The Rucksack Theory

I am sitting in my room, in front of my labtop (looking up the spelling of “laptop” on, listening to a Reggaeton song about a web cam (!) and being once more surprised by the huge amount of IT in the air. It used to be love, I vaguely remember it.

Still not feeling inspired after having surfed through a couple of online newspapers ‘ technology sections and having found out about the World Wide Wedding having been a major event that has beaten all internet records, I have now decided to write about a theory that has influenced my behaviour towards life: The Rucksack Theory.

I came across the expression last year when watching a movie called “Up in the Air” (starring George Clooney). It basically states that you should not carry around more than you can put in a rucksack.  

Toothbrush, underwear, keys, wallet, mobile phone, done! Sounds easy but few people really manage to live up to that theory. And why follow it in the first place?

George Clooney’s character says that this theory prevents you from carrying around too much emotional baggage. But is there any truth to it?

We tend to care about all the small stuff that gets so easily piled up around us without us even noticing it. Being a minimalist, on the other hand, helps us to put the focus on what really matters to us. This does not mean that we should immediately get rid of all our stuff at once nor that we shouldn’t give any importance to the one or other item we get from our beloved ones. But learning to select and to get rid of the things we really don’t need, will create a feeling of freedom since we can detach from the past and concentrate on the present and the future.

We can start little by little, putting aside all kinds of items and dividing them into two categories: donations and trash. We can even put up a third category called “for sale”, if we wish so. There is also the possibility of following the “one in, one out” rule. If we buy a new pair of jeans, for instance, another one has to go.

Moving flats is always a great opportunity to try it out and there is even a method to automatically find out which clothes have to leave.  yard sale

For many people who have started applying it, the Rucksack Theory seems to have become the key to a more relaxed and carefree life. I have myself noticed the difference. Even though, in my case, it may still be regarded as the Five Suitcase Theory, instead of the Rucksack Theory.

In this particular case, IT once again happens to be quite handy since a small notebook or cellphone doesn’t take up much space and you can literally walk around with the world in your pockets. Also, we don’t need to carry around any CDs ever since the mp3 format was invented.

Are you all packed yet? Less is better than more.

12 thoughts on “The Rucksack Theory

  1. Hello, Ana!

    Your blog reminds me of myself every time I plan to travel and every time I realize: we have too many trash!!
    Thinking about IT, you had an accurate observation: mini – laptops, small Handy-s… It was almost a miracle to listen music via CD player and lots of us enjoyed that time, however, today people demand for more comfort and higher quality.

    What about being a minimalist, it is hard sometimes to detach from the past. Doch , the past saves memories and feelings too, moreover, sometimes people are too concerned about the future : think too much and buy the products to use later, but actually never… So, then it appears to be not the question of the time dimension, but the principle of relevance and importance for you/me/them and us!))))

    I am looking forward to your next Bloggggggg!))


  2. Woooohoo. Thank you so must for the post! The Rucksack picture is so fantastic and I can apply it to so many levels of my life ( what i want to say, even if I am heartbroken or broken money wise or broken leg or… ^^) yeah. It really can help someone to think about what is actually important and what not and pictures like that help sometimes to see it in a more abstract, distanced way which makes it easier to see the sence. Thank you as well for the links… George clooney just put a smile on my face 😉

  3. Hi Ana,

    I really like the topic of your post. I also feel that we live in a affluent society. Everybody aspires to possess more and more. I think that this is really sad.
    Besides I like the connection you made to IT and the pictures you used.
    Very well done. I am looking forward to reading more.
    best regards

  4. everytime girls enter my bedroom their first reaction is:”wwwwooooowww!” with a high-pitched, happy voice.why?because my closet looks like a shop,basically.and there are way too many clothes hanging.but once a (male) friend of mine saw it and was wondering how i could actually stand living with so many clothes that are actually useless.i have to admit, that he touched a weak point there. i decided to organise a flea market (in may) where i am going to get rid of, let’s say, 30 % of my clothes (also in order to make space for the new ones). but maybe you are really right,and this huge pile of clothes can be linked to some kind of emotional baggage…
    i found a funny video,if you are free watch it!

