No doubt travelling with no luggage requires sacrifices: a constant laundry routine, careful battery management, and no backup option when the mobile network dies. But there’s a big payoff too: a feeling of liberation and ease I haven’t experienced on any of my previous and numerous work trips.This is most evident when getting on a flight. Given the fees associated with luggage across the airline industry these days, virtually everyone is overloaded with carry-on bags. Pressure levels rise as the overhead bins fill; dirty looks are exchanged; cabin crew explain to irate cheapskates that they can’t bring on three-full sized suitcases; people already seated get whacked in face by passing handbags crammed with garbage.
It’s great to be out of all that. I don’t have to worry if there’s space in the overhead locker; I don’t have to contemplate having no leg room when there’s a large suitcase placed underneath the seat in front of me. I can just take my seat and relax.
If I want to work during the flight, as I often do, I don't have to carefully balance my laptop next to the snacks and hope that the person in front doesn't recline their seat. BlackBerry in one hand, sandwich in the other; that's me. Nor do I lose time waiting for my machine to wake up, or have to wait until I've left the plane to connect a dongle and resync. (This week, I've uploaded stories before I've even left the plane.)
Yes, you could get the benefits of the space around you by checking your luggage. But then you've got a long wait at the other end (especially at the luggage-sucking vortex that is Melbourne Airport). And you have to hope your bags haven't gone missing. And then your choice of transport will be influenced by dragging the bags around. I'm a fan of airport public transport anyway, but it's a lot easier to jump on a bus when you don't have to squabble over the luggage rack. And it's much more straightforward to board a ferry when you're not wheeling a suitcase.
That doesn't mean the whole week has been a non-stop round of transport options. Having no luggage also means there's no restrictions on walking, and I've been racking up at least an hour a day between appointments and getting to my hotels.
Not many people are going to emulate the whole extreme experience I'm having this week. But stripping back on what you travel with definitely pays dividends.
For the No Luggage experiment, Angus Kidman is doing his normal job while travelling Australia for a week with not much more than a BlackBerry. The gratitude from his shoulder is increasing by the day.