When we left Belize we managed to set off on a seven-month international trip with only three bags that would need to be checked each time we got on a plane. Each of the bags was under the 50-pound limit used for most international flights but not under the 44-pound limit used on some domestic flights. Still, we figured we were doing very well to keep our luggage just less than 150 pounds in total.
Now I have a different opinion.
Luggage is the friction of travel. It’s the wind resistance, the drag, the thing that saps your energy and distracts you from the new glory that is all around you. To illustrate my point I’ll walk you through just the final day of our half-year trip – one day and one change of location. We were in Cancun, Mexico which is about 200 miles from where we live in San Pedro, Belize.
Would you like to guess how many times one needs to handle luggage on that day? Guess high.
The answer is seventeen. Here they are:
1. From hotel room to lobby.
2. Into the taxi (which is nearly always a Toyota or other small car whose trunk is so small that one bag goes in the front passenger seat.
3. Out of the taxi
4. Into the bus
5. Out of the bus
6. Into the Mexican taxi near the border
7. Out of the Mexican taxi
8. Into the Belize taxi to get us across the border
9. Out of the taxi to be inspected by Belize customs
10. Through customs
11. Back into the taxi
12. Out of the taxi at the tiny airport
13. Into a Cessna 172 4-person aircraft
14. Out of the Cessna on the island where we live
15. Into the golf cart
16. Out of the golf cart
17. Into the condo
And there was a bonus. One of the bags would not fit in the Cessna so they put it on the next flight, which meant we had to go back to the airport and add three more operations, bringing the 12-hour day to an even 20 baggage operations!
That’s how luggage lives – on trains, on tuk-tuks and on ferries. The life of luggage sucks and my advice is to not make luggage your friend. Figure out the minimum you need then cut that in half. You’ll still toss stuff from that as you go along.
Recently, traveler extraordinaire Rolf Potts went around the world in six weeks with zero luggage just to prove he could. I found that very inspirational and my goal is to cut 60% of what I take with me.
Luggage is friction to your enjoyment – it’s the guy you wish you didn’t bring on the trip. Next time I’m leaving the bloated killjoy at home.