My original packing list was compiled using many other packing lists for minimalist travelers, which I found on the internet. I edited them for my best guess as what would work for me.
Most of the other travel bloggers seem to fall into several categories:
Vacationers (USA): fast travel, to make the best use of two or three weeks off work.
Holliday tripers (EU): traveling fast to make the best use nice long holidays from work.
Slow travelers: Moving from place to place at a slower pace than the vacationers and holiday makers. They balance the number of places and things with taking the time to see beyond the expected. Short term slow travelers might spend the whole time in one local.
Long term travelers: Are folks who are on the road for months and years at a time. Most long term travelers have to be slow travelers because, it is exhausting and expensive to travel fast. A long term traveler can hit any places a number of places in over the course of the year. The first long term slow traveler, who I had heard of, planned to see 15 countries in a year of constant travel. She is still traveling after 11 years of travel, though I believe she spends much longer in each local now.
Digital nomads: These folks are still earning a living, and are not on vacation. Some move quickly and others settled down for stays that can go for years. It is important for these folks that the internet is good wherever they go, so that they can work distant from their clients or bosses.
Expats: They have made a commitment to a place. Most of these folks are into an area for years or even for life. They have at least a residence visa, and rent or own property.
Minimalist Travelers: They can be any of the above, but doing it carrying as little gear as possible. We are the ones who cut all the labels out of our clothes because they are unnecessary weight.
I get a lot from reading other folks’ blogs, even if they don’t travel like me. I only have found the one woman who travels like me, but she is not much of a minimalist. Despite this all the other blogs were a great starting point for compiling my original packing list. My original packing list had many things which would be great for people pressed for time, living hostels, living in hotels, and hiking way out into the middle of nowhere, It turned out many of those items were not useful to me.
My traveling is slow longterm minimalist travel. I travel to a single city or town and stay put for three months, returning to the US for a few weeks, and before heading on to the next country. My goal is to have everything I will use in one carry-on and one personal item, regardless as to what time of year or country I am in. I limit my travels to 90 days because the visas for most of the countries on my list have 90 visas for US citizens.
As I go I am trying to get my luggage down to 26 pounds total. Right now I am at 28 pounds. This doesn’t include the clothes on my person, but includes the weight of all luggate and containers. Only time on the road made it possible to refine my packing list. Here I have taken my original packing list and annotated each item as to whether they made the cut and why or why not.
Bike Shorts: In my old life I wore bike shorts nearly every day. I really thought I would need them, but no longer carry any. I used to wear them under dresses and skirts when I rode bikes. Now I only wear long pants.
Two Wool Sports Bra with pads: I have left the pads behind, but still swear by merino wool bras. They are cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. All that stuff people say about wool being anti-microbial, I have found is true. I did get too large a size. I will replace them as they wear out. Right now, I use a big safety pin in the back to make them tight enough.
Leggings: Short Leggings, Long leggings heavy and light weight wool, they are all gone now. I have found that I only need three pairs of pull-on pants that look like slacks. I just don’t see the point of having garments that might not be appropriate for all situations. I buy pants that can be worn to events, hiking, riding bikes, as well as comfortably slept in.
Pants: I started out with two pairs of versatile pull-on black pants, from Eddie Bauer ($39 USD each on sale). I really liked them and only wore the leggings when I was washing the pants. On one of my short stops on the mainland US, I received a third pair of Eddie Bauer pants, to replace all the leggings. The same day that I added the new pants to my bag, I found that the two older pairs had little holes all along the inseam. Granted I have generous thighs, but I had never had a pair of pants wear out like that. They had only lasted seven months.
On further consideration, I realized that before Marie Kondo, I had at least two dozen pairs of pants, which I only wore occasionally since I wore mainly my 60 or so dresses. I guess it would have probably taken me 15 or 20 years to wear out a pair of pants that were only worn occasionally.
Anyway I didn’t have time to have those pants repaired or order more before I left for Warsaw, so I headed down to Ross Dress For Less and picked up one pair of zippered stretch pants ($18 USD) and one pair of pull-on stretch pants ($15 USD), which looked like zippered paints. Those two with the new Eddie Bauer pants, brought my pants count up to three.
After my time in Poland, I have determined that the Eddie Bauer pants are not wearing well, like their predecessors. Both pair of the cheap pants still look new. The Eddie Bauer pants weigh 455 gms, the zippered pants weigh 430 gms, and the pull-on pants weigh 335 gms. When I get back to the US, I am going to Ross Dress For Less and pick up two more pairs of pull-on pants (taking my scale to weigh the candidates at the store. To replace the Eddie Bauer pants would cost too much for the quality of the garment. I am leaving the zipper pants behind in Warsaw, because I have found that I hate zippers, and there is not a chance I will add them back to my packing list.
