that weigh us down.



This is the hard part, where you actually need to do something besides reading this article.

Pack Only Half

On your next trip, I dare you to pack your bags and only take half of that. Yes, just half. This exercise requires practice and repetition. So it's best to do it for all the trips you've got lined up. It's going to make you feel panicky at first, but once you start hitting the road you'll know you don't need so many things after all. It's can be quite liberating to have only a limited choices so you don't have to take long deciding on what to wear. It's all about the experience, not just looking great in the travel photos.

Unload Your Junk

Next, take a closer look at everything you own. If there's anything there that no longer benefits you, please give them away to someone who will make better use of them. You can even organize a garage sale where all the money goes to your escape fund. This little task of cleaning out your closet and letting go of stuff you don't need will make you feel really light afterwards.

Burn Your Burdens

Write down a list of things that are holding you back. Do it freestyle without thinking too much about it. List as many as you can. Then burn it. That's exactly what you should do with the things that hold you back: destroy them.

So that’s the 2nd part of the series! It goes until 10 so I’m going to feed you nibbles each week. I’d love to know what you think on your assigned homework for the week. Please share your experiences or add more tips in the comments below.

Next week, I’ll be sharing some tips on How to Be Adaptable so watch out for that.


Traveling Fast and Light,
Sole Sister Lois

Lois has traveled extensively and has called the USA, Germany, Switzerland and the Philippines home in various stages of her life. When she's not having adventures around the globe, she can be found surfing, surfing someone's couch or giving talks, workshops and retreats. She is a certified Passion Test facilitator who believes that people can find what they love and make a living from their passions. She is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of

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2 sole trails

  1. This summer we managed to go to 6 european countries and 12 Asian countries just using one backpack each. I only carried an extra bag which came in handy when my sons packpack strap broke. We never bought anything during our trips, no souvenirs and nothing to add to our bags which we limited to 10kg max since we were travelling in Europes budget carriers.

  2. Awesome blog! Great to see fellow Filipinos live this kind of lifestyle. I am planning to take the plunge but was thinking of saving up to 1m to travel for at least 2 years. Inspiring to see that you guys lived of P100,000 backpacking for 6 months!


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