Travel Light, Travel Anywhere: The Ultimate Light Packing List

My bag at LAX on Sept 01, 2009.

Note: my complete packing list is below, but parts of it have been updated in a new post: Updated Light Packing List (or I’m No Longer An Ultra Light Traveler!). After you finish below, come back up and read the update.

Update #2: Ultra Light Packing List (Freezing Cold Weather Edition) – Still using the same backpack, but with a few different cold weather items.

This post has been in the works for a while and I’ve received a few e-mails and in person requests for it so I think it’s time. :)

I actually wrote the original draft after a trip to Germany earlier this year.u00c2u00a0 My gear list has changed a bit since then so here is my updated light packing list.u00c2u00a0 This is all the equipment I have with me on my current 100+ day trip. (Note: I’ve now been traveling like this for well over 500 days.)

Some of my gear I bought specifically for travel and some of it I’ve had for years and it may not really be good for travel.u00c2u00a0 I have trouble throwing perfectly good items away until they’re ruined (like the fairly bulky Nike shorts in the first picture below).

When packing light it’s important to know your destination and your general plans.u00c2u00a0 Obvious, right?

It’s about preparedness.u00c2u00a0 You might visit somewhere warm and then go on a side trip to the mountains (for example) where it’s cold.

So know your destination and your general plans. Will you need really warm clothes?u00c2u00a0 Do you plan on swimming or hiking?u00c2u00a0 Do you plan on traveling from a warm destination to a cold destination without stopping home to change gear?u00c2u00a0 The more climates you’ll be exposed to the more clothes you may need.

The packing list works from about 5° C to 40° C because of layers.u00c2u00a0 That’s cutting it close on the cold side since I’m a naturally cold person. Any colder and I’d definitely need warmer clothes.

But I made a decision to never travel to cold climates so what I have here will suit me for almost any destination I choose.u00c2u00a0 To some people deciding not to travel to cold places means I’m missing out.u00c2u00a0 That’s the beauty of travel and life.u00c2u00a0 To each their own. There are enough warm places to visit on Earth to last multiple lifetimes.u00c2u00a0 Focusing on those places just makes it a little bit easier to choose where to go.

Before I get into it you should know that I’ve included affiliate links to Altrec and Amazon in this post. If you don’t want to support this site don’t click on the links, no worries. :) (That’s not a guilt trip, I’m serious, don’t click the links if you don’t want to.) If you do want to buy something and support the site, click the links. Simple as that…

My Complete List of Clothing

Every last bit of my clothing.

Every last bit of my clothing.

Starting from the top left quadrant and working my way around clockwise:

1) Marmot Ion windbreaker / light rain jacket

In the picture you see it folded into itself.u00c2u00a0 Before packing it I wrap it with 2 rubber bands to make it even more compact.

This jacket is perfect when it’s 14° C – 20° C or when there is a light rain or wind.u00c2u00a0 I use it often as an extra layer under my Outdoor Research jacket.

Buy the Marmot Men’s Ion Windshirt

2) Outdoor Research Eternal Jacket

This jacket isn’t waterproof, but it’s fine in light rain.u00c2u00a0 It’s surprisingly warm and isn’t bulky at all.u00c2u00a0 It also looks great, which is always nice when you’re focused on function, but are rewarded with form as well.u00c2u00a0 I love the pocket on the front left.u00c2u00a0 It’s where I usually keep a camera so it’s always at the ready.

Buy the Outdoor Research Men’s Eternal Jacket

3) Ski mask

I use this strictly for robbing banks.u00c2u00a0 How do you think I fund my journeys?u00c2u00a0 Purchased at K-Mart 10 years ago for $5 and has been used consistently since then. ;) It always gets a laugh or a scared look.

4) Patagonia Capilene 3 Zip-neck Long Sleeve

Light, warm, and breathable.u00c2u00a0 This is an awesome baselayer when the temp starts dropping.

Buy the Patagonia Men’s Capilene 3 Zip Neck

5) Icebreaker BodyFit 150 T-shirt and Icebreaker BodyFit 250 T-Shirt

I’m not perfect and I didn’t make the connection before buying these that they’re not vegan.u00c2u00a0 My brother actually pointed it out to me.u00c2u00a0 These Icebreaker T-shirts are made of merino wool in New Zealand.u00c2u00a0 Supposedly the company treats their sheep well, but any animal used as a slave isn’t OK in my book.u00c2u00a0 That said, it would be far more disrespectful for me to get rid of these than just wearing them.

(Tangent: My being vegan is about respect at the core.u00c2u00a0 If, for example, I’m at a restaurant and they accidentally put someu00c2u00a0 dairy product on my food I will eat it instead of sending it back to be thrown away.u00c2u00a0 It’s more respectful to eat the food at that point than get rid of it.)

With all that you’d think I’d tell you not to buy these shirts.u00c2u00a0 The truth is, they are well made, they don’t smell (I’ve been known to wear them multiple times between washes), and they dry quickly.u00c2u00a0 They do make me itch though.u00c2u00a0 I’ve read that this wool isn’t supposed to make you itch, but I have sensitive skin and it does itch.

They’re also really expensive at ~$50 each.

Buy the Icebreaker Men’s BodyFit

6) Patagonia Capilene 1 T-shirt

This is the synthetic equivalent to the Icebreaker T-shirts.u00c2u00a0 It feels great (doesn’t itch) and dries quickly, but it attracts odors moreso than the Icebreaker.u00c2u00a0 I bought mine on sale for $25.

Buy the Patagonia Men’s Capilene 1 T Shirt

7) Nike basketball shorts

Nothing special about these.u00c2u00a0 I’ve had them for 5 years.u00c2u00a0 They are pretty bulky (especially the waistband), but I need something to workout in while I’m on the road.

8) Adidas Originals Superstar II

They’re leather, and I bought them before being vegan.u00c2u00a0 They’ve lasted a long time, look pretty nice, and are very comfortable.

Buy the Adidas Originals Men’s Superstar II Sneaker

9) Vibram FiveFingers KSO

The Vibram FiveFingers have been getting a ton of press lately.u00c2u00a0 Unfortunately, all I’ve heard is positives.u00c2u00a0 There is one glaring negative to these shoes: they stink.u00c2u00a0 The stench that emanates from them still lingers after a wash.

They are great shoes though.u00c2u00a0 I absolutely love how they feel, but because of the stink I mostly use them for working out or hiking.

Buy the Vibram FiveFingers KSO

10) Smartwool Men’s Adrenaline Light Mini Crew Socks

Bought these at the same time as the Icebreaker shirts, so also didn’t make that wool connection.u00c2u00a0 They make my feet sweat, but they don’t smell bad, are easy to wash, and dry quickly.u00c2u00a0 I wouldn’t buy them again, but I’m going to get as much use out of them as I can now that I own them.

Smartwool Men’s Adrenaline Light Mini Crew Socks

11) 2 pairs Patagonia Lightweight Endurance Quarter Socks

Similar to the Smartwool socks, except they’re 60% synthetic and 40% wool.u00c2u00a0 They don’t make my feet sweat so I hope I can find a 100% synthetic pair similar to these when the time comes.

Buy Patagonia Lightweight Endurance Quarter Socks

12) 2 UnderArmor Boxer Briefs

I’ve had these for a few years and used to only use them when playing basketball.u00c2u00a0 They’re really comfortable, easy to wash, and dry quickly.u00c2u00a0 I was going to replace them with 2 pairs of ExOfficio, but I probably won’t do that for another year.u00c2u00a0 At ~$20 per pair they’re not cheap.

Buy Under Armour Boxers

13) ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Brief

The tagline to these is: “17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of underwear. Okay, maybe two.”

And they fully live up to the hype.u00c2u00a0 Odor resistant, quick drying, light, and they even double as swim trunks. :)u00c2u00a0 $25, and well worth it.

Buy the ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Brief

14) Columbia Titanium Omni-Dry Silver Ridge II Convertible Pant

It took me months to find convertible pants I was even a little bit happy with.

The shorts don’t look great, but with a 10″ inseam they are decent.u00c2u00a0 Being that I’m 6’5″ I would like them to have a 12-13″ inseam, but I’ll deal with it.

I really like the zippered side pocket.u00c2u00a0 The zipper closes down.u00c2u00a0 Which is unnatural so I feel like a pickpocket would have trouble with them.

The insides of the pockets feel weak so I hope they last.

I couldn’t find these in a darker color (the color Shade was sold outeverywhere, in stores, and online).u00c2u00a0 While we’re on the subject of color: why do no manufacturer’s make black convertible pants?u00c2u00a0 Come on people, step up your games!

