§4 – Handy Items in a Grab Bag

(Part 4 of 4 in ~ Travel Gear)

The bag

http://www.cumberlandconcepts.com/shop/medium-zipper-bags-2/

Cumberland Concepts “medium” bag (available in a slew of colors).

This bag is quite small. That’s the point: It’s it’s easy to grab and easy to stuff into whatever it is you’re carrying that day.

What and why

This little bag provides convenience and a bit of insurance. (Its exact purpose depends on what you decide to keep in the bag.) It is easy to prepare this bag, and it requires very little maintenance to keep it ready-to-go. By purposefully setting it up, you will beginning thinking intentionally about packing. You will begin building the habit of thinking about why are you packing, what do you need, what do you want, and balancing the answers against how much you want to carry around.

Following is a list of ideas intended to spur your thinking. I have no idea what you will want to put into this bag. There are surely some items you’ve wished you had, but which would be impossible to individually remember to always bring, and there are some important-in-a-pinch items that could be priceless insurance in rare situations. As you read this list, imagine scenarios where you would smile when you realized, “oh! I have [item] with me!”

  • Small notebook and pen/pencil
  • Epi-pen
  • Pocket knife
  • Medication
  • Micro flashlight
  • Pack of tissues
  • Some spare cash
  • Something to eat
  • Spare identification

A Traveler’s Mindset

(Part 4 of 4 in ~ Parkour Travel)

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.

~Lao Tzu

A traveler’s mindset is the foundation for being a successful traveller and for being a good guest. I didn’t set out to develop any particular mindset when I began traveling. I simply started traveling, and only much later did I realize my mindset had changed.

In my Travel Gear series, I describe my habit of reviewing after each trip. While I began by reviewing the things I had packed for each trip, I soon realized I was spending more time thinking about what had gone well, and not so well. As I examined my mindset, I was drawn to experiment and refine, to try more challenging trips, and to push my comfort zones.

Which brings me to my traveler’s mindset:

Plan
Be flexible
Be positive
Move forward
Slow down

Plan

To be good at planning requires knowledge, but not simply knowledge of my destination. Rather, I discovered it was most important to have knowledge of my own strengths and weaknesses. For the things I am good at, the situations where I’m comfortable, in these areas I can do less planning. But in areas where my skills are weak, or situations where I’m uncomfortable, there I need to focus my planning.

Here’s an example of a strength for me: I’m not a picky eater and I have no dietary restrictions. So I never worry about food, and I hardly ever plan meals; Wherever I travel, people eat and there is food. (I’m happy to fend for myself, help cook, or team up with others.) So in the realm of food, a sufficient level of planning for me, is to carry a plastic spork.

Here’s an example of a weakness: It bothers me when I’m late for scheduled things, or when I miss out on things because of transportation. That it bothers me is my weakness. Until I can overcome that weakness, I try to avoid transportation issues. That means I prefer to be responsible for my own transportation whenever possible. I’ll be the person who coordinates buying the plane tickets, figures out the train schedule, or rents the car.

The next component of good planning is to know my bookends. In any trip, there are firmly scheduled components, such as major transportation legs, or an event being attended. Bookending is the idea of planning out as much of the time and actions leading up to the scheduled item. Once I’ve planned my bookends, I’m free to do any level of planning — including “none” — between the bookends.

After the bookends I search for unknowns. This is basically a litany of questions that I’ve learned to ask myself: Do I have my passport, visa, and host’s address for immigration control? Do I need foreign currency, working credit card, or cell phone data plan? Does my phone even work on the local cellular system? Have I sorted my transportation from the airport? If my phone dies, what must I have on paper (plane ticket, host’s address for immigration, host’s phone number)? Do I speak the local language, or do I have some needed phrases written down that I can point to when searching for help? Do I know the weather? Do I know the laws and customs? Do I have the necessary electrical adapters? The more I travel, the more I think to ask myself, and the more things I might plan for to avoid problems.

At this point I have a skeleton plan. I can convert my bookends into a basic itinerary and pass that to my hosts, and to my family members (who invariable love that they will know where I will be.) I can use my skeleton plan to coordinate with others traveling with me. People with less travel experience, who couldn’t setup a trip of the same complexity level, will be able to join in; They can match transportation (plane tickets, etc.) to my bookends and coordinate with the same (or different) hosts, and so on.

