In 2009 I packed a suitcase, a small backpack and a carry-on and left my native country to live a life with no fixed territorial boundaries, indefinitely. In 2010, I realized, maybe two suitcases would be a good idea. Essentially what those suitcases and carry-ons contain is all that I own, other than some remnants in my parents’ basement and that which I buy / need at any given location and that which can be disposed of / given away before I embark onwards. I believe in contemporary airport terms, this could be expressed as, at any given point in time, I have to condense the belongings of my life to approximately 66 kgs or 144 lbs of stuff.
More on that, including tips in Part 1.
Otherwise, please allow me to continue….
Again, in no specific order:
8. Match It!
If you’re left in a position where you really, really have to condense or you’re traveling with only one bag, try to ensure that all or most of the clothes you’re carrying are multi-use items that match and can be combined to make a number of outfits. For example, jeans are heavy. When I was last shopping for a pair, my intent was to travel with no more than two pairs, one I would wear enroute and one in my luggage. I already had a pair of Miss Sixty’s that I’ll carry until they fall apart or someone wrenches them from my dying hands, but realistically I needed another. The stipulation on the new purchase was to find a pair I could wear in a filthy gym one day and with heels the next. They had to be of good grade and could take a beating, but look new and fresh when it was time to look like a girl that didn’t spend most of her time in crusty gyms, on motorbikes, and at fights in fields with bad water drainage…..basically from notown to downtown without me having to think about it.
I take note of lighter fabrics and plastics and give preference to clothing, jewellery and accessories that deliver when given a choice. Lightweight fabrics such as silk and merino wool work to balance your body temperature in both cold and hot climates. For example, a merino wool longsleeve will keep you warm in cold temperatures and help keep you cool, in addition, protect your skin from the blazing sun. Merino wool manages moisture and helps protect against sudden temperature changes. It’s also anti-microbial. And touchy feely sleek.
10. Burn The Books
Ditch the volumes of tree slices loitering around in your bag. This includes travel guides. Go digital. At the very least, minimize the amount of books you’re carrying around. Oftentimes, and dependent on where you’re headed (i.e. if you’re doing a backpacking circuit), you’ll meet travelers who are more than happy to trade the book or two they’ve been hauling around. You can come across some pretty interesting finds that way.
11. Paper Weight
Photograph business cards and maps. Get rid of the paper. It adds up. In ridiculous ways.
12. The Sarong
In countries with hot climates a sarong is a wise choice. It packs light, dries quickly and can be used as a drop sheet on skanky guesthouse beds. International standards of cleanliness do not exist. It’s a free for all and few options may be available wherever it is you lay your head enroute. I know a guy that set up a tent on a bed once. Note, if he was traveling with a tent, he’s not Mr. Five Star. A sarong also serves well in issues of privacy – over window sheers that hide nothing from the public or as a panel for room separation (i.e. small bathrooms without a door). They can be folded to be used as a bag.
13. The Towel
Drywick / microfiber towels travel light and work well in all climates. When I hit Japan during the spring and lived in a poorly insulated apartment / gym that occasionally ran out of hot water, a mircrofiber towel was preferred over a sarong for its capacity to keep me warm.
A lightweight sleeping bag to keep you warm in cold climates, cool in hot. Although they pack small, bags aren’t exactly super light. I carry one regardless. I rather have one onhand, then have to repeatedly buy blankets when I hit a colder climate, just to pitch them again once I leave. On this note, I carry a fitted queen sized bedsheet and matching pillowcases because I’ve realized I need them more often than not (I prefer queen sized because it can adapt to double and single sized beds). A number of furnished, rent by the month guesthouses in Thailand and surrounding countries will provide you with bedding. However, that doesn’t mean it’ll be clean. One of my first experiences was renting a room to find my pillowcase stained with blood. In addition, I like to wake up and appreciate the colours and textures that engulf me. Bedding is more expensive to replace (and personally, not as much fun) than clothes per square inch (i.e. I’ll pitch the t-shirts, beaters and socks in favour of cute sheets). Friends swear by silk sleeping bag liners. They’re lightweight, can be used in place of sheets / dropsheets on beds, and will keep you cool in tropical climates by wicking away sweat. When used in conjunction with a sleeping bag, a silk liner will keep your bag clean and you warm. They also keep certain biting insects at bay. Note, I’ve never used one, but trust the advice of friends who have.
Bags. Bags. Bags. Made of cloth or mesh can be used for a multitude of things on location and enroute. Lingerie/delicate item laundry bags are light in weight and can double to keep dry toiletries, etc. in one spot enroute. Pillowcases keep oddities in place as well. When not needed on location, pillowcases also double as a laundry hamper. Useful for carrying your laundry offsite if you launder somewhere other than where you are staying.
Stash toiletries from hotels on small trips to be used on future small trips. Obviously intended for those who have planted themselves for a little while plus and are based out of a single location. Every night I stay at a certain hotel in Bangkok, I get a new, super ultra lightweight toothbrush and toothpaste set. One set will last a number of days. I keep the additional sets for future trips to places I don’t get goodies.
That’s it for this installment, and as always, please feel free to add to the discussion / post anything tips you may have. Thanks!