How often do you find yourself zipping and unzipping your suitcase, stuffing in that extra pair of shoes or unconsciously creating future decision fatigue when packing for that next big trip? In many instances, I have failed to realize that my baggage ultimately becomes my burden.
When I first began traveling, I never factored in the weight of my own suitcase and was at times, oblivious in packing unnecessary items as my bag quickly overflowed. I was foolish to believe that I truly needed all of these items on my trip. As helpful as it may be to travel light on a vacation, it becomes even more crucial to travel light through life. Let’s explore what I mean.
Sure, your transit time is kept to a minimum when you avoid waiting for your suitcase to show up on the airport conveyor belt. But have you ever noticed that the lighter your bag is to carry, the less stress you feel on your shoulders? This realization prompted me to take inventory on how heavy my baggage truly is.
When you are out and about, excess baggage becomes impractical as you manage to navigate the winding streets of life. Your heavy load will throw you off balance and even cause you to stumble and fall. Your extra baggage tends to become a nuisance as it impairs your vision and gets in other people’s way, bumping into them and knocking them off their feet.
You and I both know that it can be a nightmare lugging around multiple pieces of luggage along your journey, especially once you start helping others with their extra baggage. At one point in our lives, we have all experienced that one friend who seems to be carrying way more than they can handle. You may have shed that friend or quickly learned the dangers of weighing yourself down. You are not responsible for other people's excess baggage. As if one burden isn't enough, it certainly doesn’t seem fair to be juggling multiple.
How many burdens are you currently managing?
How much has your excessive baggage cost you? I know I’m no stranger to rip off airport counters and long queues that create instant panic as I wonder if I have enough time to make it through security for my flight. After an airport debacle, one of my best friends Pete and I made a vow to never pay the hundreds of dollars airlines charge for checked bags, excess baggage or Uber XL’s. From that day on, we have not paid for baggage and don't intend to in the future.
How much time, energy and money has your baggage cost you? Take a minute (or ten) to think of all the friendships you have lost, opportunities missed and therapy meetings you sat through as a result.
Here comes the scary part. Traveling with excess can be detrimental and even life threatening.
How heavy are those ten years of resentment you are holding against your sibiling?
How’s that six-month prolonged rage of pent up-anger you are carrying against your boss for not being accepted for that promotion working out for you?
What about the regret you feel from that missed opportunity to visit your best friend overseas? Has five years gone by already?
I’d go on but you probably get the point.
On the contrary, traveling light can be valuable in many realms of life. It opens up the door for possibility and peace of mind. There’s a greater opportunity for flexibility and you are instantly in a better position to embrace your adventurous and spontaneous side. It improves your overall decision-making process and makes it easier to keep tabs on the things that are actually working in your life since you have fewer to manage. Remove your distractions. Focus on your essentials.
Life is meant to be lived simply and light. I know I did not intend to hold on to all of my personal junk, but along the way I was astonished to learn that I had collected quite the stockpile. If you aren’t careful, this can happen in no time.
For the environmentally conscious, let's remind ourselves that the less luggage we bring, the lighter the plane is and therefore the less fuel that is used. When practiced as a joint effort, traveling light can have a profound effect on our beautiful earth.
It is recommended to bring very few things when you travel. You may be asking yourself how keeping the coffee maker at home relates to keeping your fear of flying at home before you depart for the airport. Well, they both begin with a choice. Perhaps you may have not experienced that “aha moment” when you come to the realization that much of the pain you are feeling is self-inflicted. This is a very gentle reminder that in most circumstances, your situation is of your own making. The majority of our burdens are the direct results of the decisions we make or the choices that are made for us by others. How we respond subsequently to each decision we make has a profound effect on the lightness we feel and therefore the quality of our life.
To make your life journey more enjoyable and sustainable, lighten your load. This could mean you make a concerted effort to leave your shame, jealousy or bitterness behind you where it belongs. Your excessive baggage can create many unnecessary problems for you, including stress, regret and grief. You may go through life weighed down by hurt feelings, strong limiting beliefs, past humiliation, immovable negative habits or several unpleasant addictions.
