This is a travel blog for desktop travelers and other ramblers who want to know the world just a little bit better.

Right now I am living in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where I'll be settled for a while. Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Packed! - What I Need for Long Term Travel

Imagine no possessions; I wonder if you can
   -- John Lennon

In the words of John Lennon, "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not."
   -- Steve Carell

Super Downsize Me

For what ever reason human beings accumulate things, lots of things. Sometimes I wonder if the purpose of owning a house is just to have permanent storage for our belongings. Therefore, leaving your home and country for a year or longer requires serious downsizing.

Look into your overflowing closets and drawers. What is necessary? Would it still necessary if you knew that you had to physically carry it around the world for the next twelve months? For me the process of whittling my necessities down to what would fit into one medium sized suitcase was liberating. Before traveling, every piece of furniture sold on craigslist was a step closer to freedom. Selling my car was exhilarating. After the yard sale and Goodwill charity drop-off three days until my flight to Japan I could feel the heavy weight of "stuff" being lifted from my shoulders.

Now don't get me wrong, I am quite far from being a happy-go-lucky hippie free of worldly possessions type of guy. There is a large pile of boxes in the storage closet of our basement in Colorado, a few things at Mika's mother's house in Japan, my sister's house in Denver and a hostel in Bogota and, well, we still own a brick and mortar building called "home." But right now as I sit in my hotel room in Ecuador all of those things mentioned above can feel slightly abstract. I am living with one suitcase and a small backpack.

Below I have made an exact inventory of my possessions as of April 14, 2011 which is exactly 320 days of living out of my suitcase. It is everything that I need to travel for a very long time. This post probably would have been a better for the beginning of my travels, but basically my things are the same as when I started. This year I have tried to buy as little as possible only replacing items on a per need basis -- lose a hat, buy a hat; ruin shoes, buy new shoes. The only shame of living this way is having to pass on the countless number of excellent souvenirs we have seen along the way. All of which would end up as another box in the basement.

Here's what I'm packin'...


4 pants, 1 long-sleeved and 1 short-sleeved button down shirt, 6 underwear, 5 t-shirts, 4 pairs of socks, 1 undershirt, 1 sweatshirt, 1 long john shirt, 1 bathing suit


1 hat, 1 pair of glasses and prescription sunglasses, 1 glasses case, 1 day bag, 1 sneakers, 1 flip-flops, 1 small towel, 2 bathing caps, 1 international driver's license, 1 money belt with passport, expired CO driver's license, 2 ATM cards, 1 credit card, some US $ cash and a frequent flier card


High tech travel
1 netbook with bag, 1 ipod touch, 1 headphones, 1 small digital camera, 1 SLR digital camera, 1 camera battery charger, 3 camera lenses, 1 500 GB hard drive, 1 memory stick, 1 set of international plug converters

Just Stuff:

1 guidebook, 2 paperback books, 1 book from Colombia tourism office, 1 modest sized bag of assorted toiletries, 1 light sleeping bag, 1 7" x 5" empty art portfolio, 3 small locks and keys, 2 empty plastic bags, 1 small notebook, 3 pens, 1 flashlight without batteries, 1 package of bath salts from Bali, 1 dried seed from Ecuador jungle, 2 Malaysian Ringgit, 2 packages to make hot chocolate, 1 reusable coffee filter, 1 handwoven belt from Otavalo, 1 cow skin wine flask from Cali, and 1 pack of International Rambler business cards
Laundry and clothes I am wearing not shown, but you get the idea
Does anyone need anything more? Looking at this list again there are probably some things I could do without and I should one day definitely add an umbrella or rain poncho.

Follow this link to see the list of exactly where my suitcase and I have been for the past ten months.

So what do you think, am I missing anything, maybe something vital you could never do without?

My Case For The Case

My travel mentality, budget and attitude would place me in the "backpacker" category, but I do not have a large backpack. I cringe when I see other backpackers walking around loaded down front and back. Backpacks are great for carrying all your belongings up mountains and in jungles, but almost nobody brings all of their belongings on these types of excursions. They leave their big bag in storage at a hostel and take only what they need, just like I do.

I am not sure why more people do not do use the wheelie suitcase. Apart from stairs I almost never have to lift it. Only twice can I recall ever having to schlep it on my shoulders for any considerable distance: The beach on Perhentian Island, Malaysia and on the cobblestone roads in Villa de Leyva, Colombia. Usually I am just wheeling it around with minimal effort.

I rest my case.

The following message is not endorsed by Yoko Ono:

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