A Minimalist Approach to Packing

My previous packing posts have been for longer travels going through places with different climates. This time I will just travel through warm places in the Caribbean so I have decided on a different approach. I will travel with hand luggage only, where half of my stuff will be camping equipment:

– Hammock, tarp and mosquito net

-Two linen pants packed up in a pillow

– Two swimshorts

– Four shirts (two short, two long)

– A blanket, earplugs and face mask

– Toothbrush, headlamp, powerbank and charger

-My Pennyboard, shades and swim goggles

Should I need socks, boxers, shoes etc at some point I could just buy it there and then. Most stuff in life you could easily live without!

Watch this on my vlog, episode 1 here.

Packing for an Around the World Trip

Our travel route requires us to pack a lot!

My previous packing post was based on some last minute, minimalistic travel packing, but this time we have done the opposite, breaking two packing records: one for bringing with us much more than we usually do and the second for being finished packing a whole week before we go (because we are homeless and had to move into a hotel for our last week!).

Normally I would say that you should pack as little as possible, but we will start going through a -30 degree icy Siberia and have therefore packed with us winter jackets, boots and other things that we will give away before we leave China. We have also been saving up old t-shirts and underwear for a whole year instead of throwing them away, so that these can be thrown them away while traveling. This is what we will end up bringing:

Packing for him:

– 3 jackets: a thick winter jacket for Siberia (an old one to be given away afterwards), a thin down feather jacket for the South American heights (150kr at Cubus) and a thin rain jacket (can be folded to fit in a pocket)
– 3 pairs of shoes: a pair of winter boots (only for the Trans Mongolian Railway), leightweight running shoes (main pair to be used) and a pair of Hawaiianas (flip flops that can hang on the outside of the backpack)
– 5 pairs of pants: two linen, one cotton, one jeans and one pair of windproof pants
– 3 pairs of shorts (one being a pair of swimshorts)
– 2 pairs of woolen underwear (takes up little space and two layers should keep you warm)
– 1 microfiber towel (10dollars on eBay)
– 3 buffs (free ad buffs that can be gotten anywhere) and other winter wear accessories: one pair of mittens, one scarf, one winter hat
– 5 t-shirts and 3 long shirts (so that I can wash clothes less often)
– 10 pairs of boxers and socks (will be reduced to at least half after around a week of traveling)
– Accessories/gadgets: Flashlight, swiss army knife, sunglasses, GoPro with three batteries and two memory cards, Mounts (GoPole, mini tripod, bicycle mount and a homemade wristmount), iPad with Logitech Ultrathin Mini keyboard and lightning charger, phone with micro USB charger, dry sacks (one red for dirty clothes and a blue for clean ones), fanny pack with id, credit card and foreign currency and all travel documents
-Toiletries: toothbrush, tooth paste, asthma medicine, deodorant, shaving machine (philips running on AA batteries), hairwax and headache and allergy pills.

Packing for her:

– 4 pairs of shoes: a pair of winter boots, leightweight running shoes, two pairs of sandals (one pair of flip-flops and one pair of more supportive sandals).
– 2 pairs of shorts
– 4 pairs of pants: one pair of linen pants, one windproof, one pair of stretchy jeans and one tights
– 2 sweathers: one fleece, one cardigan
– 2 pairs of woolen underwear
– 4 singlets and 4 t-shirts
– One long skirt or dress for special occasions
– 1 microfiber towel
– 2 bikinis
– Thin long shirt to throw over bikini on the beach
– 5 pairs of woolen socks and 5 pair of ankle socks
– underwear + training bra
– Winter wear accessories: scarf, hat, gloves (thin and thick), leg warmers and earflaps
– 2 jackets: one winter jacket and one thin down feather jacket
– Accessories/gadgets: Computer, camera, iPod (loaded with music and audio books), hard drive, chargers, flashlight, sunglasses, pen, notebook, neck pillow for flights, special folder for passports, copies of travel documents and extra cash, soups and travel cutlery (for the trans mongolian train)
– Toiletries: Shampoo, conditioner, intimate soap, moroccan hair oil and hair dresser shampoo in travel size packs for pampering days, facial creme, deodorant, dry shampoo, sun screen, hair scrunchy, nail clipper, antibac and essential makeup products and makeup remover.

And this is how the luggage looks like, fully packed: My blue backpack weighing 13kilos, her orange backpack weighing 13 kilos: although very different, the weight is the same! The small orange day trip backpack, where we also keep all our valuables weights 6 kilos. So we will be well below the 20 kilos plus carry-on is included in most international flights.

General Packing Tips for Backpacking

It is usually when you are already out traveling that you find out what you really should have packed with you on your trip. Sometimes you find out that you have packed too much and have to send things home, and other times you have to keep looking for things that are hard to find in the places you travel (eg. sunscreen in Africa). I have provided a list of some small things that are not all too obvious but can make your travel a lot easier:

First Backpacking Trip
My clothes, computer and some toiletries was all I had with my on my first trip. I wished I could’ve packed all over again..

Must have things that you cannot travel without: 

  • your passport with visas
  • flight tickets
  • credit cards
  • your phone

Highly recommended to have:

  • Backpack: try to find one that feels good on your shoulders. The size should fit the style you are travelling: are you backpacking for several months, I would keep it as small as possible (mine is 45l) to be able to carry wherever you go.
  • Daytrip bag/backpack: a small backpack to keep you valuables, a bottle of water and maybe a book or towel to bring on the beach? This would then also be your hand luggage while flying.
  • Shoes/sandals: I usually bring a pair of comfortable jogging shoes and a pair of Hawaianas sandals. Shoes can take up a lot of space, and a lot of the time you will see them hanging outside my backpack.
  • Travel adapter: Make sure to find a compact one which can adapt both ways in every country you go.
  • Head lamp: Electricity is never as stable when traveling as it is when being back home in Norway and sometimes you even find yourself being in a place simply without electricity. A headlamp is always useful when traveling.

I would also reccomend bringing your own selection of hygiene things (mine is a toothbrush, antibac, washing detergent a small first aid kit, toilet paper, mosquito repellant and sunscreen). You pick what you need and not all what you have at home.

Good to have: 

  • Long Johns/”ullundertøy”: These take up little space, will keep you warm underneath your clothes and are almost self cleaning. Leave them out to breath and they will be good for another few days of sweating! A fleece is also good and light in places where it can get extra cold.
  • Compression dry sacks: This are genious for recuding the volume in your backpack. They also help you keep your stuff dry and organized.

    The screwdriver for sunglasses in my Swiss army knife is priceless
  • Padlock:  Most hostels provide lockers, but not padlocks. If you buy a cable lock you can also use this to secure your backpack.
  • Guidebook: Lonely Planet provides some excellent guidebooks for most destinations. Are you going somewhere new? Then the Lonely Planet book will become your best friend on the trip.
  • Travel towel: is not the same as a regular beach towel. The microfiber versions take up little space, dries fast and collect less dirt than the regular towels.
  • Silk sleeping bag: They weigh little, are good to have at dirty backpackerhostels or just the night trains/buses along the way.
  • Money belt: For the most sketchy places it can be good to have a money belt where you can keep your passport, credits cards and other valuable things.
  • Duct tape and sewing kit: traveling wears and tears on clothes and equipment and sometimes a hole in a backpack or a tear in your guidebook can worsen quickly if nothing is done to it. A needle, some thread and a roll of tape should be enough to fix most things along the way.
  • Swiss army knife: Countless times people have asked to borrow the wine bottle opener on my Victorinox, but a swiss army knife can become useful in many other kinds of situations along the way.