Packing Lists

All of the stuff we carry--minus the umbrella. We lost that on the shuttle.
All of the stuff we carry–minus the umbrella. We lost that on the shuttle. And the yellow rain jacket. It was accidentally left on a bus in Costa Rica. Oops.

About Packing Light

When I tell people that we have been traveling since December 2011 — only carrying a day pack and a messenger bag each — most are shocked by the idea of carrying so little. Well, as nice as a light bag sounds, we’re not carrying them. Let me tell you, we can cram a lot of stuff into two small bags.

Our rules for what goes in our bags:

  1. If we don’t love it, we don’t have room for it.
    What if every shirt in your wardrobe were your favorite shirt? Yeah, we’ve got that — because our wardrobes only have 5 shirts each. We have a strict 1-in-1-out policy. This means, if we want something new, it has to replace something existing. This has really helped us to be smarter consumers. We’re no longer spending money on things we might only end up wearing/using every once in a while and instead have a bag full of only our favorite things. And that’s pretty great.
  2. Is it TSA approved? If not, can we replace it upon arrival at minimal cost?
    This also cuts down on carrying things. For example, a nice kitchen knife would be really great to carry. But we can’t get through security with one, so we’re not packing it. Thankfully, TSA now has a searchable database and mobile app.
  3. Everything we pack is arguably the most useful thing we pack.
    If we’ve discovered that something in our bag has become dead weight, we find a new home for it asap. Mike had an awesome pair of boat shoes, but he found he wore them very rarely. Were they awesome for snorkeling? Yes, but that was about it. Considering the real estate they were taking up in his bag, he decided to give them to a person who could really use them.
  4. You really don’t need 10 pairs of underwear. 
    Let’s face it. We’re traveling. We’re not at home with a washing machine. So we do things a little differently and that means handwashing our skivvies and socks in the sink. We have gone weeks rotating 2 pairs of underwear each. Wear one, wash one. We each carry 5 pairs and feel decadently over-prepared with them. Read more about that here.

Our Inventory

Here are related post with our packing lists of essentials for a weekend, or indefinite travel.

These lists and a whole heck of a lot of insight from other world travelers are available in my ebook The Modern Nomad’s Backpack: A Guide to Packing light for Round the World Travel.

Product Reviews

You can see what clothing and gear we’re actually carrying and what we think about them in these lists:

Other Awesome Packing Lists and Resources:

These fellow nomads have provided some really great insight for packing light & smart. Check out their lists.