Columbia Men’s Titanium Omni-Dry Silver Ridge II Convertible Pant – S’09

15) Smartwool Mid-weight Bottoms

I sure bought a lot of wool in one day, didn’t I?u00c2u00a0 These things clock in at $60, but they are warm and work well under my very light convertible pants.

No real complaints.u00c2u00a0 They’re easy to wash, dry quickly, and do the job I bought them for.u00c2u00a0 I’ll find synthetic long underwear when it’s time to replace them.

Buy Smartwool Men’s Midweight Thermal Bottom 15 852

My Complete Toiletry Kit

It looks like a lot, but it packs well.

It looks like a lot, but it packs well.

1) PackTowl – Medium

This towel is outstanding.u00c2u00a0 It packs up small, soaks up water well and dries in a few hours.u00c2u00a0 It also comes with a mesh pouch that you can attach it to the outside of your bag and keep everything in your bag dry.u00c2u00a0 (Assuming you have to use the towel and then pack up and get a move on.)

2) Earplugs

Nothing special, just a bunch of ear plugs, including a pair of EarPlanes in case I have crazy sinuses and need to fly.

3) Pack of facial tissues

4) Light My Fire Spork

This spork is awesome.u00c2u00a0 Includes a “knife” edge too.u00c2u00a0 It’s heat resistant (doesn’t melt in high heat), small, light, and durable. You can pick these up at any outdoors store.

5) Plastic comb

6) Mach 3 Razor + 4 blades

7) Pacific Shaving Oil

This, my friends, is the greatest invention ever made for light packers.u00c2u00a0 I’ve been using it at home for almost a year too.u00c2u00a0 No need for shaving cream as this oil softens the hairs and doesn’t cause razor burn.u00c2u00a0 Seriously.u00c2u00a0 I have the most sensitive skin in the world.u00c2u00a0 Touch my face and my skin gets red and itchy.u00c2u00a0 Shaving has been a nightmare since I was 13.u00c2u00a0 While it’s still a nightmare, at least I don’t get razor burn very often.u00c2u00a0 (Sometimes, when my skin is being especially irritated and I shave it gets even more irritated.u00c2u00a0 I can’t blame the shaving oil for that though.)

Each tiny bottle of this oil is supposed to last for 100 shaves.u00c2u00a0 I’ve found it lasts about 50 for me, and I’m cool with that.

Buy this awesome shaving oil at http://pacificshaving.com.

8) Pacific Shaving Nick Stick

For when you cut yourself shaving.u00c2u00a0 Which I do often because if you touch anything sharp to my aforementioned sensitive skin it breaks open and bleeds like blood is going out of style.

Not exactly a necessity, but you can also buy this at http://pacificshaving.com.

9) Razor Gator Razor Extendor

This little tool says it makes razor blades last up to 10 weeks.u00c2u00a0 If you use disposable razor blades it saves you a lot of money.u00c2u00a0 I’ve been using these for almost a year, and while they don’t make my blades last 10 weeks, they do last about 1 month each instead of just 1 week.u00c2u00a0 Well worth the few dollars the tool costs.

Pick them up at http://www.razor-gator.com.

10) Hydrocortisone cream

Did I mention I have sensitive, itchy skin?

11) SPF 50 Sunblock Stick

This stuff is awesome as it doesn’t make your face all greasy.u00c2u00a0 Unfortunately, it does dry out my already dry skin even more.u00c2u00a0 Sometimes you gotta roll with the punches.

12) Tea tree oil

Oh how I love you dear tea tree oil, let me count the ways.u00c2u00a0 Use this antiseptic oil to clean cuts and for blemishes (i.e. acne).u00c2u00a0 I go through 1 bottle per year.

13) Nail clippers and small scissors

14) Three 3 oz bottles of Dr Bronner’s Baby Mild Organic Fair Trade Liquid Soap

I buy the Baby soap because my skin is more sensitive than a baby’s.u00c2u00a0 3 oz will last about a month.u00c2u00a0 This soap is highly concentrated and I use it not only to shower, but to brush my teeth and wash my clothes.u00c2u00a0 It’s the ultimate multi-use product.u00c2u00a0 It’s also biodegradable so using it out in the wilderness is less stressful on nature.

http://www.drbronners.com or most health food stores (including Whole Foods).

15) Gold Bond Medicated Powder

I replaced Baby Powder with Gold Bond.u00c2u00a0 I can use it to help with stinky shoes AND for itchy skin.u00c2u00a0 Thanks Gold Bond.u00c2u00a0 I smell like old people and I love it.

16) First Aid Kit

I got this kit free somewhere.u00c2u00a0 The SouthLake Hospital packet above it has some aspirin and bandaids.u00c2u00a0 I don’t plan on cutting myself, but I guess if I do I can do something about it.

17) Pepto Bismol tablets

Just in case.

18) Hand sanitizer

I keep this on me at all times because nothing sucks more than getting sick while you’re traveling.u00c2u00a0 Killing the germs on your hands helps with that so if I can’t wash my hands before eating I use this.

19) Triple antibiotic ointment

Again, in case I cut myself.u00c2u00a0 Honestly I wouldn’t have packed this normally, I just didn’t want to throw it away during my downsizing.

20) Saline nasal spray

I didn’t have room for a Neti pot so this is the next best thing.u00c2u00a0 Actually, it’s not even close to as useful as a Neti pot, but it does help with dry nasal passages when you’re flying.

21) Vitamin E Oil

Holy wow is this the best moisturizer ever discovered by mankind.u00c2u00a0 A little goes a long way.u00c2u00a0 If it was possible to get a Bachelor of Science in Moisturizing I would have it.u00c2u00a0 What I’m saying is, I know my moisturizers.u00c2u00a0 If you have dry skin, use this stuff.u00c2u00a0 It’s oily, but it actually works.u00c2u00a0 Not like all that Jergens, Cetaphil, and other garbage that’s advertised on TV.u00c2u00a0 You can pick this up in the vitamin section of any store that sells vitamins.

22) Dental Floss

23) Another Gold Bond

I love smelling like a medicated old man, ok?!

24) Folding tooth brush

I don’t know where you are on the love/hate scale for WalMart, but this tooth brush is awesome.u00c2u00a0 The bristles are anti-bacterial and it’s a full sized travel tooth brush when you unfold it.u00c2u00a0 And they only cost $1.47 at WalMart.

25) Tom’s of Maine Sensitive Skin Deodorant

Made with soothing camomile.u00c2u00a0 Mmmmmm.u00c2u00a0 This deodorant rules.u00c2u00a0 Each stick lasts about 2 months.u00c2u00a0 I was only going to pack 1, but I didn’t want to throw away the stick that was 2/3 gone so I packed it.u00c2u00a0 Available at most health food stores like Whole Foods.u00c2u00a0 I’ve also found this at a lot of chain grocery stores like Publix.

My Electronic Items

Because I Need To Work On The Road

Because I Need To Work On The Road

1) Asus Eee 1000HE

This is a great laptop, but it’s not perfect.u00c2u00a0 10″ screen.u00c2u00a0 Extraordinary long battery life.u00c2u00a0 Built in 1.3 mega pixel web cam.u00c2u00a0 Almost full sized keyboard.u00c2u00a0 And it’s light, of course.

Dislikes: I wish it was flat.u00c2u00a0 The shape makes it a little cumbersome to pack.

Although I love this laptop I think the ultimate travel/work laptop should have at least a 12″ screen, a full sized keyboard, and still weight 3lbs or less.u00c2u00a0 The Apple Macbook Air would almost work if it didn’t suck. ;)u00c2u00a0 Seriously, just one USB port Apple?u00c2u00a0 WTF are you thinking?u00c2u00a0 Also not worth paying 4 times the cost of the Asus Eee (or any other netbook for that matter), unless you actually need extra processing power (for editing video or photos for instance).

Buy the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE

2) Western Digital Passport 250GB hard drive with Kroo case

For backups of my important work documents and pictures/video of my travels.

3) Unlocked Motorola RAZR V3xx

I got this free from AT&T.u00c2u00a0 I don’t buy phones.u00c2u00a0 AT&T was also nice enough to unlock it for me and not charge me an early termination fee for canceling my contract a year early.u00c2u00a0 (Of course, I’ve been with them for 9 years, so I should hope they’d be nice about everything.)

I’m now using Virgin Mobile in Australia and it’s working out well.u00c2u00a0 (Even though Virgin Mobile has spotty coverage.)

