When you travel, remember “Small Is Beautiful”

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“Small” mentioned here is applied for both luggage and travel group. Trust me, I’ve experienced enough pain traveling with big luggage and large group that I have learned “never to do it again!”

1. Luggage:

My travel mates in Poland. All of us were abroad first timers then

In my first trip abroad to Poland I brought with me a huge 23-kilo suitcase, plus a backpack, a small purse and a laptop, so those made 4 separate items in total. And it was funny how I ended up using only half of what I brought while still having to buy extra stuff during those 3 months. I carried with me high-heel boots, piles of clothes (since it was winter), hundreds of medicine types which I never used, but didn’t even think about bringing a hair dryer, slippers and an electrical adapter. Fail!

And another funny fact was that I managed to get my laptop lost right on the first day in Poland since I forgot it in the taxi from Warsaw airport to the bus station. However, during my solo and tiring trip across Europe under the snowy and gloomy sky I sometimes thought actually I was lucky not having to bring with me another 3-kilo laptop bag(!)

Therefore, I was very careful when planning the trip to India. I survived well 3.5 months with a 19-kilo suitcase. Much fewer clothes (just basic clothing for both summer and winter, Delhi’s weather is super extreme if you ask) while hair dryer, adapter, slippers were all ready! I also tried to keep my luggage limited to 3 items maximum so that I would not forget anything anywhere. And that was successful. Even for the 8-month stay in Ho Chi Minh City I had the same 19-kilo checked baggage and it was perfect.

2. Travel group:

Group of 3 traveling to Prague

Believe me the last thing you want after long hours traveling on a bus or train is to argue about where to stay, where to eat and what to do with your travel mates. Unfortunately, it is likely to happen if you have a big group.

My first trip out of Delhi to Jaipur gathered 8 people, and even from the beginning we already had troubles reaching consensus on whether we wanted to stay at the formerly advised hotel and if we would have street food or eat in restaurants. Furthermore, 8 people took forever to check in and check out hotels as well as buy tickets to tourists’ sites. One member of my group said “I would never travel with 8 people again!” and I wholeheartedly agreed “Same here!”. Then our groups in the next trips gradually downgraded in size. 5 people went to Jodhpur, then 3 to Udaipur, then 2 to Mumbai and Gwalior until I went alone to Varanasi.

To be honest, traveling solo is cool. You decide everything by yourself and never have to worry about waiting for anybody’s opinions or conflicting in cost sharing. However, it can be a bit boring from time to time and sometimes might be risky too (especially for girls), so I prefer making friends with other travelers at guest houses/hostels along the way.

Other solo travelers I met at the hostel in Kuala Lumpur

Also, if you plan to travel with your close mates in real life, don’t expect that the whole group can make it, because if later on they drop out one by one, the others would be totally demotivated and the trips would easily get cancelled. So I think, it is wise to always try to reduce your travel group to max 4 members from the very beginning. And traveling in two should be the best option.

In conclusion, I believe in the theory that “small is beautiful” when you travel or even when you move somewhere else. Actually I’m so much in love with light traveling now that I’m even applying it to business trips. With 1-week trip or shorter I would try to carry only hand baggage as it helps save a lot of time and effort. And meanwhile, a group of 2 or 4 would help save a lot of energy and temper(!)

My solo travel to Varanasi India, one of the most memorable trips

7 thoughts on “When you travel, remember “Small Is Beautiful”

    ladylighttravel said:
    July 9, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Actually, you can do hand luggage for any length of time! Try it. There is a website called onebag.com that is just full of tips on how to one-bag it. I have a few girly tips on my own site.

    I’ve been one bagging it for weeks at a time (fashionably) so I’d really encourage you to do it. The freedom is amazing and perfect for solo travel.

      Pham Hoang Mien responded:
      July 9, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      hi, thanks for passing by my site. Just visited your blog too. Very interesting 🙂

      However, most of my travels in the past were work/internship-related so I often need to bring a bit more clothes/books/work stuff. Anyway, I have really cut down on foot wares, no high heels always. If just traveling for leisure, I’ve been always onebagging it, for short trip like 2-3 days, I even manage to squeeze stuff in one small purse.

    hktphotography said:
    July 9, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    I can totally relate to your experience. I’m a photographer so I always have to consider which camera I want to take with me for a trip. A lot of times, for vacation, I just bring the smallest and cheapest set up possible and I have just as much with it. I don’t have to worry about weight, getting thing lost, whatever. Cheers 🙂

      Pham Hoang Mien responded:
      July 11, 2012 at 10:56 PM

      Thanks for the comment. I even went on a 10-day business trip with one backpack. My boss was terrified lol.

    Gabby said:
    July 13, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    I love traveling alone. People think I’m brave. I have never let my visual impairment get in my way. If you look on youtube, you’ll find The Blind Girl Braves HCM City traffic and other videos. I’ve lived in Asia a long time and always find something interesting to try or see.

    As far as luggage is concerned, I totally agree. I am a book worm and take stacks of reading material along. And, yes, I can read regular print print with glasses, so I carry 500 page bricks sometimes:) Big books and AirAsia don’t mix well….

      Pham Hoang Mien responded:
      July 14, 2012 at 6:23 PM

      I used to dislike travelling alone coz there was no one to take pictures for me ;-). But after a while travelling in groups I also think travelling alone is cool. However, I have to say again it might be dangerous especially for girls to travel alone. I did that in India, guys were following me all the way, which was quite annoying.

      Thanks for the comment and the video. Nice! 🙂

    Gabby said:
    July 13, 2012 at 5:46 PM


    Show this to solo travellers! Hahaha. If I can do it, so can they!

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