- by Will Ford, Arcido Co-Founder
Having landed at San Salvador airport, I was stuck without any cash. Normally I keep an emergency $20 note in my bag, but having spent it at the border of Nepal I had clearly forgotten to replace it. The upshot was this : I was stuck. No ATM would any of my cards, and I could not figure out a way to get money.
As luck would have it, digging around I managed to cobble together a whopping 80 cents, which miraculously was enough to take the chicken bus into the city. In my terrible Spanish I managed to navigate to the right bus stop, get on a local bus and reach town, in less than an hour.
^ One of the Salvadoran buses, a retirement for American school buses
I’m writing about this story because it’s one of many times that having less with me has been a major advantage. Imagine having a huge case and having to haul it onto a bus so crammed with people that there’s standing-room only. Or navigating the crowded Mexico City underground with a bulky suitcase. Travelling ultralight, I have managed to catch connections that would have seemed impossibly tight, and been the first out of the airport after passing everyone standing around waiting for their luggage.
What I’ve learned travelling the world over the last few years is that generally I - and probably most of us -take too much stuff with us when we travel. If travel is meant to be a liberating experience, then being weighed down with more than we need is the opposite of that.
Carrying less, I experience zero back pain. I can run up stairs, I can run for a train! And although it’s embarrassing to admit, I get a sense of satisfaction walking past those people who have to wait for their luggage at the carousel.
What I have learned being a minimalist
There are a few main things the experience of travelling lighter has taught me. Firstly, and most obviously - most of us have more stuff than we need. You can probably get by without that extra shirt. On so many trips previously I would take stuff with me and not wear it. Actually sometimes I still do this - those things are doing nothing but weighing you down. You probably don’t need as much as you think you do.
The second is that by choosing to take less, you are doing just that - making a choice. I have to consider every item I pack with me, and doing that makes me more conscious of my belongings. Acting in this considered way just feels better; like I’m acting with more intention and purpose.
Above : What I take with me in Oxna
Lastly, and this is the weirdest but most crucial. I am actually happier travelling like this. When people say to me - in disblief - “Is that everything you’ve got for three months?” it only makes me smile. Because taking less with me just makes me feel less burdened. It’s less to worry about. Apart from the practical benefits like spending less time packing, knowing that everything on my back is all that I have, is pretty liberating. Try it!
I now travel almost exclusively with Arcido Oxna - a 28L pack which is pretty compact, but allows you to compress clothes and use the outer pocket as extra storage when you need it. I also love the dedicated charger pocket and side handle.
Above : Oxna's charger pocket. Easy to store this otherwise bulky object, and great to know exactly where you put it!
Below : Oxna's main opening pocket, which I use in conjunction with the compression cube for maximum benefit.