So you want to travel lighter?
An attractive bench by the roadside miles from anywhere invites only one thing: to sit on it. So I did….and that got me thinking (and not for the first time) about luggage and travelling light. As you can see, I have honed my luggage to fit in one 23 litre Carradice saddlebag, with a stuff sack for my camping gear. Including the barbag, the total weight is about 10 kilos.
I have been asked hundreds of times on my travels how I manage to travel so light, and my standard answer is usually: it’s quite easy really, you just leave stuff at home. Now I know this is a bit facetious, and neatly avoids all kinds of scrutiny regarding the details, but so many people tell me they’d like to travel lighter, but in the end they can’t overcome the ‘just-in-case’ pressure to take stuff as a precautionary measure. I understand them, because that’s where I was until I started analysing my actual needs. I started to become more and more ruthless about not giving in to the just-in-case syndrome, and anything that remained unused on one trip was eliminated from the next trip. I also started using the kitchen scales (I know this sounds very sad and a bit extreme) to measure the grams. So a head-torch weighing 250grs was replaced with one weighing 28grs….and every item of clothing had to be versatile, and have uses other than those they were designed for. And lots of other little strategies…
What all this has done, however, is to eliminate me from the august community of adventure cyclists because my set-up doesn’t look the classic part…..ie. four panniers, stuff sack and barbag, with a few other sundries bungeed somewhere on the bike. I discovered this when I submitted a photo of my bike in an ‘exotic’ place to the Fully Loaded Touring bike website: https://secure2.pbase.com/canyonlands/fullyloaded
If you look carefully at all the loaded bikes, you will see they conform to a pattern, to a template that the organizers have decided are the minimum requirements for what constitutes a fully loaded bike. Anything less than that can’t be included because real adventure cyclists just need to carry a ton of stuff….and anyway, it all looks good on our website. Of course, my bike set-up was never accepted, because it just didn’t look the part. They probably decided it was set up for a weekend’s camping close to home….
I know fellow adventure cyclists will have a ton of things to contribute to the topic of luggage, and what constitutes a minimum for them, but I would love to see much more from the lightweight adventurists, the ‘weight-weanies’ as we’re called in the cycling world.
And, oh yes, I’m now in Lithuania, having crossed a border that didn’t even have a sign telling me of my transition, and my 108km journey brought me to Birzai, where I have pitched my tent in a friendly little campsite, only metres from a Serbian cyclist who is doing my route in reverse.