Travel the World: DON’T plan your Trip, you will be stronger [Hardcore Travelers]

I decided to travel the world for about 6-7 months. I wanted to pack all my items into a small backpack (7 Kg max).

Well…. all into this small guy here…

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This allowed me to be more lightweight and quick while moving around. I listed on this post the items that I put on my essential 7 Kg backpack for a 6-months South-East Asia travel. There is also a female version of a minimal 7 Kg backpacking list that you can read here.

The current post is about the Aha! moment I had while packing them into it 🙂. It’s a must read if you are preparing your backpack for a long world journey. There are various ways how to travel the world but if you pack tons of stuff in your backpack you will leave only half of your trip. I will explain you why.


Let’s go!


The most important question when you travel the world

First, a question for you: what do you think is THE most important thing when packing your belongings for a long world travel (e.g. 6 months)?

…. time for thinking…..

Hard to come to just 1 answer eh?

There is just one that is now popping out of my head and it took me some time to figure it out.

When you travel the world, it all boils down to the main questions:
– what is your journey to you?
– what do you want to achieve with your trip?
– How do you want to be transformed after your journey?
Chances are that each and every person has a different answer to those questions.

I love to travel the world, it’s a pure life’s objective to me.

But something is for sure…

You may believe that paying a huge amount of money to a psychologist will get an arachnophobe magically recovered. You would be wrong. The only way to stop his fears and anxiety is for him to face spiders.
Dot. There is no other way.
It won’t happen magically and, soon or late, after a bunch of talks and grants, also the guy on the chair will tell him to get up from the comfy bed and face some spiders.

The same way, if you are a bit insecure, the only way for you to do the change that is to face uncertainty, the unknown, and your fears. Bit by bit, step by step but you need to do it.

The same way, if you have a bit of obsessive-compulsive disorder, only by leaving behind what gives you comfort will eventually get you recovered.

To put it differently, by getting yourself into troubles and by winning some important personal challenges you will become stronger and better. Challenge by challenge, eventually, your self-perception will improve and chances are that your insecurities or obsessions will fade away.

But why is this related to my travel objectives or to my travel around the world?

Well.. it is. Very much.


How a minimal backpack will make you stronger

We live in a complex and strange world. Skills, abilities, human strength, stamina and advanced brain functions get the more and the more weakened. Technology, companies’ objects and “blue pills” gained terrain and became the “standard”.

The less you will bring with you, the more skills you will need to put on the plate to compensate the lack of those objects to get you out of troubles. Consequently, you will gain more experience and become stronger, more experienced and mature.

And… after all, if you are like me, you are going into a land where people carry ladders on a scooter, driving without helmet and smiling at you like there was no tomorrow!!!


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Why am I saying that? How is this related to my Aha! moment while packing my items for my Asia travel?

Keep calm and continue reading… I almost finished weaving my canvas and I’m coming to the point.

First, an interesting point about…. your brain!


Your brain is not accurate enough when predicting future events

your brain is lying to you hedoniac

When your brain tries to predict future events or situations, it does that mainly in 2 ways.

a) using your existing framework of reliable and well-anchored memories and experiences.

When you try forward thinking, your brain is trying to imagine and interpret a future reality using present information already there in your head. The problem is that, no matter how hard you try, you will rarely get enough accurate to the reality.

This is because the reality is composed of multiple and often complex factors and variables. In addition to that, some of those variables can’t be predicted or don’t depend on you (ie. you have no control over them).

For instance, if you have never been to Asia but you know that “the climate is warmer over there”, you tend to imagine that reality starting from the current, known one.
If you live in France, you would tend to imagine Asia as a “warmer France” or with more mosquito.
To put it simply, your brain is lazy and tends to voluntarily forget or not to take into account all the details. The thing is that all those details summed together form the big climate difference between Asia and France (ie. humidity, smog, pressure, other animals, smells, perfumes etc.).

Also true that it’s hard to accurately imagine Asia’s climate if you have never been there… so, you will probably also rely on…

b) external information coming from different sources (e.g. a friend, colleague, book, a blog,… etc.). This external information will trigger subjective mental representations of Asia’s climate.

At least 3 unfortunate and problematic events occur while this happens:

i) some variables just can’t be represented at all (ie. how would you form a mental representation of Thai roads’ smell from a Documentary or friend’s tale?).

ii) a documentary has a point of view. It can tell you something and not revealing something else (that may be of core importance for you). A colleague can omit details about his trip to make it appear more appealing to you.
A close friend could simply have more sensitivity or having decoded the reality in a more profound way. Even more profound than how much you would ever be capable of. All in all, it’s hard (or impossible?) to communicate an experience in a “pure” way.

iii) once it receives the information from the external source, our brain further and slightly modify it before storing it in memory (and continues to modify it when it’s there too :)). Those are complex mechanisms that I don’t want to describe here but it’s related to our personal reference framework, core belief system, etc).

If you want to know more about how your brain is lying to you or falsifying some information here is a good article about it.


A bit of summary of what’s above

To sum up, as external information get in, our brain constructs a subjective representation of that information. That representation is almost never 100% accurate. This is because, at least, for the 3 points above.

I approach the conclusion of this post so here is a summary for you:

a) you should clear up your travel’s objectives and purposes. They will influence how you pack your backpack;

b) fact: to recover from being e.g. an insecure person, you need to first exit your comfort zone, challenge yourself, win, fail and learn;

c) fact: we live in a complex world where for any need there is a quick and easy pill as a surrogate for your amazing brain;

d) the less you carry with you, the more challenges your brain will have to compensate for the lack of tech, artifacts, tools, objects etc that you don’t bring with you…. De facto, making you a more experienced and mature person;

e) I had an Aha! moment, in which I discovered that my skills were useless as the problem was my “forward thinking”;

f) short piece about how the brain works when we forward-thinking and the problems related to that :);

g) … and here is the conclusion of this long post.

travel the world hedoniac


My Aha! moment revealed to me an important thing. No matter what you “forgot” or voluntarily left home, it will eventually result being a good thing for you as a person. The NEED is the mother of all solutions and also a brilliant spark for creating wonderful experiences!

By leaving most of your stuff behind, you will create that need. You will only have your brain to solve the issue or compensate the artifacts, object and techy equipment that you didn’t bring with you. E.g. Let’s assume you didn’t bring your mosquito net and you end up in a hotel that doesn’t have one. The only solution you have left, if you really need one, is to deal with locals. Borrow one or ask where you can buy one in the near environment. Or even find an alternative solution as isolate you in the room and kill all the mosquito around.

To put it differently, the need will push you to employ and train your relational or trading capabilities, communication skills and troubleshooting abilities. Also, you will gain experience, generate wonderful memories and exercise your brain’s basic and advanced functions.

Last but not least, when you travel, you often find yourself in a completely different setting, environment and/or society. You will need to deal with different people, usages, costumes and conditions, becoming more flexible and open-minded.

All in all, this small trick of “not-forward thinking” will let you immerse yourself into that NEW reality and, if you are humble enough, learn, mature, share, exchange, feel… in other words, you will really live your travel and the travel is living within you!