Traveling Light: Packing It All Up

Variety is the weight in travel.

The point of these posts has been simple: take only what you need to use. Pick smart items that handle travel well and keep honing your system.

I hone my system after every trip when I unpack. If there was something which I unpack and never touched during my trip, then I know that I likely don’t need to pack that item again. Make a mental note, keep paring your gear down with each trip you take. This also helps you ease into it. You might feel uncomfortable if you try to travel with just one set of clothes, so instead start with traveling with just one pair of pants. Once you are used to that, pare back somewhere else. There’s no need to do it all at once.

There’s stores almost everywhere you travel, so a lot of emergency items are easier bought than they are carried with you over 5 trips in fear you might need it one time. Things like bandaids or blister remedies, and other items you might never need, can usually be had really easily and quickly.

Need vs. Want

The biggest hurdle for anyone starting to travel light is to get past the idea that you need everything. Instead you must realize that you actually need very little, it’s just that you likely want a lot of stuff purely for comfort reasons.

  • Do you really need pajamas? No.
  • Do you really need clothes just in case you spill? Well, how often do you spill on yourself at home?

This is also not a fast process. When I first started trying to trim down what I took, the list was still massive. The idea of not having it was overwhelming. The best way I slimmed down the list was to start carrying it all on my back. When you physically feel the weight, you become much more open to shedding more weight.

There are a lot of need versus want trade offs to be made. You need a shirt, pants, and underwear to wear everyday. That’s a thing you need. And if all your clothes are cotton — as most people’s are — then you likely need several sets of clothes to allow for time washing and drying.

However, if you upgrade to more modern fabrics this need is reduced. You can now dry things overnight and all you need is one set. Anything more than that is a want. I really like to put things in this context: if you leave your house for a normal day out of the house: how much stuff do you bring with you? That’s likely your bare needs kit right there.

How much variety do you need?

The need versus want debate brings us right into the question of variety. The way you travel with fewer things is by wearing the same stuff, meaning less variety in your clothing options. This is going to be a purely personal choice, but the only way to actually travel light is to accept the idea that you will be wearing the same pants the entire trip. The same shirt, etc.

If you are not ok with that, then you have to also accept that your want for variety is what is increasing your packing list size and weight. But you can wear the same thing for an entire year.

Some people feel great comfort in finding one or two outfits to year in their lives, while others will find it maddening. Find a happy middle ground for yourself.

Packing Lists

One of the best ways to get an idea of how to pack is to see it all put together. I’ve created a page with my packing lists on it. I’ll do my best to keep those pages updated over time. (I am also planning on doing a video after I return from WWDC which will show how I put it all together.)

Safe Travels

I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts, I’d love to hear any tips you have.

See the rest of the posts here.

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