4) Flip Ultra Video Camera

I’ve had this for over a year and I love it.u00c2u00a0 Almost every video on my YouTube account (youtube.com/karolgajda) was made with this camera.u00c2u00a0 That includes the concert videos.u00c2u00a0 Normal cameras distort audio in loud situations.u00c2u00a0 Not the Flip Ultra.u00c2u00a0 Here you see it packed in a water proof aLOKSAK.u00c2u00a0 I pack all my clothes and toiletries in aLOKSAKs too.u00c2u00a0 (aLOKSAKs are also my secret to cleaning clothes virtually anywhere.u00c2u00a0 That video is coming soon.)

Pick up a Flip UltraHD Camcorder (newer version of what I have)

5) Canon PowerShot SD890 IS Digital Elph

It’s not pictured because I had to take the picture with something. :)u00c2u00a0 I love this camera.u00c2u00a0 Strong zoom and high quality photos for a point and shoot.

Buy a Canon PowerShot SD890IS

6) Pacsafe Metrosafe 200 Shoulder Bag

I bought this literally a week before I left on my trip.u00c2u00a0 I debated long and hard whether I need an extra bag.u00c2u00a0 I got along fine on a 16 day trip earlier this year with just a backpack.u00c2u00a0 I decided that I should have something like this because it makes going out in the city with my laptop and book much easier.u00c2u00a0 No need to lug around my whole pack.

The Pacsafe brand is full of theft deterring features.u00c2u00a0 I could explain them, but it’s easier if you simply visit this link and see what it’s all about for yourself.

Get the Pacsafe MetroSafe 200 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag

Stuff I Didn’t Include In Other Pictures

Other Fun Stuff

Other Fun Stuff

1) Kiva Keychain Backpack

Not a fan of this thing for any practical use.u00c2u00a0 It is, however, good for keeping dirty clothes separate from the rest of your stuff.u00c2u00a0 I’ve also used it to carry all my clothes/toiletries from dorm to bathroom while staying in hostels.u00c2u00a0 For $10 you can’t expect anything spectacular.

2) iPod Mini – 4GB

I’m an old school G.u00c2u00a0 I almost cried when the battery on this thing died early this year. (I lie, if it died I’d be quite alright.) I went on eBay and bought a replacement for $7 shipped.u00c2u00a0 Booya!u00c2u00a0 Back in business baby!

3)u00c2u00a0 Organic Vegan Raw Food Bars

These are tasty treats when you’re starving and all you see is meat.u00c2u00a0 That wasn’t supposed to rhyme, but I have been known to be a lyrical gangsta.

4) Rayovac USB battery charger

I don’t really like this charger, but I didn’t want to use disposable batteries for my Flip video camera.u00c2u00a0 I have 2 gripes: 1) It takes 8 hours to charge a battery.u00c2u00a0 2) It doesn’t tell you when it’s done charging.u00c2u00a0 The light doesn’t change color.u00c2u00a0 Come on Rayovac, that’s amateur shit right there. It was less than $10 at WalMart.

5) Pacsafe 55L

For locking up my bag in hostels,u00c2u00a0 bars, or wherever I might need to lock up my bag.u00c2u00a0 It’s 4 lbs so it adds quite a bit of weight, but I’m happy with it. I don’t use it much, but when I do need it I’m glad I have it.

6) Flip Camera Stand

This works with any camera or video camera.u00c2u00a0 Good when you want to take a steady shot.u00c2u00a0 Honestly, not necessary and won’t gettoo much use.u00c2u00a0 But I will need it for at least 1 video I plan on making (the aforementioned How To Wash Clothes While Traveling vid).

7) Sleep Mask

There is nothing like sleeping in absolute darkness.u00c2u00a0 I guarantee it.

8) Gymboss

Interval timer for my workouts, of course.

9) Books

Brida by Paulo Coelho and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Gregory Hays translation).

10) Jump rope

For use with the Gymboss. :)u00c2u00a0 This is a speed rope from Lifeline USA.u00c2u00a0 It can possibly double as a whip if you’re looking to be Crocodile Dundee in the Outback.

11) Braided Stretchy Clothesline by Rick Steves

This triple braided clothesline is pretty sweet.u00c2u00a0 Attaches to almost anything and keeps clothes on the line by pinching them in the braids.

Buy the Rick Steves Braided Clothesline

12) iPod cable

13) Sennheiser CX300-B Earbuds

These are fairly low cost earbuds and do a fine job of keeping background noise out.

The Carry On Backpack

My bag at LAX on Sept 01, 2009. (Mental Floss magazine in the pocket.)

My bag at LAX on Sept 01, 2009. (Mental Floss magazine in the pocket.)

Deuter Futura 32

This backpack has a netting/rib mechanism that keeps the bag off your back, lets air flow, and keeps your back from getting soaked in sweat.u00c2u00a0 I love that. But the ribbed frame makes packing the bag a little cumbersome. It’s a tradeoff I’m willing to live with.

At 32 liters, this is a pretty small backpack by most standards. Walking around Sydney I see most backpackers in 55-90L backpacks and they look miserably loaded down. :)

Buy the Futura 32 Internal Frame Backpack

Whew! For whatever reason, writing thisu00c2u00a0 post took longer than any other post. All that bolding, describing, and linking I reckon.

###

Coming soon: What it’s like to tour the country (the US, that is) with a rock band in honor of my friends The Swellers, whose new record Ups and Downsizing is coming out next Tuesday. :)u00c2u00a0 My how to hand wash your clothes while traveling video is coming soon after.

{ 159 comments }

Jason

Thanks for the info Karol. Its a great post.

What is your packs total loaded weight?

Karol

Thanks Jason! Total weight I’m guessing is ~10kg (maybe even less). I haven’t actually weighed it since I haven’t had to check the bag.

Ankesh Kothari

This is an awesome post! Bookmarked!

2 questions:

1. No formal wear?
2. Why do you use your soap as tooth paste?

Karol

Thanks Ankesh!

1) No formal wear because I don’t go to formal events. Assuming something came up I would buy or rent/hire formal wear.

2) Dr Bronner’s soap is multi use. Check it out: http://www.drbronner.com/faqs_main.html#faq10 :)

Thanks again!
Karol

Cormac

One of my odder items at the moment is a waistcoat – a pure woollen waistcoat that I picked up in the mountains in Pakistan for warmth. It’s not black-tie, but worn over a travel shirt, it actually looks pretty smart. And light enough not to add significant weight.

Footwear is another issue. Many travellers bring sandals/flip-flops, and also sturdy trainers or hiking boots. A third pair of footwear is just too much weight. Personally I don’t like the lightweight mesh-and-exciting-colours hiking boots, so mine are a leather style that – when covered with trousers – don’t look too bad. But when I’m not carrying them on my feet, I pay for it…

Dave Mauder

Another great post Karol – and one of my favorite topics! I travel a lot for my job, so I’m constantly trying to reduce what I carry with me. My goal is to never check a bag, no matter how long I’m staying. Unfortunately, I often need to carry several tools, including a power screw driver, so that has to go in a checked bag. I suppose I could be a little less lazy and do without the power driver — but it sure cuts a lot of time and frustration off most of my install jobs.

Anyway, even though I need to dress business casual, I’m thinking those convertible pants could come in handy! I typically wear Dockers and a polo, and the convertible pants look every bit as nice (IMHO).

I thought I carried a lot in my toiletry kit, but you’ve got me beat. LOL! Oh, and I’m definitely trying out the Dr Bronners soap now!

One question… What brand are your raw food bars? I’ve been carrying/eating Lara Bars for quite some time, but would love a little variety.

Dave

Karol

Hey Dave,

Sorry for the short reply here. I’m kinda in the middle of nowhere right now and don’t have much time. :) The food bars are: http://www.organicfoodbar.com/products

Cheers!
Karol

Dee Andrews

Love the post! I got this question all the time. My family of four moved aboard for a year and packed our entire house in 6 suitcases and 4 backpacks. The stuffed animal tiger was the luxury carry-on item for my 6-year-old. We only learned how to whittle it down more as we continued on the journey. Books and laptops weighed the most.

Karol

Hey Dee!

Thanks for sharing. I think a 6 year old should be allowed the luxury of a stuffed animal tiger. :)

Karol

paurullan

Gorgeous post, great work!
I am not a professional photographer but I like using a DSLR. Right now I am with a Nikon D80. Do you think it is excessive? Would you leave it at home and just keep memories in my head?

Karol

Hi Paurullan,

If photography is important to you you should take it on the road. Actually, don’t listen to me. Do what you think is right. :)

Thanks for your comment!
Karol

paurullan

Today I put the camera and the flash on the scales and it is almost 2kg! (4.4 pounds) And my backpack (Lowepro Primus) its 3kg (6.6 pounds) more. So, no very light even before take any useful item, let alone not a tripod.
I have two options in my mind: getting a little compact camera and go ultra-light or bear with the weight and change the way of take the road.
The interesting part is that the crisis has hit on me so any decision will have to wait.

