An experiment in traveling with no luggage at all

Determining what to pack is always an important consideration for travelers, regardless of destination or length of stay. In terms of a long-term vagabonding stint, Rolf stresses the importance of carrying a small, sturdy backpack containing “as little as possible,” which might include “basic clothes, basic toiletries and medicines, a guidebook or two, good shoes or sandals.”

Writer and photographer Jonathan Yevin took it a step further by traveling to Central America for a month with only a few essentials, and a whole new view on traveling light:

“I ran the full length with nothing but the clothes I was wearing: cargo pants, maroon T-shirt, and gray fleece tied at the waist. On my person was an American passport, a Visa credit card, about $50, a toothbrush, a tiny Canon digital camera with extra battery, a Ziploc bag of vitamins, and a copy of The Kite Runner, whose chapters I tore off as I read them.”

In his short article “Tales of a Luggage-Less Traveler” for Budget Travel Online, he chronicles the no-weight voyage and the interesting experiences that come with carrying almost nothing but the clothes on his back.

In an email, Jonathan admits that It’s possible to go too far. “You might catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and realize you’ve become a traveling anorexic.” Even so, the message remains clear: less is more. A proper balance must be met; a sort of traveler’s equilibrium. Too much can jeopardize you mobility. Too little can leave you wishing for a nonlethal underarm funk, or just a pair of dry socks. It’s important to utilize the space you have (in Jonathan’s case, his pockets) by keeping your packing list limited to the essentials.

There are several tools on the Internet to help with the process, and you should begin your research at – the best online guide for packing I’ve found. Another interesting gadget is the Universal Packing List Generator which gives you a lengthy outline of items to ponder depending on several variables your specific trip might have. The list it generates can be quite lengthy, so it’s best to pick and choose from its recommendations based on your personal needs and travel tenets.

Related: More pointers on packing for the journey, Traveling the world with one carry-on bag, What should one bring when vagabonding?

[Have a travel website or article to recommend? Send suggestions to collective (at)]

Posted by | Comments (6)  | July 12, 2006
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

6 Responses to “An experiment in traveling with no luggage at all”

  1. TGray Says:

    This is crazy. Wondering how far this guy took his travels — or could take his travels — with such a light load. Hitting budget travel online now.

  2. michael noise Says:

    this article had me constructing a mental venn diagram–one that overlapped “urban oasis” and “bachelor of fine arts” to create “traveling anorexic” and “dabbling in homelessness”, with a tiny circular subsect called “the rambles are a myth” and an even smaller subsect called “new york ain’t so scary”…i was so sure that this article had changed my life, my life as a new yorker, an artist, and a tax-paying liberal, until i realized that mr. yevin travelled to central america for a month on a shoestring and not central park. i would like him to attempt that trip next, that would really be a meaty article.

  3. brin-jonathan michael friesen Says:

    What I like about Jonathan’s journey is it’s intrinsically of interest to anyone who travels anywhere. I don’t know many subjects more dull than most people’s travel experiences. With Johnny I’m interested right from knowing what’s he’s got along with him and where he’s going—which kinda fills in a nice reason *why* that makes me wanna go along.

  4. michael j. rothman Says:

    One year ago yesterday I completed a cross-country bicycle trip with nothing more than a pair of wheels and some camping gear. After my quiet sense of accomplishment recently degenerated into obnoxious boasting (mostly because I was drunk and one of the girls I was trying to pick up mentioned something about being “outdoorsy”), one of my friends sent me a link to Jonathan Yevin’s piece as an ego-check. It made my adventure look as hard-core as holding your nose while jumping into a public pool.

    In his piece, Mr. Yevin elegantly conveys the essential freedom of travel– real travel, point A to point B travel, the kind of ballsy get-up-and-go travel more often seen in 18th Century British Imperialists than in mixed up Lonely Planeteers looking for the last undiscovered good time. Kudos to Mr. Yevin, not just for writing an incredible piece and undertaking a remarkable adventure, but for restoring my sense of humility.

  5. magdalenus Says:

    Great article, guys! I blogged about here it here: The Poverty Jet Set Gotta love keepin’ it simple, huh?

  6. Brian Burke Says:

    Knowing the illustrious Mr. Yevin is knowing the potential for such madness as this luggage-less travel. I returned from Brazil a few weeks back bragging of hiking the not-so-simple shore path from Praia do Sono to Ponta Negra wearing nothing more than a pair of shorts: a two day adventure that sent me home ill and not a little jaded. But I balked when an email back from Yevin mentioned having done the exact same path a few years before. As if that wasn’t enough of an ego check he went on to casually mention this month long minimalist excursion up through Central America. At least I know I don’t have to compete anymore, ’cause I can’t top that.