Traveling light isn’t just about how much luggage you have, although that’s a big part of it.
When I travel with a single backpack, I tend to be a lot more spontaneous. At any point I can toss everything on my back and change location.
One time, while in Taiwan, I found myself switching hotel rooms multiple times a week. I was doing it to save money, since hotels there were quite expensive, but there was always one place somewhere with a steep discount for a couple days – you just had to be ready to jump ship.
As I started making more money and traveling less frugally, I started taking more stuff. I didn’t mind paying the extra baggage fees, and it made packing less difficult since I didn’t have to plan or make sacrifices.
And it was fine honestly. For the most part, your luggage spends 95% of your trip lying on the floor of your hotel, where it makes no difference whether it’s 2 massive suitcases or a single small backpack.
But on this trip to Japan, I decided to go back to my old ways, just out of curiosity. And honestly, I just like it. Traveling lighter makes me feel more like an adventurer and less like a tourist. This is not a rational thought – I am in fact a tourist. But still, there’s just something to it.
More concretely, I am noticing tangible positive effects from my light luggage. For example, just today I had an unexpected change of plans and decided to spend my weekend outside of Tokyo.
Luckily it was pretty easy to pack up my little bag and head across the city on a moment’s notice. If I had a lot of luggage, it would feel like too much of a hassle, and I’d probably just stay in Tokyo instead.
This ties into the other part of traveling “light”, which is less about how much stuff you’re carrying and more about how rigid your plans are.
The reason I made this sudden change of plans is that I didn’t have my hotel booked very far out, and I was just extending little by little.
But this time when I went to extend my stay, they told me the hotel was fully booked! I had to find somewhere else to stay.
This was frustrating and unwanted, yet I’m glad it happened since it gave me a little push to do something I was putting off. It was comfortable staying in Tokyo, but I know I’d regret not taking a chance to get out of the city. So by keeping a flexible plan, life gave me the push I needed to do it.