The trick with traveling independently is quite simple – light luggage. Keep your gear down to a carry on size and not more than 10kg (22lbs) and suddenly you have the freedom to walk away from the over charging taxi driver, the ability to take the bus not the hire car, to walk 3 or 4 flights of stairs in a budget hotel.
Independent travel is all about freedom – so why do so many people wander the world with over-sized bags – even the backpackers bury themselves under 70litre packs – and there is no way you need that much stuff! If you want to shop – leave it to the end and buy another bag to put it all in.
I think over packing is basically a symptom of fear and uncertainty – certainly some people’s need to be ready for any medical emergency is a direct reflection of this – and the profit margin.
A minimum of clothes means that you will dress basically the same everyday but so what? It seems a better option than carrying a week’s worth of dirty washing around the sights of Europe surely? The downside – well you do end up having to do a bit of hand washing every night and I do carry a pegless travel clothesline with me.