  5. Hi Ana,

    what a great idea. You pointed out very well how IT connects with the rucksack theory. It is amazing how much fits into a phone or even on an USB-stick. We can carry so much with us without having any load on our shoulders. I haven´t thought about this endless possibilities the way you did. Thank you very much for aspiring me to find out what we can store on a laptop e.g.. I have photos, texts, letters, personal stuff, music…everything with me…that´s amazing..

  6. Dear Ana,

    you did a very excellent job! I found your blog, because your title seems to very interesting to me – I’m going to do a backpacking tour in summer. That’s why I wanted to see what you have written bout it. I really liked your post. It is so well structured and you are a genius in connecting ideas. How you came up with this movie and then go again to packing and IT – absolut great!

    One thing I would not do is the thing about the jeans (buying a new one). I think if you got a new one, it need not to be necassary to give away your old ones!
    But you are right, everything has to be small and handy to get everything in!

    There is a new IT invention which is more and more popular, because it combines almost everything! Look at this:

    Continue like this, Ana!

  7. Dear Garciana,
    I chose to comment on your blogpost because it caught my attention right away. That is on the one hand because I saw the word ‘reggaeton’ in big letters (and I love reggaeton),and on the other hand because you started by telling a personal story and personal experiences are always more interesting to me than just boring information. You have set the ‘continue reading’ tag very strategially. At that point, everyone wants to know what the Rucksack Theory is.
    I can totally identify with what you wrote because I also often faced the problem that i carried around to much stuff. I started traveling with a huuuge backpack once till I found out I dont need all that stuff. Since that I only travel with a small 25L packpack ^^

    I agree with you when you say that cell phones or MP3 player can make life easier. Especially in the business world life without IT would be unimaginable. I would appreciate if you could draw a closer connection to business matters and how the rucksack theory can be applied there.

    But anyway, great post, thank you!

    Julia J.

  8. oh Ana…. you got me cold here…

    Being more minimalistic… that’s definitely something I should try in various parts of my life… as Kristinajo already confessed for herself, my closet is growing and growing.. and I have troubles changing it, eventhough it would facilitate the choice and combination of outfits a lot.
    It’s a really interesting idea to also try being more minimalistic regarding our “emotional baggage” …after having thought about this for a moment I came to the conclusion that I definitely have to much on my mind sometimes what then blocks me to absorb something new. Have you read the current blog by angiethiem ?
    She gives a solution on how to “outsource” some parts of the chaos in our minds with the help of !
    Lisaneubert, I am planning a backpacking tour aswell and I recked my brain about how to fit my five-suitcases-mentality into a traveller backpack! Maybe this video I found is helping us two 😉

  9. Ana,
    Thanks for indroducing me to the Rucksack theory- it sounds like a great opportunity to go through my things and look at the stuff I have forgotten about. I can imagine that a full packed room can be like a ballast to a soul. I really liked how you refered the theory to IT in the end of the post. And your sentence that nowadays people have ‘the world in their pockets’ reminds me of the ipod/ipad hysteria that goes around right now.
    What can the ipad do again? Check it out:

  10. Hi Ana,
    Nice Post, I also watched “Up in the Air”, it gave me great experience how to pack things, which things are more important during the travel or visiting hometown, I need at least two times packing my 25 kg luggage to fly to Bishkek. My bag fills with the presents for my parents, for 2 brothers and 2 sisters, friends and etc. But there is no enough place for my own stuffs, even my handbag is gets full with kind of souvenirs. So now I know how to to do, your Luggage Theory really helped me, and experience of George Clooney is also really practical.
    Thank you for important post, Ana, keep going.

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