This post is a guest post from Kristi Soomer, the founder of Encircled, an ethically made women's clothing line making traveling a breeze:
It’s difficult to feel free to explore the ancient streets of Greece, when you’re struggling to drag a 30” extra-large roller bag behind you. Uneven historical roads, while gorgeous, do not mesh well with over-sized luggage. Before I became a frequent flyer, the benefits of going carry-on were purely financial. If I didn’t check a bag, I could save $25. However, when I started my career in management consulting and became a weekly airport commuter, I also turned into a carry-on only traveler. I started to value the less talked about benefits of traveling light: knowing where your bag is at all times, turn-key airport arrivals, connections and departures and mostly, the freedom of not being burdened with a gigantic bag at your destination.
Travel is a source of major anxiety for many.
The rush to get to the airport on time.
The lineups, oh, the line ups... for check-in, customs, security, loading on and off the plane, and waiting for bags.
The new surroundings.
For some, none of this is a bother, but in my experience, most people I’ve run into at airports are the worst versions of themselves.
Stressed. Angry. Short-fused. Inconsiderate. In their own world.
No one wants to be that person at the airport.
You know -- the angry person barking at the luggage service people, begging the customs or security officer to let you to the head of the line because you’re late, or scolding the gate agent for not giving you two seats together. Traveling light isn’t about just packing a carry-on bag -- it’s about letting go of the emotional baggage that comes with traveling. Even if you don’t travel often, you can embrace the frequent traveler's mindset. It’s about being efficient, savvy, and kind.
1. Join your country’s expedited security clearance program
In Canada/US, there’s the trusted traveler/Nexus program -- it lets you access a significantly shorter customs and security line, both domestically and abroad. No more showing up and braving the extra-long, security line, or begging other travelers to let you by first.
Travel benefit: Less time waiting, more time at your home.
2. Stop Checking A Bag
Unless you’re traveling for months, or carrying special equipment (surfs up?), removing the checked bag requirements allows you to spend less time at the airport, particularly when combined with the expedited security clearance.
In Canada, I know it will take me on average 10-12 minutes to go through expedited security clearance, and I need to be at the gate a minimum of 15 minutes prior to the flight (though, let’s be honest - flights never leave on time). In general, you’ll find me at the airport 30 minutes before a domestic flight, or 45 minutes for US-bound departures. Compare that to those who show up 2-3 hours in advance. Yuck. I value my time greatly, and you should too -- it’s not an infinite resource. Moreover, upon arrival - light travelers can easily navigate public transit. I remember once taking the London Tube with a massive bag. It was a nightmare.
Travel benefit: More time at your destination and the freedom of not lugging around a bag.
3. Embrace the mindset that anything can, and will happen when you travel
Support this mindset shift by fueling your body with healthy foods, exercise the day prior and drink loads of water. A hydrated and well-nourished body is more resilient to change, and stress.
Give away kindness like candy. To everyone. To the gate agent, flight attendant, security guard, and most importantly, other travelers. You’d be surprised how positively people respond when a stranger helps them out at an airport. And your kindness will likely help reduce someone else's anxiety as well. Win, win.
Travel benefit: High energy levels post-flight, less stress, and less likelihood of getting sick.
Practicing radical kindness, being more strategic with time spent at the airport and switching to carry-on only travel can be freeing and bring a new sense of peacefulness to your travel.
Traveling light can go beyond the luggage you carry on your back, or in your mind. Free your mind of stress during travel and the possibilities for fun and adventure are endless.
Kristi Soomer is an entrepreneur, ethical-fashion advocate, minimalist and surfer with a serious case of wanderlust. While traveling 100,000+ miles a year, she became frustrated with the lack of stylish travel clothing and founded her own travel fashion line, Encircled. A self-taught designer, Kristi takes traditional silhouettes and infuses style with function to help women do more with less.
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