Round-the-world with no bags for 90 days for charity

nobaggagefolks.jpgScotteVest, tech- and travel-friendly clothing makers mentioned here periodically since 2001 ("nerdwear of the first water" it was called then), started something called the "No Baggage Challenge" last year. Travel writer Rolf Potts went around the world in six weeks with no luggage whatsoever -- just the items he could slip into the mazillion pockets of his SeV jacket and clothing.

Yes, it's a publicity stunt, but if you share the daydream of running off to see the world on a whim with only the clothes on your back, it's a darn appealing one.

The NoBCs are continuing this year to raise funds for various charities. The guys at Gear Diary did one for Haiti, Matt Browner-Hamlin did an abbreviated 10-day trip to Japan to benefit schools in Tibet, and now a sweet young couple named Jen and Marcus are going round-the-world for 90 days to benefit the microlending platform (and my favorite charity) Kiva.

The kids are in Buenos Aires now, about to head for Iguazu Falls. Traveling light, happy together, seeing the world. Let the flooding with envy (and support for their lending team) begin.

Previously: Neo-minimalism and the rise of the technomads



  1. Yay Bob Harris on boingboing!

    I recently drove across the US (Gulf coast to SF bay) and really only needed my phone, laptop, and a few changes of clothes. And a happy bank account, of course. Maybe next time I’ll figure out how to do it for charity.

  2. If Rolf was truly “neominimalist” he could ditch three of the four electronic items he is carrying. And use the space/weight saved for socks, undies, etc. Then again I would be hard pressed to ditch the iPad and it is the largest.

    Oh and Kiva is great.

  3. no problem if you are traveling to a cold climate, but I can’t imagine wearing a jacket like that, forget about one stuffed w/gear, to Haiti or Buenos Aires.

    how is this an improvement over packing light w/a small day pack?

  4. Why do you need an iPhone and a Blackberry? Also, I’d suggest dropping the iPad and bring a netbook. You know, something you can actually get some work done on…

  5. Isn’t “passenger flying without luggage” something that the security looks out for? Seems like the repeated full body scans/searches might be more of a hassle than, say, carrying around a small duffle.

    Also, I agree with the above commenters- iPhone, Blackberry AND iPad? Are you kidding? You can make calls with two. You can take pictures with two (plus there’s that digital camera). You can get on the web with all of them. Where is the pocket where he keeps all the cords and chargers and adapters he needs to have all these gadgets? Or is he getting an endorsement perhaps from Apple?

  6. I think you guys might be missing the point of the picture. I very much doubt those were the items that gentlemen took with him around the globe. It looks to be a promotional picture to showcase the amount of storage space inside the jacket.

  7. I don’t mean to sounds like a curmudgeonly old jerk, but this whole exercise is completely unimpressive. The most important thing that they are carrying are their debit and atm cards, with which they can replace nearly everything else they have almost anywhere they go. I’m an avid backpacker, so I think if you want to hoof it around the world, then hoof it around the damn world and be somewhat self reliant about it. All this is is a small carry-on bag shaped like a jacket, and their are thousands of people in airports right now traveling virtually around the world with the same amount of gear without the gimmick and fuss.


  8. I see a thing of tic-tacs in there, and a measly bottle of water (or whatever), but he still needs a blanky and a pillow.

    1. Oh yeah, and why is he carrying car keys? Couldn’t one of his friends pick him up when he gets back? :)

  9. Snark and cynicism aside (I had to restrain myself), traveling light truly is a Wonderful Thing.

    It’s like how you’d think travel would be if you’ve only watched old movies, where the upper-class people being depicted traveling had plenty of luggage but never had to touch it themselves, so they were free to go around and do whatever they wanted without worrying about it.

  10. I’ve learned that millions of little compartments which have to be reached into individually to figure out what is in them do not work well for me. Perhaps I’m too old to keep such details in my working RAM. A simple bag works just fine, despite the lack of bragging rights.

    The video of Matt (10-day trip to Japan) above showed a guy who was certain to be checked carefully at every security point. It was obvious that his big coat was stuffed full on the inside. Not a good look for international travel.

  11. I try to defend some neo-hippies. But things like these just make me wonder where their funding comes from..and what job they have, if any? Traveling around the world in 6 weeks is expensive; who paid the cost, and what does it prove other than rich people with expense accounts can do things normal people can not? I suppose the credit card, doesn’t count as minimalist.

    Do it without cash, or a credit card–then you might something more impressively approaching a pure ‘minimalist’.

  12. The 3 computer-like communicatin’ devices crack me up, too. The iPad seems like dead weight for his situation.

    I like the one in my taxi for maps but it sure seems silly not to be able to make phone calls with it. It would be handy to be able to tap a “button” on the iPad and have it make the “I’m five minutes from your place- Get your ass ready to go and don’t keep me waiting.” call hands free instead of fumbling with a cell phone.

