In 2017 I departed on my first (for many, many years) solo adventure. I was super-excited to be spending four weeks exploring Croatia and Italy. I left behind my husband and two teenagers in New Zealand and launched myself into an amazing journey. I was however nervous as hell at the start! But the trip was amazing. It was incredibly liberating and I've never felt such freedom to do as I wish - quite a contrast from being a mother, wife, and nurse.
However, because I was by myself, I wanted to be self-contained. I didn’t have anyone who could carry my bag if I got tired, and I needed to be independent. Packing light seemed to be the solution I needed.
It was sort-of by default that I ended up with just over 5 kilos in my bag. I went to a sports shop and looked at the bags. I picked one that looked a nice size to carry. At this point I had not researched how much a 24L bag could carry but it looked the right size. Clearly there was no science to this part of my decision making. Hence, quite possibly the need to travel light was not just about safety, but also that I didn’t want to buy another bag and things would just have to fit!!! With that rocky start I became a light travel convert and am now on a quest to save people’s backs and to teach people how to travel with less.
Six reasons why travelling light with a day bag is the best way to travel.
1.) One bag = security plus!
So, since I was travelling by myself, security was my key motivator for packing light. I didn't have my husband with me, or a friend with that extra set of eyes. It was just me, on my own, solely responsible for my personal and property safety. There was literally no one watching my back.
So learning how to pack light became a wee bit of an obsession with me! Indeed, I took this to quite the extreme, with only carrying 5.5 kilos (around 12 pounds). This is termed ultralight packing, but you would be surprised how easy it is to do. With my bag securely strapped to my back, and my valuables in my over-shoulder bag I was as compact as possible.
2.) It's easy on your back and knees.
I'm not so sure about you, but speaking only for myself, after 30 years of nursing, labour and childbirth, lounging on my couch on social media and watching telly, and just good old wear and tear, my back is not as strong as it once was. The thought of lugging around a 20 kilo backpack makes me shrink in my boots! And when you're 5 foot 1 (and a quarter!) this is not something I wish for.
Carrying heavy weights is hard on your body. In Italy and Croatia I had no idea of the steps I would be hiking up and down to my accommodation, to boats, trains and between destinations. With a well-fitted, ergonomically designed day bag, your gear is perched comfortably on your back. You are balanced.
Good grief! Those stairs just keep going!
3.) Hands-free travelling!
With a light pack on your back you can focus on what's in front of you. You can be mindful of what's happening around you. And your hands are free to reach out, pull up, hold on, wave...
And there’s no twisting to pull a suitcase behind you.
4.) Transfers on trains, boats, buses and flights are a breeze.
Zipping between terminals, avoiding luggage carousels, jumping in a taxi or on a bus, getting on a ferry, trying to catch that train, are all made easy when you have a light bag on your back. With little time between connections I had to race down some concourses to meet my next train. Travelling light makes this possible.
Probably my favourite "wohoo" moment is when I am off a plane, through customs, and on a train heading to my destination, when others are probably still waiting for their luggage to be off-loaded.
Catching a ferry to Hvar Island, Croatia.
5.) It really makes you plan a multi-purpose, minimal, mix & match wardrobe.
A capsule travel wardrobe is a must for light travel. It does away with the "I don't know what to wear" issue! Seriously your wardrobe will be so planned and organised that everything works well together. Tops, bottoms and shoes that all go stylishly together, really make it easy.
6.) You've always got everything you need with you.
I don't need to think about what I will need on the flight because my bag is with me.
I don't need to put my bags in the boot of a taxi, or in an overhead locker. Being able to keep my bag with me at all times makes me feel a lot more secure.
I don't need to leave someone guarding it when I go to the toilet. Although I do laugh when I see people trying to squeeze their suitcase into a toilet cubicle... forgetting that the door still needs to close.
Hiking from Punta Chiappa to San Fruttuoso near Portofino.
So, there you have it, my six reasons why to pack light when travelling solo. Once you’ve tried travelling lighter you’ll just want to keep improving on it. Clearly I can’t rave enough about it!
Since my first trip I’ve now travelled with my 5 kilo bag into the North Western Australian outback (including Sydney, Darwin and Perth). I travelled solo to South East China for two weeks, a romantic holiday in Fiji, a family week in Queenstown NZ over winter, and many local trips in New Zealand. It really is fun, and I just love the freedom it gives me.
Packing less is different for everyone. For some it may be 15 kilos or 10 kilos. Whatever weight you decide to carry there are some really easy tricks on how to reduce the weight in your pack.
Stick with me and I'll show you how!