Finally, when talking to my hosts, showing that I’ve done some planning helps them understand I’m not going to show up and expect them to take care of my every need. I can also ask open-ended questions like, “I’ll be in city on date, with some free time. Any suggestions?”, to fill in other parts of my travels.

Be flexible

I should be accepting of change. That’s obvious, right? But I have too often been the stick in the mud, and I have too often seen inflexible people cause friction. The bookends in my plans are the inflexible parts of my travels, and knowing them provides the security that enables me to relax and be flexible the rest of the time.

I try to never be that person who responds negatively to suggestions without having an alternative. My personal rule is to never say, “no,” to a suggestion unless I have an alternative. I had to learn to either get off my lazy butt and go with the flow, or to take the initiative to plan and suggest. Meal planning is the easiest example. When I get hungry, I don’t wait for someone to say, “lets get food, how about X?” and then I’m all, “No. Meh. No,” to each of their ideas. Instead, when I get hungry, I make up a plan for food, and then I say, “I’m getting hungry. What about X?” Maybe there’s another plan they had in mind, and I get to practice being flexible and rolling with their plan.

I think of planning as a sort of currency: If I want to have an opinion on the question at hand, then I have to buy-in with some planning. If I’ve done no planning, then I’m not entitled to an opinion, and I should be maximally flexible to adapt to the plans of others.

At the same time, I had to learn to avoid “false flexibility.” That’s when I used to agree to go with the plans of others, but then quietly — or worse, passive-aggressively, or even openly — dissing the experience once underway. An example of this, which I see too frequently is when people think dinner is going to be an inexpensive, quick meal, but the group’s opinion shifts and everyone suddenly heads to the expensive brew-pub. People then get grumpy about the expense. Too bad! Learn to be flexible. If money is that important, then you had your chance to counter-suggest; “Hey guys, I need to eat on a budget. Can we get food for like $15?” (And really, if you want to have an I-need-to-eat-on-a-budget opinion, you should buy-in by doing some planning to find a possible spot.) But once you’ve agreed to go with the plan, you should spend the money and enjoy it; Or peel off entirely. Never be the passive-aggressive jerk who goes along and drags his feet the entire time.

The easiest way for me to begin learning flexibility was to directly plan to be flexible. I sometimes plan blocks of time intentionally left open. (“Friday, until bookend begins at time, I will wander around the city.”) This taught me to be comfortable with big swaths of unplanned time. It taught me to be aware of my surroundings and helped me learn to adapt to the opportunities that arise.

Planning to be flexible also has a subtle effect on my hosts and others traveling with me. If I say, “I’ve nothing planned today.” This creates an unspoken, subtle suggestion that perhaps I’m hoping my host will fill in some things for me to do. The unwritten sub-text might be, “I’ve nothing planned today, can you entertain me?” But instead, if I say, “I’ve planned to spend the day wandering around the city,” this still leaves open the opportunity for my host to suggest activities, but it also makes it clear that it’s equally fine to simply leave me to my own devices.

Be positive

It took me a long time to develop a positive attitude. The big turning point was when I came to understand the Fundamental Attribution Error. The error is that we tend to attribute the causes for other people’s actions to themselves, (that driver cut me off because he’s an aggressive narcissist,) while tending to attribute the causes for our own actions to external circumstances, (I cut you off because I’m making up time lost to some unavoidable delay I encountered.)

There’s debate in psychology circles wether this attribution error is “fundamental” in the sense of being an inherent trait of how we think, versus just being a very common way of thinking. Regardless, I found it was pervasive in my thinking, and practicing thinking about what I was thinking was a fruitful exercise.

Lessons cautioning against this sort of attribution error appear in many places, including:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

And from Epictetus:

Someone bathes in haste; don’t say he bathes badly, but in haste. Someone drinks a lot of wine; don’t say he drinks badly, but a lot. Until you know their reasons, how do you know that their actions are vicious?

As I traveled more frequently, I learned the power of positive thinking. Initially I began by using sugar-coating positive thinking, “I’m going to have fun!” But that is weak medicine. Over time, through intentional and conscious practice, I learned to use positive thinking to dig deep for actionable items: What can I do to solve this problem? What is good about the current situation? What can I say now that would express my appreciation for what this person has done? What can I do with my spare time now, which would create a fun opportunity for all of us later?

Being positive also appears in the way one commits to choices made: not the choices themselves per se, (to go to this event or not, to take on a responsibility or not,) but the way in which I express those choices. Sure, making choices takes time, as I have to consider options, weigh existing responsibilities and allocate free time. But, when it comes time to choose:

Everything in my life should be a, “No,” or a, “Hell yes!”

