By “light,” I mean two things; first, you should try and reduce your ecological footpring from travel, and second, pack lightly. Trying to get away from mass tourism, over-consumptive all-inclusive, package deal vacations is something every responsible tourist should aim for. Long-haul flights to some resort in Mexico or Spain or cruising through the carribbean from tiny island to island on a floating city are some people’s ideas of travel, but this is quickly becoming an outdated, carbon-heavy form of travel appealing to people who think of a vacation as a time to party, buy lots of things (souvenirs, food, drinks), get escorted around on an air-conditioned coach bus, and be surrounded by common, western luxuries and english speakers. This has gotten us and traditional tourist destinations used to seeing sun-burnt, sometimes over-weight white tourists (retired elderly or young party folk), speaking english to absolutely everyone no matter where they are.
I would urge us all to be more responsible, immersed tourists; do not contribute to these types of waste-ful, energy-heavy, carbon emitting forms of travel. Get off the beaten track, travel slowly, see more places than just your hotel room and the beach, and, interact with the local community by learning more about their culture, traditions, and even their language if you’re brave. wander around, never stay at the same hostel or campground, take one way trips, and remember that the travel experiences is not always in the destination, but in the journey.
Being mobile is alot easier to do if you dont bring too much stuff. Its hard to bus, ferry, or drive from place to place with a huge, rolley suitcase, so stay true to the nature of “backpacking” and only bring a backpack. And, unless you are camping or hiking and need alot of equipment, simply bring an average, regular type of back pack (not a $200, 80L heavy duty bag that screams “im a tourist!”) with the bare essentials. You do not need more than a couple changes of clothes, basic hygene supplies, a camera, a good book to read or write in, and maybe a cell phone. I always find I get frustrated with having too much “Stuff,” a load of stuff I end up carrying around with me for the sake of having it, a disconcerning realization of the material dependency alot of us have developed. Remember to leave a bit of room for souvenirs, but dont buy exotic things that you suspect may harm the local environment (turtle shell jewelery, teak wood carvings, etc) and remember the best thing to take with you from your travels are simply memories.
Succingtly put, leave nothing but your footprints, take nothing but photos.