Rethinking luggage

PT Couple shares art of traveling light

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Once Roger and Kyanne Andersen eliminated the bulky suitcases that are the bane of many a traveler, they said their trips abroad became much more enjoyable.

“We had always traveled with suitcases just like everybody else,” Kyanne said. “We had the monster kind and the carry-on kind.”

That all changed when the two were inspired by Rick Steves, host of Rick Steves’ Europe, a travel series that has aired on PBS since 2000. In one of his many adventures, Steves interviewed a man who was traveling the world in only three weeks with no luggage, living out of a SCOTTeVEST. The lightweight vest touts 19 pockets of varying sizes, freeing the wearer from the need for luggage.

“That got us talking,” Roger said. “We thought, what the hell? Let’s try this.”

Roger tried it out on a trip to New Zealand, he said.

“The first time I didn’t have a bag at all. All I wore was this coat.”

Roger wasn’t fully satisfied, but tried it one more time on a week-long trip in the states to make sure.

“I just didn’t like the hassle of trying to remember everything in the right pocket. But also, when you got someplace, you had to unload the whole thing. I would rather have it on my back in this daypack.”

Since then, the couple have twice traveled to Europe, with only day packs, and are planning a go-light trip in the fall to Australia.

“We loved it,” Kyanne said. “It just freed up travel so completely.”

They have compiled all of their notes on how to travel light into a paperback book, “Freedom From Luggage,” available for purchase online at Amazon.com.

Only the essentials

When the couple travels, they are very particular in what they choose to fit in their backpacks.

The first step is to choose what types of clothing they will take along.

Roger packs two pairs of convertible pants with zip-off legs. “This is what I wore exclusively in New Zealand the first time I tried it. They were wonderful for being out on a long day.”

Other than that, the Andersons only have the clothes on their backs, one extra t-shirt and one extra overshirt. Kyanne also packs a dress for special occasions.

“Nobody really dresses up unless they are going to the opera,” she said. “Normal travelers these days, this dress is all I really would have needed anywhere with a nice necklace.”

Each night, the couple launder the clothes in their hotel sink, Kyanne said.

“We wash whatever we have worn next to the skin: our t-shirts, our underwearw and socks and we hang them up. We buy only quick-dry clothes for the trips. It dries by morning.”

The clothes must not be made of cotton, and jeans are out of the question Kyanne said.

“Almost all of the clothes we buy are some form of synthetic. They may have some cotton in them, but they are the clothes hikers would wear.”

And in a pinch, the couple can always buy clothes if needed wherever they are, and mail souvenirs home instead of packing them along.

The two also use public transportation whenever possible, they said.

“We did rent a car a couple of times for a few days to get where we are going, but climbing off a bus, getting on and off of trains, we have really loved (traveling light) in Europe,” Roger said.

It is also easier to navigate the small cobblestone streets in old European cities, and to tackle long flights of stairs, Kyanne said.

“Last year were in Dubrovnik,” Roger said. “It is a really touristy town in Croatia. We were up five or six flights of stairs to get to the place. We did not anticipate it would be such a kick. We see those steps and feel so smug.”

The traveling bug

Roger, 70, and Kyanne, 69, began traveling after moving to the Port Townsend area in 2005 from Ohio, where Roger worked as a law professor at the University of Toledo.

Having experienced a heart attack about 20 years ago Roger decided he wanted to spend as much time as possible with his wife. Traveling is a chance for the two to spend the remainder of their lives together, they said. And, since their hands are always free, they can hold hands wherever they go.

“We decided we wanted to travel while we still were both healthy enough and active enough to be able to do it,” Kyanne said. “We have been taking about two-month long trips just about every year.”

The couple tend to travel in the spring or fall to avoid the major tourist seasons around the world, they said.

The two also avoid large hotels when possible.

“People have been amazingly friendly, and we have tried to stay at small local places,” Roger said. “When we first traveled years ago we went to museums. Now we enjoy the coffee houses.”

All in all, simplification of travel has been a godsend, Kyanne said.

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