A Weighty Matter


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Before becoming a minimalist traveler my day pack was almost as big as my current backpack.

In less than a week, I will be leaving Mexico and heading back to Hawaii for two weeks. No, not some tropical vacation. I lived in Honolulu for 13 years and Hawaii is still my state of residence. My time in the city will be crammed with visits to doctors, clinics, banks, and my CPA. Hello tax time. In Between I will catch up with my friends, who I haven’t seen in over six months. After Honolulu, I will be heading to the Mainland US to take care of business and visit with friends in Texas. The one thing about having been a merchant mariner, is that you tend to have left friends scattered all over. When I leave the US again I will be flying to Warsaw where, you guessed it, another friend lives. Warsaw is going to be another three month stay.

With four cities and five flights coming up in the next 35 days, It has got me thinking about my packing list. I manage my packing lists in Packing Pro. In this app, I maintain a Master Packing list, seperate from the built in master catalog. The master list has everything, which I might consider taking with me.

Each item has been weighed and photographed for the list. That helps me decide which of two similar items I will choose. For instance: My MacBook came with a power brick. I also had a USB multi port power cube. The power brick for the laptop weighs 167 grams and the USB cube 140 grams, for a total of 307 grams (0.68 pounds).

The problem I had with the USB cube is that it plugged directly into the power socket of my surge protector. Once the laptop brick and the USB power cube were plugged in with all the related cords, the surge protector tended to pull out of the power socket. I had to stack things under the power cube to keep it all stable.

The Weighted Down Surge Protector

I decided to get a USB power cube, which had a cord to plug into the surge protector, so that there would not be so much weight dragging everything down. I found the PowerPort I PD with 1PD and 4 PIQ by Anker. Since it had a USB-C port as well as four quick charging USB ports, it would replace both the laptop power brick and the USB power cube. Then new unit weighs 320 grams. By referring to the weights I had already recorded in my Master Packing List I saw that that I would be adding 13 grams of weight to my packing by making this choice.

By comparing the photo above with the photo below you can see that my decision was an easy one. If I found myself traveling without the laptop I might choose the smaller USB power cube. I ordered a two foot cord, for the cube, which will be waiting for me in Texas. The cube came with a five foot cord, so that should save me around about 50 grams, more than making up for the 13 grams.

Surge protector with the cord for the new USB/USB-C cube plugged in. I am extremely unhappy that the new Amazon Dot plugs in with that huge black cube rather than into the USB power cube, like the old one did. The new power cord can’t be plugged into the surge protector next to the cord to the USB power cube.

Yesterday I reviewed the Mexico Arrival packing list. One of the first things I noticed, was that not everything that I arrived with was on the list and that other things had no weights recorded. During my visit in Texas after Ecuador I went through the the bag of gear, which I keep at my friend’s house. I returned some things to my backpack while I was culling other things out before the next leg of my trip. Apparently I wasn’t very careful with updating my packing list.

This laziness on my part could have been a problem if I had flown on an airline that weighs carry on bags. I thought my total gear weighed 15.7 kilos with 8 kilos in my carry on bag. After correcting the list, I found that my total gear was 17.5 kilos with 9 kilos in my carry on, which would have caused me to have to gate check the carry on bag. Some budget airlines charge a hefty fee for gate checking bags. This will not be an issue leaving Mexico, as Aeromexico’s limit is 10 kilos for the carry on bag.

I made a copy of the Mexico ARR list, naming it Warsaw ARR. I like to keep my historical lists, so I can compare how they change over time. I adjusted the list for things, which have been ordered and will be added in Texas. I also removed things, which I already decided will not be going to Poland with me.

I am removing the long leggings (193 grams) and the heavy wool leggings (251 grams) and replacing them with a second pair of long black pants (414 grams) for a savings of 30 grams.

Very small weights can add up. The table below has the weights of things I am leaving behind before Poland.

ItemWeight
Bra Pads0.05
Leggings/ pants net0.03
bandana0.031
Hat0.135
Bag of miss things0.145
CD of medical records0.08
mechanical pencil0.015
pen0.01
Pencil leads0.011
Bag of usb dongles0.034
Boise wireless earbuds0.105
washcloth0.016
diarrhea medication0.001
Grinder0.208
Hot pads0.076
Pig tail heater0.095
Aloksaks0.03
Total Kilos1.072
Total Pounds3.276

It is so easy when you are packing to reach out and grab just one more pen or another pair of socks. I was really shocked to realize that my inattention to small weights had added 1.8 kilos (4 pounds.) to my load. As you can see from the table above culling out small things helps a lot too. I will be interested in seeing how things pan out with the actual packing.

One funny thing I spotted while I was going over the list, was that I had never listed the small scale I travel with in my under the seat bag. I was perplexed as to how to weigh the scale since I didn’t have another scale to weigh it with. Then I realized that I could hold it by the hook and the readout was the weight of the unit.

The fish scale I used to weigh my gear down to a gram.

My first big trip abroad without shipping despatch from my maritime union, was to study abroad for the summer in Italy and the UK. I packed up a military duffel bag to the point of busting. I did take out the 10 pound cat before I left. I have learned a lot since then.

Categories: Geek Life, Life Hacks, Packing, Travel, Travel MinutiaTags: , , , , , , , , ,

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