Many years back, I went on a month long excursion around Australia with a tour group of around 40 people. About a week into the tour at one of the national parks in the Northern Territory, one of the ladies in our group had some laundry hanging up to dry outside her room on the ground floor. When she woke up in the morning, all of it was gone. Stolen. All her clothing except what she was wearing and a change of clean clothes.
This random memory of something that happened 8 years ago got me thinking: if I had somehow either misplaced my bag or had it thieved, what would be the minimum amount of stuff that I would need in order to continue on with my vacation?
If you think about it, there’s really not that much that’s required.
1) You need some form of ID, either a driver’s license if you’re within the United States or a passport if you’re outside the borders.
2) You also need a credit card and either cash or a debit card.
3) And you need to be wearing some clothes to cover up your naughty bits so you don’t get hauled off to jail for the night.
Really, that’s about it right? Unless you’re going camping in the Gates of the Arctic — where you’re more likely to get eaten alive by a moose than robbed — you’ll likely be able to find a place somewhere to buy some clothes, basic toiletries, and a bag to put it all in. Not having this stuff with you would be a big pain in the ass, but the trip would still go on. Which is the important thing.
This is why I always carry those essentials — passport, credit card, and debit card — with me in my front pocket at all times when I’m traveling between places. Those things do not go in my bag, because I’m much more likely to get my bag stolen than to get something ganked out of my front pants pocket. If I’m staying for a few nights at a hotel, then the passport usually stays either in the room safe or at the front desk where it’s even less likely to get stolen or lost, and I always have a photo of my passport saved in my email in case something does ever happen to it.
It’s probably an uncommon occurrence, as I’ve only seen this situation happen to that one person I mentioned above in Australia, but I have occasionally toyed around with the idea of doing this intentionally: leaving for vacation with nothing except the clothes I’m wearing, my passport, and a few plastic cards. I think it would be an interesting experiment. Ultimately though, I’ve decided against it because it’s not in my nature to be intentionally wasteful and buy a bunch of stuff I don’t need, but I’m sure I could make it work if the situation came up organically at some point, most likely due to some bogan stealing my bag when I’m distracted.
It is a very freeing thought to be able to travel at least for a little bit with absolutely nothing else but the clothes you’re wearing and the contents of your pockets. Until you start stinking up the place and have to buy some more clean clothes, that is.