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6 Ways to Luggage-Free Travel (Yes, It’s Possible)

Is luggage-free travel possible? Going baggage-less may seem terrifying for the obsessive packer, but jumping from destination to destination worldwide without anything. Still, the clothes on your back can be gloriously liberating, so much so that it is some people’s preferred way of traveling. 

When you think about it, the appeal here is easy to see. Traveling without luggage allows you to move fast, spontaneously, and undefined by your possessions.

Without stuff to carry around, it’s just you, the world, and the many possibilities ahead. The Japanese swear on the benefits of minimalist living, so why shouldn’t this philosophy also influence how we travel? 

No matter what your reasons are, luggage-free travel may appeal to you. Perhaps you’re a traveler looking for new ways to travel or someone deeply spiritual looking to break free from the bondage of material things.

Or maybe you’ve had enough of exorbitant baggage fees and worrying about luggage restrictions. Air travel without luggage is considerably cheaper! 

But how does one go about traveling without bringing anything? Is traveling without luggage possible? Does baggage-free travel mean you can’t bring anything (not even a toothbrush)? 

How does the practice fare compared to traditional traveling – is it more convenient, or are you just setting yourself up for a massive headache? Here’s everything you need to know. 

The many types of luggage-free travel 

A woman with a backpack staring beholding a lake

While traveling luggage-free means bringing absolutely nothing for most people, the practice actually differs among travelers. Some travelers, especially the braver ones, don’t flinch at zero luggage travel. Others take a milder approach and bring bare essentials in their pockets or a day bag

Whether taking a few items or none, traveling without the extra baggage should be rooted in absolute minimalism.

This way, luggage-free travel must not be likened to simply packing smart. While packing smart offers you the privilege of traveling with a few extras, this type of travel encourages bringing no extra baggage, which means you’ll be on a path of complete hassle-free travel.

You should only travel with the hair on your head or just enough for you to get by.  Here are the most common ways to travel luggage-free:

See Related: Why Are Flights So Expensive Right Now? Factors to Know

Absolutely zero luggage

A man zero luggage traveling

In this type of luggage-free travel, you travel with only the most crucial essentials like your passport, mobile phone, wallet, and clothes on your back. It’s one of the most radical forms of baggage-free traveling. 

Taking this route requires the most commitment, but you’ll find it easy once you get the hang of it. Zero-luggage travel is excellent for travelers seeking to explore, collect experiences, and interact more intimately with locals.

With hardly anything to tide you over, you’ll be left with your wits. This may mean having to connect with locals to borrow or buy items.  Globetrotter Jonathan Yevin is famous for traveling to a long list of countries with nothing but a passport, credit card, toothbrush, and a couple of hundred bucks.

While his travel stories are aspirational, one cannot help but be intimidated by them. Can anyone try zero-luggage travel? The truth is, not just anyone can. 

Because of the radical nature of this type of traveling, it is usually not advised for non-seasoned travelers. Those traveling with zero luggage will encounter many challenges, and hygiene usually tops this list, especially if you’re heading to a hotter destination. 

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Pocket-only travel

A man storing an iphone in his pocket

The less-radical version of zero-luggage traveling. If you’re wondering how to travel without checked luggage, this is the best way. Pocket-only travel allows you to carry more stuff, but only if they fit.

Travelers who go this route usually don outfits with multiple pockets and storage spaces like cargo pants and vests.  While others bring only essential stuff, other pocket-only aficionados can fit an entire backpack’s worth of items into their pockets.

In other words, with jackets, vests, and pants stuffed with items, they’re technically lugging a more wearable backpack. However, unlike bags, these pockets are emptied of items during the day to allow the traveler to move about more freely. 

Some travelers may ask, “If you’re already bringing a backpack with so much stuff in your pockets, why is this considered luggage-free traveling?” Pocket-only traveling affords more freedom in not having something extra on your back or shoulder.

And while pockets afford more space than zero-luggage traveling, they still limit the items a traveler can bring.

See Related: Can You Bring Alcohol on a Plane?

Day-bag only travel

A woman with a day bag

This is the easiest to do, even for non-seasoned travelers. With day-bag traveling, you must fit everything in one tiny day pack.

While this may ruin the definition of traveling luggage-free, day bag traveling may be interpreted as travel without checking luggage – ergo, luggage-free. 

