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.”
Solar Entrepreneur and Global Changemaker
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.