I had my first real experience on learning how to travel lightly the first time my husband and I journeyed to Poland. In 2006, as soon as we knew we were going to serve in this beautiful country, my female gears kicked in and started the lengthy mental list of all the stuff I would need for 12 days in another country.
After all, we were speaking at a youth camp, at several churches, would be touring Krakow and various other local sights, would be walking a lot, and going in October….which means cold weather and lots of warm clothes and shoes.
And did I mention this was only my 3rd trip by plane anywhere, so my experience with airlines and international travel was very, limited.
About a couple of weeks before leaving, I discovered I had to greatly, and I mean GREATLY, amend my packing list. YIKES! I was told by my travel-seasoned Pastor that I would need to reduce my 12 days in Poland to ONE CHECKED BAG and then reduce those same 12 days to ONE CARRY ON BAG, in case my checked bag didn’t make the connecting flights with me!!!!
Honestly, I was aghast! How one earth……could one female……fit 12 days of her life…..into one shoulder bag????
His advice: Travel lightly.
My argument: Of course our bags will arrive with us! It’s a reputable airline. And I NEED all of that stuff on my list with me! There’s no way I can live without it!
After several conversations about lost luggage and my pastor’s own personal experiences with it, I was convinced. I had to reduce myself to one carry-on and one checked bag.
I have always prided myself, and my girlfriends know it’s true, that I can travel the world (or at least make it a couple of days) with my toothbrush, chapstick, and a pack of gum. That’s all I really need for a day or so to survive. And those are the essentials you will find with me nearly constantly either in my pocket or purse.
Until…..I realized what I WOULDN’T be able to take with me! All of the chapstick, gum, and toothbrushes in the world wouldn’t be enough to sustain a once-sustainable girl for even one day. I couldn’t leave my stuff behind!
But it was either stay home or travel light. No other option!
So…..I reduced myself and my 12-day-abroad-life to one bag with a bazillion pockets that would hold only the basic of necessities and one change of clothes. Wow!
And in my checked bag I had to fit TWELVE DAYS of clothes, make-up, extra necessities, Bible, notes, shoes, winter wear, family photos, extra medicines…..you get the drift. But in reality, whatever I put in my checked bag, I would need to be willing to live without if my bag didn’t arrive! I cannot tell you how challenging this was for me. But I DID IT!! I REDUCED MY LIFE!!
And I learned what I could have really existed without for 12 days, plus the reasons behind traveling lightly.
So what was the “why” behind the one-carry-on-one-checked-bag rule?
- It was easier on both the body and mind. It saved the ache and pain of dragging stuff around, and it eased the mental struggle of keeping up with all of my stuff!
- It was costly. We literally had to count the cost of carrying extra bags. You have to pay for those extras!
- And it would impede our travel time and speed. Waiting on a mountain of luggage, getting a cart to haul it on, all of the repacking and unpacking, and the responsibility of the stuff would be tiresome and utterly distracting from our intended purpose of traveling to Poland.
Luggage, baggage, stuff-holders, purses, items, weight…..do we really need all of that to tote around each and every day to survive?
All we truly need to get through each day and to move forward in life is to TRAVEL LIGHTLY. (And of course remember your toothbrush, gum, and chapstick!)
Imagine with me what our life-luggage would look like if we actually packed all of the things we deem we can’t live without into suitcases and bags and hauled it around with us daily.
Do you really want to drag that mountain of baggage with you? At one time, yes, I thought I NEEDED it, every last bit of stuff I was packing up and toting around.
I’ve learned recently that after spending years of unpacking my life-luggage and leaving so much behind, I can gladly travel lightly through life.
It has reduced the stress on both my mind and body.
It no longer COSTS me to drag that stuff around. Extra life-luggage does come with a cost. It costs you your peace, your well-being, maybe your destination, and at times possibly your job or your relationships.
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And it definitely slows you down on life’s journey. It’s TOO MUCH!
What can you leave behind and unpack from your life-luggage?
Here’s my list: hurt, unforgiveness, fear, self-doubt, discouragement, disappointments, past relationships gone bad…..
I hope this gets you started too on doing some much-needed unpacking.
Let’s face it….
I want to go forward in life and CANNOT do that with debilitating life-luggage.
I love this passage in John chapter 14 where Jesus has just told His following of disciples about Him leaving them soon, but turns around and offers comfort that He will send the Holy Spirit to them to be their Friend and Helper. Then Jesus ends His speech about the Holy Spirit coming after He leaves with this:
“Get up. Let’s go. It’s time to leave here.”
Simple, yet life-altering words…..get up, let’s go, it’s time to leave here.
We cannot afford to be dragging around life-luggage; we won’t be able to “get up, go, and leave here” to enter a new destination of promise and purpose.
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Lay it down, unpack it, and leave it behind.
You WON’T need it! I promise!