Thoughts on Not Traveling Light

One thing about my favorite boy toy and I is that we do not travel lightly.  Not only do we have our clothes and toiletries, but we also have our cameras, tripods, laptop, iPads, and books.  Depending on how long I’m gone, I may even have my work laptop with as well.  Of course, we are driving to our destinations and not flying.  If we were flying, there would not be as much going with us.

There are some very good arguments as to the need to travel lightly.  This includes physical security over your possessions, ease of travel, flexibility especially for public transportation, and simplicity.  They all make sense to me.

But. . . my fun would be greatly diminished.  I enjoy taking pictures.  I like downloading them, blogging, and reading my E-mails.  I read during downtime, before bed, and when my boy toy is spending yet another hour waiting for something to be just thus and so to take his own pictures.

Alexandra Stoddard, a philosopher of contemporary living, has a wonderful essay on traveling heavy in her book, Things I Want My Daughters To KnowShe tells how she loves things and she loves to travel.  She says that each time she travels lightly, she’s regretted it.  She tells her daughers they will be the happiest when they are prepared and that “being self-sufficient in a strange place is empowering”.

I particularly liked this quote from the essay:

Travel heavy to live big, significant lives. Have a stimulating career.
Have children. Have a dog. Have plants you need to water.
Have a personal library. Have dinner parties.
Collect inanimate objects simply because you love them.

The beauty you surround yourself with enriches your soul. . .
Now is the only time to enjoy these possessions that make you happy now.

When I read this years ago, I realized that my traveling lightly was not serving me well.  I didn’t like going on the road only to have no way to relax except by watching television.  I made sure to travel with a few books, a small piece of needlepoint, a yoga DVD and a yoga strap.  It made my business travels much more enjoyable.  Of course, since I was flying, I had to leave my good needlepoint scissors behind and instead take a pair of child’s blunt nose scissors for cutting my threads!

I don’t want to drive with so much stuff that it takes multiple trips to empty the car.  But I do want my possessions that I enjoy, the things that make my trip worthwhile.  If I can’t take my pictures, download and enjoy them, why bother traveling?

Alexandra Stoddard’s quote is also talking to the bigger issues of life.  Does a minimalist life serve us well if we feel deprived of the things that bring us joy?  Dogs are expensive, children even more so.  Yet both bring love to us.  Flowers bring us beauty, whether from the store or in our yard.  Do we not spend money on them and therefore not enjoy?

If you prefer or need the flexibility of traveling light, do so!  But for me, I’d rather not.

The Bradford pear trees on Brown’s Island are in full bloom.  As I took pictures, the petals were falling as fast as snow, making it like a wonderland to walk beneath them.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

For some resources on traveling light, read here and here.  For a good article on traveling heavy, read Bill Kennedy’s article on the personal article he takes with when he travels.

Brown's Island Travel Virginia

dogear6 View All →

I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

31 Comments Leave a comment

  1. We lost one Bradford pear and our second was heavily damaged in the late October snowstorm. Our spring is a couple weeks behind yours – the magnolias are just blooming and the pear trees have buds, but no flowers. I enjoy seeing how a few hours south makes a difference in the progression of the seasons.
    I try to be a minimalist packer, but the kids make this difficult. Having a Kindle has lightened my book load and guarantees that I will always have something to read in quiet moments.

    • Bradford pears are such soft trees. They grow fast but unfortunately they die quickly too.

      Our daughter lives south of us and it really does make a difference in how quickly spring comes.

      And yeah, kids do make it hard to pack lightly.

  2. I must say my feelings are mixed on this one. We take a road trip every year and I am always looking for ways to take less. Of course, I like to take my computer and those sorts of things. However, with 4 kids, the van quickly fills up. We try to limit what we take for simplicity. I do see where you are coming from, though. It make sense. It all depends on what your trip is going to be about. For us, right now, it is mainly to visit family. If it were just my wife and I, we would have a completely different focus.

    • Derek – I think you’re right that it depends on what the trip is about. With four kids, especially with how little yours are, simplicity makes a huge difference in managing the flow for travel and visiting. My husband and I have a big difference between how things are now versus when our daughter was still at home – and she was only one child! Now she helps us carry our bags in and take them upstairs (while asking what is so heavy in the bags).

  3. Your “take” on traveling heavy is so interesting to me. I also traveled for business and was forever trying to lighten the load, pare everything down to a carry-on for two weeks in Europe! Never succeeded. Now I am still doing it for vacation travel. Hmmmm. Need to rethink the whole thing since reading your blog. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I like having “the comforts of home” away from home, too, so we tend to make several trips loading and unloading. I noticed the petals falling like snow on my way to an appointment last week and thought it would make a great picture. I had other places to go afterward and forgot to stop on the way back.

    • It’s too bad you didn’t get the picture. Today the blossoms are down and gone already although the pollen is back. Yuck. My sweetie is pretty good about the multiple trips to take everything in. Traveling light just doesn’t work for either of us.

    • Air travel stopped being fun a long time ago. I”m glad we’re driving for most trips these days and it sure is nice to take more stuff with!

  5. Even as seasoned travellers… we have had many family (5 of us) driving holidays – we seem to have an enormous amount of stuff. Travelling light to us still means an overfull car. I’d hate to think how we’d do it if we travelled heavier. BUt I agree with Darlene, I like to be prepared for all weather situations and so always seem to have the biggest bag.

    • When our daughter was still living at home, I couldn’t believe how much stuff came with for even a short trip. And that was only one child! I can’t imagine having five in the car. You must feel like an air traffic controller to keep it all coordinated (even when you’re home).

      Thanks for stopping by to visit!

  6. I have often been accused of travelling heavy but when someone else needs something, I always have it to lend them! We often fly too. My dear husband doesn’t mind carrying my extra things, like books and shoes, in his bags. We have sometimes had to pay for an overweight bag (those books can get heavy) but I would rather that than not have something to read. For my birthday last year, hubby bought me a sony e-reader so that has helped. I am always afraid of not having the right clothes or shoes, the weather can be unpredictable. I don’t want to spend my holiday looking for a warmer coat or buying something I may never wear again. I try to travel lighter but I agree with you, some things you just need with you.

    • Your husband is quite the sweetie to schlepp your stuff for you. Your point about not spending the holiday looking for a warmer coat or something else you need was one of the things that Alexandra Stoddard talked about in her essay. She’d gone traveling light and spent part of her vacation shopping for a warmer coat and some rain gear instead of spending her time having fun.

      Having the Kindle on my iPad has cut way back on the books I bring with, but I still have to bring at least a few!

  7. Hello!

    I was just alerted to your site thanks to a pingback request on my blog, where it looks like you linked to my post on traveling light. Thanks for including me as a source!

    I loved your arguments as to why you find it necessary to travel “heavy.” I agree with you that if something (in your case the photography equipment and books) makes your trip more enjoyable, you definitely should not even consider leaving it behind. Photography equipment is a must even for horrible photographers like myself!

    I am not the lightest of travelers, and there are things I must take to keep myself sane, even if I don’t use them at all on the trip; these include my laptop, two more pairs of socks and undergarments than there are nights of the trip, and a fully-loaded toiletry bag. The toiletry kit is already pre-filled, so though it may have enough to last over a week, I take it with me even on short jaunts.

    Great blog you have here, and I wish you safe future travels!


    • Christian – thanks for the comment and the compliment! I’m glad you liked the post. Your thoughts here are a great follow-up to the things we need to stay sane while traveling.

%d bloggers like this: