“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!”
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:
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.
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(!)