6 Ways to Travel Lite*

“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears.” - Glenn Clark

Staring out into the Pacific Ocean, overcast and raining, I felt as if I had arrived. Before leaving Michigan, I felt like I was chasing after something, though unsure what. In this moment, I realized it was the feeling of being alive. In spite of inclimate weather, a turbulent flight and the fear of the unknown, I found what was already inside of me. It was not on the coast of San Diego nor the desert of Yuma.

Traveling is different for everyone. Our expectations vary and trying to meet them can be both frustrating and exhilarating. When compiling this list, I tried to make tips as general as possible. However, a theme has arisen. If we’re looking for a new way to travel, it’s important to evaluate our expectations. These, more than anything else, will affect the quality of our experience.

With that in mind, I hope you find these tips to be helpful when planning your next trip.

1. Plan Ahead

It’s fairly common knowledge that booking flights, hotels, rental cars, trains, etc. can save on cost. The care put into planning our trip's logistics can lower the stress involved when in en route. Using travel sites such as Kayak, Priceline or Travelocity helps secure low prices while adding an extra level of security in case something goes awry. However, booking straight through an airline's website can make reservation alterations easier and waive fees added by secondary booking sources.

Furthermore, try not to overplan. Allowing for space outside the basic logistics can help maintain spontaneity and wonder when traveling. Try to avoid tourist attractions as time and quality is lost waiting in line and navigating through crowds. We each desire for a unique experience, be mindful of how our choices affect this.

2. Surfing Couch to Coast

When choosing a destination, look for destinations where friends or family are willing to put you up. Not only do you get a free place to stay, but you also have a local to help you find hidden gems in the area. You can cover a lot more ground with less expense by couch surfing between friends located in relatively close proximity. This also allows you to take a peek into the day to day life of the region, adding a depth to your experience not found in hotels.

If you’re open to meeting new people, check out couchsurfing.org to explore your options.

3. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

When planning a trip, it helps to consider our intentions. If we’re focusing on one city, a flight to and from will suffice. However, if you’d like to get more out of you buck and time consider different transportation options. Road trips are common and allow us to see the countryside while maintaining control over our pace and direction. Trains and buses allow us to see more as well as include stops in different cities along the way.

I managed to find a bus ticket from Yuma to Denver for only $68 with stops at Phoenix and Albuquerque. While ground transportation is cheaper, we’re exchanging cost for time. It’s a longer trip, but if seeing the countryside is your thing, then it’s the best way to go.

4. Pack Lite and Carry On

We live in the age of convenience and luggage fees. Our budget can be exceed by simply getting on and off a flight depending on how much baggage we bring. Try limiting your luggage to one carry on bag. You can easily fit five days worth of clothing, toiletries and a laptop or book in a backpack that fits most carry on standards. For example,  my 10 day excursion from San Diego to Yuma to Denver I managed to fit enough clothing for 3 climates. Check it out here.

5. Travel Loves Company

One of the greatest joys of traveling is the people we share it with. Finding someone to share our adventure with makes the mundane aspects more interesting. Traveling with a friend can open your options, cut costs and really solidify a relationship. It’s also a way to see the world through another’s eyes by watching their reaction to destinations and by sharing stories. For those less acquainted with traveling, I highly recommend this.

6. Leave Reservations and Judgements at Home

Traveling is an exploration of the unknown. Try to avoid (inter)national food and store chains when possible and go where the locals are. Eat local fare, see local shows, explore nature, and place yourself in novel situations. The point of traveling lite* is to empty your cup so it can be filled with new experiences. Try to withhold snap judgements, preconceptions and fears.

It’s very easy to stay within our comfort zone even though our surroundings are new. Whatever we’re seeking in our travels is half within us and half in the physical destination. Be mindful of what you’re packing mentally.

Keeping each of these in mind can transform a vacation into an exploration. Try and avoid viewing the world through boxes, whether they be screens, windows or concepts. Digging our hands in and feeling the breeze is what separates real travel from what we see on TV. I’ll see you out there!

Photo by Sanjay Rawal