Simply saying, “Yes,” is not commitment; it is in fact a, “No.” Saying, “Yes,” but not realistically planning, is in fact a, “No.” Unrealistic planning, not allocating money or not allocating time, are more variations of, “No.” On the other hand, “Hell yes!” is the passion and fire that make life worth living. That is what I mean when I say I must be positive with my decisions.

Move forward

I tend to move forward, towards the next scheduled thing. This cultivates an attitude of forward momentum and is closely related to the idea of bookending. Generally, wherever I am, if there’s no specific reason to stay, I’ll move forward, and the closer I get (in time and space) to the next thing, the more I relax and slow down.

For me, 15-minutes-early is, “on time,” and on-time is “late.” Of course, it doesn’t have to be exactly 15 minutes; the longer the journey, the earlier I plan to be. Something like 20% seems to work well — so an hour early on a 5 hour drive. And I don’t mean “the map engine says five hours, so I’ll leave six because I want to stop for lunch.” I mean, five hours on the road, plus an hour for lunch etc, that’s a six hour journey. Then I add 20%, leaving about 7 hours of travel time. When you’re padding in this much time, everything becomes a leisurely journey!

When I travel with others I try (gently) to get them motivated and moving early enough. Only then do we find we have enough time to move at a leisurely pace — to pause for a cup of coffee, to stroll down the side streets — without worrying about wasting too much time.

Once I started thinking about momentum, and moving forward, I found I was visualizing my next actions. “I should do laundry. I should get up early tomorrow and do my laundry. I should shower now and go to bed, so I can get up early and do my laundry.” Invariably, the more I think ahead, and move forward — physically move towards the next thing, or just pick off tasks I can do now, rather than later — the more I find myself with free time and flexibility.

Slow down

Which brings me finally to the best part: Slow down, leave space and enjoy life.

I find I have a certain pace to my normal life, I know how much I can pack into a day, and how long I need to get from one place to another. But when I’m traveling, I purposely plan a slower pace. First of all, things often take longer than I expected, so things work out better when I’ve expected that by leaving extra space and time in my schedule. When things go as planned, or take less time then expected, I suddenly have time to notice things, or go on little adventures.

My entire traveler’s mindset leads to this, “slow down, leave space and enjoy life” end-goal. Unexpected conversations with new friends, a 10 minute walking tour of a neighborhood that’d I’d never have known to plan for, a spontaneous meal, a suggestion by someone that I’d have missed if I hadn’t been relaxing with free time.

In short, without my mindset, I’d miss all the good stuff, and end up simply travelling.

§2 – Unpacking

(Part 2 of 4 in ~ Travel Gear)

Every time someone was looking for something my grandfather would bark out:

Put it where you got it! It’ll be there when you go for it!

When I was little, I thought that was pretty cool. Turns out it’s a variation of the old adage:

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Unpacking begins with things having a place

In certain productivity and self-improvement circles there is an idea called Clearing to Neutral. Simply put, when ceasing work on something think ahead to the next time a task will be worked on, and eliminate as much start-up friction as possible.

Having all your travel and packing items in their place means packing for a trip is simply taking things out and putting them into your bag. (And perhaps some things should simply be kept in your bag.) That’s as close to zero-friction as possible. So clearing to neutral suggests I prepare for the next trip by immediately putting everything away.

So where to keep the stuff? The first iteration is to simply have a pile of things on a shelf, or in a drawer, where you know you keep “the travel stuff.” The next iteration might be a dedicated bag, or large box. But the best solution I’ve found is to use translucent plastic filing tubs. (For example, these filing tubs.)

These tubs are perfect; you can see what is in them and they are easy to handle. I have one which holds things I grab most frequently; for example, my micro-flashlight and M’Urgency kit. I have another tub which holds the less-used random stuff; for example, the replacement o-rings for my flashlight, those little toothpaste tubes the dentist gives me, refills for my cartridge razor, and my rarely used, travel laundry kit. When packing, I just pull the tubs out and grab what I need.

The tubs can be stored on a high shelf, on the floor in the back of a closet, or in the garage. Regardless how exactly you store your travel gear, it should have a dedicated home where things don’t get dirty, lost, or eaten by your cat.

Exploding

So now everything has its place, and I’m mentally prepared to spend time putting things away when I return. But I have a problem: When I return, some — often most — of my stuff is not ready to be stored.

