Packing List revisited: March 4, 2019


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I have been a nomad for over six months now. I have traveled from Honolulu to California: from California to Indiana; from Indiana to Texas; from Texas to Ecuador; from Ecuador to Texas; and from Texas to Mexico, staying three months each in Ecuador and Mexico. In a little over a week I will be heading back to Honolulu for a short while before going Warsaw, via Texas and Indiana. I plan on staying in Warsaw for three months, but after that my plans are still up in the air. Each time a was in Texas I left some of my gear behind, at a friend’s house, so that I can pick things back up if I think I will need them on my next journey.

For this blog post, I am taking the packing list I used leaving Honolulu and indicating what things I have kept through three purges and what things didn’t make the cut. I will also indicate which things I am planning on leaving behind with my next sort next month. My original packing list was put together by reading over suggested packing lists published on other websites. Before leaving Honolulu, I learned about minimalist travel and took out a lot of things before flying out. At the time I thought I had pared my packing list down to the bare minimum. However; the longer I travel the less I seem to need.

Clothes

Gone: Bike Shorts: When I was living in Honolulu I wore bike shorts all the time under my dresses and skirts. I have found that as I travel I don’t like wearing dresses and skirts, so no need for bike shorts

Kept: Two Wool Sports Bras one with pads: Merino wool is my go to fabric. It is warm when the weather is cold and cool when the weather is hot. It is durable, machine washable, and antibacterial.

To Go: Long Leggings: I have found that I am not using the long leggings any more. When I lived in Honolulu I wore long leggings under dresses and skirts in the winter. I prefer to wear regular pants now.

Gone: Short Leggings: I left them behind with the bike pants for the same reason.

To Go: Heavy Wool Leggings, Long: The only use I got out of these leggings was to wear then on laundry day. I am replacing them with another pair of long black pants. I found that Eddie Bauer is having a close out sale of my favorite pants, so I ordered another pair to we waiting for me in Texas.

Kept: Long Pants; One black pair and one Gray. I liked my Eddie Bauer pants so much that I ordered a third pair to replace my wool leggings.

Gone: Lightweight head wraps (2): These were meant to dress up my black outfits to make them look different from day to day. It wasn’t long before I realized that no one expects you to be fashionable on the road. Three black outfits are all I need.

Gone:Wool bikini Panties (2): these were great, until I started wearing boy shorts. I can’t stand bikini panties any more.

Kept: Wool boy shorts (2); I like my wool boy shorts not only because they have all the advantages of merino wool, but because they are so comfortable. I ordered a third pair, which I picked up on my stopover in Texas between Ecuador and Mexico.

Kept: Sarong: I keep going back and forth on the sarong, but I think it is in my bag to stay. When I got to Mexico, it was still very chilly. My apartment has thick stone walls and no heater, so it was downright cold inside. On the worst days I used the sarong as a neck scarf. (I did replace the Sarong I had from Hawaii, with a new one.)

Kept: Short sleeve wool shirts (3): I love these, and will replace them as they wear out.

Gone: Wool short skirts (2): for me skirts and dresses just don’t make good travel clothes.

Kept: Smart Wool Socks (3): I started wearing smartwool socks when I was still going to sea. I even wore them in Hawaii when I was biking. My normal routine in cold weather is to have one pair that I wear outside, one pair that I wear inside, and one pair that wear in bed.

To Go: Tami Socks: These have been in and out of my bag. I missed them in Ecuador, but have hardly worn them in Mexico. I am still up in the air about weather to leave them behind in Texas this time.

Added: Wool Hoodie: When I was in Ecuador I had to buy a cheap hoodie because my apartment was chilly and I didn’t like cooking with my expensive down jacket on. That one was too heavy to travel with and was coming apart at the seams, so I left it behind. Before arriving back in Texas I had ordered a wool hoodie, which I am carrying with me now. Even merino wool is durable enough to wear cooking. Sometimes on very cold days I wear it over my down jacket to protect the jacket while I am cooking.

Gone: Sun Armlets (3): I find myself wearing my hoodie when I need to cover my arms. So though I wore armlets all the time in Honolulu, I don’t wear them traveling.

Gone: Sweater: the hoodie took the place of the sweater. The sweater was stylish, but not worth the extra weight.

Accessories

Gone: Autumn Gloves: These were one of the first things to be left behind. I figure that if I find I need gloves I can buy them. So far I haven’t had the need.

To Go: Bandana: I really should leave this behind. I have carried a bandana since I was a cadet, but I have to say I really don’t use it.

Kept: Down Jackets (2): actually I have kept one and left the other one behind. I am considering taking both to Warsaw with me. I could have used the second one here in Mexico when the apartment gets really cold.

