One of the more frequent requests I get from my readers is an update to a video I made back in 2009 detailing what products I used to maintain my goal to travel as light as possible.
I’ve resisted doing an updated version with specifics on clothing and gear for a number of reasons. For one thing, product offerings and availability changes too frequently. Many of the items I use I purchased several years ago and are no longer available. So telling you what I use is next to useless. Also, what I take often changes based on the conditions and environment I might find myself in. For instance, what I pack for a spring break vacation will be vastly different than what I pack for a speaking gig. Not to mention what works for me, as a middle aged male, does little service to my female readers.
Most of all, traveling light is less about products and more about methods, choices, and principles:
- Get clothing that is lightweight, durable, easy to hand wash in a sink, and that dries quickly. Many of my faves are from Travelsmith, Patagonia, and REI,
- If you’ve done the above, there’s only two sets of clothes you need for most short trips — Those you are wearing and those that you plan to wear tomorrow having washed what you’re wearing at the end of the day.
- Pack clothes that are versatile — solid colors you can easily mix and match. 3 tops and three bottoms are nine potential outfits if the colors, style, etc. are complementary.
- There are only two types of luggage, carry-on and lost. Most airlines charge for checked baggage anyway. Avoid both the potential loss and the near-certain cost.
Like I said, you’re going to be washing your clothes in the sink unless you are lucky enough to get an AirB&B with a washer dryer. Therefore, get some single serve travel detergent packs. The ones behind that link are Woolite — gentle on clothes — and come with a handy rubber sink drain stopper which is also recommended for times when the built in stopper fails. Or, if you really want to go full hippie ninja, get yourself a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s and use it for every-friggin-thing. Also, a travel clothesline for hanging up the wet stuff to dry. I like this one but there’s plenty of good options out there.
Invest in good shoes. Shoes that are as versatile as the outfits and are appropriate for most occasions. But, more importantly, ones that you can walk for miles in. Because, we do a lot more walking, in general, when we travel. In modern airports, distances can often be counted in miles between the curbside and your gate. My favorite travel shoes I’ve had for years (like I said, not worth mentioning the brand because they’re no longer available) and I could write a whole post of their own about where they’ve been. They’ve seen some miles and adventures and are not showing a single sign of stopping.
Finally, a good sturdy bag. One that can take a beating. I prefer the handsfree convenience of a Backpack but something with a good slip-free shoulder strap can work too. These days, I switch between a GORUCK GR1 and 32L Kit Bag depending on the circumstances. Love them both.
I hope this helps. If I can think of anything to add to the above I may do so at a later date. Further questions are always welcome but, if you really want specifics on products and I did not convince you with the above on their usefulness, you may want to search for past posts I’ve written on the subject.