I gave out a bandaid from my M’Urgency kit which needs to be replaced. The sheet from my sleep system needs to be washed. I lost a zipper-pull on my backpack that needs to be replaced. My flashlight needs a new battery. My razor needs a new cartridge. I need a new bar of soap. …and on and on.

Each of these issues is a very small thing to take care of, and it is tempting to leave these small tasks for later. But this is exactly the moment where a little work now leads to zero-friction later. This is where the magic of clearing to neutral shines. All of those little issues would slow me down — or worse, leave me in the lurch during a trip — when next I pack to travel. By taking care of them when I return, I eliminate all the friction and make packing a breeze when the next opportunity arises.

If I’m exhausted, I may simply set my bag down and go to sleep. But when I’m ready to unpack I explode everything in one place. I pull everything out and if it’s ready to store, (that is to say, it is ready to use again when I next travel,) I put it away immediately. If it needs something, I leave it in the exploded area. Normally, this is right in the middle of the floor, in the middle of a room. So the goal is to clean up the entire pile. Laundry into the laundry basket, or better yet, right into the washing machine. Get a fresh battery, change it and put the flashlight away. Grab a spare zipper pull and fix the backpack. Grab a bandaid and razor cartridges from the spares tub and fill up the M’Urgency and bathroom kits; then put them away. Zip, zap, done.

Aside: I clear everything to neutral. Years ago, my Hueco backpack came with spare zipper-pulls. I put them in a ziplock bag, with a 3×5 card that says “spare zipper pulls for Hueco” in the tub of less-used items. By the time I lost a zipper-pull, I had completely forgotten it had come with spares. But I knew that _if_ I had spare zipper-pulls, they’d be in the less-used tub. And there they were!

Using processes like this will expand outward into the rest of your life. I just used the last of the spare razor catridges from the storage tub to refill my bathroom kit? Add “razor cartridges” to the shopping list that we keep in its assigned place, so everything is on the list when someone goes to the market. Go to the market, buy what is on the list.

As you’re unpacking, sorting, cleaning, repairing, etc all your stuff, you’ll find you’re automatically reviewing; Which is the next part of this series.

Bookending

(Part 65 of 68 in ~ My Journey)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an idea I call “bookending.”

While most of life is reasonably flexible, there are certain important events which are scheduled at firmly fixed times. Bookending is planning, starting with the fixed event and working backwards. From the fixed event, I can imagine in reverse all the preceding steps, and how much time each requires. I can then determine the time at which I must begin the first step in the chain. From the beginning of that first step, through to the fixed event, defines a wide bookend during which all my actions are more or less known.

As I was writing my series on Parkour Travel, it became clear that bookending is critical to my success with traveling. A Parkour trip tends to be very random and unorganized (those are good things,) but that means it’s even easier to get surprised by firmly scheduled things sneaking up.

Bookending is simply a visualization practice. Various professions use visualization to minimize mistakes. They visualize each step happening successfully, as a complete chain of events, which leads to the desired outcome. When they face time constraints, visualizing the important details of each action they will take reduces errors and increases the likelihood of success.

Here’s an example from traveling:

My flight leaves at 11:00. I don’t have any checked luggage, so I’ll plan to arrive an hour and a half before my flight departs. I’m now thinking, “9:30.” There’s a bus which leaves at 8:00 and arrives at the airport at 9:27. That’s too close for my personal preference. I’ve already bookended the time before the flight: It’s not, “flight at 11:00”, the fixed event is now “be at airport at 9:30.” The previous bus leaves at 7:00, I’ll plan on that one. Now I’m thinking, “bus leaves at 7:00.” I need 15 minutes to drive to the bus terminal, and let’s aim to be 15 minutes early for the bus. That’s now 6:30. I need to park, buy a bus ticket, probably stop at the bathroom, and I need a cup of coffee somewhere along the way, so I’ll throw in another half an hour. I’m now thinking, “6:00.” My bookend is from 6:00 through 11:00. When I begin at 6:00, everything falls into place, bumps in the road don’t cause significant problems and I’ve plenty of time at each step of the way.

Before I learned to bookend, I used to remember the time of the firmly scheduled event (“my flight departs at 11:00”), and then I’d have in mind how long I needed before that (“I need five hours to get there.”) People would ask me, “What are you doing tomorrow?” and my train of thought each time was always, “Flight at 11, I need 5 hours… Five hours? Really?! Yes, I’ve already thought about this. I should leave at 6:00. Ouch. That’s pretty early.” And then I would finally say, “I have a flight at 11:00 and I want to leave about 6:00.”

