Post Camino #6 – Light ‘n Simple

I traveled home today. Including layovers, door to door, from Santiago to Sydney, 39 hrs.

I traveled with the smallest carry-on I’ve ever used. Before I left Santiago, I spent €5 and bought one of those tourist Camino nylon mini-packs.

So, for that length of travel, I used this small little nylon sack.

Inside was an iPad, an iPhone, charger, a small Fuji camera, and a book for when I couldn’t use an “electronic device” in case my reading Dan Brown’s Inferno on my iPad warped the jetliner’s navigational system and we hurtled out of control.

(Don’t get me started on the aviation industry’s rules and regulations designed to keep us, the ignorant public, moribund in fear, and thus completely pliable to their nonsensical dictates. Do you know that pilots use iPads inflight and while they’re landing?)

But, the point of this post is that traveling with such little carry-on was revelatory for me. Usually I have a Samsonite carry-on case containing my Nikon camera and lenses and battery charger, my laptop, laptop and phone chargers, books, spare clothes in case my checked in luggage goes astray, and sundry other bits and pieces that bring the total weight to something in excess of 12 kgs.

This is my CARRY-ON, usually. And my checked luggage normally comes in at 22-24kgs.

But post Camino, I’d be lucky if my carry-on sack weighed 1 kg.

Here’s how it affected my travel. I had an 8 hr layover in Paris. So I caught the RER into the city, walked along the banks of the Seine, went and visited the Notre Dame, had a nice leisurely lunch, and got the train back. All with my 1kg Camino sack slung over my shoulder.

I didn’t have to trundle a 12 kg piece of luggage on and off trains, up and down Paris streets, in and put of churches.

My Camino sack made the trip effortless.

Another benefit: when I travel with my 12 kg Samsonite, I always like to be amongst the first passengers on, so that I can ensure that I have my luggage in an overhead bin close to my seat. (Just in case anyone tries to steal something out of my bag while I’m asleep. There’s that fear again, based on possessions!)

That means there’s a real tension as I await the boarding call, then as I jockey to get on quickly.

This time, I sat back and let everyone else get on first. I knew my Camino sack would fit under my seat, no probs. I got onto the plane totally relaxed.

I will never again travel with such burdens. I’ve learnt that they just weigh you down, literally and figuratively. I don’t need all that stuff. On my 39 hrs of travel, I had everything I needed in my 1 kg Camino sack.

Just like for 5 weeks, I had everything I needed in my 8kg backpack, while walking the Camino.

Light ‘n Simple.

That’s one of the huge lessons I’ve learnt from my pilgrimage. Your life isn’t diminished by going light ‘n simple.

On the contrary, it’s enhanced.

26 thoughts on “Post Camino #6 – Light ‘n Simple

  1. Bill, these subtle changes in ourselves continue to reveal themselves even long after we are home. I’ve been home since last October and just yesterday another Camino change revealed itself. But the most important change happened immediately when I set foot in my home upon my return; after 5 years of wanting to move out of my home and back to New York City (in fact that was my Camino purpose, I wanted to find home), I finally realized that the desert southwestern part of the US is my home!
    Buen Camino y Ultreia,
    Arlene

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      • Yesterday’s revelation was simple……I have finally begun to eliminate the clutter in my life, I’ve suddenly realized life has nothing to do with how much you possess; it’s not about possessions it’s all about the quality of your life. And for me that was a not so subtle change. I guess it is similar to your Light & Simple lesson.

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      • That’s a wonderful revelation.

        If we can take the discipline of what we keep in our backpack into our regular lives, then what a liberation. As you say, it’s about what’s important in your life…

        Bill

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    • I once saw a very distinguished looking gentleman step out of the first class cabin on a plane – he was obviously a VIP because he was met at the plane door in Paris by a delegation then whisked away.

      But the thing I remember most is that all he was carrying was a trench coat and a folded copy of La Figaro. The flight had come from Hong Kong – some 13 hrs.

