What to pack, how to pack it, and what to pack it in, requires a totally different mindset when you are about to leave for two weeks in a resort, a ten-day trek, or three months through several continents and seasonal changes. Add to that some sporting equipment and technology for work or leisure, and you quickly get a mobile nightmare.
Travel is part of my lifestyle, so important in fact that I have managed to arrange my career around it. When it comes to packing, I have had my share of trial and errors, so I hope my experience can help you avoid a headache now, sore muscles later, and frustrations all along. It will be essential to do some planning before leaving and some workout to get or stay fit. Oh, and a healthy dose of zen detachment. Starting now.
What to pack in
Since we are focusing on traveling long-term and being mobile, the backpack is the baggage of choice.
Ideally, you’ll want to carry no more than 15Kgs, backpacks included. This is the maximum weight to move around comfortably. With 15Kgs or less as our baseline, I then suggest to share the load in 12Kgs for your main backpack and 3Kgs for your day bag. Incidentally, 12Kgs is what some restrictive budget airlines are allowing to check in nowadays. So 12Kgs to check in still allow you, if you want, to have those extra 3Kgs in your carry on.
What to pack
Before starting to pack, consider first what you might bring home from your trip. Sure, there is always the amazement of finding the odd object, but often times you know already a few things you want or need. If you do not need something right away, buying something once you arrived can ease your life and generate revenue at your chosen location. For example, I know that I love Asian style clothing, so on a given trip to Thailand, I only took my camera, underware, and book guide, knowing full well that I could buy everything I desired on the night I landed. As a result, I spent my entire journey wearing clothes I love, instead of waiting home to wear these.
Now, about the nitty and gritty, here is my choice for most trips. This includes what you wear on you on airport/travel day.
- 1 or 2 pairs of socks, depending on location
- 2 comfortable bathing suit boxers. This means that my swimwear doubles as underwear, plus I get to be ready anytime an occasion for swimming arises. Same can work for girls and bikinis.
- 1 pair of sturdy trousers, such as jeans. I gave a long thought to this one, because jeans are heavy and take a long time to dry. But they are also durable, handy in most weather conditions, and great if you need to get dirty. If you have anything better, by all means use it.
- 2 to 5 tops, one being a classier one. 2 if you go for a trek or if you really want to pack light, 5 if you do not want laundry day to be everyday. The classier one is for any event where you do not want to look scruffy.
- A pair of good shoes, and sometimes a pair of flip-flops.
- 1 toothbrush, cut in half, works as well
- 2-in-1 toothpaste/mouthwash
- Floss. Obviously for teeth, but also to sew clothes or stitches in dire need, floss is extremely resistant.
- disposable rasor and summerset oil. This stuff is really magical, as 3 drops suffice for a great shave. There is a girls version, too.
- 1 neoprene towel. It packs small and dries in minutes
- 1 deodorant or talc depending on destination.
- 1 fragrance sample.
- Technology (remember that anything needs a charger, a plug adapter, and a wall plug!)
- Photography is part of my wife’s and I work. We carry two D-SLR’s with 2 to 4 lenses, remote controls, and a tripod. We do not all need to get carried away. A compact camera will do in most cases, and is less obtrusive if you want to shoot at locals. Remember Henri Cartier-Bresson. Sometimes I feel like dropping everything and carry a digital Leica myself.
- 1 netbook. As creative director of graphility, I need to create designs and manage projects at all times. I find that a powerful netbook does the job well, and additional storage allows for e-books and media.
- 1 mobile phone that I would gladly leave behind like in the old days… If only I could.
- 1 sarong, for wearing, as a blanket, for lying on the beach, etc.
- 1 sink plug and rope line for laundry. The rope line can come very handy in an emergency, like when my sandal broke after crossing a river in Laos. I managed to fix my sandal until I could buy a new pair — about a week later in a country of small feet people
- 1 Swiss army knife or similar.
- 1 duct tape.
- 1 or more padlocks to secure belongings.
- 1 small electrodynamic torch (no batteries), 1 lighter, and a candle, all for the purpose of producing light.
- a waterproof plastic folder to carry sensitive documents.
- 1 medical kit prepared for the destination.
Voila. I have reduced the list over the years, with the exception of the netbook and mobile phone, a necessary portable office when you are always on the move.
How to pack it
Technology in the carry-on/day bag, everything else in the other.
If you want to pack tight, drop the heavier stuff in the middle bottom to keep balance, then pack socks and other small items in the remaining spaces. I learned this with the Boy Scouts.
If, like me, you want to pack for organisation, then the packing cubes from Eagle Creek are great. They keep their content tidy, waterproof, and help you unpack in seconds.
That’s it. I hope you enjoyed this entry and found it informative for your next travel. This works for me, but if you have another way, feel free to share by commenting.
Happy travels!Tags: ars viatica, travel