With my old “method” is was, “Flight at 11:00 and then here are more details that aren’t important, but actually 6:00.” In my mind, and everyone else’s, it’s 11-and-then-all-these-other-details. In my mind, and everyone else’s, we’re always second-guessing why I seem to want to start so early. How did a flight at 11:00 lead to wanting to leave at 6:00?

A large part of what makes bookending useful is that it flips the thinking to, “I would like to leave at 6.” I’m thinking 6:00. I’m saying 6:00. 6:00 is what’s bouncing around in my head. 6:00 comes around and the entire planned sequence of events for the bookend is cued. Off I go, and on time I am.

As I got used to this process, I discovered other benefits: People who host or who are helping you when you travel, understand when you do NOT need their help. If I say “I have a flight at 11:00,” does that imply I’d like a ride to the airport? Perhaps. But if I say, “I’m leaving at 6:00,” that implies I have a plan to get wherever it is that I’m going.

There’s another huge benefit that sneaks in. Having extra time padded in, leads to little chunks of time for me to read. I keep a collection of read-this-later items in my phone (via services like Pocket or Read It Later.) As I find pockets of spare time I always have things to read rather than wasting time in social media or bookface.

§1 – Introduction

(Part 1 of 4 in ~ Travel Gear)

This series covers all the physical things I’ve discovered which make light-weight traveling easier and more fun. (My thoughts on the philosophy, etiquette, and mindset of traveling are in a separate series.) This series of posts is only meant to give you ideas; I certainly don’t expect you use the exact same solutions. For me, the challenge was not to pack as light as possible, but to pack as light as is reasonable.

I’ve read countless articles on travel, written by everyone from ultra-light hikers to seasoned business travelers. Sometimes, I stumbled over useful ideas and then figured out how to apply them. At other times I went searching for a solution to some specific problem I was having. Over the years, I’ve come up with a collection of items, and related tips and tricks, that I find extremely useful.

It’s obviously important to know what to pack, and to be able to pack well. But I believe the most important part of traveling “light” is developing two habits: unpacking and reviewing. Unpacking ensures I’m always ready, and reviewing ensures I’m always improving. The next two parts of this series will go into these two habits.

Why

But first, why travel lightweight? Why not simply grab the largest bag I have, stuff it with everything I might need, and head out the door? Why spend time and money fiddling with travel gear and solutions? I found my answers to those questions by sorting out the following: I’m most free when I have just the clothes on my back, but I will be unhappy, stressed, or in physical danger when I don’t have whatever-it-is that I happen to need. So at the most basic level, packing light is simply the balance of freedom versus preparedness.

There is also a deeper mental level to that balance. Do I feel free and relaxed, or am I worried? For me, it turns out that simply packing more things does not make me feel more prepared or relaxed. Rather, it’s the idea that I know I am prepared which enables me to be comfortable.

Clearly, the less I have to carry, the easier physically are my travels: In a packed car, my bag can fit on my lap. On a bus, it fits in the over-head, where it’s handy through the trip. On a plane, I can travel with just a carry-on-bag, saving me time and money on checked baggage. It’s also easier to not unpack — to just live out of the bag at my destination. It’s quicker to settle down in the evening, and quicker to pack out in the morning. It’s even easier to keep track of my stuff the less of it there is.

Certainly, there are lots of challenges and trade-offs with traveling light. It is not all champagne and roses. But by investing the time to solve problems and get better at the process, I’m able to have a lot more fun. So my challenge was to pack as light as I can, and still have everything I need.

My first task was then to figure out, “What exactly do I need?”

How

The more I dug into these ideas, the more I realized that the only way to know I was prepared — to truly feel prepared — was to thoroughly examine what I was packing and carrying. I wound up asking myself a litany of questions and exploring the answers and solutions: Why am I uncomfortable right now? What could I have brought that I could use right now? I never used this thing-i-packed, so why did I bring it? I’m exhausted after carrying my pack all day; Why does it weigh 30 pounds?

This process of examining all my worries, habits, and situations led me to search for solutions. My habits of unpacking and reviewing, which I mentioned at the beginning, are the result of all this questioning and refining of my travel gear.

Along the way, I learned to not pack based on fear or uncertainty; To not pack anticipating everything that might go wrong. Instead, I learned to prepare only for the scenarios that matter — safety items, spare cash, medication. I also learned to feel comfortable in knowing what I could obtain at my destination if things didn’t go according to plan. This became a sort of “anti-packing,” where I learned what not to pack.