      No briefcase. Nothing but that trench coat and La Figaro.

      That to me is the ultimate cool traveler!

      Bill

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  2. I think you were also writing my story. As a frequent traveler I’ve spent years honing my flying persona. Fingers crossed that I, too, can let go of the flying stress.

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    • Ah Trekster – I’m not sure if my stress disappeared because of the Camino generally, or because I had so little – but it’s the most relaxed trip I can remember, and like you I travel a lot…

      Bill

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  3. Hi Bill, smiling as I read that you are reading Inferno… as I. A year before the Camino, I train-hiked with a very small carry-on (about the size of my backpack all over Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, Paris and London. 1st day in Paris I walked 10 hours…harbinger of things to come the following year. Gently applying the light’n simple lessons to every day life, it needs to be gently… I am the one that walked and learned that less is more. My family is adjusting slowly. It gets easier room by room, day by day… and my neighbours are getting used to me going shopping with my backpack…. I am saving a lot of gas money and getting in shape again. Glad you are home safe and taking your next steps.

    Ingrid

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    • Hi Ingrid – you are absolutely right about the gentle application of these insights, or lessons.

      Too much, too soon, too quickly can be a jolt, not only for yourself but probably more particularly for those around you.

      Bill

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  4. Bill, you captured the essence of the Camino, thanks for sharing and keep posting,
    marie

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    • Hi Marie – you might be right. It didn’t occur to me. But perhaps the essence of the Camino IS light & simple.

      Thank you!

      Bill

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      • la vida , life, should be light and simple but our education makes it supercial, complicated, heavy and dull. We carry everyday weight on our shoulder that does not belong to us.The CAMINO guides us towards enjoyement and true happiness thru keeping and looking at the essentiel.

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        • Hi Marie, I agree! But I also think it’s more than our education – it’s our social upbringing, and our daily environment too.

          I was in transit at Hong Kong airport, and I had to transfer from one terminal to another. You go down a series of steep escalators to get to a train which shuttles you to the terminals.

          This bloke got on the train with a trolley packed with his carry on luggage, plus big bags of duty free. It was not possible for him to carry everything he had with him.

          Trolleys aren’t allowed on the train but he pushed it on anyway, much to the annoyance of the other passengers.

          (Not me – I’m a pilgrim. I don’t judge anymore! 😊)

          Actually, I was quite amused, and wondered how he was going to manage when the train stopped. The train stopped and everyone surged out around him. He struggled with his trolley to get off the train, then as everyone dashed to the escalators to go up to the terminal, he looked around for a lift to take him up.

          I then wondered how he would get everything on the plane, and whether the aircrew would actually let him bring everything on board the flight with him because he was obviously well in excess of his carry-on limit.

          As i watched this bloke struggle to get his trolley into the lift, I thought: So much effort – because he had STUFF. Too much stuff.

          Bill

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        • I bought it in one of the tourist stores just near the Cathedral in Santiago. On the main drag heading down to the square, on the Camino route. €5,

          Bill

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  5. I love, love, looooove that bag. I take it with me everywhere I go, even here, in Holland. Just cause it makes me incredibly happy 🙂

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  6. Hi Bill I am supposed to go on the Camino in August and finish it, (I do it in chunks since I have the luck to live on the Camino del Norte and a few miles of Saint Jean Pied de port ) I will sure look for the bag and THE PRICE !!! thanks.
    By the way tonight I am packing for a five days trip to Paris and Bruxelles , and I am doing it the Camino way, might take my rufsack and weight it … in fact now effortless I will travel with half of the things I was used to carry and I am not even thinking of shopping and unlike your bloke in hong kong I will not need a trolley. A new way.

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  7. There is an informal monthly get-together of the CSJ in Sydney. A mix of those who have walked along the camino and those who are interested in walking. You would be welcome and it is a chance to meet up with others with a common interest.
    http://www.csj.org.uk/australia.htm

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