If there’s one thing I hate when traveling, it’s lugging around a ton of unnecessary shit. A typical vacation is usually trying to hit multiple cities in a short span, and oftentimes staying at two different hotels in said cities in order to be close to the next transit option, so we’re moving around a lot. I don’t want to be carrying six pairs of shoes with me the whole time just in case I might use them.
Now, I am by no means an expert packer, and I’m sure I still bring too much or even bring the wrong things. But here’s a look into the kinds of things I take with me on each trip to try to pack as lightly and economically as possible.
Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Pack: I used to have a 60+ liter pack, but it got to be a little much after hauling it around Vietnam for two weeks. The 40 liter Farpoint has just enough room for everything I need, with a bunch of convenient compartments for the smaller things. Putting my little bag of toiletries in the top front pocket is especially convenient, because the bag is carry-on size. It can even fit under the seat in front of you in a pinch.
Packing cubes: Since the bag has one main compartment for clothes, packing cubes have become one of my biggest necessities when traveling. I can split up my clothes, keep them folded and neat at all times, and be able to easily dig out something that may otherwise be buried on the bottom of my bag. For convenience, these things cannot be beat.
Hiking boots and Smartwool socks: These are the perfect combo to keep your feet happy the entire trip, no matter what kind of terrain you’re on, or whether you’re wearing long pants or shorts. Bonus, the socks can go a few wears before they start to feel weird, so you’ll have to wash them much less, if at all.
Zip-off hiking pants: when you pack light, your clothes have to be versatile. Here, I can get shorts or long pants out of these and not have to worry about it. This was very handy on the Inca Trail, where we walked through hot desert and cold mountaintop. Two pairs of these in different colors should match with any shirts you bring.
Reversible shirt: Recently, I discovered the magic of the reversible shirt, and it’s changed my packing for the better. I only have one at the moment, but I’m definitely going to invest in more. I can get two shirts packed for the space of one? It’s a dream come true. The one I currently have is a moisture-wicking long-sleeved button-up, so it can be used in almost any situation.
Folder for documents: We always have a folder for our travel documents. It’s kind of old school, but if your phone runs out of battery or you can’t get onto the internet, it comes in handy. We put our flight itinerary in there, our travel insurance, and a calendar list of places we want to go with addresses and days we want to get there. The spreadsheet also has our other travel information—bus numbers and times, etc.
Those are pretty much my only requirements. Of course, I bring other clothes, but you can pick and choose what you’ll need. A few t-shirts (making sure one can double as an undershirt for something nicer if need be), and underwear—but not too much. For longer trips, you can always do some sink laundry if necessary. Sometimes, I’ll also try to bring an extra pair of shoes, but nothing too clunky; either a pair of Toms or some flip-flops will do for when I want something I can quickly slip on to go out.
Hopefully this can help, or give you a little insight into your own packing habits. Everything I think about packing, I ask myself how often I would use it and if I really have to be carrying it around for a week. The answer is almost always no.