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10 Top Tips for Travelling Light


1. Ask whether you actually need to travel super-light at all. If shedding a few pounds is going to cost a lot of pounds I prefer just to have a slightly heavier pack and regard it as extra training.

2. Having said that, it certainly is nice to travel light. A great way to do this on a long trip is to imagine you are going away just for a weekend. You do not actually need a lot more gear for a year-long journey than an overnighter.

3. From ‘Three Men in a Boat’ I learned that I must not take the things I could do with, but only the things I could not do without. Don’t try to cover every possible contingency.

4. Take a good book. I always deem a book worth its weight anyway, but they also double as toilet paper. Always read absorbing books.

5. Don’t bother with a towel – use your socks or just get dressed wet.

6. Decide what ratio of comfort:misery you are willing to tolerate. I now deem a 3/4 length Therm-a-Rest to be essential rather than luxury. I have also suffered too often from planning a trip from the comfort of a nice warm house and making decisions like “oh, I won’t bother with any food or warm clothes. I’ll just suffer a bit.” Easier said than done!

7. Don’t automatically choose a lightweight backpack. On a recent trip I saved about 1kg by using a very light pack. My shoulders and hips rubbed raw and I cursed the lack of padding.

8. I don’t care about being smelly, but I do care about being cold or hungry. This determines my selection of kit as much as anything. In other words, leave the spare pants behind, pack another bar of chocolate.

9. A bit of discomfort is a small price to pay for bringing simplicity, minimalism, and a lightweight ethos to your trip.

10. Any fool can be uncomfortable.

Here is another useful article on packing light.

This post originally appeared on the WideWorld website.

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  1. Maybe you’ve covered this elsewhere, but I’ve always wondered what you do for drinking water – you mentioned you don’t like to buy bottled water, so I’m curious what you did when you walked the river in India…

  2. I’m surprised you don’t mention Igor Kovse’s ultralight list (as exaggeration example): 🙂 He’s still happy with this attitude but I don’t think many people would adopt such an extreme weight shedding…

  3. Graeme Posted

    “He’d concluded that wanting something was generally less painful than hauling it”.

    I came across this line in the Vietnam war novel ‘Tree of Smoke’ (excellent book). Made me smile when I read it and a good basic philosophy for gear selection.

  4. Not bothering with a towel is a bit hardcore for me.

  5. And just to offer a contrarian view, I guess this would be ultra-heavy backpacking….. ; )

    Scroll down for the “Paddleable Amphibious Cart” (PAC for short).

    And just to get in the spirt of things I should have used a huge url for the link (

  6. Always read absorbing books – that’s really funny!

  7. Great list, especially “socks for a towel”.



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