Head Wraps: I started out with two lightweight head wraps. They were the sort that could be used as a head wrap, a neck wrap, or a headband. I never used them, so they were left behind. I replaced them with a heavier turban, like people going through chemo use. That one I use often enough to keep it in my bag.
Underwear: Wool bikini Panties (2) – I found bikinis to be very uncomfortable when traveling, so I left them behind.
Wool boy shorts (2) – I love them (same comment as above about merino wool). I loved them so much that I picked up a third pair to replace the bikinis, on one my passes through the US.
Sarong: Not quite as useful as people say, but I use it enough that when the old one wore out, I bought another one.
Short sleeve wool merino shirts: I started out with three of these. I still have three. I hope I can find some as good when these start to wear out, which they have not started yet.
Wool short skirts: I left Honolulu with two. I found that once I was away from the island, I no longer felt comfortable wearing skirts and dresses, so they were quickly dumped.
Smart Wool Socks: I loved them when I was going to sea. I still love them now. I carry three pairs. They show no signs of wear yet. These are the ones, which I wore for several years at sea, before heading out on my nomadic travels. I am not sure exactly how old they are, but I am guessing between three to five years.
Tami Socks: I wore them with my slippers in Hawaii for winter shoes. I have no need for them on the road. Dumped the one pair I was carrying after Mexico.
Sun Armlets: I wore them all the time in Honolulu. I wasn’t wearing them as I traveled, so I left them behind after Ecuador.
Jackets and coats:
Down Jackets (2): I decided on one and left the other behind
Raincoat: I use it as both a raincoat and a windbreak over down jacket.
Sweater: I fell for the recommendations of so many women bloggers when they touted the “Wear it Seven Ways” sweater from Eddie Bauer. It weighed 337 grams, and made me feel fat and old. I replaced it with a merino wool hoodie, which weighed more, but I feel a lot better wearing it.
Hats and etc:
Hat: The first hat I had looked great, but it had a wire in the brim, which set off security scanners. I left it in my storage unit in Honolulu, after picking up a floppy crushable hat at Costco. I left that hat in Mexico, since I had to buy a sun visor there. I prefer sun visors to hats. When I was in Honolulu I left the Mexican sun visor in my storage unit and carried my very old one onward. I decided that if I need a hat I will get a local one, and leave it behind when I go. In Poland it turned out that my turban fit in very well everyone wears that sort of cap in cold weather.
Baseball Hat: Don’t need to carry one. Should I need one, they can be bought anywhere. left mine behind, I am not sure where.
Hat clips (2): These little things are a must have. They are a small lanyard with clips on both ends. My hats blow off at the worst times. I am not crazy enough to rush out into traffic to retrieve my hat, but several times men have done just that, when my hat blew away. I am not going to put someone else in danger, so I keep my sun visor or hat clipped to my collar with this little lanyard.
Knitted wool hat: I have a very thin merino wool cap, which is great for sleeping in or putting under another hat to make it into a winter hat.
Buff merino wool neck warmer: I put this here because I often use the Buff for a hat, as well as a sleep mask. It is great to pull over your face on a plane to avoid conversation. You can still see through it. For sleep it needs to be folded to make it thick enough to block out the light.
Tieks ballet shoes: Hands down the most uncomfortable shoes I have ever worn. If you are thinking of buying them, just don’t.
Slippers: (flip flops or shower shoes) I got the lightest pair I could. I use them a lot. The AirBnBs I have stayed at have tiled floors, and the slippers keep my feet from getting sore.
Walking Shoes: The walking shoes I left Honolulu with turned out to be only pillowy soft for the first mile, then they became torture devices. I had to buy a pair of regular tennis shoes. Those did okay, but they didn’t cup my heels well enough for long distance walking. Also they had no traction on wet cobblestones. I replaced those with hiking shoes. I have now come to the opinion that I have wide feet, and I had better get wide hiking shoes next time. I walk five to ten miles a day, so shoes are a high priority.
Autumn Gloves: I didn’t use them at all.
Bandana: It seemed like a good idea, but I didn’t use it
Eye mask: I found that pulling my Buff over my eyes is just as good, and I don’t need to carry another one use item.
