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Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,399 ratings  ·  169 reviews
What do you need to leave behind?

When I was in college, I figured my life would come together around graduation. I'd meet a guy; we'd plan a beautiful wedding and buy a nice house-not necessarily with a picket fence, but with whatever kind of fence we wanted. I might work, or I might not, but whatever we decided, I would be happy.

When I got out of college and my life didn'
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 1st 2013 by Moody Publishers (first published August 26th 2013)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  1,399 ratings  ·  169 reviews

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Christine Klymko
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
I will start by saying that I am seriously not the intended audience for this book and if I had read the description a little bit more carefully, I wouldn't have picked it up. It is much more explicitly Christian than I would have liked and I really don't care about this woman's journey to God.

I was expecting a book about adventures traveling around the US and inspiration for more road trips in my future (although I haven't driven through all 48 contiguous states I have driven across the US twic
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish, faith
I expected to really enjoy this book, so I myself am surprised at my low rating. I'm willing to admit this may be in part because I listened to the audio version (hey, it was free). I don't typically do audio, and after this I probably won't try it again. The reading of it seemed surprisingly...disconnected, I guess, would be the word. It was how I would imagine I would read the book. But the author herself did the reading. It's her own story, so I expected her to have more of a connection, more ...more
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Rounding up to 3 ⭐️

Oh boy. This one had the recipe right...making a hard, bold choice to do something spectacular but scary. Road trip to all 50 states. Writing a book. Pursuing a dream. Finding what’s worthwhile....so I’m sad to admit it wasn’t what I’d hoped it to be. The entire book I felt like I was watching it from above, slightly detached, rather than experiencing it. I’m betting her blog is better.
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Weak on all aspects

This book tries to be (1) a travelogue, (2) a Christian text on the will of God, (3) a self-help book on minimalism, and fails in all of them.
As a travelogue, the descriptions of places are poor and few. Most states get no mention at all. Since the author is so self-absorbed, there is no time to share whatever she sees in the trip. Like a teenager, she only writes about her feelings. Of course, she travels in the easiest country on Earth, with a car, credit cards, cell phones,
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found Ally's blog through Twitter one time and her blog quickly became one of my favorites. I must admit that I really liked reading the stuff she wrote about dating, because I thought they spoke the truth, and not in a flowery way but in a real, age-appropriate, I-can-apply-this-to-my-life way. I was also very, very amazed at how she and her friend quit their jobs, sell everything and then went on a road trip to pursue their dreams. It's such an exciting thing, things that my friends and I ca ...more
Megan Ericson
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: minimalism
I picked up this book because I'm a minimalist and I thought it was actually about packing. Boy, was I wrong ;-) Instead, a beautiful story unfolded of two women taking big risks and setting off on a six-month adventure of a lifetime. Packing light is a metaphor and a philosophy (and an actual packing strategy) they learned along the way. ...more
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
I thought it was another i-discovered-myself-ona-fiddy-state-roadtrip-wifma-girlfriend memoir. Or maybe a minimalism book. But no, my friends.

Ally digs through all kinds of baggage on her trip, and mostly spiritual and emotional. Not even necessarily bad baggage, but baggage with the question of What do I NEED to keep? what needs to go? Selfishness baggage. Overpreparation baggage. Control baggage. Disappointment baggage. There is stuff God wants you to let go of, yet there are things we really
Kaitlin Kline
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Although I'm not going to follow in Allison's footsteps, the beginning of her story looks a lot like my current season. Some of the bigger details, like career and relationship status, differ, but our hearts start out the same. "Is this really all there is? If not, am I even capable of more?" I enjoy reading memoirs of people who remind me of myself because I find hope inside of them, the promise of a more interesting life several years down the road. But that's not the lesson I learned here...i ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
This is a road trip book, the story of how Vesterfelt took a leap and went on tour with a friend as her roadie in all 50 states. I enjoyed the stories of exploring America, but I thought the metaphor of “packing light” got stretched a little thin. I also thought that too much of the story was about her writing the book. Recommended for: people who are thinking about what they carry with them, both physically and emotionally.
Leslie Matey
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I don't understand why this book didn't get a better rating. I loved it. It opened my eyes to do many things. I was in a funk when I started this book and it helped pull me out. I wanted to know where they were going next, how they got from one place to another, what their relationship statuses were, etc etc. I'm not a big religious person; more so a spiritual person, but I found this book inspiring. ...more
Sara Tucker
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookbub, owned
Despite starting it with serious excitement on my own cross-country road trip, I really did not like this book.

For one, Ally and Sharaya travel to 48 states over several months, but it really feels like there is no story. Rather than retelling something factual that happened to the pair, more often than not Ally will sum it up in a few paragraphs and then ramble on for several more about the implications of whatever had happened, like I was supposed to get incredible insight from something to w
Gail Owen
May 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
While the title intrigued me, this book fell short of the "promised" mark in so many ways. About 2/3 of the way through, it seemed to turn into a whine fest. I agree with the author's premise that God does not force you down certain paths; however, neither does he promise that you are not going to have to take up a cross in order to follow him.
I kept waiting for insights on pairing down. And, the car seemed to be filled more and more with baggage on all levels...physically, emotionally, and spi
May 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Perhaps if I was single and in my 20’s and made a bold move to quit my job to go on a six-month road trip to all 50 states, I might have enjoyed this book more. Perhaps if there was less of an emphasis on Ally’s conflict over whether she was or was not a “Christian writer”, I might have related more to it. Perhaps if I had looked more closely at what this book was about, I might have passed on it. Honestly, since I am currently traveling extensively all over the US, I was excited to read someone ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Letting go and finding yourself. This is what I took away from the book.

