No Luggage At All: Hitting The Road With A BlackBerry, A Toothbrush And Not Much Else

No Luggage At All: Hitting The Road With A BlackBerry, A Toothbrush And Not Much Else

Two years ago, I completed the Hand Luggage Only project, roaming across Australia for a month with only what I could fit into a single carry-on bag. Ever since then, I’ve been looking for a more extreme travel challenge. The solution? Go on the road for work with no luggage whatsoever — and no computer.

Aside from an obvious personal trend towards masochism, there is a more nuanced reasoning behind this. Travelling with as little as possible is a constant topic of discussion around these parts, and with luggage fees increasing across the board, any strategies to minimise baggage are worth exploring and testing. I've already demonstrated via Hand Luggage Only that you can travel with just a single case and actually get a job done, so I didn't want to revisit that territory.

The most notable development since I last tried this kind of thing is that smartphones have become even more powerful and more flexible, to the point where it seems feasible to use one as my main working device. I already routinely write and edit stories and approve Lifehacker comments on my much-loved BlackBerry Torch, but I've never tried using it as my sole device for more than an evening out or a lunchtime press conference. However, knowing that it offers a solid battery life and most of the apps I need for day-to-day writing and publishing -- and that it has an actual keyboard which makes sustained writing easier -- that should be achievable.

From a working point of view, then, I don't necessarily need anything other than a BlackBerry, a charger and some headphones. None of those are so bulky they need to be carried in a separate bag. Reflecting on that, it suddenly hit me -- I could try doing this with no luggage whatsoever, merely what I could carry on my person. Device (and wallet) aside, the only other things that I wouldn't be able to get staying in hotels would be teeth-brushing stuff and deodorant.

Obviously, that does leave the small issue of the clothes on my back. However, one thing I learned during the Hand Luggage Only experience was that I needed to wash clothes every single day anyway. So why I shouldn't I just wash the same garments every night for the next morning? Provided I had items that could dry quickly, and occasional access to a washing machine and dryer for a more thorough clean, that should work OK, and I can sit around the hotel room wrapped in a towel in the evenings. (Apologies for that mental image.)

So there's the challenge. I'll be on the road from Monday to Saturday next week, and travelling to a different state almost every day. I need to do my regular gig of running Lifehacker, including meeting up with and interviewing people and attending events. I'll be staying in a range of different hotels, and using as many transport options as possible. BlackBerry has come on board the project as a sponsor (thanks guys!), and Van Heusen has also loaned me a crush-resistant Peforma suit to wear so I don't look quite as crumpled by the end of the week.

My journey proper begins on Monday. Tomorrow I'll outline in more detail what I'll be taking with me on the road (though let's face it, there's not a lot of detail to share when you can only fill your pockets) and where I'm going. There'll be regular posts throughout next week on the project, and I'll also be tweeting on my personal Twitter account using the tag #noluggage and sharing photos via Lifehacker's Facebook presence. Despite my inherent fear of laundry, I can't wait. Share your ideas on what I should get up to, and what difficulties I'll face, in the comments.


  • I think you should keep your toothpaste in a ziplock sandwich bag because a pocket full of toothpaste would be gross. Actually, I think carrying a couple of spare, empty ziplock bags in your pocket could be handy (in case someone gives you a sandwich and you want to save it for later).

  • I suspect battery life will be a challenge, with Android phones batteries are under $10 each, you could have 3-4 of those for a full days work and charge them each night. Apple products fail here.

    Are you going to carry a briefcase/manbag/backpack at all? If you’re just rocking the scummy journalist look you could get away with casual cargo pants maybe, if you try and jam all this stuff into suit pockets you might look like a bit of a tool.

    Hand-luggage-only was interesting, this might be taking it a bit far.

    Good luck.

  • Awesome idea look forward to seeing the results. My friends always comment on how little I take when I travel compared to them.

    I just got a Playbook (sorry really chuffed with it) and paired with my BB it is great.

    Used it for three days while I travelled from Melb to Syd for work. No laptop needed.

    • I’m aware of that project, but there’s some notable differences:
      * I don’t have _any_ changes of clothes with me
      * I’m doing my regular job, not just travelling and reporting on the travel
      * I’m travelling solo
      * I’m not using a special carry vest 🙂

  • “occasional access to a washing machine and dryer for a more thorough clean, that should work OK”

    How are you going to get from your room to the hotel laundry room? 🙂

  • I’ve got into using a usb with a suite of portable apps ( firefox, thunderbird etc), my top tunes and a document folder which also contains a sparse image file (im a mac man) for encrypted security for private stuff.

  • Angus – awesome! can’t wait to hear how it goes, I am also always on the quest for less luggage, shipping off to belgium for next week, and although I always dream of scaling down to a macbook air or even blackberry/ipad only (got away with that for multiday melbourne trips), this time im still taking the trusty 14inch thinkpad T61 just in case i need to resculpt some serious powerpoints!

    International adds the extra challenge of no roaming data, and not many hotels having wifi (making real ethernet a requirement) 🙁

    Hope that you have arranged your meetings so that no one person sees you in the same shirt every day 🙂

    One tip I got from an old colleague (who did a lot of USA travel and hated security) was for multi-day stays chuck some deodorant, toothbrush, underwear into a FedEx bag and send it ahead to the hotels that your staying at, saves you carrying it, and avoids all the rules regarding liquids and aerosols – maybe its not quite true to the challenge, but a useful tip none the less!

    Good luck!


  • I want to see a fancy graphic of each of your pockets and what’s in them.

    so you’ve got two front + two hip pockets on your trousers, three? pockets in your suit, and one or two pockets in your shirt.

    How slim line is your phone charger?

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