The practice only requires walking around with a tiny day bag with everything you need. This may include a change of clothes, a few toiletries, and some medicines. 

Some people consider doing baggage-only travel, and you’d ship luggage ahead, which is a decent way to limit claiming luggage. You can save money from the hidden fees and time while enabling yourself to travel light.

See Related: Why So Many Flight Cancellations? Here’s What to Know

What challenges will you encounter? 

A group of travelers in Georgia

Traveling with less may be liberating, but it doesn’t come without difficulties. Here’s how this type of travel may challenge you.

 1. Say goodbye to little luxuries.

The most obvious difficulties you’ll encounter in luggage-free travel is the inability to access much of the stuff that makes traveling more comfortable and convenient. 

You’ll have to leave your 8-step skincare products at home, and that Kindle you plan on reading on the plane needs to stay behind.

You may have to think twice about bringing a travel camera, and that funky travel outfit you’ve always wanted to wear during winter needs to be eschewed in favor of more versatile options. 

Zero luggage travel requires you to commit to a minimalist life, but don’t fret. You’ll get way more in terms of experience!

2. Hygiene may be an issue

Not packing deodorant, soap, and changing clothes when needed most may wreak havoc on your hygiene. This is especially true if you’re visiting warmer destinations… And those inevitable flight delays.

This type of travel requires that you only wear the clothes on your back (or perhaps just one change of clothes). This is the ultimate way to travel light.

The only toiletries you’ll be able to use are those that you borrow or buy. If you don’t have enough space in your pockets or a day bag to bring them around, you’ll have to leave them behind after using them. 

If you’re traveling for an extended period, hygiene becomes more and more of an issue. Other travelers can get around this by washing their clothes and hanging them to dry in their hotel and hostel. You may be able to do this only if you layered clothes as you’ll have something to wear while your laundry is hanging to dry. 

3. You’re limited to destinations with consistent weather

The difficulties of traveling luggage-free become more apparent when visiting countries with erratic weather or jumping between countries with different climates. With almost no change of clothes, dealing with sudden weather changes can be challenging. 

For example, a luggage-free trip to Japan may present challenges as the climate varies significantly from north to south. If you’re not prepared to buy or borrow gear, this form of travel is not for you. 

4. You may raise suspicions

Your lack of luggage may raise suspicions among government officials and travelers alike. Jonathan Yevin, who traveled Latin America in zero luggage mode, told a story about how he was questioned by immigration agents, particularly about how he intends to wash his clothes when it may lead him to ‘run around the country naked.’ 

However, these are just suspicions, so know there’s nothing legally wrong with luggage-free traveling, and you won’t be breaking any rules. If this is an issue or you haven’t done this before, consider shipping your luggage and bringing your receipt.

Choose a proven luggage delivery service that will help you have the same experience of claiming luggage even before going on your trip. This is no longer a thing solely for luxury travel or golf clubs. This is becoming more and more common, given the low cost of shipping around the world.

See Related: How to Pack Formula for Air Travel

How to travel without luggage

1. Make the most of technology

Woman holding a cellphone

In this case, it’s your mobile phone. Consider your smartphone to be your most valuable travel buddy in luggage-free travel. From storing boarding passes to keeping important documents, your smartphone will replace most items you bring on your trip. 

Before your journey, download helpful travel apps to make your trip more convenient and comfortable. Get the Kindle app to replace bulky books and Genius Scan to save receipts quickly. 

For booking accommodations, download Booking, HostelWorld, VRBO, or HotelTonight. TripIt allows you to organize your itineraries in one place. At the same time, Timeshifter enables you to optimize your sleep and fend off jet lag.

2. Choose practical and versatile clothes

A luggage-free trip requires you to only bring one pair of shoes or sandals – the one you’ll be wearing on the day of your flight. With that said, your choice of footwear is very important. 

With your destination’s terrain in mind, select shoes that will efficiently protect your feet from the elements. Remember, most travel requires a lot of walking, so make sure your choice is also comfortable. 

  • Zhuanglin Quick Drying Water Shoes are exceptionally lightweight and great for walking and running.
  • Teva sandals are extremely durable and dry quickly after getting wet. 
  • Skechers walking shoes, especially those with Go Walk technology, offer outstanding comfort if you walk for hours. 
  • Merrel’s shoes are a great option for rough terrain, thanks to their high-performance rubber soles and superior breathability. 