Gone: Dress shoes in bag: A lot of women travelers recommended Tieks by Gavrieli, for dress shoes while you travel. I found mine to be very heavy for what they were, and they were about the most uncomfortable shoes I have every owned. I can’t believe I paid so much for something so useless.

Kept: Eye mask: This is something I think is essential on a flight, even if it is just to signal to the person sitting next to you that you don’t want to talk. I also used it this winter when a neighbor’s christmas lights were flashing into my window at night.

Kept: Hat: I wore my hat all the time in Ecuador. For some reason, I didn’t like to wear it here in Mexico. I bought a cheap sun visor at the market. I am thinking about leaving the hat behind and buying a turban to cover my perpetually messy hair when I fly.

Gone: Baseball Hat: I never used it, and if I should need one, they are sold everywhere I have ever traveled.

Kept: Hat clips (2): These little things are a must have. I only ever seem to have my hats blown off when I am dashing through traffic. With these little lanyards, I clip one end to the hat and the other end to my jacket or shirt, so when my hat blows off it just dangles. Of course I am not crazy enough to go into traffic for a hat, but before I got the hat clips, more than one man did to retrieve my hat for me.

Kept: Knitted wool cap: my cap is whisper thin merino wool. I can wear it under hat in cold weather, and it is god send to sleep in when the weather is cold.

Kept: Wool neck warmer: this is a very versatile item. I sometimes layer it under my wool cap for extra warmth. It can also be drawn over your eyes to cut out light when sleeping.

Kept: Raincoat: The raincoat is the windbreaker layer of my winter wear. If I find myself in very cold weather the layers will be hoodie, down jacket, then raincoat.

Added: Slippers: I tried to travel without slippers. That didn’t work very well. When I cannot or don’t want to get out and walk. I walk in circles around my apartment or hotel room. I don’t like wearing clumpy shoes or walking barefoot. Both in heavy shoes and barefoot the footsteps can be heard downstairs in some places. Barefoot is extra bad, because I walk for miles and that really hurts my feet.

Kept: Spare glasses and case; Always travel with spare glasses if you wear them.

Gone: Umbrella: I loved my umbrella and hated to leave it behind. I found that I didn’t really need it. I was far more likely to opt to wear my raincoat and that does double duty as a winter layer.

Kept: Walking Shoes: I had bought a pair of walking shoes from Clarks, which many women travelers had said were perfect traveling shoes. I quickly found out that they were only good for people who don’t walk 5 to 10 miles a day, like me. I left them behind in Ecuador. When I was back in Texas I broke down and bought a pair of low top hiking shoes. I hate the way hiking shoes look, but I like the feel.

Miscellaneous

Gone: Backpack rain fly: I found that the canvas of my backpack is water repellant enough.
Gone: AAA batteries (3): You can buy batteries everywhere.
Gone: Car Escape Tool: I only need this when I rent cars, which I don’t do overseas. I will add it back in when I am traveling around the US.
Gone: Carabiner Large: Never used it.
Kept: Carabiners Small: I use them all the time.
Gone: Door lock: I am not as paranoid living in AirBnbs as I am about staying in american hotels. I will add it back in when I am traveling around the US.
Gone: Duct Tape: Literally you can by this anywhere.
Kept: Eyeglass Cloths: I don’t carry as many as before, but always have two.
Added: two nylon shopping bags. I was surprised to find that I couldn’t find shopping bags with long handles in Ecuador. I am not taking the chance again. I need to be able to carry my groceries on my shoulder.
Gone: Eyeglass repair kit: There are glasses stores everywhere. I haven’t had to fix eyeglasses in decades.
Gone: Heroclips (2): They seemed like a good idea, but I never used them for anything.

Gone: TSA locks (3): I find that zip ties work just as well, and you know when they have been mucking around in your bag. I have never had my bag searched when it was zip tied, but when I had locks on them, have gotten those TSA notes a lot. I think the TSA is just lazy about finding something to cut the ties with. That being said, you should always make sure you carry enough replacement ties and something to cut them with that will not get you in trouble with security. I use nail clippers.

Gone: Padlock: I only carried this for locking up a bag at left luggage. Now that I am doing the AirBnb thing, I don’t leave bags at left luggage.
Gone: Padlock Cable: Goes with the padlock above.
Gone: Picture Translator: What is an iPhone for?
Kept: Sewing Kit: This is one thing that I use a lot. When I got rid of the duct tape, I add some thick heavy thread and a heavy needle to the kit, incase I need to repair my backpack. There are five diaper sized safety pins in the kit. I have lost weight and my bras no longer fit. I cench in the chest bands with the large safety pens. If I go long enough without gaining the weight back I will sew in the foldover. That saved me about $90, not to buy new bras.
Gone: Whistle: gone with my american paranoia.
Kept: Wire Ties: takes the place of luggage locks
Kept: Ziplocks: just a few to stuff messy things into while traveling.