Karol

That’s heavy, but I completely understand when a hobby photographer wants to take their equipment with them on the road. You can’t NOT take quality pictures if that’s your passion.

paurullan

So true: if photography is what I feel I should no take it out for a light travel. Perhaps I was missing the big picture: having fun out there is the most important.
I will come back in a year and tell my story on how well has this no-lighty-photo has gone!

Karol

hehe, sounds good :)

Chris

Looks like an efficient way of travelling, although I have one thing to criticize: When I am travelling, I like to blend in with the population and that is usually a lot easier when I dress unobtrusive. Furthermore when I visit a museum, church, monument, I always regard it as sign of respect to dress appropriately. Watching the usual wolfskin/khaki crowd in front of a great piece of art never fails to make me squirm. It is like visiting your grandmother’s funeral in underwear.

Karol

Hey Chris,

Thanks for your thoughts. My question is who decides what kind of dress is appropriate?

Karol

Chris

Tradition and culture, common sense, my personal sense of style and aesthetics can all guide me in dressing appropriately. Observing the locals is maybe the easiest way, though. (Of course, that does not mean that you have to imitate or ape them…) As I wrote, you probably would not go to a funeral in your underwear, so why would you wear something similar in a cathedral or a museum. I always try to imagine the history of important architecture or art pieces, often hundreds or thousands of people have worked, lived and often died for decades or centuries to accomplish something extraordinary. If that is not reason enough for dressing well, I do not know what is.

Karol

Thanks for your point of view Chris. It boils down to, what’s right for me is not right for everybody. :)

Samuel Kim

This is a long one but wow. This is a greatttt post. It really makes me want to go travel the world in backpack gear, something I’ve always wanted to do. Thanks for the information, and if I ever need anything on this list I’ll definitely come back here and buy it from your site.

Karol

Thanks Samuel! It’s a great way to travel. Makes you feel amazing and free. :)

Wendy

Karol, you’ve definitely got the minimalist packing thing down to a science! I pack the same way. I recently splurged on a Kindle as I hate to run out of reading material, especially in a non-English speaking country where replacement books are hard to come by. And I love my purchase. It was the icing on my minimalist-packing cake! Just something for you to consider…

Karol

Hi Wendy,

I’ve been considering a Kindle for a while but I hate DRM. (Digital Rights Management) We’ll see what happens. :)

Thanks!
Karol

Hilary

I am going to unpack my suitcase and begin again.
I just don’t need all this stuff.
Thank you for the wake-up.
:)

Karol

Hi Hilary,

:) Let me know how it goes!

Thanks for sharing!
Karol

Todd

I agree with Samuel above; I want to go travel the world now! Great post. I wish I had read it a few weeks earlier though to order a few of these things for my Washington DC trip next weekend, but you’ve at least encouraged me to pack lightly. But who knows, with my debt paid off early spring and lots of vacation time saved up, I may be needing these things sooner than I thought. I look forward to reading more entries!
Happy Travels!

Karol

Hi Todd,

Thanks for commenting. Please let me know how the light packing goes for you. :)

Karol

Merijn Vogel

First, I got here through zenhabits.net, just so you know :).

While traveling to Vienna for two days I packed even less. Just clean underwear, very few clothes (I was wearing some already, duh, but some people seem to forget that if they start packing :).

To my slight surprise and great amusement, my co-traveller (a “nutty” professor, 65years of age) was packed just as lightly. Never seen customs (not needed for inter-european flights of only handluggage), very swiftly through all kinds of public transport and never wait for the endless stream of luggage on the belt. Great to travel with just handluggage!

Karol

Hi Merijn,

Awesome! Thanks for sharing. It’s definitely an easier way to travel. :)

Karol

Rosaly Torvnes

Great post, BUT, when are you going to write a similar post for Women? It’s a totally different story and the one and big challenge in travelling light. I don’t see a problem in travelling light for MEN.
Rosaly

Karol

Hi Rosaly,

Thanks for asking. I don’t feel I could write that post well as I’m not a women and I’m not sure what the absolute essentials are for women. Maybe you could help me? :)

Thanks!
Karol

notemily

Thanks for pointing this out; I was hoping someone would. The standards for what is considered appropriate dress and grooming habits are completely different for women than for men. (I came here via the post on Zen Habits, which I found to be very male-centric, but there wasn’t a place for comments there and this post is similar.)

Karol

Hey notemily,

Thanks for commenting. Yes, that article is male-centric. I’m doing my best to find an ultra light packing female to help me out with a new list. :)

Karol

Erin

I found this list really useful. We already travel pretty light but want to go even lighter when we become permanent travellers next year.

As a woman I don’t take anything extra than my partner. In fact it is easier to travel lighter as my clothes are smaller. I just stopped wearing makeup and didn’t miss it. I can’t see what other extra items women need.

Karol

Thanks Erin!

“I can’t see what other extra items women need.” I feel the same way, I just didn’t want to come across as sexist. :)

Karol

Gina

I am a woman and I pack really light (most of the time.) I’ve gone on a two-week trip to Canada that included needing to carry camping gear with nothing but a single backpack (that included a sleeping bag and a bivy sack) and a small day pack. I’ve gone for weekend stays and impressed guys I’m travelling w/ with the lack of volume.

The trick to doing it for women isn’t much different than for men. Plan your clothing really carefully. Examine how much other stuff you really need. I’d amend Carol’s list something like this:

–1 black skirt (knee-length or longer if you’re travelling outside the US and want to do touristy things. You’ll fit in better some places if you have on a skirt.)
– 1 pair convertible pants
– 1 long sleeve T-shirt
– 2 short sleeve T-shirts
– 1 tank top
– lightweight sleep shirt
– lightweight basic swimsuit
– 1 pair sturdy walking shoes
– 1 pair walking sandals
– 1 jacket/coat
DO NOT waste packing space on heels. They are impractical if you are on the go a lot. The only exception might be if you’re travelling on business.
–underwear for 3 days. Wash as you go.
–one set of jewelry. Wear it constantly.

A good place to get travel clothes for women is http://www.travelsmith.com. They have all the above in nicer materials than cotton jersey that mean you can travel minimally and still look nice.

Other tips:
–Dr. Bronner’s and Vit. E oil are great and work for women too. Anything you can do to eliminate as many beauty products as possible helps. For myself I’d pack the above and throw in a small jar of eye cream since the Vit. E oil is a bit heavy for the eye area.

–Evaluate your cosmetics — how much do you REALLY need? Pare down to minimal cosmetics — if any at all. Often a powder, a lip gloss and a blusher that can double as neutral eyeshadow is all you really need, and your skin will be better for it.

– Evaluate your hair — opt for a wash-n-wear hairstyle. Kill the need to drag along a bunch of different hair products and a blow-dryer (especially the blow dryer!) — if you need hair products, try to limit yourself to either 1 mousse or 1 hair gel and a few hair bands. All I take is asmall hair brush and a few hair bands if my hair is long at the time.

Don’t forget to plan and pack adequately for your female hygiene and birth control needs. Usually 1 ziplock quart-sized bag will suit my needs, but this is one area I don’t take chances on needing to replenish locally.

Gina

P.S. — Karol, sorry for mispelling your name above! My bad.

There is one thing that I consider essential to pack — if I have any doubt that where I’m staying will include a coffeemaker to heat water, I ALWAYS throw in my little travel pot and some tea bags and dried soup bags. All told this doesn’t take any more space than a pair of shoes would and it’s super lightweight, but it’s saved me on more than one occasion. I started doing this after noticing that I was going places where there was not coffeemaker in the room and I was spending $10 to get room service to bring me a tea bag and enough hot water for 2 cups of tea.

Gina

One more P.S. — if you want to add one more pair of lightweight slacks to the above to be dressier, that could work — get the convertible pants in nylon so they weigh next to nothing and plan on wearing the other slacks on the plane.

I never pack jeans, because I find them uncomfortable in any sort of humid climate. I learned this the hard way on the above-mentioned trip to Canada where I had only packed a pair of cotton pajama bottoms (in navy batik) and was wearing my 1 pair of jeans — I packed no other bottoms. The humidity made me so miserable I spent nearly the entire 2 weeks walking around Toronto and upstate Ontario in my cotton pjs, and lugging the jeans around in my backpack.

Karol

Hi Gina,

Thanks for that list! Is a sleep shirt really necessary though? Can’t you sleep in the shirt you wore during the day?

