The Beauty of Traveling Light

Two days ago was Dan and my 6-month-traveliversary. Wow. I can’t believe we have really been traveling the world for 6 months. 6 months has lead me to reflect a lot on our biggest successes of the trip. It has also made me miss home a whole lot, but that may just be because we are heading home in about 2 weeks. I can’t believe this adventure is coming to an end! Don’t worry, there is so much we didn’t have a chance to share on our lovely blog while it was happening, so the posts will continue long after we are back in our freezing cold home, New York City.

But back to our successes. This may not be an impressive or spectacular choice as our biggest success of the trip, but I am sticking with it: Our biggest success of the trip is keeping our luggage under 10 kilos. That’s under 22 pounds to our American readers.

Weighing our bags at the Auckland airport. Mine was 8kg and Dan's was 9kg. Plus that small daypack I'm holding that has our computer in it, I get to around 10kg.

Weighing our bags at the Auckland airport before dawn (and ticket-counter opening). Mine was 8kg and Dan’s was 9kg. Plus that small daypack I’m holding that has our computer in it, I get to around 10kg.

10 kilos means that we have never checked a bag on this entire trip. Big plane or small, those backpacks fit in the overhead compartment! Think of all the money in checked baggage fees we have saved! This means, for all you future travelers who want to attempt the same thing, you cannot get a 70 liter bag. It will not fit in the overhead, plus if you fill it it will definitely weigh too much. And you will fill it. It’s human nature to fill the bag to the brim! For reference, my bag is 45 liters. Dan’s is 50 liters. This seems to be a good size for keeping your bag under 10 kilos, unless you plan on carrying rocks. Then you will have a problem, no matter the size of your bag!

For the lovely cheapskate airlines that have lowered their carry on weight to 7 kilograms (and 7 kilos is the lowest we have seen), we had a plan: Wear all of your heavy clothes and stuff some heavy stuff into your pockets. We did this with much success in Malaysia when flying Air Asia. They are the biggest cheapskates of any airline we have flown. They won’t even give you water on the plane without charging! So before we went to that ticket counter, we put on our long pants (I wore my leggings underneath), short-sleeved shirt, long-sleeved shirt, and our sweatshirts. I put on my scarf, too, which covered my sweatshirt pockets which I then stuffed our two liquids bags into. Dan also stuffed some things into his pants pockets. We did all of this before going to the ticket counter. When we got there, no problems! After we had our tickets, we just put the extra stuff back into the bags.

See, here’s the thing. They weigh your bag just to be able to charge you extra if it’s over their threshold, whatever that number happens to be. But they don’t weigh you! It doesn’t matter that I’m a small person, my bag can’t weigh more than X-number of kilos.┬áIt’s a money-making sceme, really, so we decided to beat it. And we have on every flight. But the key is keeping your bags near the threshold so you aren’t struggling to hide the weight on your person.

Now that we are nearing the end of our trip, I can say that traveling light is getting more difficult to stick to. For most of our trip, our only gifts to ourselves were pictures and memories, but now that we are so close to home we have been buying things here and there. Nothing crazy, but every purchase adds up to more weight! For the budget traveler, though, I highly recommend sticking with the plan of only taking pictures. They cost nothing (assuming they are digital), weight nothing, but will allow you to look back fondly on everything you have done. And my memory alone certainly isn’t good enough to do that!

So we wish you luck on packing light and saving some of your cash and sanity (no bags lost in transit!). To help you do this, Dan and I will soon be posting our packing list for a 6 month trip around the world (UPDATE! See the packing list HERE!). Be prepared, you will be wearing the same clothes over and over again!