Lightening your load

by Steve Brock on June 5, 2014

My new old backpackI wrote last time that no matter what the trip, I always use my old trusty roller bag as my carry-on luggage.

I lied.

Actually, it’s been true until my last two trips, one a few weeks ago and the other last week. Both were simple overnighters, 24 hours or less in duration. On these, I tried something new.

Well, something old: my son’s discarded school backpack. But it was new to me. Here’s what I discovered in using it instead of my roller bag:

  • I took me longer to pack less. Everything before was already in my roller bag. Now, I had to go through each item in both my roller bag and laptop case (since I was consolidating both into the backpack) and determine if it was necessary.
  • It caused me more anxiety at first wondering if I’d forgotten something. These were the two downsides. Now for the positives.
  • I didn’t have to get to the airport as early to make sure I boarded with the elite frequent flier section to assure overhead space for my roller bag. My backpack fit under the seat.
  • I could make it through the airport much faster since, a) I wasn’t hauling a heavy load behind me, and b) I could use stairs and walk up escalators, not easy feats with a laptop case stacked on a roller bag.
  • I just felt different. Freer. I could carry the pack on one shoulder when boarding or zip across the whole of O’Hare wearing it with both straps. It not only generated a fun association with backpacking, but the more upright change in posture induced a different rhythm and added a lightness to my step which made my dash across terminals downright enjoyable. That’s like my wife informing me she had really friendly and quick service at the DMV. Who’d have thought?

I’ve put off using a backpack rather than my laptop case for fear it wouldn’t appear as “professional” to clients. And while my son’s old backpack may not scream out “You can trust me. I know what I’m doing” (the torn zipper may be the giveaway), I see enough business people with backpacks now both in airports and conference rooms to know that backpacks have become mainstream business attire.

So from now on, I’ll be upgrading the backpack to something a bit sleeker and using it on other short trips because my experiment on these two trips has revealed something unexpected: A small shift (literally and figuratively) in luggage can change how you feel about your trip.

I’m sure the novelty will end soon, even with a new backpack. But I encourage you to try and go as small and light as you can on your next trip. See what happens. You too may be surprised and find what I did:

How you pack affects how you travel.

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