Thanks again,
Karol

Gina

I suppose you could actually though then I’d want something to cover my legs. I’ve never been one to care for sleeping in the nude, especially if I’m at all unsure about the cleanliness of wherever I’m sleeping. More than you ever wanted to know about me!

I thought about adding a pair of long silk underwear (esp if travelling during cold weather), and that could double for sleepwear while being very lightweight. I could go for 1 pair of long silk underwear (or knee-length) and your tshirt for the day to sleep in.

Morfydd

Like Gina, I like having bottoms to wear (in case of a late-night fire alarm or something). I have the Silk Travel Nightwear from Cocoon which fits in a little silk pouch half the size of my fist. It doesn’t really multitask but at that size and weight I don’t care much. In a pinch I could wear the outfit during the day but it’s very thin material and ends up very wrinkled.

Alex

my pack list has less on it than this.

sincerely,
a female.

Karol

1) Oh! Burn! :)

2) Do you also work from the road? It’s a different beast than just traveling. ;)

Alex

Lol sorry, I was just trying to demonstrate that how much one packs is not a gender issue.

I don’t work from the road, but I do bring my laptop.

Karol

No worries Alex! I loved your comment anyway. :) Willing to send me your packing list? I’m putting together a free downloadable book about light packing and have had a couple contributions from females so far, but would like more!

Alex

sure!

Kathy

Hey Karol, can you tell me what brand of pack towel you use? I’ve had a hard time finding a good one.

Karol

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for asking. It’s the medium MSR PackTowl.

Thanks!
Karol

Eric

Nice article Karol! I love my Five Fingers too, and had to find a way to kill the stench. I found a fifteen minute soak with lemon juice removes all the smell.

Cheers!

Karol

Thanks for that Eric! Hard to do while traveling but I’ll give it a shot when/if I can. :)

Karol

Morfydd

There’s a company called RealLemon that sells powdered lemon juice in little packets. I don’t know that they ship to Australia but I really like their product.

Karol

Hmm…interesting. Thanks Morfydd!

Ben M

Great post. I too came across you post from ZenHabits (which I was about to unsubscribe from). I had a very similar kit list (including the pack safe which after using once just for the sake of it I personally regretted carrying) when I went backpacking a few years back and loved it. Being able to spend 2 minutes packing your bag is great! Since though I have changed into a heavy traveller…. but with my upcoming trip to Thailand I will now be reverting back to my old self.

@paurullan, if you love photography you MUST take your DSLR. I don’t take a laptop, but do have my DSLR tucked away in my pack instead. I do however ditch my tripod (there are usually things I can balance my camera on) and try to only take one lens.

Karol

Hey Ben,

Thanks for posting. I’ve considered getting rid of the pacsafe, but there are times when I’m glad I have it.

Karol

paurullan

@BenM the problem is the weight: it adds so much so fast that today we were on a 4-hour hike and I seriously considered buying a compact camera. And there is another problem: with final weight I do not know if I will have to check-in when flying.

Ben M

@paurullan, The extra weight can be annoying and at times I too question whether it is worth it. So far I have always decided it is.

paurullan

@BenM Thank you for you opinion!
My heart feels it can’t leave behind the camera so I will try to listen to it.
Could you please list your equipment?

Ben M

Canon 20D and 17-40 L Lens. A little old but does the job nicely.

paurullan

I am mostly interested in the backpack and how you manage to make it light enough to wander around more than a couple of hours.

Just for the record I use a Nikon D80+grip (big hands here) + 18-200.

Ben M

Couldn’t reply directly to your last message…. I have carried my camera in a bunch of different bags. Often a smallish Nike backpack for day trips/mountain hikes, and then a larger TNF pack for longer trips. I just chuck it in the top and wrap my clothes around it…. I honestly don’t see the weight to be too bad, but then your 18-200 will weigh a bit more than what I carry. Just ditch any other non essentials!

Tumbling Tiger

One extensive list, what I really hate about this kind of travel is that I lack the possibilty to store my DSLR, which is something that I’d love to take on my travels. I guess it’s great for a minimalist, but you can add a bit more without too much trouble. Don’t you have trouble with this list in case the nights get colder?

Karol

Nah, if it gets cold that means I didn’t follow my “only travel to warm places” rule. So I deserve to be cold. ;) But seriously, I did run into a few very cold nights while traveling The Great Ocean Road in a camper van. It got down to 7-8 degrees C and our camper van didn’t have heat. I survived. :) Usually I will sleep inside a warm house/hostel/something-or-other if it’s cold.

Sarah

A laptop lock can secure your bag to something while using a TSA lock to lock the actual bag. In addition it is multi-functional being able to actually lock the laptop.

Karol

Thanks Sarah! I’ve been considering trying that instead of lugging the pacsafe. Glad to hear it works well for you.

Nathan

Had the same stink problem with my first pair of FiveFingers, but I solved the problem. Get some Injinji toed socks. They fit great–I didn’t have to size up–and my second pair of FiveFingers don’t smell at all.

Karol

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for sharing. I’m familiar with those toe socks, but haven’t tried them yet. I may do so. I wonder how they feel while wearing “regular” shoes.

Karol

Nathan

Good, actually. I’ve worn them under cleats, and they do well as sports socks. The separate toes were intended for wear in normal running shoes, to prevent chafing.

Karol

Oh nice! Good to hear!

Bonnie

Great post, but is there a chick’s list somewhere?? Anyone??
Another use for the tea tree oil… I’ve found it’s the only thing that stops the itch from my allergy to sandfly bites.
:)

Karol

Hi Bonnie,

Thank you.

I’ll do my best to find an ultra light packing female to help me out with a women’s only list. As for tea tree oil: thanks for sharing! The stuff has so many uses. :)

Karol

Vanessa

Hi Bonnie. I’m an ultralight packing devotee and there are women’s lists out there, but it really depends on your style. If you’re the sporty type, you can use Karol’s list with a few swaps. Personally (youngish, feminine, non-business traveller), I don’t find the women’s lists out there very useful, so I’ve refined my own over the years.

In brief: unlike Karol, I take normal clothes rather than outdoor clothes, and it’s usually a couple of dresses, three or four tops, a lightweight cardigan and either a skirt or pants. Basically, it’s a couple of changes of your usual ‘uniforms’ (mine are skinny jeans+top and a dress) that you can dress up or down. I wear the bulkiest clothes on the plane, which for me means skinny jeans, a jacket and pashmina. Pressed mineral makeup and lightweight colour palettes are your friend; I take my mini hair straightener/curler too, because I’m vain like that. :) Add whatever menstrual products you use – I’ve switched to the LadyCup menstrual cup plus some cute cloth liners – and you’re good to go for girl-specific stuff. My bag weighs nothing and it’s wonderful to walk straight past the baggage carousels.

Hope this helps! I could go into way more detail, but don’t want to be a packing-list bore. ;)

Karol

Thanks for helping out with the female perspective Vanessa!

Karol

paurullan

You did an extremely good job and sparked some spirit into me. I am now planning a series of hikings to go around our island (Majorca) as training for a longer trip for the summer. So I only have to solve the DSLR weight dilema!

James

Interesting list! I know why its hard to find convertible pants in darker colors: they fade in the sun. If you wear the shorts for any lenth of time, you’ll be surprised when you zip on the bottoms to find that they no longer match.

I made this mistake on a six month trip in South America with a really amazing pair of Gramicci convertible pants… needless to say, they are useless now as long pants, but i still use them 5 years later as my single pair of quick-drying synthetic shorts. I now travel with a pair of long pants: either comfortable jeans or khakis (the synthetic brushed-nylon-esque type). Jeans are the ultimate in global fashion and comfort (especially after about 5 days of wear :) Not so fast to wash / dry though, but the tradeoff is worth it to some people.

Karol

Thanks for that info James! That makes sense and I remember Dave from LifeExcursion.com mentioning the convertible pants fading phenomenon before. In any case, I still want dark convertible pants. :) Mine are showing visible signs of dirt. To the point that I machine washed them. It didn’t help much. haha

Karol

Nile Cruises

Thanks Karol,

I’m just about to go on a “content-gathering” trip to Egypt for new content for our Nile Cruise website and spotted your post in my Google Reader in the Zen Habits website. As I’ve always taken far too much with me I read it straight away and then visited your site which is great.

I too have the Asos Eee notepad and will be taking my Flip HD and was looking for a good small travel bag to take and so, on your recommendation I’ve just ordered the Pacsafe MetroSafe 200 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag. Should be here in the next day or two.

I’d love to try and travel with just the clothes that you take and just take the 32L backpack that you describe…but…I just know I’ll never do it.

