There are some things you can live with and others you can live without. Seasoned travelers learn to live without, and when they do they often find hospitable people that let them live with. Travelers have the burden of deciding what to take with them and what to leave behind. They carry their lives in bags big and small. Big bags may mean better quality, but also result in a heavier burden. Small bags may mean lesser quality, but more freedom.
There are, of course, activities that require equipment — often heavy or bulky. Fishermen want to bring their own tackle and poles. Surfers want to bring their own boards. Scuba divers want to bring their own regulators. Horseback riders want to bring their own… saddles. Before you try to squeeze your heavy, bulky gear into that small bag of yours, there are just three things you need to consider:
What kind of trip are you planning, and how frequently do you expect to use your equipment? The burden of bringing your gear is multiplied by the number of places you will lug it around to. On the other hand, if your primary reason for travel is to participate in the activity that requires the gear, then you have a greater purpose to justify bringing it.
What kind of use can you get out of bringing your own gear? Are you willing to risk travel damage or wear-and-tear to your equipment? Keep in mind that more and more places offer reasonable rentals for equipment, consider whether you would be willing to rent the gear to get what you need out of it. Some oversized or heavy baggage could also require that you pay extra, so consider this as well.
What this dilemma really comes down to is just how much you really need your gear. If your happiness and satisfaction depends on bringing your stuff, then by all means, bring it — but be aware you are sacrificing the ease of traveling by doing so.
I once brought a big photo album to Europe so I could show my new photos to my sister. I never considered bringing just the photos. Sometimes, leaving something behind doesn’t mean you can’t bring what you want with you. Traveling requires creativity: You could always body surf instead of surf — or, even better, you could body surf without those heavy fins. You can still do what you love without sacrificing the fun.