  13. Rolf didn’t use the items in the picture — it’s promo from the manufacturer.

    i followed Rolf’s blog, and it was fun and interesting, but the only way he made it around the world with so little stuff was with a VERY fat wallet. he stayed in top hotels where he could count on towels, soap, and extras of various kinds, didn’t have to worry about his own bedding, etc. it was an extraordinarily expensive venture.

    more impressive to me is someone who travels with a backpack and has Everything with them to make it light on their hosts and does it on their own dime.

  14. Surely nobody is impressed by a guy who can fly from city-to-city (travel around the world indeed!) with a coat full of junk?

    If someone wanted to stump up the funds, I’m sure I and any number of others could “travel around the world” in such a fashion, and without one of these daft jackets, and without almost all frippery stuffed into it’s pockets (I’d keep the passport).

    This is crass, absurd and meaningless.

  15. My new favorite BoingBoing postings are about “going minimal”, since they raise such an odd amount of ire from so many of the commenters.

    1. Probably because “Going Minimal” is code for “I’m rich, and can afford not have the trappings of people without money–because I call room service at the Mondrian hotel”. Wait, where’s the WiFi connection and my Ipod dock and my vegan raw food platter; I must speak with the Concierge immediately.

      1. Probably because in my narrow little world-view “Going Minimal” is code for “I’m rich, and can afford not have the trappings of people without money–because I call room service at the Mondrian hotel”.

        There, I fixed it for you.

        1. So, the staying at the Mondrian and calling room service still stands eh? Not to mention travel plans of Jetting around the world in six weeks.
          Oh yes, a narrow world view indeed.

  16. I, for one, do not mind minimalist or maximalist boingboing travel tips. My favorite travel accessory is the GoToob. They never leak and when you get to your hotel, you can just suction cup them in the shower.

    I travel with a laptop, blackberry, camera, e-book reader and an iPod Touch — and the unique charger for each of course. I’m in the consumer electronics business and I’m never home, so I feel no need to apologize for this. I guess I never claimed to be a minimalist though.

  17. I had a colleague who would travel around the world between contracts with only Jeans, T-shirt, underwear, a credit card and cash. Usually in south-east asia. He would buy a new shirt/underwear every day (under 50c) and travel randomly, sometimes sleeping in hotels, sometime at people he just met. Did it for years.

  18. Much more impressive is someone who can do an unsupported tour via bicycle or backpack powered by beans, rice, and wifi Internet. Anyone can whip out cash or credit it takes skill, strength, and guts to go free.

  19. Seriously if I were to do such a fund raiser, how would I do so? Is it uninteresting to potential donors to foloow a guy cycling along and sleeping in a hammock like a hobo instead of glitzing it in nice hotels.

  20. Only problem with that company is that it has no european presence. Still, with europe in general being more accepting of “the manbag” there is little reason i guess.

  21. No problem with someone travelling light. Or enjoying the sights of the world.
    But don’t tell me you “did it for charity”. That’s just bollox, the charitable thing would have been to stay home and work for six weeks. Then taken the money earned those six weeks (he clearly felt he could do without) and the money for the various tickets and hotelrooms, and given the entire sum to charity. True charity would be to let the money go to people with more pressing concerns than wondering which pocket to put their ipad in.

  22. Do you really need an iPad, an iPhone, a Blackberry and a digital camera?. I would use a notepad, a really small blanket and a hat instead of that. And, why the keys?.

    Hey Anon #1, Buenos Aires is preety cold in winter you know?.

  23. I think a lot of people are missing the point. This isn’t really about minimalists being pampered upper-classers who can buy their way out of any emergency and call it self-reliance, it’s more an effort to show travelers that they probably don’t need to bring as much as they think they do.

    I followed Rolf Potts’ blog and found it interesting (although I would probably go for the backpack/messenger bag over a stuffed jacket) in that it showed how little you need for normal travel. Generally speaking, while you’re traveling you have a place you’re going to stay. Your company is putting you up in a hotel, or you’re going on vacation and have reservations, or you’re staying with friends/family. If this is the case, you don’t need multiple carry-ons plus huge checked baggage. Many people over-pack for routine situations, planning for every conceivable possibility, and that’s usually unnecessary.

    I don’t think anyone here is claiming that this vest is all you need to live indefinitely and self-sufficiently in the woods.

    1. Generally speaking, while you’re traveling you have a place you’re going to stay. Your company is putting you up in a hotel, or you’re going on vacation and have reservations, or you’re staying with friends/family.

      That’s hardly the case when doing *real* travel (i.e. backpacking and the like).

  24. “via bicycle or backpack powered by beans, rice, and wifi Internet. ”

    How odd it is nowadays that we rank WiFi with necessities to live. WiFi won’t fuel your bike or keep your belly full. Can’t drop of the grid for a few days. Is Farmville that important? Really people?

  25. It would be worth it for all the nay-sayers to take a look at Rolf’s videos of his trip — yes, in a way it was a gimmick, but he’s a person of integrity, and his videos are funny, charming, informative, and really entertaining. Just search for Rolf Potts on YouTube.

  26. “Yes, it’s a publicity stunt,” Sho its should have ended there really…All i see is an advert for Apple products and first world nonsense.

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