No Baggage Challenge for Charity

This summer travel writer Rolf Potts went around the world in forty-two days, with no baggage. Now I'm taking up a No Baggage Challenge -- but it's for charity.
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In just a few days, I'll be embarking on a ten-day trip to Japan. I'll be traveling with my girlfriend Lori and we'll meet my parents Stephanie and Rick and my brother Jesse in Tokyo. One big, happy family. The only thing missing will be my luggage - I'm not bringing any.

This summer travel writer Rolf Potts went around the world in forty-two days, with no baggage. Everything he brought with him was in the pockets of his clothing. And while he visited twelve countries on five continents, he never once had a bag in which to put his extra shirt, socks, underwear, and toiletries. But he made it around the globe, looking like a respectable member of society with clean clothes.

I followed Rolf's No Baggage Challenge religiously, eagerly awaiting each update and video post detailing his travel and what it was like not having any bags. I've never traveled around the world. I didn't spend any time backpacking in college. Most of my trips these days are business trips. But the idea of an adventure without any baggage captivated me for its uniqueness, its boldness, and most importantly, for the seeming mental freedom bringing less stuff afforded Rolf.

While Rolf was traveling around the globe, I was finalizing plans for my first trip to Japan. I knew I'd be going for ten days. The main destination would be The National Museum of Art in Osaka, where we would catch the final days of an exhibition of the American modern artist, Man Ray. Man Ray was married to my great aunt, Juliet Browner, and since her death, my family has been responsible for managing the trust of his artwork. My mom, Stephanie, has spent years working to create exhibitions of rare pieces of Man Ray's art around the world. Surprisingly, I've never seen the finished work of my mother's curation, nor my great uncle's creativity. Hence a trip to Japan to see artwork which has spent years residing in a special storage facility in Long Island, NY.

Towards the end of September, I saw a post by Scott Jordan, CEO of Scottevest that forced me to re-evaluate how I was going to make my trip to Japan. Scottevest was the main sponsor of Potts' No Baggage Challenge. In fact, it was Scottevest's creatively designed clothes, replete with dozens of pockets, which made the no baggage trip a possibility in the first place. Scott placed a challenge to travel writers and bloggers - take a trip with no bags, blog about it, and Scottevest will donate money to the author's preferred charity.

I already had a trip booked, so I reached out to Scott and said I'd like to take him up on the no baggage challenge for charity. A few dozen emails and a couple conference calls later, and we have the project that I'm writing to you about today.

On November 10th, I'll leave Washington, DC for a ten day trip to Japan, bringing only what I can fit in the pockets of my clothes. Scottevest has generously provided me with some of their products to make this possible, though I already have quite a bit of Scottevest gear that I wear all the time. I'll follow up soon with a post on what I'm packing specifically.

For those of you who followed Rolf Potts' No Baggage Challenge, what I'm doing isn't going to be groundbreaking. In terms of ground rules, I'm basically following the same rules Rolf did:

  1. No bags on the journey, period
  2. No borrowing items from (or stowing items with) my girlfriend & family
  3. Borrowing items from locals or other travelers is permitted
  4. Buying items along the way is permitted

Besides the duration and my lack of a professional cameraman traveling with me, the biggest difference with my trip is that I'm traveling with my girlfriend and my parents. While I have no bags, I will nonetheless continue to be a gentleman and help my girlfriend and my mom with their bags. After all, this trip is about me traveling with no bags, not me traveling while being a jerk to people who I love.

But this isn't just a No Baggage Challenge - it's a No Baggage Challenge for Charity. Scottevest has agreed to make a donation of $1500 to Students for a Free Tibet (SFT). Scottevest will up the donation to $5000 if the videos I produce on the trip get a combined 10,000 views. I currently serve on the Board of Directors and I also worked as a full-time staffer for two years. Students for a Free Tibet works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence. We are a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world. Through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action, we campaign for Tibetans' fundamental right to political freedom. Our role is to empower and train youth as leaders in the worldwide movement for social justice. I've been involved with SFT for almost eleven years. I can't think of an organization about whose mission I care more deeply, nor can better use the donation from Scottevest.

Stay tuned - in my next post, I'll go over my packing list, including what Scottevest clothing I'll be wearing to carry my stuff.

QUESTION: Have you done a no baggage trip? What made it work for you? What challenges did you face? I've never done this before, so I welcome any feedback or insights readers might have.

Disclosure: My No Baggage Challenge for Charity trip is being partially sponsored by Scottevest. I received some of the clothing I am using, including the Carry-On Coat, Tropical Jacket, TEC Shirt, Travel Boxers and Flex Cargo Pants for free. I am also using other Scottevest clothes that I've purchased myself: Q-Zip, Performance T-Shirts, and Travel Pants. Scottevest is making a $1500 donation to Students for a Free Tibet in honor of my trip and will raise their donation to $5000 if videos I shoot on this trip reach 10,000 views. I am covering all other trip costs.

If you would like to make a donation in support of Students for a Free Tibet, please click here.

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