Eventually, I wound up with “systems”, or “kits”, for just about everything. A sleep system, in one stuff sack, that has everything I need to sleep on a bare floor. A bathroom kit, in one zipper-bag, which has everything I need for bathing, shaving, etc. A medical/urgent kit (the “m’urgency” kit) that has what I frequently use, plus what I feel is sufficient for common urgencies.

The more I tuned my gear and systems, the easier packing became. These days, I don’t grab my toothbrush out of the bathroom, find my razor, and wonder what soap may be at my destination; I pick up the small, black, zipper-bag that is my bathroom kit. If I might be sleeping on the floor I grab my sleep system. I always grab the m’urgency kit. I grab the clothes I want, and a stuff sack to pack them. I add in various other things, (described in coming posts,) grab my favorite backpack, stuff the contents, and go!

An exercise

If you really want to get a feel for how much your packing improves, try doing a “test packing” as a starting point for future reference. Note the time, and go pack for a 5 day, 4 night Parkour trip. Let’s presume mild weather, sleeping indoors but on a bare hardwood floor. Let’s say you will be training 3 of the days. Pretend you have no idea what the host conditions are, but assume you have access to a bathroom, shower, wifi and whatever electricity outlets you are used to. (Dealing with not-your-usual electrical systems is a post in this series.) When you are ready to walk out your door, note the time again. Now weigh your stuff and write down the time it took to pack, the weight, and maybe some notes about how you’d feel carrying all that stuff while trying to board a bus, a plane or hop in a car.

Now, as you put everything away, imagine dropping all that on the floor at your host. What if they have to move it while you’re out for the day? Is their dog/cat/toddler going to get into your stuff? Maybe also note your worries: I don’t have a sleeping bag or pad for sleeping on a floor! How do I dry my hair? Look at all these clothes! What if this trip had been to a place with weather extremes, say, you had to train outdoors in freezing temps? What if you knew you’d be video recorded during one of your training days? What if your destination had different electrical power? What if someone threw, or sat on, your bag?! What if… What if…

Recall the two habits I mentioned: unpack and review? You have just done your first unpack and review after an imaginary trip!

Why Travel?

(Part 3 of 4 in ~ Parkour Travel)

What shall I find?

It’s funny, I thought, if you could hear me, I could hang on, somehow. Silly me. Silly old Doctor. When you wake up, you’ll have a mum and dad, and you won’t even remember me. Well, you’ll remember me a little. I’ll be a story in your head. But that’s OK: we’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?

~ Doctor Who

When I travel, I am writing my story.

I am not travelling in search of something.
I am not travelling to escape.
I am not travelling as a search for fulfillment.
I am not lacking some key experience that I can only find by travelling.

What shall I find? …nothing in particular. And then I’m free to find everything.

What shall I experience?

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

~ Mark Twain

I travel because I want to meet new people. I want to learn about their culture, their ideas, their hopes, dreams and passions, their way of thinking, their language, their ancestors, and their philosophy.

I travel because I want to see things. The world — all of it, near and far — is an amazing place. I want to see new vistas, new architecture, new mountains, new valleys, new weather, new plants, new animals, and new art.

I travel because, in the end, I am just a story. There’s no finish line, no definition of “having arrived”, “having suceeded”, or “having it all”. Hearses do not have luggage racks. I am not taking anything with me. I can spend my days sitting at home, collecting and counting and organizing my things, toiling to create a pocket of order in the chaos of the universe. Only, I remain absolutely certain that everything I collect, create, organize, build, and buy will not matter to me in the end.

In the end, I am just a story. And I’d very much like to enjoy the writing of it.

Ultralight, by Leo Babauta

(Part 2 of 4 in ~ Parkour Travel)

The freedom that resulted was so incredible. We felt liberated. We could travel faster, farther, happier. Sure, we gave up a handful of comforts, but in return we got the comfort of being unburdened.

Recently, Leo Babauta put together a spectacular book on travel called, Ultralight. I’ve only recently begun reading it, but it covers a great deal of what I wanted to say. And — as with so many things Leo writes — it’s written better than I could hope to do myself. So for now, start with this book (it’s a very affordable Ebook). I expect some of what I add to this series will be commentary and thoughts on what Leo has written, and some will be from the notes I’ve already compiled on my own.