Take The Spirit Of Adventure, Leave The Bags (Rolf’s No Baggage Challenge)
Rolf Potts, author of “Marco Polo Didn’t Go There” and receiver of all questions travel-related in the column “Ask Rolf” on World Hum, has decided to pack his bags this late August and hit the road, traveling through 12 countries, five continents, and crossing the equator four times. So what, you ask? People do these kinds of trips all the time. Well, actually, there’s a catch: there will no baggage. And I’m not talking about disgruntled girlfriends being left back at home.
Rolf, in a half philosophical, half self-hygiene experiment, will be forgoing the usual luggage and simply taking a pair of multi-pocketed pants that will be home to a toothbrush, iPod, and some extra clothing — kind of like that homeless guy on the subway I saw this morning. Traveling in this spartan matter, Rolf will be visiting London, Paris, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa (for a safari), Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, then then back to the U.S. for a cross-country trek to New York City. Naturally, this will all be blogged about at the No Baggage Challenge site, where you can also find a map and recent videos.
USA Today recently sat down with Rolf (and by “sat down” I mean sitting down at computers and exchanging e-mails) and asked him what exactly he was looking to get out of this trip, other than a few potential rashes in embarrassing locations.
Q: How does paring down to essentials take you out of your comfort zone as a traveler?
A: It means I have nothing to fall back on, nothing to pack “just in case.” But in many ways that’s a good thing, since I can pack only true essentials. It also means I have to depend on others or seek out new experiences in a pinch. I have go to the barber for a shave in Morocco, for example, or visit a thrift store for a coat if the weather gets cold in New Zealand.
Q: Let’s talk about the personal hygiene/stink factor. Any strategies for not grossing out your seatmates?
A: I’ll be hand-washing my undershirt, socks, and underwear every day (letting it dry overnight). If for some reason my undershirts become irreversibly rancid after several weeks on the road, I’ll just buy new ones. I’ll also be carrying a small deodorant, and showering twice a day whenever possible.
Q: Boxers or briefs – and how many?
A: Briefs — one to wear, and two in the pockets. I’ll wash a pair each night.
Rolf, I love the idea for the trip, and I’ll be following you along the way, but I’ve got to say, think of your neighbors on the plane.
Published on August 31, 2010