English poet and artist, Edward Lear, was traveling in Greece in 1848 when a cholera outbreak forced him to follow the overland route home. His subsequent travels through Albania and Macedonia ended up being the highlight of his trip. The author of “The Owl and the Pussycat” wrote about and illustrated the Albanian landscape in his book, Journal of a Landscape Painter in Greece and Albania—one of the greatest travel narratives ever published. Lear doesn’t miss a detail in the tome, right down to his packing list:
“A light mattress, some sheets and blankets, and a good supply of capotes and plaids should not be neglected; two or three books; some rice, curry powder and cayenne; a world of drawing materials—if you be a hard sketcher; as little dress as possible, though you must have two sets of outer clothing—one for visiting consuls, pashas and dignitaries, the other for rough, everyday work; some quinine made into pills (rather leave all behind than this); a Boyourdi, or general order of introduction to governors or pashas; and your Teskere, or provincial passport for yourself and guide.”
In the 19th century, Lear was traveling light. Today, you can travel a hell of a lot lighter. There are some essentials you need: food, water, money, passport, shelter. Everything else is a luxury. That’s not to say you can’t live well. Just that you can live well with only a carry-on.