Stationary

Kept all:
Mechanical pencils (2)
Pencil leads and erasers
Notebook
Pens (2)
Business Cards: I ordered new business cards because my old ones didn’t have the blog URL on them.

Laundry

Gone: Detergent: no reason to carry detergent. Any soap will do in a pinch. Shampoo is actually very good for wool.
Kept: Dirty Clothes Bag: My dirty clothes bag has a second use. I made it myself out of ripstop nylon. My backpack fits into it perfectly. So when I get caught having to check my backpack, I can protect it by putting it in the sack for transport. The top is gromited and I can secure it with a wire tie before checking it.
Kept: Dry Sack: this is great for dirty clothes, or for clothes that haven’t finished drying when you have to leave.
Kept: Sink Plug: I use this thing a little too often to leave it out.
Kept: Clothes line: This has been in and out of my bag. For now it is in.

Essentials:

Kept All
Cash: not much
Cash Cards (2)
Coin Sorter
Contact Info
Credit Cards (2)
Drivers License
Earplugs (2): best for sleeping anywhere
Glasses
Travel Insurance
Vaccination Card

Gadgets

Kept: USB power hub: I left behind my original one and got a more powerful one.
Gone: AirPods: I didn’t intentionally get rid of them. I lost them.
Gone: Apple Pencil: It has been a bad year for me and Apple Gadgets. I lost my Pencil too. I really miss it and am going to get a new one as soon as I can. This time I am going to put it into a separate case with my business card in it.
Kept: Apple Pencil nibs and bits: They will work with my new pencil.
Kept: Bag of USB dongles: I have ordered even more dongles that are waiting for me in Honolulu.
Gone: Extra Battery Anker: All my devices have great battery life now. I couldn’t justify the weight.
Kept: Extra Apple watch: It is reaching the end of life, so it might be left behind soon. I want to wait until next year to get a new watch and have my current one as backup. I depend too much on the watch not to travel with it
Gone: Flashlight: You can buy these all over, besides what is your phone for?
Gone: Head Lamp: Ditto above.
Kept: headphones and adapter: only later realized that the adapter doesn’t work with my new iPad. I have ordered another adapter.
Kept: iPad Pro and keyboard case: this is one of those things I can’t do without. Boy I sure miss my pencil.
Kept: iPhone case W/strap: another must have
To Go: iPhone Stand
Kept: Kindle Stand: very useful when eating. Doubles as an iPhone stand.
Gone: Laptop cord and brick: new Laptop charges through USB-C cable and USB Power Hub
Kept: Short Lightning cable
Kept: long Lightning cable
Kept: MacBook 12 inch: must have
Gone: Monocular: just don’t need it. The zoom on the iPhone works for what I need.
Kept: Kindle: a must have. I might downgrade to a cheaper one when I have to replace it.
Kept: Plug Converter: this is the base unit for my converter tips. It is also a surge protector.
Gone: Plug Tips set: I only carry to the tips for the country I am going to.The rest stay in Texas for future use.
Kept: Portable Keyboard: I love my MacBook 12 inch, but the keyboard isn’t suitable for long term typing. I found a keyboard that works well with my iPad, iPhone, and Macbook. It also make a good backup if I find my laptop keyboard malfunctioning like some people have reported.
Kept: Rubberbands: just a few. They come in handy.
Gone: TrackR: To have tags in my luggage that would track the location sounded like a good idea, but I never got around to programing them, so I left them behind.
Kept: USB cable long
Kept: USB cable short

Toiletries:
Gone: Body brush and handle: My body brush fell apart in Ecuador. I replaced it with a small rough scrubber towel.
Kept: Chapstick: I always like having this on a plane
Kept: Manicure bag with: Cuticle clippers, Nail clippers, Nail file, and Tweezers
Kept: Floss and Floss Picks
Kept: Mirror unbreakable
Kept: Razor
Kept: Retainer containers (2)
Kept: Retainer brush
Kept: Thai Crystal deodorant
Kept: Toilet Paper (travel sized): a must have when traveling, especially in Mexico where bathrooms often don’t have toilet paper. (People carry their own.
Kept: Toothbrush and ToothPaste: you can buy american brands everywhere
Gone: Towel: not needed if you are not staying in hostels.
Kept: Washcloth (2): left one behind, and may leave the other one behind too.

Medical and Health

Kept: 90 day supply of OTC pills and 180 day supply of prescriptions. I would really like to cut back on the amount of pills I carry.

