Little Luxuries that Fit in a Small Pack

Packing uberlight is a pretty great way to travel. Your bags are light, small, and carry-on sized. You don’t need much stuff and you don’t have much stuff. Some people carry 3 shirts, 2 pairs of socks, 1 pair of pants, and a bedroll. I met that people. Her name was Charlee. She’s hard core. Now, I’m a light packer, but I’m not that light because I also like being comfortable.

Call me soft, or call me what you will, but I enjoy some of the extra fluffy stuff that I carry — while still fitting everything into my daypack and zipped tote bag. When I asked my world-traveling and world-changing friend Dave for a packing pro tip for my book, he said:

“Bring a creature comfort along with you—something to remind you of good stuff when you’re really far from home. I always wear a necklace with an arrowhead that my best bud knapped for me in Montana. Some people don’t require a reminder but I sure do in those tough moments of anxiety or doubt.”

 Dave Lettero
Solar Entrepreneur and Global Changemaker
thevida.org

I think that’s a wise move. Though absolutely none of these things would show up on anyone’s “must pack” list, I enjoy having these things because they enrich my travel experience, and in some cases, help me to remember who I am while everything around me is changing.

This full size, ultra light yoga mat keeps my feet from slipping, but more importantly keeps the gecko poop off my face
My full size, ultra light yoga mat keeps my feet from slipping, but more importantly keeps the gecko poop off my face

Travel yoga mat
Most of the time, I really don’t need a yoga mat. Thats is to say: most of the time, my feet aren’t sliding out from underneath me and I don’t need a lot of padding. But I’ve done yoga on some pretty nasty floors and it sure is nice to have a buffer between the gecko turds and my face. There is something to be said about being so focused that the gecko turds are a non issue, but frankly, I’m not that zen. (the ultralight yoga mat I carry)

a set of travel paints enabled a painting party with friends in Mexico
a set of travel paints enabled a painting party with friends in Mexico

Crayons and paints
Sometimes, I just want to zone out or create something beautiful. Having travel-size tools to do that sure is handy. All I have to do is pick up a notebook or coloring book wherever land and I’m set to get artistic. I was gifted these paints while in Mexico — in addition to packing super small, this gift is so great because we had already used them in a big painting party with some wonderful friends. (the paints I carry)

Tennis ball
I don’t play tennis. But I do love rolling this thing in the arch of my foot or along my shoulder blades after a long travel day. If you’ve never done this, do yourself a favor and give it a try.

Super poster size tyvek world map is durable and tolerates all of the things we stick on it
Super poster size tyvek world map is durable and tolerates all of the things we stick on it

World map and inflatable globe
I think it’s nice to have a reminder of the bigger picture when we’re traveling. Especially when we’ve got a checklist of destinations to cover. So we have this super strong and ultra light paper map that we hang on the wall. We stick little flags and post-its on it as we go. And since paper maps are so terribly disproportional (seriously, Greenland is not that big), we also have an inflatable globe (trade show give-away) — which doubles as a beach ball. (the map we carry)

Tiny games are easy to carry and make a great excuse to get to know people
Tiny games are easy to carry and make a great excuse to get to know people

Games
In addition to the card games I created, we also carry just the game pieces from Pass the Pigs, farkel, Toss-Up, Cinq-o, and a frisbee that was crocheted in Guatemala. They’re all small and they’re a great excuse to invite new friends to play.

Wooden spoon
My best friend gave me a wooden spoon that she brought back with her from Kenya. Since we’ve got kitchens in the places where we’re staying, I get to use a beautiful gift every time I cook instead of a wimpy, plastic spoon that melts. It makes me a happier and healthier cook and I get a little reminder from home.

A business card with my email and travel blog have been handy for keeping in touch with all of the awesome people I meet along the way
A business card with my email and travel blog have been handy for keeping in touch with all of the awesome people I meet along the way

Business cards
I printed a few personal business cards before leaving the US and they’ve been a handy way to exchange contact info with fellow travelers. This way, I don’t have to scramble for a pen.

Little gifts
Jodi from LegalNomads.com also recommends carrying thank you cards. Which I think is a fabulous Idea. Considering that we’ve stayed in a lot of hostels and guest houses (and even a little house sitting), we’ve had a lot of people to thank for their hospitality. Plus, swapping little gifts with other travelers can be fun. This year, I was able to participate in holiday gift exchange in Mexico where I brought gifts from Panama and Guatemala.

In the end, I love to challenge myself to pack uberlight in some categories (like socks and toiletries), but overall, I’m geared towards enjoying my time on the road and if that means carrying a couple of extra luxuries, that’s what I’ll do.

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