I enjoyed reading this book and the journey these two brave women took to trust in themselves and God. I recommend this book to young adults when they are just beginning their life’s adventures and thinking they need so much stuff. I’m close to retirement age and realizing I have accumulated too much. Value relationships not things is what is important and you will find yourself.
Madeline Osigian
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After six years, this reread still deserves the five-star rating I gave it way back—around 2014. It was “life-changing” then when I had young adulthood to look forward to, and it’s “life-changing” now as I can relate to Allison’s adventures, stage of life, and state of mind. Time for a fifty-state road trip!
Greta Heckmann
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Totally a great new year's read. Very inspiring and helped me to think... what is truly holding me back in life? And, she really dissects some Bible verses and got me thinking in new ways about how there can be so many ways to truly look at a passage in the Bible. Overall, very interesting, thought provoking, and fun too! ...more
Cyndy Defnall
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I appreciated how honest and vulnerable the author was in the book. I also appreciated her shared nuggets of wisdom. Traveling all 50 states is an amazing feat no matter the circumstances and the author and her friend did have some trials and triumphs. While some things could have gone a lot worse it wasn't all rainbows for them and the experience impacted them both in different ways. ...more
Oct 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I started reading this one because I thought it was going to be about minimalism, traveling, and maybe one-bagging, but I was sadly mistaken. This is one of those books that I spite-read all the way through, just so that I can legitimately say that I read the whole thing and stand behind my bad rating of it. It was suuper frustrating to read.
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Taking a Leap of Faith

Interesting take on being a Christian and following God's plan. Many times I have felt that God was punishing me and forcing me to do something I was really afraid of. This book helped me to realize how unfounded those fears are.
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was wonderful. It's not what I was expecting, but still great nonetheless. Allison Vesterfelt tells her readers how to handle emotional and material baggage. ...more
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The place you start your journey is your anchor, the filter through which you process every single stop along the way. Our places shape us and teach us until, before we know it, we do not just live in a place. It lives inside of us.

Your starting point matters when you go on a trip. It is your only frame of reference for what to bring, and what to leave behind.

It’s cool to be smart in Portland. It’s cool to be politically active, to read books, to use big words like “socially constructed re
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I finally picked this up at the library after hearing about it years ago. I actually did not realize it was a Christian book until I started reading it... not the usual kind of book I would choose. I actually initially thought this book was about minimalism... however, the book is more about her wrestles with trusting God rather than minimalism, or travel for that matter. I was looking for some inspiration as I am going on a road trip soon, but aside from her saying Deadwood was awesome and New ...more
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage
Having read Ally's blog posts and listened to her Facebook Live sessions, I went searching for her first book. I am a fan of Ally and her writing! It feels like sitting down with a good friend as it's honest, yet I always find it quite profound. Ally seems to put into words so many thoughts and feelings that I've experienced in my life. Her willingness to be vulnerable in order to bring the reader along and guide us through the same process
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought the book was more introspective than expected but that was a good thing to me. I could relate to the author and gained something from her insights. The book is more about the mental and emotional baggage we carry than physical baggage.

Cons: If you're looking for a book about travel, this book isn't it. There is a strong Christian message throughout the book that some might not appreciate. And obviously, the writer comes from a place of privilege to be able to take on such a trip in the
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Surprisingly poignant. I picked this up thinking it would be a light travel memoir to entertain but expected little more.

However, I found resonance in her graceful writing style and compassionately articulated philosophizing. Her voice remains with me several other books later, thrumming gently through my mind like a background of soft jazz — in tones that are improvisational, earnest, complex, and lovely.

I hope the author continues sharing her personal journey with the world and knows that sh
Angie Perzee
Nov 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a timely read for me. It’s one of those books that “chose me”, as my sister in law says. The end of this book lined up so timely with some of my own life circumstances. As I was dealing with jealousy with in friendship, Ally began talking about the same idea. I believe God was using Ally’s gift of writing to bless and encourage me on similar trials and struggles. Her wisdom really encouraged me to move forward and allow the jealousy I am feeling to propel me to different things to bette ...more
Rachel B
Dec 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Abandoned after 42% read.

My mistake for picking up a book by a twenty-something trying to "find herself" by quitting her job and going on a road trip to all fifty States.

The writing is a lot of telling. After over 100 pages where nothing really happens and the author's thought life comes across as very shallow, I wanted to give up, so I skipped to the end and skimmed to see if I'd be missing anything good, and I clearly wouldn't be.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this

This book was a life changing read for me. I see many changes coming because I intend to apply the principles in this book. It is essential to hold lightly to our possessions and lean on the Lord to experience life to it's fullest. Old and young will be able to be inspired by this book!!
Nancy Holte
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book didn't wow me but it was interesting. The author and a friend decided to take a road trip through all 48 states (and hopefully find a way to Hawaii and Alaska, too) and blog about it along the way. They experienced trials, joys, heartbreak, confusion, and hardship along the way. Oh, and they learned a lot about life, and about themselves. ...more
Whistlers Mom
Sep 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Minimalism with a Christian slant....

This book made me think hard about book reviews and their usefulness and short-comings. I bought this book largely because of the beautifully written, heartfelt review by Chad. He loved it and I was sure I would, too. Like Chad, I'm discouraged by how many Americans have bought into materialism and the horrible price we pay. Also, I have two young relatives who've announced that they're taking time off for an extended car/camping trip through the Western stat
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Allison Fallon is an award winning author, sought after public speaker, and nationally recognized writing coach. She has coached hundreds of thousands of writers - from NYT Bestselling authors to total beginners to help them finally get their books written and on shelves. Her most recent book The Power of Writing Things Down walks anyone - even those who swear they aren't "real" writers - through ...more

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