Kitchen

Kept: Aeropress with metal filter: This a must have for me. I don’t like most coffee makers.
Gone: Bottle Opener multi tool: don’t need it.
To Go: Coffee grinder: I finally realized that fresh ground coffee isn’t essential. It was just me trying to keep ahold of some routine from my former life. I don’t need it anymore.
To Go: Hot pads (2): I had already left the coffee cups behind. These coasters were for those cups.
Gone: Large cup: All the AirBnB’s have coffee cups.
Gone: Lip guards: went with the metal coffee cups.
To Go: Pigtail heater: not very useful, and if needed can be bought anywhere. Here in Mexico, they have pigtail heaters that are big enough for a stock pot.
Kept: Coffee scoop: you can’t alway be sure that the AirBnB will have one.
Gone: Small Cup: same issue as lager cup
Kept: Spork: I almost didn’t buy this, but off all the things on my original list this is the one thing that I have found comes in most handy.
Gone: Thermometer: I found that I really can’t tell the difference between coffee brewed at 195 F and boiling.
Gone: TSA cork puller: this thing slowed me up too much going through security. I have since found that on my limit budget I don’t drink wine with corks.

In Summary

When I got to California my total grear weighed 19.4 kilos or 42.8pounds. This includes all my luggage, gear, and what I wear on the flight. My carry on bag weighted 10.9 kilos (24 pounds), the under the seat bag was 5.6 kilos (12.3 pounds), and I was wearing 2.4 kilos (5.3 pounds).

After three purges my total gear was down to 16.5 kilos (36.4 pounds). I had cut my gear down by 2.9 kilos (6.4 pounds). My carry on bag now weighs 8.1 kilos (17.9 pounds), the under the seat bag 4.6 kilos (10.1 pounds), and I wear 3.8 kilos (8.4 pounds). I am wearing more clothes to lighten the carry on bag. On some airlines I have to have my carry on at 8 kilos or under. In that case I will have to move some of my OTC pills into my under the seat bag to shift the load.

My goal on the next purge is to lose a half a kilo of gear before flying to Europe. With the things mentioned above as going away and being added my Packing Pro app projectes a total weight of 15.8 kilos (34.8 pounds)! That is down 3.6 kilos (7.9 pounds) from where I started. A lot of minimalist travelers don’t count the clothes they were as part of there total. If I followed that line of thinking I would be down to 12 kilos (26.5 pounds). Only 1.5 pounds short of the 25 pounds the OneBag website refers to.

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5 comments

  1. I love these posts! We are trying to decide on what to take with us. It amazes me how much stuff people get rid of that they thought they really needed. Thanks for sharing!

    • I am glad you are enjoying the posts. I will try to keep up with the ever changing packing list as I travel. You should have seen the backpacks my ex and I took on our travels back in the 90s. We both carried 90 liter packs + daypacks. The MEI Voyageur bag I carry now is 45 liters. I can stuff everything into it for convent carrying, but I shift all the heavy stuff into my under the seat bag to conform to weight limitations on certain airlines. Now that I am 60, having a lighter bag is nice. One day I will have to go to a roller bag, but until then I will enjoy the freedom of mobility. When my ex and I were traveling we were only gone for three weeks at a time. Right now I am nearly seven months into my nomad adventure.

      • We are trying to decide between backpacks and rolling suitcases. We will be traveling long term with kids. I love the idea of backpacks but I’m not sure how it would work. There will be myself, my husband, teen, 10 year old, and four year old. We have been trying to decide which option would be easier for our situation. It’s so hard to decide.

      • Here is my idea. If you don’t already have backpacks and roller cases, see if you can borrow some from family or friends. load them with the same weight you are thinking about taking. (One time when I was testing a bag I loaded it up with the right weight of pantry items.) Take your family for a long walk in a park where you can find various terrains. You need to go on nice sidewalks as well as rougher areas. It would be great if you could find some steps to negotiate. I would also treat your car as a taxi and see how easy it is to jump in fast with the bags. If you are lucky enough to live in a city with mass transit, test the bags on those. Hopefully you can make a game out of it for the kids. Go first with one sort of bags, and then with the other sort. Let your various family members choose the bag that suits them best. You can remind them that it was their choice if they complain during the trip. Before you head out make sure you run another test with the bags you have chosen, with the actual things you are taking. I had to change my under the seat bag, after testing my luggage on a short trip to one of the neighboring islands. Remember that not everyone has to have the same sort of bag. Remember that if you go for backpacks for all, you and your husband might be able to to sling the children’s backpacks in your front (looking like backpackers from the seventies) so the kids can rest. If you go for rolling bags, you might want to make sure that the children’s bags can be piggybacked on the adults bags. I hope thee ideas help you. Remember there is the right way, there is the wrong way, and there is the way that works for you. There will be no exam.

      • Thanks for your thoughts!

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