Thanks for a really interesting post (and website). I’ll let you know how I get on in Egypt with the Pacsafe and see how much I can actually cut back on everything else!

Colin
Liverpool, UK

Ben M

Bought a 36L backpack for my upcoming Thailand trip…. so have to pack light now!!

Karol

That’s so awesome! Congrats Ben…let us know how it goes!

Stella

Great list! I, too, am vegan and a longtime fan of Meditations.

Karol

Hi Stella, sweet! Good to hear! On both counts. :) Thanks for commenting.

Nile Cruises

Received the Pacsafe today and it looks just the ticket. Enough room for the Notebook pc, passport, book, iPhone, Flip, etc.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Going to take a look in town for a 32L backpack now!

Colin

Kyle Jones

Greetings from Flores, Guatemala. I am only packed in a Deuter Futura 28 and love it. My biggest complaint is that I am carrying too large a computer. I do wish I had a smaller one, but I want a full sized keyboard… I’m sure I’ll find one soon and send back the old one.

Karol

Kyle,

Thanks for sharing. The Futura 28 is awesome, but it’s too short for me. I’m 6’5″ and I want comfort as well as the small size. The Futura 32 is just that.

Let me know what you decide as far as computers go! And it would be awesome to see your packing list. :)

Karol

Bobby

Hio Karol.

I’ve read most articles on your website, great stuff, I’m selling all my stuff currently, just wanted to let you know, mark me as one of the 100.

The main question I have is about your Deuter Futura 32 1950cu in bag. I’m also looking at the Deuter Futura Pro 42 Backpack – 2550cu in bag and wondered how tall your 32 bag is?

I plan to carry around a sleeping pad and sleeping bad and a lot of the same gear as you and just wonder if I can fit a sleeping bag and pad in the bottom of the 32 backpack. Do you have some room left over in your bag for a very small 4×8 inches sleeping bag compressed and a 5.5 x 10.75 inches sleeping pad (which is really not that small)? I’m thinking about getting a 3.75 x 8 inches Big Anges Mummy bag which would be a lot easier to fit.

I was able to test the Futura Pro 42, and it fits perfect when we tested weight in it too.

I’m wondering as well, does your 32 pack have a bottom separator for access? The 42 does and I’m reading a lot of people use that area for sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and additional clothes. What I mean is this, it has an internal zipper to separate the bottom from the top. Does the 32 have it?

My plan is similar to yours, I plan to travel the world in my pack and with your tips I can now pack very light.

About your pacsafe metro200 bag, would it fit a larger laptop? I currently have a 12″ laptop.

Bobby

I forgot to mention. I’m 5′ 8″ about 145lbs average.

Karol

Hi Bobby,

Honestly, I can’t help too much except to say check out the bags in person…which it looks like you’ve already done. The 32L does have a bottom zipper compartment like you mentioned. I have no idea how tall the bag is, but it’s probably listed on their Web site. I’m 6’5″ and it works well for me. The 28L would be too short although I’d rather have that. :)

Metro200 will be too small for a 12″ laptop. The Metro300 should fit though. :)

Karol

Bobby

Ah, I’ll check out the 300, my friend talked about keeping stuff in our front pockets, I’d rather be safe than scrambling for a new passport.

At REI, they didn’t have the 32L nor the 28L, I wish they did so I can look at it.

Thanks for the help, I’ll check out their website instead of just amazon and other outdoors websites.

Dave M

I would LOVE to do what you guys are talking about here. Unfortunately, I still have to work my regular job to pay the mortgage and support my family. I’m also not doing anything (from a business perspective) to make additional money. Lord knows I’ve tried in the past!

Bobby — not to nose into your financial business, but what do you do to earn money? I assume you need some income to travel the world. I started following you on Twitter, and tried to get to your ‘small business step’ website from there, but the link is broken.

I’d really love to join the ranks of the “Ridiculously Extraordinary”, but I think the first step would have to be working toward replacing my income with something I control.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to all! :-)

Bobby

Hey Dave, I looked over at your blog and noticed the last post date of Feb. Looking at your blog, it seems you are in the IT industry and consider yourself a pro. That alone shows me you have a way to generate income on your own by consulting and doing your own projects. I see more potential in owning a business as well for most people who have a burning desire.

I even saw you had links to Steve Pavlina’s blog.

One thing I learned from him which just sticks with me is this, provide value and money will come.

I’ve had many failures and small business step was one of those, I’m going to reform it into another project soon. I’m glad you wrote you have those too.

I read a lot of books, researched a lot, and found out world travel is actually cheaper than maintaining a life in the United States “if you do it right”. Of course staying in hotels and flying everywhere will cost more, which is not doing it right.

I’ve read of people in your situation going from where you are now to world travelers. Never use a family or bills or age as a crutch to not change your life. Being comfortable is dangerous.

For my financial situation, I do own my own business. I also am still working for a company while at the same time saving most everything I make and reducing my expenses. My business consists of internet based content, from blogs, to e-commerce, and other projects with other people. While I started my business this year, I did fail with a lot of projects, and I love it. I learned so much which allows me to make successful projects.

Basically to answer your question, I will use the internet to make me money while I travel the world. I do plan to move to another state when I come back to focus on projects more and then go back to world travel. While traveling I also plan to do a lot of my business activity. Business trips = tax reduction.

If you want to learn about how a family can go from your situation to world travel and make more money than you are now, I recommend Tim Ferris’ 4 hour work week. He has a new addition coming out on December 15th, so wait for that one. If you read the book already, great, start taking action, I don’t know much about you, but if your blog describes you at all, you can do well with consulting over the internet/phone/email. Which is one of my goals too.

I’m planning out my own writings to go into these ideas more, I’ll update my twitter with the new WEB URL when it is ready to go.

Dave M

Hi Bobby:

I don’t want to hijack the blog post topic from Karol, but thank you for responding!

My blog has been dying on the vine for quite a few month (years?). The “Musings of an IT Pro… ” subheading was a recent change I made thinking I would change the direction & focus of my blog to what I do professionally. Unfortunately, that didn’t work either. While I do love my current job, I don’t feel particularly passionate about it as something I would want to do in my spare time or as a business.

My blog used to be about financial freedom (debt reduction, investing, money management, etc). Now THAT I was passionate about, but it seemed like nobody else was. My enthusiasm fizzled out 2-3 years ago and I haven’t done much of anything else (for myself) since then.

Anyway, this is way off topic from Karol’s post, but I would love to chat more with you. If you’d like to email me directly, use dave AT mauder DOT com. Otherwise, I’m following you on Twitter so maybe I will DM you there.

Thanks again!

Jarren

Hey man,
Just wondering, do you ever find the need for a sleeping bag? I travel often and usually bring a backpacking REI sleeping bag.
Jarren

Karol

Hey Jarren,

I have never needed a sleeping bag. When I don’t CouchSurf I stay in hostels. If I ended up camping for a weekend I could probably borrow or rent what I needed.

Thanks!
Karol

Linda Steele

Karol,

I know and love Tea Tree but never knew it was good for acne. I tried it and it works! Have you ever tried it as a mouth rinse. I put a drop on my toothbrush (with toothpaste) while brushing my teeth. Your teeth feel super clean and no morning breath.

Thanks for all of your great advice. I’m glad to see you are living your dream.

Linda

Karol

Hi Linda,

Thanks! I’m glad I could reveal another benefit of tea tree to you. :)

I have not tried it while brushing, but I will, thank you.

Karol

Ben M

Ohh I loved getting off the plane in Phuket and laughing at the folk waiting for their check-in luggage…. Traveling light is the way to go!! I also persuaded my girlfriend to do the same…. but encountered a problem…. Her need to shop!! We had to check in luggage on the way home!

Karol

Hey Ben,

I almost had that problem going back to the States from New Zealand! I bought a few things for my family back home and really had to stuff it in my small backpack. :)

Karol

Ben M

Next time I will just have to travel ultra light and leave her at home!!! :)

Marc Wyzykowski

This is a really cool post. I like how minimal your clothing is but I REALLY like that you suggest things that you would have bought if you knew what you know now.

Do you think you would have so few possessions if you were living and working in one place for an extended period of time?

Karol

Yes, definitely. Check out http://www.ridiculouslyextraordinary.com/why-i-quit-traveling/. For the foreseeable future I don’t plan on being constantly on the move and I’m keeping the pack essentially the same. (I’ll update the post around the time I leave for India.)

