Never did I think that I would actually write a post about how I pack for my travels. It’s not that I have anything against such posts (in fact, I always read them all with great curiosity!), I just never felt that my packing style could be of any interest or value to anyone else. It’s really nothing exciting. I normally just take my pile of possessions, stuff them into my trusty Kelty Redwing 2900 backpack that I’ve been using for the past 11 years and be on my merry way.
However, while sorting out my current pile of possessions this morning, I had what could only be described as a brilliant revelation, although now that some time has passed, I guess it was really just an interesting thought. Regardless of it’s classification, this idea has set me off on a mission that I have now become obsessed with.
My goal is to travel to the Middle East with less stuff, and carrying less weight, than I’ve ever carried before at any time during the past 11 years.
What does this mean?
Well, typically my backpack weighs about 13 kg (28.5 lbs) when fully packed for a trip, but this time, I’m aiming for no more than 8 kg (17.5 lbs). I’ve even gone back and forth toying with the idea of abandoning my Kelty Redwing backpack altogether and only traveling with my tiny REI Flashpack instead.
To travel with only a daypack would be a dream! But at the same time, I’m not so sure I really need to go to that extreme.
All I know is that when it comes to packing, the less weight I pack, the easier it is to travel. There’s a huge difference between hopping from bus to bus, from guesthouse to guesthouse and from town to town with 17 lbs on your back as opposed to 50 lbs worth of stuff crammed into a backpack the size of a larger-than-normal hippopotamus, such as the hippopotamus that keeps popping up in my dreams as of late for some strange reason.
And so right now I’m about to see if I can make it all happen. It’s going to take some effort but I’m feeling quite confident that I’ll be able to reduce the weight I carry and reach my goal.
Below is the pile of stuff that I’m about to tackle…
Well, forty-five minutes have now passed and in the end, after a most painful process of saying goodbye to many items I had previously not planned on saying goodbye to, I managed to end up with this….
Yes! Weighing in at 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs), my Kelty Redwing is the lightest it has ever been and it’s practically half empty! I just wore the packed backpack around the apartment for a few minutes and I barely even noticed it. This is going to be pretty sweet!
And in case you were wondering exactly what a permanent nomad takes with him on an open-ended trip, here’s my list:
(Keep in mind that I will be wearing some of the clothes each day, so what’s listed below is more than what I had in my backpack photos above.)
1 pair of pants
1 pair of shorts
1 pair of hiking/athletic shoes
1 pair of sandals
3 pairs of socks
2 pairs of Ex-Officio boxers
1 North Face jumper
Acer Aspire Timeline 1810 (the 11.6 inch laptop that I love!)
Panasonic Lumix FZ-38 Camera
Blackberry (which is not in the photo because I can’t find it!)
Chargers for laptop, camera and phone
1 book (“How Proust Can Change Your Life”)
1 pair of sunglasses
1 “Tek Towel” travel towel (20 x 40 in.)
2 boxes of extra contact lenses
1 bottle of contact lens solution
1 box of Nag Champa incense (will buy in NYC tomorrow)
Basic toiletry items
So there it is. I’m about to embark on a trip that could keep me away from the US for a year or more, and a total of approximately 30 items, weighing a reasonable 16.5 lbs, is all that I need. And even that amount is starting to sound like too much! Perhaps I’ll reduce the weight some more before I leave on Monday.
As always, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Do you think I’m still taking too much? Or perhaps not enough? How do you pack for your trips?