“I have crossed borders with nothing but a rucksack on my back,” writes Hannah-Jane Parkinson in a recent Guardian article. “Travelling is wonderful, but the downsides – with air travel in particular – are easy to acknowledge: the dragging of heavy suitcases (often with a wonky wheel or broken handle); the queueing; the waiting around for luggage – and the potential for it to be lost; the paying extra for, seemingly, everything.”
Air travel is one of the necessary evils of modern travel, and if you do it often enough, something worth trying to hack. As someone who’s been travelling with an Arcido backpack for the last year, I can relate to this message - there’s nothing worse than dragging heavy luggage around. Much simpler to go with something on your back, giving you a huge amount of more freedom.
On a recent trip to the Caribbean coast with an English friend, I sat waiting for her luggage to come through on the carousel belt for almost an hour; I could have been at our hotel in that time. I often look around at fellow passengers and wonder what on earth they are taking with them. My approach is - and has to be - minimal. I have to choose every single item I take with care, and if it doesn’t pull its weight, it has to go.
But one-bag travel isn’t just about the practicalities of being more nimble when you travel, although that is certainly a huge advantage. There is something tremendously gratifying about taking less with you. When you renounce stuff and realise you don’t need it, it’s amazingly freeing. I’ve been around the world with hand luggage and I can tell you that it’s eminently doable; you don’t need as much stuff as you think.
I sometimes talk to people who tell me that they “normally just take hand luggage, but “because this is a three-month trip, I’ve got a big suitcase with me.” I can’t really understand this logic; there is little you can’t buy if it’s essential or wash once you’ve worn it. I try not to be too preachy with my message of light travel, but most people I’ve met who travel light seem happier.
I guess it comes down to experience. For me, the more travel I do, the less I seem to need to take with me. I recently carried a beautiful white shirt around with me for three months, unable to wear it because it was too creased and unwilling to give it away because it was a gift from my in-laws. Sometimes objects can be such a bind! I didn’t make that mistake again; this time I’ve got two shirts that go with my two pairs of trousers and a few t-shirts. The whole thing fits inside my large packing cube [see below]
I’m hoping that more people in the future will choose to experience light travel. I’m also personally invested in this concept, as the co-founder of a company that makes backpacks for people who want to travel efficiently. But even if they don’t choose one of our backpacks, I’d like them to experience the freedom one-bag travel brings. As Hannah-Jane Parkinson writes, “Travelling light is the closest thing to feeling free”
Written by Will Ford, Cofounder at Arcido