Bender

Hey Karol,
I love your list and wonder if you might have a chance to throw your 2 cents in on my situation?
I’m a touring stagehand with large scale musicals/shows. (I may have mentioned this in my post about quitting drinking?) Anyway, I’m starting my 7th tour in a few weeks and my schedule will be all over the place. Some weeks may include 3 or 4 cities and sleeping on a tour bus with 11 other people. That means 3 or 4 load ins and load outs. Ins and outs = sweaty Bender. I usually get a chance to shower after every out. I dislike arriving the next day in a new city all smelly! Other weeks may be a glorious sit-down in one city complete with hotel room. Love those.
Even though Ive been doing this for years, I still haven’t figured out how to pack light. I’m currently packing a huge REI Wheely Beast Duffel. I think it’s a 35″. I know, you must be horrified! I also have a backpack for my laptop and other random stuff. PLUS, I have this smaller carry-on sized bag I use to take into the theatre or arena when showering there. Tour also takes me from WI in January to FL in June all in one leg. I need clothes to work in, play in, and the occasional dress up event when producers come to town. I picked up a few Loksaks, Dr. B’s soap, and a clothesline, but have yet to figure out where on the bus I’ll hang it. ;-) I’d love to make it all fit into a 32L backpack, but I just don’t think it’s possible.
Any thoughts or suggestions greatly appreciated.

Love this blog. Much thanks. (and happy new year.)

-Bender

Karol

Hey Bender,

Yes, of course, I remember you from the quit drinking post. :)

I’m not sure how I can help with your situation. I think you know what you need and you know what you have to do. :)

What I might consider:
- 1 set of clothes that are for being dirty. Wash them whenever you can. Only wear them while you’re working and if you can’t get a shower in after work wear them another day or so. If you’re already getting sweaty at work does it really matter if you’re wearing dirtier clothes to begin with?
- 2 sets of clean clothes. Wear these after you shower and do your best to clean them regularly. I’ve been known to wear some clothes for days in a row and nobody ever notices. If you have the right clothes they don’t start to smell for a while. Especially if you’re not getting sweaty in them.

Let me know how you make it work during your upcoming touring. :)

Karol

Kelsey

As someone who is hoping to take something of an expedition to Mongolia next year, this post was very helpful. Great post!

Karol

Sounds awesome Kelsey! Glad this article could help. :)

Michelle

I am a big fan of travelling light. My husband and I managed to do a 2 month trip from New Zealand to Thailand, London, Norway, France and Italy (and back to New Zealand) with a backpack each. We even got away with not checking luggage for the whole trip – I am a big fan of time savers and not checking luggage is a big one!!

One tip for anyone considering travelling light: Post stuff home. In total we sent 4 various sized parcels home of clothes we no longer needed (big climate differences!!), gifts and small souvenirs. This ensured our packs stayed light, we weren’t carrying around breakables or gifts we wouldn’t need before we arrived home.

Karol

Hi Michelle,

Not checking luggage is the best!

Thanks for the tip. Although it would get expensive to rely on posting stuff too often, it’s a great way to keep baggage light.

Karol

Tony

Great post! I’m a pilot, and thought I had traveling light down to an art. I was able to get a lot of good ideas from this article. Oh, and the shaving oil is awesome! I never would have thought to try it, but I am so glad I did.

- Tony

Karol

Thanks Tony! And yes, the shaving oil rocks. Not just because it packs light, but because it’s the best shaving product I have ever used. :)

Todd Caraway

I just ordered a bottle. Should be here within a week. I hope it works as great as you both say! :)

Karol

Todd, like a lot of new things it might take getting used to. But it ROCKS!

Todd Caraway

I’m definitely up for trying it! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Plus, I never sent you pictures from my DC trip back in Nov. It was awesome traveling so light. I know I could’ve gone lighter, but I definitely took more note of what I was packing and it was worth having just the carry-on, so not to have to worry about a checked bag. Thanks for all the great info!
I’m going to try out your smoothie recipe this week too.

Todd Caraway

Good Morning Karol,
So, I tried the Pacific shaving oil. It is AMAZING! Smooth, close and very clean shave this morning. No nicks, cuts or reddening like usual. I was shocked.
Now I don’t have to look scruffy for days so I can have a clean shave. Thanks for the recommendation and thanks Tony for mentioning the shaving oil again!
Have either ever tried the blade oil?

http://pacificshaving.com/shavingoil.php

Karol

Awesome Todd! Sounds like you were in the same boat as me as far as shaving. I don’t shave every day, but I could if I wanted to unlike years past.

I have not tried the blade oil. Brand new product. Maybe I’ll try it when I get back to the States. I use Razor Gator http://www.razor-gator.com to save my blades. They rock. Blades last me at least 2-3 times more shaves than they used to.

Tony

No problem man, I was just so blown away by it that I had to say thanks to Karol for the recommendation. I’ve ordered the blade oil as well as the razor gator, and they should be in by the time I get back home next week. If Karol doesn’t mind I’ll pop back in and give a review, but so far his recommendations have been spot on.

- Tony

George

Hey Karol, good to see you reply to most of the comments here. I’m looking at the Deuter 32L pack you recommended for a 1.5wk trip to NZ. I’ve been looking at the dimensions for it and saw its height was slightly over the 24in most airlines have for their carryon allowance. Did you ever run into size trouble with it, either in overhead bins or with agents/flight attendants? It’d be silly for me to get a pack that small only to find that I’d have to check it all the time…

Karol

Hi George,

It has never been an issue. The pack is tiny compared to what most people take on planes and fits in even small overhead compartments.

Karol

David

A couple comments: My favorite “traveling light” site is http://www.onebag.com. Lots of great advice there, too! Second–Lifehacker had an interesting post just today about shaving, with a video of a method also said to prolong blade life. The gentleman in the referenced video claims if you run a disposable razor backwards along your arm, it helps smooth the blade to give extra shaves. Also, a few days ago there was an interesting mention in the Art of Manliness blog that claims shaving with cold water actually gives a better shave. I haven’t tried it, as I’m using an electric at the moment. Finally, I wouldn’t be too sanguine about your present pack continuing to pass airline inspection as a carry-on for long. They are continuing to become more strict about size allowances as well as weight. A good post–which I only discovered today–thanks!

Eric Spears

Karol:

Thank you for your site and all of the useful information.

I have just started developing my first blog, and the completed topics are on shaving. I am also working on developing light weight travel skills.

Have you tried using a few drops of your vitamin e oil with a drop of tea tree oil in place of shaving oil? This, and/or a bit of olive oil is what I use, but I am curious to know if there is some advantage to the purpose specific shaving oil. If you could try it, I would appreciate your feedback on this.

If this post conflicts with your purpose, please delete it. I have no intention of hijacking your blog. If however it works for you, maybe it can help to reduce your pack even if only by an ounce or two.

Thanks again for your excellent site.

Karol

hey Eric, that sounds awesome actually. But I dropped/broke my bottle of tea tree in India and haven’t found it anywhere since. So it’s shaving oil for me. And the stuff comes in such small bottles it doesn’t even matter.

Thanks!
Karol

Sofia

Great detailed list there! How has it gone with your yummy rawfood bars? I could never stand against the temptation of eating them when I know they’re in my backpack just waiting for me :P

Karol

Hi Sofia,

Thank you! I did a good job of only eating them when absolutely necessary…which was almost never. By the time I landed back in the States 100 days later I still had 1 left. For the past 5 months I packed 4 or 5 Clifbars because they’re not melty. Still have 1 left. :)

Cheers,
Karol

Haidn Foster

Hey Karol,

Terrific breakdown of your backpack essentials, thanks for sharing! I’m in the process now of whittling down my possessions so I can travel lightly when the time comes (as well as just to feel lighter and freer), and I’m definitely bookmarking this post for later reference.

Also, this is my first time to the site, but you’ve got a great voice, and are talking about all the things I’m all about, so you’ll definitely see me around. :-)

Best,
Haidn

Karol

Hey Haidn!

Thanks for finding me and for your nice comments. :)

Glad the packing list could help. There’s an update to it here: http://www.ridiculouslyextraordinary.com/updated-light-packing-list/

Cheers,
Karol

Haidn Foster

Well that international wireless feature on the Kindle just puts it over the edge for these sorts of trips, huh? Also, love that you take the guitar with you–you put in the effort, so you ought to!

See you around,
Haidn

Karol

Yeah, but interestingly enough, I don’t use the international wireless very often. I usually just connect through USB and save the $2. :) That said, when I was in India and having trouble with internet I used the Kindle browser to check e-mail. :)

Justine

Hi Karol,
I have been reading your blog for a few months and was able to put the traveling light advice in practice for a one month trip in indonesia. Traveling with just my tiny backpack was super freeing.
I also love the kindle. I didn’t take my computer with me so I used it to check my email regulary and even if it s slow and not pretty it works great !
I also wanted to add something about the kindle. i used it during my travels in the past few months and I actually don’t pay extra for books you buy from amazon but only for item you send yourself (i had a doubt so I check on my bank account and I never paid extra either in Canada, indonesia or europe.
Thanks again for your great site and ideas :)

Karol

Hey Justine!

