Whenever I’m about to leave a place I’ve been for a while I like to take stock of my gear and assess what I need and discard what I don’t. I’ve never documented a packing list so when a friend posted what’s in his bags I thought I should do my own.
I travel with a wheeled backpack that comes with a removable day bag, along with a day bag for my laptop, camera gear, and sundry daily items. Some of my nomadic friends are surprised that I carry so much stuff. On the other hand the last time I stayed with a non-nomadic friend they were shocked when I trundled into their house with my two bags. “That’s all you’ve got?!” they said to me. You can’t please everyone, so I’m just showing you what works for me.
I don’t consider myself as a minimalist but I have tried to reduce as many items as I can. I’m pleased with my current set up and I have no interest to go carryon only. I’m a slow traveller and I like to linger in places for weeks at a time with a variety of clothes to choose from. As one of my friends recently blogged – Minimalist Travel? Not Gonna Happen!
Another shocker for some long term travellers is that I travel with a wheelie backpack. I’ve had recurring back problems over the years which becomes aggravated when I’m carrying around heavy backpacks, so wheels it is for me. I rarely go off road anyway, and if I do my bag can convert into a backpack to carry in such instances.
The packing list shown here was for the trip I took at the end of April, 2014 that went for 49 days. My itinerary was Singapore, Bali, Flores, West Timor, East Timor, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok, and returning to Ho Chi Minh City. The trip included moving from place to place in minivans, sleeping in airports, and apartment living in Bangkok for two weeks.
Also note that this isn’t all of my worldly possessions. I have boxes and bags in storage in Australia which I have kept should I ever return to take up a place to live in my homeland.
After cleaning out my room of accumulated junk and leaving a bag of stuff behind with a friend this was the entire content of main travel bag.
This filled my 65L bag and the bag weight was 15KG. I usually keep the removable day bag empty and use it for extra space for those rushed mornings when I can’t be bothered packing up properly. The removable bag is smaller than my laptop bag so I often use this bag for day trips.
Breaking it down further here are my clothing items. I have been living in a state of endless summer for the last few years incase you are wondering why I don’t have any winter clothes.
2 Long sleeve shirts
1 long sleeve t-shirt
2 polo shirts
1 Jeans + belt
3 pairs of socks
10 boxer shorts
* Even though I live in the tropics a hoodie is essential for bus travel in Asia, where the air con is often set to a temperature more suitable for transporting fresh produce. The hoodie has also been useful for those occasional trips to mountainous areas with cold nights.
* “10 PAIRS OF BOXER SHORTS!!!” I hear the minimalists exclaim. Yes, you won’t be catching me hand-washing my underwear in the sink every night. I like to travel with enough clothes to last me 10 days between laundry days. Ideally when I am on the road I would get my washing done once a week, but sometimes that isn’t an option.
* Same goes for t-shirts. I like to have a variety of t-shirts, especially when I am spending months at a time in one place.
Here are the rest of the items I carry in my main bag:
1 zip case of sundry items (bank card readers, coins, pens)
1 first aid kit
1 pack of business cards
1 external hard drive
1 bag of assorted adapters and powerstrip.
1 silk sleep bag
1 toiletry bag
1 pair flip flops
1 pair runners
1 folder of accumulated paperwork
* I could probably discard some items in the toiletry bag and first aid kit.
* My bag of adapters is out of control. This is partly because I have electrical items with Australia and US plugs. I have a universal adapter but they are so heavy and bulky that they tend to fall out of wall sockets. I will be replacing some of these.
I’m currently using a Samsonite backpack for my day bag. I don’t know what type it is and it’s not listed at their online shop so it has most likely been discontinued. I bought it at Shanghai Pudong airport when my bag at the time finally disintegrated after 2 years of heavy use. Apart from ripping one of the interior liners I have been satisfied with this bag, but I am on the look out for a new bag. Finding a day bag with the right amount of compartments that looks reasonably stylish has been a challenge.
Items in my day bag include:
1 MacBook Air 11.6-Inch Laptop, protective case, and power cable.
1 Olympus PEN E-P3 in camera case.
1 Kindle Paperwhite and charger.
1 iPhone 5 and charger.
1 iPod, charger, and earbuds
1 Writing Folder
1 document wallet
1 water bottle
1 toilet paper bag (because Southeast Asia)
* Even though I work online I still carry a legal pad in a folder. There is nothing like scribbling down notes to get thoughts and ideas out of your head.
* Before getting an iPhone I used to travel with a burner phone and I had my music on the iPod. I have kept my iPod even though I could put music on my iPhone. It saves my phone dying early in the day if I am listening to music all day.
Two Bag Travel
Here is how my two bags look all packed up as I head off to the airport [thanks to Legal Nomads for the photo.].