Umbrella: Used it, but realized that it wasn’t worth bother of carrying it around. When it rains you can pick up a cheap one anywhere. I didn’t buy a cheap one in the past six months that I have been without the fancy one I started with.
Backpack rain fly: Not hiking in the jungle. My backpack is water resistant enough.
AAA batteries (3): No need to carry. I am always within an easy walk of a store.
Car Escape Tool: I only rent cars in the US.
Carabiner Large: Not as useful as all the blogs make it sound
Carabiner Small: This one I use all the time. Right now I am using it to clip my house keys to the lanyard of my phone, when I go out without a purse.
Carabiners very very small: I carry a few of these. Most of the time I do not use the wire ties to secure my luggage zippers. I use these carabiners, because they make the zippers too fiddly for the average thief. It is also fun seeing ham fisted TSA agents trying to un clip them.
Door lock: I am just not that paranoid any more.
Duct Tape: Never used it.
Eyeglass Clothes: very handy
Eyeglass repair kit: Don’t carry it any more. You can pick them up world wide at sunglass stores.
Heroclips (2): Seemed like a good idea. Didn’t use them.
TSA locks (3): I don’t use locks anymore. I just use wire ties if I have to check a bag on on a regional airline with very strict weight limits for carry-on bags. Thieves often have TSA lock keys, but the might not have something to cut a wire tie with.
Padlock: Never used. I don’t stay in hostels. I can buy one if I ever need one.
Padlock Cable: goes with the lock I don’t use.
Picture Translator: There is an app for that.
Sewing Kit: I use it all the time. I have two and a half inch safety pens in it that have a huge number of uses.
A small fishing scale: This only weighs 55 grams, but it can weigh everything from a few grams to my backpack.
Whistle: see above about paranoia.
Wire Ties: I only carry about ten very small ones. There is a large bag of wire ties in the duffle bag I leave with my friend in Texas. I resupply when passing through.
Ziplocks: only a few, you can buy them anywhere.
Mechanical pencils (2): I am down to one.
Pencil leads and erasers: Don’t carry them any more. I load the mechanical pencil when I am at my storage unit in Hono, and that keeps me all year.
Notebook: Don’t use it often, but I really need it when I do.
Pens (2): I am down to one, you can buy them anywhere
Sharpie: This is a must have. I use it for a lot of things, but labeling things I put into miscellaneous repurposed containers at the AirBnBs is the biggest use.
Business Cards: Bought half sized cards with only my phone number, email address, and website. They weigh half as much as full sized cards. tossed the cute box them came in and put them into a very small ziplock.
I don’t carry any of this stuff any more.
Clothesline: they sell string everywhere
Detergent: This too is easy to find
Dirty Clothes Bag: A pillow case from the AirBnB works fine.
Dry Sack: a plastic trash bag works fine.
Sink Plug: didn’t use it enough to justify it.
Cash: Not as big a thing as you would think. Pick up as small amount as you can, in local currency, at the airport when you come in. Then you can figure out how much cash you will need. I picked up 1000 zt (about 263 USD), and after three months in Poland, I am still trying to figure out how to get rid of it all. I still have 650 MX pesos I can use when I go to Merida next year.
Cash Cards: I carry two. One is linked to my USAA checking account. The other is linked to my USAA savings account. They have different numbers. If one is lost I can continue to use the other. USAA doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and reimburses ATM fees.
Coin Sorter:I carry a little folder with slots for coins. It looks like a SD card holder for standard SD cards. I keep going back and forth on having this. I used it all the time in Ecuador and Mexico, but it is pretty useless in Poland, because of all the very very tiny coins.
Credit Cards: I carry two credit cards. Both are Chase cards. One is the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which I try to use for everything because it gives great air miles and other rewards. The other is only for emergencies in case anything should happen to my Reserve card.
Drivers License: I don’t like carrying my passport when I am running around town. In most places the driver’s license is good enough to count as carrying ID. I leave my passport in the AirBnb.
Earplugs: I carry the ones I had for my job. They are custom fit and very effective. The only issue is that they are hard to sleep with. I have ordered some fancy over the counter earplugs that are for sleeping. We will see how that works out.
Glasses and spares: I can’t find my elbow without them.
Sun Glasses and spares: I am thinking about going to light adjusting glasses to save the weight of two pairs.
Vaccination Card: In the US at least it really isn’t a card, but a booklet. If you don’t have one, get one. Each time you get a vaccine, it will be recorded in the booklet. I have carried one ever since I started my maritime training in 1976. When I was in graduate school, I was ordered to report for vaccination for measles after an outbreak on campus. I showed up with my card and walked away un-punchered. The yellow card is recognized worldwide.
