As I set out to begin traveling again, I had to re-create my packing list. After a year+ of travel, I learned a ton about what I used a lot, what I used a little, and what I didn’t use (yes, I ended up carrying a couple of things that never got used).
So as my time wound down in Ohio, I mentally kept revising my travel packing list (I don’t make actual lists, which is why I can’t remember what I set out to buy at the grocery store when I get there). As I was paring down, I kept telling myself one terribly clichéd, but very true, adage: keep it simple.
This time there was no researching the benefits of travel undies vs. cotton undies or jeans vs. travel pants (if you are curious, I’m on Team Travel Undies & the Pro Jeans Force). Nope, this time I asked one, and only one, question of everything I packed: “do I use _______?” If the answer was anything other than a resounding “yes” it was left behind. Like I said, keep it simple.
If you want to keep score of changes, you can find my old travel packing list here. So, without further ado, I give you my travel packing list 2.0:
1 day pack
3 packing cubes, 3 stuff sacks, 1 bag for electronics cords
4 t-shirts, 1 running shirt
2 long sleeve shirts
1 pair jeans, 2 pairs shorts, 1 pair biking shorts, 1 pair swim trunks
5 pairs underwear, 4 pairs of socks
1 rain coat, 1 winter coat, 1 vest
1 pair shoes, 1 pair flip-flops
1 baseball hat, 1 hiking hat, 1 wool hat, 1 buff
Not Pictured: 1 smartphone, 1 camera
Soap, Shampoo, Shaving cream, Razor, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Deodorant, Lotion, Tiger balm, Lip balm, Beard oil
Not pictured: Copies of passports, Vaccine information, 1 travel towel
BUDDHA (he goes with me everywhere)
I was bound & determined to make all of my clothes fit into my packing cubes (plus what I am currently wearing). This time, I limited myself to only 4 t-shirts (instead of 6) because that’s all I really wear. I swapped my running shorts for biking shorts, since we will be doing a bicycle tour of Vietnam in January, and exchanged my bulky fleece coat for a compressible, knock-off down coat that I picked up in Nepal that doubles nicely as a pillow.
I was also carrying 3 pairs of shoes (and for a while 4!) last time around. This time, it’s just one pair of shoes and one pair of flip-flops, because what more do I need? Again: keep it simple.
I was going to downsize to my 42 liter backpack, but Kim took that to hike the Camino, so I am carrying my 65 liter travel pack. Even bringing some clothing reinforcements for Kim (she only took what she needed for the Camino to keep her pack as light as possible), I still have extra room. 65 liters is simply a ton of room, and is probably 20 liters too much for me. But, on the plus side, it will give me plenty of space to pick up souvenirs & gifts.
Stuff I left behind:
I dumped my compression sack, money belt, first aid kit, the seemingly 8,000 bottles of travel medication (now it’s just azithromycin), mini tripod, deck of cards, beer coozie, and other random stuff that I acquired & carried with me. All this stuff seemed to serve solely to complicate my life & make my pack heavier.
I brought a vest with me this time. I can’t tell you how many times I wished I had brought a vest with me before. Since I don’t have an entire wardrobe at my disposal, it’s perfect for those in-between weather days: too cool for just a t-shirt, but too warm for cold weather stuff. I now think it is an essential travel accessory. Even after less than a week on the road with my vest, I don’t know why I ever left it behind.
#1 – Take less than what you think. Seriously. Don’t worry about having an outfit for every occasion, or even about matching too much. No matter what, if you are traveling, people will be able to tell in glance that you are a tourist, so don’t sweat it. And if you want to try to blend in: jeans & a t-shirt go everywhere.
#2 – Don’t carry “travel size” anything, unless you are going to be gone for a week. The reason they make “travel size” stuff is because you will use it. The full size bottle/tube/etc. (not the jumbo, 94oz bottle of shampoo, just a normal size) doesn’t weigh that much more & means you don’t have to re-buy it as often & don’t have to deal with the tiny caps/plugs/etc.
#3 – Get creative. I use my silk sleep sack for dirty beds, a blanket, and a pillow. I pack all my clothes on one side of my pack so that I can sit on it without breaking anything when waiting for buses. My leatherman is a knife, pliers, screwdriver, and bottle opener. And between duct tape & a needle & thread, I can fix damn near anything I have. Make your stuff multi-task.