When you start planning a trip like ours, you also start obsessively scouring the internet for blogs of other people have made similar trips. I’d spend hours obsessing over things like “Should I get the underpants that are ‘moisture wicking’ or ‘odor control’ AND WHY DON’T THEY MAKE ANY THAT ARE BOTH?” On this (and many other topics) I would be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to fantastic rtw bloggers Jillian and Danny over at I should Log Off. I found their advice to be invaluable, particularly in my packing decisions.
I want to not look like a gap-year backpacker on this trip, but some of that will be unavoidable. Really, I just wanted to pack the bare essentials. There are two pieces of advice that is uniform across the internet on this topic:
1) If your pack is too heavy, it WILL make you miserable
2) You’re going to Asia — not Mars. If you forgot to pack something, you can buy it on the road.
With that in mind, here is everything that is going into my 44 liter pack:
Tops and bottoms
5 pairs of underwear from Ex Officio. These guys are amazing. Moisture wicking, don’t appear to smell. Extremely quick drying. This is critical gear for SE Asia.
Two pairs of shorts, two bathing suits, one pair of extremely light quick dry pants from Salomon (are actually very well cut and quite slim in the leg)
One long sleeve thin fleece (for over air-conditioned trains, buses and planes), my beloved DC United soccer jersey which is a very light long-sleeve moisture wicking deal. 2 cotton t-shirt for beaches and sleeping in. 5 short sleeve quick dry moisture wicking shirts in a variety of styles and colors (one polo, two half-zip, 2 t-shirts)
In the blue compression sack is my rain jacket and the rain cover for my backpack. I’ve got extra space in it to use it also as a laundry bag.
One pair of Toms for being able to walk around fashionable areas of a city and not look like a backpacker. One pair of crap flip-flops for grungy bathrooms and beaches. One pair of Keen Newport H2’s, which are frighteningly ugly, but extremely comfortable, light, and let my feet breathe.
Live without the internet? If I can’t see videos of turtles farting in bathtubs or pictures of babies in monocles, then that is not a life worth living sir. We’ve got a kindle, ipad, laptop (Acer Aspire One – weights about 3 lbs), my old crap jailbroken and unlocked iPhone 3G, an ipod, a international plug adapter, a monster outlet extender that can turn one outlet into a charging station for 3 standard plugs and two USB devices, In the black bag is where we keep all the related cords and chargers for these devices.
Ahhh, now the fun begins. Here we’ve got: an inflatable travel pillow (a komfort kollar. Amazing so far), a deck of cards, earplugs, a small repair kit for my glasses, an athletic glasses strap, a combination lock, a caribiner that also has a compass and a thermometer in it, a DC United patch that I SWEAR I will eventually sew onto my bag, a headlamp, a one liter nalgene bottle, a pacsafe cable lock so we can secure our bags, a travel towel, a leatherman tool, my Rx sunglasses and a spare pair of regular glasses, a Steripen for sterilizing water on the go, a travel blanket.
Just your standard bunch of travel-size toiletries in the clear bag. In the mesh bag is some fabreze and some liquid soap to use to wash our clothes out in sinks. There’s also an electric beard trimmer there. As a bearded man (most of the time), this is the one luxury item I’ve allowed myself. It’s not heavy but every ounce and inch counts when I’ll be carrying everything on my back for the foreseeable future. On the left is my REI Flash 22 backpack. This is what I use most days to just walk around after we’ve stashed our big bags at the hostel. It folds up into itself into a little pouch about 5 inches by 3 inches for easy storage.
Here’s what it looks like when it’s all packed up. The big bag weighs about 22 lbs, the smaller one I’m guessing is about 5 lbs.
All You REALLY Need
Of course, this is all just STUFF. It’s replaceable. Something, or likely, SEVERAL THINGS will get lost or stolen or broken on this trip. Before I left, my former boss who had taken a trip like this himself gave me some great and freeing advice. He said, “You can have all the stuff you want, but all you really need is money and a passport. With that you can do whatever you want.” Of course, I’d make an addendum to that — all I need is money, my passport and OF COURSE Mrs. Banh Mi by my side!