USB adapter: The original one had several USB A outlets. I replaced it with an adapter, which also has a high powered USB C outlet for charging my laptop and iPad and four USB A outlets for everything else. I replaced the very long cord which the new adapter came with. The new cord is very short, saving a lot of weight.
AirPods: Lost them as my trip started. I decided to wait until the new ones came out to replace them. (Don’t lay a white item down on a white sheet when you are packing.) I have a new set on order, along with a bright yellow case cover.
Apple Pencil: Lost it on a six hour bus ride in Mexico. I had it in the bottom of my shoulder bag. I think the magnetic edge of the iPad caught it and drug it out to the floor when I pulled out my iPad for entertainment. Unlike the Airpods I couldn’t live without it. As soon as I got back to the US I got another one. Three months without being able to draw was my punishment for losing the first one. The new Apple Pencil is kept in a container when not in use, which keeps it from being attracted by the magnetic edge of the iPad. The container also has my contact information in it.
Apple Pencil nibs and bits: Now I have two sets.
Bag of USB dongles: I found that I didn’t need most of them. So I now only carry two dongles.
Echo Dot and power brick: I started out with the original Echo Dot. I shouldn’t have replaced it. The new one has a really big heavy power adapter. The old one plugged into my USB adapter. I am going leave it behind when I go to Colombia to see if I can get by without it.
Extra Battery Anker: Not worth the huge weight. My laptop, tablet, and phone all have huge battery life.
Extra Apple watch: This I am leaving behind in the US this time. If my watch dies, I will just use my phone like an animal.
Flashlight: there is an app for that
HeadLamp: Overkill, I really don’t need it. It fell to the rule of “Nothing that I might use, only the things I will use.”
Headphones and adapter: This is my Bose, very small noise canceling headphones. I am thinking seriously about not taking them. The adapter is for my iPhone I would need a USB C adapter for my iPad.
iPad Pro and keyboard case: I love my iPad Pro 12.9. I draw on it, I read magazines on it. I use study languages with it. I use it as a second screen for my laptop.
iPhone case W/strap: The slash resistant strap was meant to keep it from being stolen. I have found that no one in the areas where I have traveled, look up from their cell phones long enough to steal yours. However, the strap keeps me from dropping the phone, so the strap and the case with the securing point stays with me.
iPhone Stand: Didn’t use it, it is gone.
Kindle Stand: I use it all the time for both the iPhone and the Kindle.
Laptop cord and brick: I still carry the laptop, but now carry a a USB adapter that takes the place of the power brick. I still have to carry the cord. It is an Apple USB C cable and it is wearing out. I am replacing it with a six foot fabric wrapped third party cable.
Lightning cable long: I no longer need it since my new iPad is USB C. I am replacing it with a 3 foot long USB C cable.
Lightning cable short: It also continues on with me, so long as I have a phone that needs it.
MacBook 12: I am hoping to replace it one day with something with more power. You can’t, right now, beat the weight to performance in the Apple line. I hate the keyboard, but I am locked into the Appleverse.
Monocular: Didn’t use it, ditched it.
Kindle: I am not sure if I will replace it when it dies, but I am going to carry it until it does. By that time I might have large enough phone to use as an ereader. I no longer read in the sun, like in Hawaii, so I don’t have to have an e-ink display.
I always carry this because it also a surge protector. I take whatever tips I need for my planned travel.
Portable Keyboard: This is a must have. Have I mentioned my hate of the new Apple keyboards?
Rubber bands: I haven’t really used them.
TrackR: These got ditched fast. I only have two bags. When you have so few things in your life, it is very hard to lose them.
USB cable long: Fabric wrapped cords are working well. It is a keeper.
USB cable short: same but a foot long.
USB storage drive: I have a very lightweight 1T drive, that has been working well.
Body brush and handle: it fell apart and I replaced it with a loofah and one of those body scrub towles.
Chapstick: never use it.
Cuticle clippers: Keeping
Floss: Must have
Floss Picks: Haven’t been using them, but haven’t decided to leave them behind.
Manicure Bag: keeping it, since it holds all the little bits.
Mirror: This a magnifying mirror that sticks to the bathroom mirror. It is a must have.
Nail Clippers: ditto
Nail file: ditto
Razor: You can buy them anywhere
Retainer with container: Well worth not having to wear braces again.
Retainer brush: It is actually a denture brush, I have cut the handle short on.
Scalp Brush: Lighter than a conventional brush, and is good for my short hair.