Sadly, you may fail to realize the damage your excess baggage is inflicting on yourself or others. It’s not always easy and certainly not instantaneous, but it's a decision that you and only you have the power to make. It may not feel good at first, but it’s a start. An awareness. A step in the right direction.
Too much weight can be smothering and too much lightness can be disengaging. While it’s important to acknowledge the benefits of traveling light, it also becomes imperative to not get carried away. Take notice of the dangers in placing too much weighty importance on the things that bring no value to your journey, but also remain cognizant to not strip down too thin.
So how did I go from all this extra baggage to now traveling out of the country with nothing but my compact carry-on bag? How did I free myself of past regrets, limitations and doubts. I didn’t. As much work as it takes, I am a firm believer that you can never fully rid yourself completely of all the extra baggage. However, you can remain aware and set reminders to check your baggage before old patterns and new problems start filling up your space. This is a lifelong journey so buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Put yourself back in the driver's seat of your life. Make the time to understand the weight you have been carrying. Is it necessary and what can you eliminate to lighten your step? Consider what could happen if you did.
Take note of your past mistakes and lost hopes and keep them in the rear view mirror. Learn from them. Declutter your dashboard and focus on what's really important. Prioritize, seek clarity and remember to focus on the internal causes and not the physical symptoms. Fast change can be radical and disruptive but slow and incremental change can be helpful and more sustainable.
Have compassion and acceptance for your old clutter and the troubles weighing you down. In order to implement lasting and transformative change, you must face them head on. Drop the negativity and self-pity. It is not easy nor painless to give up grudges, but it is beneficial. As you may be starting to realize, the alternative is much worse. Your future self will thank you.
In the wake of the upcoming holiday season, I thought it could be fitting to bring up one of my favorite Christmas films. And it’s not just my favorite. Home Alone has raked in just shy of half a billion dollars worldwide making it the second highest-grossing Christmas movie of all time, nestled behind The Grinch. If I had to guess, I’d say the majority of you have seen it at least once.
We can learn a thing or two from our beloved Kevin McCallister. You and I both just can’t seem to get enough of the misery he causes Marv and Harry in both Chicago and New York City. However, I couldn't help but notice the larger premise of each story.
Kevin had quite the impact on Old Man Marley as the ending of the first movie showed the man reconciling with his son and granddaughter on Christmas morning. This happened after a family estrangement that lasted many years due to his fear of rejection. In the second movie, the rather extreme example displayed of Pigeon Lady, yet fitting if you have ever visited New York, followed a similar conjecture. She stopped trusting others, entered a dangerous state of isolation and even questioned Kevin’s motive and genuine offer to be her friend.
One could argue that a shower in the McCallisters iconic five star suite outweighs a plastic turtledove but that’s not the point. The dove given to her symbolized trust and friendship and more importantly, an opening to shed her belief that it’s better to keep people away.
Am I saying that it’s as easy as taking advice from an eight year old? Perhaps. A more heartwarming ending, Old Man Marley realized his power of choice and had the courage to make things right with his family. It’s unknown if Kevin comparing his old roller blades to Pigeon Lady’s heart was enough to do the trick but it does bring to light the fact that a broken heart can be fixed. We will never know if she actually takes his advice but I do believe the positive interaction with Kevin helped. Theres no doubting that Kevin was a sharp kid for his age. Props to Peter and Kate.
My hope is that the next time you are packing for a trip, you think twice before stuffing your suitcase. More importantly, if you are carrying excess baggage in life, part with it. Your life is too precious. Make that difficult phone call you have been avoiding or write that email. Talk it out. Do it today. Bring yourself some relief. But most importantly, don’t forget that you must first, forgive yourself.
To gain a new perspective, take a look at a few of my favorite quotes that highlight the dangers of traveling with too much weight. I like to call them the antidotes, in quote form.
“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die”
“Holding a grudge is like allowing someone to live in your head, rent free”
“To forgive is to let a prisoner free and later discover that the prisoner was you” - Lewis B Smedes
“Forgive and forget, not revenge and regret”
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Stay tuned for a physical packing list to help you keep your baggage weight to a minimum while traveling on vacation.
This leads me to my next travel tip - Travel with a Map.