Travelling Light with Rohan… An unexpected journey

Travelling Light with Rohan

Sometimes not conforming to the stereotype that our surroundings dictate leads to interesting things happening.

One grey winter’s morning I woke up to be confronted with the overriding need to see my grown-up son. The fact that he lived in Pasadena in the environs of LA meant an eleven hour flight. The trip had to be focused, catch up see a little of his part of the world. Six days tops.

At this point, I realised maternal instinct verses carbon footprint no competition. It’s a mother thing!

There was another gem of an idea developing. I had a chance to see if I could successfully do the week’s trip with what I stood up in. Stupid and why, came to mind. Liberating and interesting to myself. All your worldly goods for the trip on your own body. I have to own up at this stage to the addition of a very old and faithful Patagonia bum bag. This has doubled as a general bag for 20 years plus. I am now considering the possibility of a replacement.

So decision made, flight booked and body clad. My one-body wardrobe consisted of my well worn Rohan Bags, Rohan Pampas, T Plus, Microgrid Jacket  and lightweight cross trainers. That said, my bum bag did contain a cunning Core T and a pair of Superfine Merino Leggings. The layer system at work.

I glided through the airport departure lounge and slid into my seat, bum bag on lap and observed with a smile the chaos that ensued with the stowing of what is laughingly called hand luggage.

Travelling Light with Rohan

We flew into the west over Baffin Island and the top of Canada and down the West Coats of America landing eleven hours and four meals later at LAX airport. xxxx tons of Co2  dispersed into the atmosphere.

I was on an Aer Lingus flight from Shannon (Ireland) to LA, American immigration already cleared on Irish soil. Not a lot of people know that. So when you get off the plane the other side you are ready to go. No standing in long lines, documents in hand ready to smile nicely at the immigration officials. Worth knowing. Off I trotted, ignoring the baggage reclaim area towards the main exit,  when a completely irrational thought struck me, would I recognise my son. Having not seen him for over a year strange things happen in the mind of the mother. Ring any bells?  My trot was accelerating with anticipation when I felt the firm hands of two imposing airport security ladies, one on each arm.

The conversations went something like this

You have forgotten your baggage Mame – We will take you back” said one of them.
“Don’t worry it’s confusing” the other chipped in.
After such a long flight it’s easy to forget your belongings” and so on….

At the same time, I was being walked towards the baggage carousels, all under the watchful eyes of my fellow passengers.

You have forgotten your baggage Mame?

You have come off the Dublin Ireland flight your belongings will be along soon
I don’t  have any luggage” I meekly interjected. That was the trigger “What is the purpose of your visit can I see you documents please Mame?

With that we were heading to another part of the vast building. If you have ever been ‘guided gently’ by airport security you will know what I mean.

On reflection, my guess was they were torn between two possibilities. I was a runner from a care home, or I was up to no good. I am on the wrong side of 50 (young at heart), gentle disposition and not a stereotypical trouble maker. Whatever that is. After some dialog based on ‘the purpose of my visit’ and scrutiny of my documents and questions as to why no baggage. “Everybody has baggage on a long haul flight cabin luggage at the very least”.

My reply. Why not – it makes the plane lighter”. That was a very silly thing to say.
I meant to go on and say it uses less fuel and causes less CO2 emissions. What would have been smart would have been to blame time and anyway clothes are so much cheaper in The States.

Even better to have said because it’s possible with Rohan, they may have even warmed to that. Anyway I was released into the arms of my son. I guess young adults don’t expect to see their mothers escorted to them. He had not changed instant recognition.

Joshua Tree National Park

What of the trip? – fantastic, three days walking in the Joshua Tree National Park. Laughed and smiled a lot and watched the whales in Long Beech Bay. My Rohan garments came back much like they left, fit for the purpose, washed and dried twice and no I didn’t smell. Well, I hope not. Mission accomplished.

I can’t wait for next time. I have been looking into the possibility of a trip across the Atlantic on a cargo ship. Easier on the carbon footprint, but I know when I wake up with that feeling again I will be off.

Sarah Howcroft


Rohan Heritage


  1. Sarah Howcroft says:

    Thanks for the memories Peter always appreciated

  2. Tim Jasper says:

    Lovely article Sarah. I was there with you in spirit – but with slightly more baggage… As part of a family of four I wonder where all the stuff we apparently need comes from – and what it’s for… We now know where it can go – Gift Your Gear! Now if only Rohan did children’s wear once again eh? Bon voyage

  3. Peter Clinch says:

    A trip to the Grand Canyon in the mid-90s was somewhat complicated by my baggage /not/ arriving with me… they knew where it was though, they’d just forward it to my hotel… but I wasn’t staying in a hotel, I’d be on the move!
    Various ‘phone calls later and I established that I could have my bag forwarded to the post office at the GC, so with nothing left to hang around for I took my flight to Flagstaff and read the fine print on my travel insurance about replacement gear. The clothes I stood up in (Rohans, of course) were good but I was happy to supplement them with an extra pair of shorts and a tropical shirt, and then on to GC where the nice folk in the ranger and fire services lent me everything else I needed. Lucky I had useful barter currency in my hand luggage, to the tune of a bottle of Jura malt and 20 bars of Thornton’s chocolate! (have you tried Hershey’s? I’d sooner eat candles).
    (My rucksack was waiting for me at the post office the day I hiked out of the canyon.)

  4. Phil Winter says:

    A very interesting article and a warning of travelling TOO light. Though when I note the author, it all falls into place! I don’t think I could travel with quite so little luggage, though I sometimes see how light I can manage on work trips.

    Sarah, you are still inspiring us after many years.