Thai Crystal deodorant stone: 120 grams, I wish they made half sized ones. 120 grams lasts for years and years.
Toilet Paper: no reason to carry a travel pack. I now just keep a few folded pads of tissue in my purse. When I find some tissue that I like, I make up a few pads, and zip them into that “water bottle pocket” on my purse that is too small for a water bottle.
Toothbrush: I use a children’s toothbrush. They are smaller lighter, cheaper, and have nice compact heads.
ToothPaste: I have found that 85 grams lasts me for three months if I only use a dab about the size of a small pea.
Towel: Talk about wasted space and wasted weight!
Tweezers: a good pair is a must have for me.
Washcloths: I have been going back and forth on these. Most things I “get rid of” are actually in a duffel bag at a friend’s house. That way I can take a trip before deciding if I really will not miss them. I think I am going to add these back in for Colombia.
Medical and Health:
Kardia EKG: I don’t really need it, but it is good to check out my heart if it feels funny. I will not need it when I get a new Apple watch.
OTC pills: This subject is going to get a post of its own. Traveling with a lot of OTC pills is an adventure.
Aeropress: I am going to go to Colombia without it and see if I miss it.
Bottle Opener multi tool: never used it, it is no longer in my bag
Coffee grinder: left this behind last time in Texas, I haven’t missed it.
Hot pads: went with the cups.
Large cup: AirBnB’s have plenty of cups.
Lip guards: for the cups
Pigtail heater: Only ever used in an American Hotel.
Coffee scoop: A must have with the Aeropress
Small Cup: same as the large one
Spork: this surprised me, I can’t live without it.
Thermometer: no longer carry it. I just not the precious about coffee anymore.
TSA cork puller: Outside the US good corkscrews are cheap and plentiful. Most AirBnBs have them.
Backpack: I started out with a backpack with a waist-belt. As I took more and more things out of my pack I found that it was no longer heavy enough to justify the added weight of the waist belt. I kept carrying the bag around without pastening the belt. I now carry a very lightweight Rick Steves bag. The bag and content are weighing in at 8 kilos (17.6 pounds) down from 11 kilos (24.3 pounds).
Compression cubes (One large and one medium): I no longer carry the medium one.
Day Pack: I got rid of it, and got a Tumi shoulder bag for my under the seat bag. I did a lot of shopping in person for before I settled on the expensive Tumi. It has worked out well. Leaving Mexico, the zipper broke. I was on my way home to Honolulu, so I dropped it off at the Tumi store there, and they shipped it to Houston after it was repaired. I got an Samsonite bag to tied me over for those few weeks, before I caught up with it. I was so glad to get the Tumi back.
Packing Cubes 1 large 2 medium 8 small: I love them, but no longer carry the big one. I still carry the 8 of the small ones even though some of them are not quite full.. This is because I am carrying fewer things. I find having the two in my under the seat bag being slack makes it where I can flatten them to fit the smaller bag better.
Purse: When I headed out to be a nomad. I left my larger bucket purse, which I had been using for about a year, at my storage unit in Hono, replacing it with a smaller travel purse of the same brand. The smaller purse was left in Hono last time and trusty old bag is now with me again.
Aloksaks Bags: These bags are where I kept the paperwork that can not get wet. My shot card is in a small one.
Things that I have added to my Packing while on the road:
Two lightweight stuff sacks which came with my Rick Steves Classic Back Door Bag. These actually weigh less than the packing cubes and can hold things that are of a shape not conducive to the cubes.
A Rick Steves travel wallet. This wallet has two zipper compartments. I use one for large bills, and a single credit card. The other compartment I use for coins and small bills. It is made of a very soft leather and has worn well.
Rick Steves Classic Back Door Bag: It is much lighter than my first pack. I cut out the internal compression straps, since I don’t use them. If you find random 1000 grams to lose from your pack you have saved a full kilo (2.3 pounds) once when you total them up.
Two nylon shopping bags: I didn’t take these to Ecuador. I thought I could buy them there. The shopping bags there didn’t have straps long enough to put over your shoulder. I find carrying groceries supported by my hands through a handle very painful. When I was in Texas I made the mistake of getting ones that were slippery, to take to Mexico. It was hard to carry a lot of groceries for miles with slippery straps on my shoulders. When I was in Hono, I picked up some of the bags I have used for years, from my storage unit. They are made of an non slippery ripstop nylon.
I am not putting in any product links here. Most links can be found in earlier posts. Or if you need more information, just google it.