Packing Light and Going Fast

July 30, 2011

For the past few months, I have been following Pack Light. Go Fast. with great enthusiasm. It’s a blog about the art of packing light and traveling with just the essentials, so you can worry less about what you’re carrying and focus on enjoying your trip instead. The advantages are many: you can move faster through security in airports, you don’t need to check in any luggage (which can save you quite some money), and if you’re carrying only one bag, you can keep everything with you at all times so you don’t need to worry about leaving something behind… you get the idea.

If this sounds like something you’d like to try, you should spend some time browsing through the archives. The work that Uri is doing over there is phenomenal, and there is some solid advice for everyone.

Personally, I like to pack light when preparing for an upcoming trip. I always try to take as few items as possible to avoid checking any bags if I have to catch a plane. In Europe we often fly with low-cost airlines, which are great, but have very restrictive policies in place when it comes to baggage fees. In most cases you’re only allowed to carry one bag with you onboard, and if you want to check anything it usually comes at a steep price per bag. It is in part thanks to these airlines that I’ve gotten better at packing light over the years.

Right now I’m in my home town, Plasencia, visiting my parents. Since it’s August and most people are on vacation, I decided to take a couple days off work to be with them. Besides, next Tuesday is my town’s official holiday and I didn’t want to miss it. It’s a great chance to catch up with some old friends and have a nice day. I also wanted to bring some nice clothes in case we went out for dinner or something like that. In the end I was able to pack everything using only my backpack. I didn’t want to bring a trolley (which is considerably bigger) because I knew I would have to go straight from work to the train station, and I’d have to walk quite a bit through the city and take the Metro to get there. If you’ve ever moved across a big city like Madrid with a trolley, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s a pain.

I’m also lucky because I keep some of my clothes at my parents', so that I don’t need to bring everything with me every time. However, this time around I brought everything I’ll use, with the only exception of a pair of dress shoes. Everything else was conveniently packed as you can see in the images below.

Everything for 5 days away

Here’s the checklist:

1 pair of shorts 1 pair of pants 3 T-shirts 2 dress shirts 4 pairs of underwear 4 pairs of socks Swimsuit 1 pair of flip-flops for the pool 1 pair of flip-flops to wear on the street Toiletries bag Apple Wireless Keyboard iPad 2 Amazon Kindle Glasses Belt Keys iPad charger and cable

Ready to go.

And here’s everything packed up in my 25-liter Nike Hayward Medium backpack (which has sadly been discontinued). There’s actually plenty of room left. I could have easily fit another pair of jeans, an extra pair of shoes and even my MacBook Pro, but by bringing only the essentials, my backpack feels lighter, and I can go faster. As you can see, carrying only one bag means you can move better, and you have less things to worry about. It feels great.

After seeing so many great examples of people using the GORUCK rucks, I’m eager to get one and see for myself. My current backpack is similar to the GR1 in size, so I guess I’ll go for the GR2 following Uri’s advice. This way I’m covered for both short and long trips, and I can forget about trolleys for good.

For more details, you can browse through the whole set of images on Flickr.