Article: Will Self on solving packing anxieties

The business traveler should bring only what fits in a carry-on bag. Checking your luggage is asking for trouble…There are very few necessities in this world which do not come in travel-size packets…Always bring a book as protection against strangers. Magazines don’t last, and newspapers from elsewhere remind you you don’t belong. But don’t take more than one book. It is a common mistake to overestimate one’s potential free time, and consequently over-pack. In travel, as in most of life, less is invariably more. And most importantly, never take along anything on your journey so valuable or dear that its loss would devastate you. (William Hurt, The Accidental Tourist)

In this short article in the New Statesman, author and self confessed bag-o-phobe Will Self takes a drastic approach to packing for a trip and heads to the US without any luggage. 

There is no shortage of advice on the internet about what and how to pack. From the type, size and weight of bag, which clothes to take and how how to fold them.  It is now even possible to have a company pack for you (you send them the bag and the items you want packed and they do the rest) or avoid luggage issues altogether by paying a company to send your bag to your destination separately to avoid excess baggage fees.  (Yes, really.)  

Everyone it seems has their packing routines and tricks, as this video shows:

Confessing to his own aversion to luggage and an obsession about continually trying to pack lighter and smaller, Will Self suggests we ditch the physical bags.  If we manage to free ourselves, he argues surely the psychological baggage and insecurities that go with them will follow and, unencumbered, we will be more receptive to the places we visit.  

As you might expect of a seasoned traveller, Rolf Potts has thought of this previously and in 2011 undertook a Round the World challenge with no bag, instead packing everything into a utility vest:

Only last year on Kickstarter, another company was trying to crowdsource funding for a similar jacket (be sure to check out the incorporated eye mask and neck pillow at 01:28):  

Rolf Potts and BauBax may have beaten him to the idea but Will Self has seen the short-lived happiness these would bring and the sleepless nights that would follow as we inevitably lie awake playing a mental version of Tetris, stuffing different combinations of objects into pockets to maximise what we can take with us on our travels.


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