Heavy Bag Refrain

Heavy bags in Istanbul
Photo by ildiva
When traveling there is nothing worse than being hampered or glued to your choice of luggage. For some this isn’t a problem. To them travel is about taking a taxi to the hotel and seeing the city from the windows of a tour bus. I like to immediately get out on foot to explore the alleys and eat at the restaurants where the locals eat. I want to light, free and unburdened by unnecessary extras in a hard sided suitcase or an overpacked backpack.
This passage from the Art of Travel states well how I feel:

When your pack is light and efficient you feel happy and free. If on your way to a hostel or a train station you spy a pleasant café you would like to enjoy for awhile–you can. Or perhaps you would venture into a shop, watch old men play chess in a park, take a scenic route. Whatever you want to do, you can do. That’s good traveling.
When your pack is heavy and cumbersome you are never a happy traveler. All-consumed with the singular demand of transporting your burden to its destination, you will mostly see and experience the ground in front of you.
Indeed as sweat pours over your brow and as your shoulders ache from the cutting weight you will more resemble a godforsaken soul in a chain gang than a happy-go-lucky traveler.
But even that isn’t the worst scenario. Many travelers pack and accumulate so much their range is limited to a hundred yards–and this only with bursts of superhuman effort. They wait for time to pass and help to arrive.
Perhaps someday as you skip through a faraway train station you’ll come across one of these forlorn and weary travelers, and hear his or her version of the Heavy Packer’s Refrain, which goes something like this: “I’ve got so much junk I’m always sitting around guarding it while everyone else is off having fun!”

The article continues with some useful advice on what type of bag you should choose for your trip (backpacks specifically).
More: Walking and Backpacks