That’s so awesome! Congrats on traveling light. :)

As for the Kindle: maybe they changed the rules for international wireless? Interesting.

Cheers,
Karol

Dave

GREAT IDEAS! I once washed my passport by accident (the horror!), thinking about getting an aloksak to protect it. Do you think the seal on a aloksak would protect against inadvertent washing machine incidents?

Karol

oh damn … no it probably wouldn’t hang being tossed around in a washing machine. That said, you’d probably notice the bag before throwing it in the machine. :)

Hudson

I see, that it has been a while, since someone has posted on this thread. There is a Paragon Sporting Goods in NYC, which has many Deuter models, the Futura 32 and 42. This question is for anyone –
Is the 42 too large to take on an international flight?

For Karol – I received your email about being listed on Ridiculously Extraordinary; I replied and would welcome the opportunity.

Alex

I think 22 x 14 x 9 are the accepted measures and the 42L model is 28 x 14 x 10, so yeah it’d be too big. They might accept it if it’s not packed to the brim and has soft sides, so it can be squished smaller, but I wouldn’t push it.

Karol

Nah, don’t go by measurements. :) It’ll be fine. I’ve taken my guitar (which is way bigger than “accepted” measurements) on flights all over the world.

Karol

42 liters shouldn’t be too large. It’s actually pretty darn small.

Justine

I agree with Karol, as long as it “looks” small enough it should be fine (except maybe in lowcost companies in europe like ryannair or easyjet…)

Hudson

Alex, Karol, Justine,
Many thanks for the replys.

Hudson

Karol,
One more tiny thing; with the toiletries kit above, did you check the backpack or had you been able, to carry it on the flight?
I ask, for I most likely will buy a Deuter in December. It seems to be a real nice product. There are many models. I’ve tried on many. I guess, I seek the one that will hold what I want to take and still go on the plane to Europe. I’m looking, to NOT to have to check the pack.
Deuter has 2 packs listed on their website under Travel; I assume they’re too big; the Quantum 55L and the 70L.
I’m sure you know of the company Scottevest. I’ve hinted to family members about one of the new jackets, “that would make a great Christmas gift.” The jacket would be my carry on “bag.”
Thanks again for a great and helpful website.

Karol

32 liter = carry on with no problems at all….it’s tiny

Harmen

I find the Icebreaker stuff itchy too, but the stuff from http://www.chocolatefishmerino.co.uk/ is much better quality. Still wool, of cource.

Karol

Thanks Harmen! :)

Tom

I echo Harmen’s comments re itchy icebreaker. Chocolate Fish stuff much better. Nothing wrong with wool – alternatives are the products of the petro-chemical industry. Wool is biodegradable, recyclable and sustainable. I travel light (cabin baggage only) even on long -6 weeks plus – trips, including ones to some very cold places. Wool works best – no stink problem, I can look smart when I have to, and it takes me through a whole load of different weather conditions. Never found a synthetic that does as well. I don’t carry toiletries either. Waste of weight. Buy on arrival in small quantities and ditch what you don’t use. I do have a Kindle and an Ipod – would be lost without them and it saves the weight of books, of which I can go through dozens on a long trip.

Vanessa

Re: itchy Icebreaker, the other brand you guys might consider is Silkbody (silkbody.co.nz). They do knit silk clothes (sports clothes and normal clothes) which are super soft. I have a couple of pieces and have recommended them to friends with very sensitive skin.

Unfortunately not vegan, of course, so not a solution for you Karol. :-/

Harmen

Re: Silkbody. I’ve one of those, and it’s certainly better than the icebreaker ones, but still not as good as good Merino.

Cormac

I used to use shaving oils, and they’re great. I ran out in India and started mixing my own. Grapeseed oil makes the best base – and by the way, also the perfect massage oil ;-) Add tiny amounts of everything else: tea-tree oil for anti-bacterial and maybe eucalyptus for smelling nice.

After India it wasn’t so easy to pick up essential oils. I generally make do with my shower gel now. Must be getting a thick skin…

Razors – boo to Gillette and insanely expensive replacement blades! I use an old-fashioned steel double-edged razor, the kind that takes razor blades that are just the sliver of steel. I find it’s actually more comfortable and closer shave than the latest five-bladed version. The blades last longer, and I’ve found replacements in places like India and Iran (in Europe, try Boots!)

David

@Cormac,

One gentleman posted a tip on Youtube some months ago. He has extended the life of his razors (in his case, the two-bladed cheapo disposable ones) by running them backward down his forearm after shaving to “whet” them somewhat. He claims they keep a much better edge for much longer in this fashion. I wonder if this wouldn’t also prolong the life of the double-edged blades?

Cormac

The old trick for sharpening a double-edged razor blade was to run it backward along a leather belt – I think it would be the unpolished rear side. Think I picked that up from Steinbeck :-) I haven’t tried it yet as my ultralight belt is fabric… but it’s filed away for use after the Apocalypse :-P

Nina Yau

Dude, I love this! Haha, you, smelling like an old man?! Get outta here! ;)

Karol

Ha! Thanks Nina. I actually don’t use that gold bond often so it’s rare that I smell like old man. :)

Kyle Jones

I used to have FiveFingers and though they were cool, the smell could kill. I have since switched to Invisible Shoes(invisibleshoe.com) And thought they don’t feel as thin as my 5-Fingers am quite happy with them.

Karol

Yeah, I’ve seen those, I just don’t like sandals. At all. :) Maybe one day I’ll learn to love them.

jill

Great blog and love the input from the ladies ; )

Matthew

I’ve been dousing the inside of my Vibrams with a bit of talcum/baby powder every few nights. Cuts down on the smell big time.

It’s cheap, and you can often find small bottles of it at drugstores anywhere.

Hudson

A question for all;

Are we (men) able to travel with razors like the Mach 5 or Hydro with no blades?

I like the Hydro razor I now have and was curious, whether they can be taken in a backpack on a flight or not and buy blades, once the destination is reached.

Thanks so much,

Hudson

Dave M

Hi Hudson:

You can travel with the razor cartridges such as the ones you mentioned because the blades cannot be removed from the plastic cartridge. I go through airport security all the time with Mach3 razors in my backpack.

Recently, I fell in love with “old school” shaving with a double-edge safety razor. Unfortunately, TSA will NOT let you through security with double-edged razor blades. If they see the safety razor handle on the xray, they will check it and remove the blade if there is one in it.

Dave

Hudson

Thank you Dave,
To be certain,
You are able to take the razor handle in your pack w/out the blade; they have to be in a box, yes?

If so, good to know.

Vance Woodward

Hi Karol,
Thanks for the list. I just started out on a six-or-so-month trek and modelled my kit off yours. http://www.vancewoodward.com/journal/2011/7/16/ultra-light-packing-gear-list-for-south-america.html

Karol

Sweet! Have fun on your adventures!

Dave

Re: comments in your article about sheep and wool :

* Ever considered how uncomfortable those sheep could become if they aren’t shorn every year – shearing those sheep actually improves their comfort levels, and resulting welfare;

* What would happen to all those sheep, cows and pigs out there currently being farmed, if the whole world went vegetarian tomorrow ?? They won’t be pensioned off and settled into a sheep and cattle retirement home ~ a vegetarian future would mean dozens of animals becoming extinct because you have no need for them;

* Going to extremes – the difference between a vegetarian and a true strict vegan ?
Vegans can’t eat honey, yoghurt, cheese or any other foodstuffs that have come in contact with any animals or animal byproducts – including manures (but then, if you have removed the livestock, there goes your main source of manures !!);

* No more pets !! A strictly true “vegan” (as opposed to vegetarians..) will not have any pets nor work/companion animals ~ no cats, horses, pet birds or reptiles, no dogs of any kind ~ including seeing-eye dogs and companion dogs !!!

* Not that it would matter anyway ~ in a true and pure “vegan” world there is no meat to feed those cats and dogs. So they too have to follow the afore-mentioned livestock into extinction…

Do you self-declared “vegans” ~ as opposed to vegetarians ~ really want/prefer to live in a world bereft of pets, companion animals, wool and leather, as well as animal-sourced foods..

That would be a sad world, indeed.

Karol

Dave, you can rationalize any way you’d like. :)

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