In the same respect, you’ll also want to find clothes that are versatile enough to wear for any occasion. TACVASEN’s convertible shirt can transform into a long-sleeved and a short-sleeved shirt so you can quickly adapt to the weather. It has a breathable back slit, multiple pockets, and a mesh lining. 

3. Buy or borrow

Thrift shop

If you’re traveling with bare essentials, you’ll quickly discover the need for several items along with your travel. Where do you get an umbrella when it’s raining? How do you fend off the cold while donning a summer outfit? Baggage-free travelers must buy or borrow certain items to make their travels more comfortable. 

Luckily, the world is full of shops and stores where you can get everything you need. You can grab a pair of flip-flops when you’re heading to a beach, hit the thrift shop for a warm hoodie or some summer shorts, or ease a headache with a trip to the pharmacy.

Unsurprisingly, money is essential to the baggage-free traveler, who mostly relies on currency to compensate for his lack of items. Travelers not looking to splurge can borrow instead. Ask a fellow traveler for some toothpaste or hit up a friend in the area to borrow a jacket.

Borrowing items is a great way to form new friendships and initiate conversation. Otherwise, if you want to opt for a hybrid attempt of no luggage travel, you can ship luggage and ship your bags ahead before even leaving. This is a great way to test the waters of this type of lifestyle to see if it’s right for you.

See Related: Monos Luggage Review: Is it Worth it?

4. Choose travel gear with pockets 

If your travel is pocket-only, you’ll need strategically located pockets to lug around your items. Thankfully, you’ll find an almost endless selection of brilliant travel gear with spacious pockets for your accessories. Some companies, like ScotteVest, specialize in developing this type of gear.

Here are some of the best travel clothing for pocket-only travelers:

  • SCOTTeVEST Women’s Travel Hoodie: This sleek sweatshirt features 18 pockets to hold everything you need, including documents, gadgets, electronics, and other accessories
  • OCHENTA Men’s Casual Military Cargo Pants: These cotton cargo pants come with eight pockets: four at the side, two at the back, and two hand pockets. They’re made from rip-stock fabric, which is super durable and comfortable. 
  • HYOUT Travel Jacket: While it’s mainly used for fly fishing, this cotton-polyester vest does a great job of keeping your valuables safe. It has 16 pockets (three spacious enough to hold sizeable items). 

Be on the lookout for clothes with secure pockets to lower the risk of theft. On the same note, have travel insurance for unforeseen events! 

See Related: Layover vs Stopover

5. Layer or pack extra clothes (if you can)

A man skiing during winter

No luggage travel will have you traveling with only the clothes on your back. In this case, you may want to consider layering. A zero-luggage traveler may want to consider wearing a vest, a long-sleeved shirt, and a t-shirt underneath it.

Men will want to wear boxers under their pants so they don’t feel as ‘naked’ when it’s time to launder them. If you’re a pocket or day bag traveler, consider bringing extra socks, underwear, and a spare t-shirt. You can use these spare clothes once it’s time to rub down your current clothing. 

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6. Mail souvenirs or extra gear

Airline luggage fees can be very expensive, so many of today’s travelers try to save money by mailing their stuff to their destination instead.

For example, those traveling from warm to cold climates can ship their warm clothing to their first cool destination. This requires you to make a pre-arrangement with the hotel you plan to stay at. 

Similarly, going luggage-free doesn’t mean you can no longer buy souvenirs as you won’t carry them. If an item interests you so much that you want to take it home, hit the local post office and mail it home. 

Many people wonder, “Can my luggage travel without me?” Remember, you can’t use an airline service to send your stuff to a destination without you. Regulations prohibit an airline from transporting luggage without its passenger across international borders


Is luggage-free legit?

Zero-luggage travel is legit, and it’s the way to fly. Here are some reasons why luggage-free travel is a complete and total must: you’ll get to save a ton of time and stress by not claiming luggage, you can get a luggage shipping guarantee, and say goodbye to baggage claim.

What is the cheapest way to ship luggage internationally?

Some people want to travel without their suitcases. This is because airlines keep charging more for luggage. People who do this pack everything into small bags and carry-ons, and then wear many layers so they don’t have to check any clothes or shoes.

Different companies have different luggage shipping prices. For a cheap luggage shipping rate, it’s best to go with a company that can quote you a price over the phone and is easy to work with–as in, they pick up luggage from your home for a good price and then ship them overseas.

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