Travel Resources – What I Pack

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I am often asked what I pack when I travel. When there is not a pandemic going on I might travel for about 3 months of the year and 138,000 miles so I do have some experience. Here is what is in my bag. As a rule, I pack for no more than 10 days. If I am on the road for longer than that I plan on doing some laundry just like I do at home. This might mean washing some things out in a sink or it might mean laundry in a hotel or a launderette. On the rare occasion, when I am someplace that is inexpensive it might mean a laundry service. But I find the inconvenience of a little washing is made up for in the extra mobility that packing light gives me.

What to Pack

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Pacsafe Ultimatesafe 22L

What’s In My Backpack

My backpack itself is a Pacsafe Ultimatesafe 22L anti-theft backpack. I did some work for PacSafe last year. I don’t use all the gear they gave me, but I really have liked this backpack. It is smaller than my old one but big enough for what I carry. The anti-theft part of the backpack doesn’t hurt either.

Laptop – MacBook Air

I never go anywhere without my MacBook Air which I use to work on the road both as a software developer/entrepreneur as well as a blogger and podcaster. I love how a machine this powerful is also so darn light and once you have gone to a solid-state drive you will never go back. Now I feel the same way about a Mac with Apple Silicon.

Tablet – iPad Mini

iPad Mini – When I am done working for the day I often switch to my iPad Mini which has videos, eBooks, games, and more on it. I still have the 1st version but my wife just got the 4th edition. I will upgrade when mine stops working great. See Best iOS Apps Ever – What I have on my iPhone and iPad for more info. Before you get on the plane make sure that you have the latest version of the airline app on your iPad if the airline has a wi-fi-based entertainment system as United Airlines has.

Camera

I am currently carrying a Canon T5i DSLR Camera. I take the majority of my photos on my iPhone but I still need that zoom lens from my DSLR for some shots. (read more at Finding The Best Camera for Travel Photography)

External Battery / Wi-fi / Hard Drive Thingy

I carry a device that I can use to recharge my electronics when I am on the road. The HooToo Wireless Hard Drive Companion Wireless Router, Access Point, 6000mAh External Battery Pack Dual USB Charger. This versatile device can be used to extend the wi-fi range in the hotel room and store files as it is a solid-state hard drive.

Noise Canceling Headphones

I carry the compact and beautiful AKG N60nc Noise Canceling Headphones (see review)

Travel Surge protector

A Travel Surge protector is a compact power strip that will make you some friends in the airport when outlets are scarce. I carry a K-century Travel Power Strip Surge Protector which also comes in handy in many hotel rooms with not enough outlets to re-charge my electronics.

Binder Pencil Case – Cables

This may seem like a strange thing to carry.. especially since it does not contain pencils. This small flat cloth pencil case has a couple of zippered pockets. This keeps cords untangled. It contains:

Things for Flights

I take a small cloth case with a zipper when I am flying. It contains:

  • soft foam earplugs
  • Eyeshade
  • small pillbox with (ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea, mild sleeping pills, Aleve D, Mucus Relief DM, and Zync tablets)
  • CLEAR card – like a FastPass for TSA and Immigration

Small Electronic Things

I have a small drawstring bag that contains some of my smaller electronic items to make it harder to lose them in the depths of my backpack.

Things for International Travel

  • Passport – Make sure before your trip that your passport is not about to expire. Some countries won’t let you enter if your passport has less than 6 months of use left.
  • universal plug converter (international)

Journalist Things

  • business cards and card case
  • small Moleskine notebook (optional)
  • pen (remember those custom forms)

Things for Weather

  • small umbrella
  • Sunglasses

Things for being Prepared

Pacsafe Toursafe Lifestyle 21 Inch

What’s In My Suitcase

I usually take a carry-on suitcase (See my guide on buying a carry-on suitcase).  Sometimes for longer trips, I will use an American Tourister Luggage Splash 21″ Upright Suitcase, which is not quite a carry-on size. But I have done 5 weeks in one carry-on and prefer to pack lighter. My American Tourister suitcase is red, but I still have a ribbon or something so they can be spotted on a luggage carousel if I have to gate check.

Clothes

  • Blue jeans – They dry slowly so they are not ideal for travel, but I still like jeans. On trips to warm climates where shorts are not culturally acceptable, I replace my jeans with lightweight travel pants.
  • Travel pants – These pack in less space than a pair of jeans and look dressier. (See best Travel Pants for Men)
  • cotton/polyester blend button-down shirts – You will usually find me in Amateur Traveler branded shirts
  • cotton boxer underwear – These are easy to wash and dry overnight. I have a pair of Ex-Officio briefs that backpackers swear by, but they are more expensive.
  • socks
  • shorts
  • no extra shoes – I get by with only one pair of brown sneakers because shoes take up so much space
  • workout shorts
  • t-shirt
  • swimsuit
  • hat – I have what looks most like a foldable cotton cowboy hat (see Amateur Traveler home page), with a brim for good shade, although have switched recently to a more compact baseball-style cap.
  • handkerchief
  • sweatshirt
  • jacket (usually worn on the plane)
  • wide brimmed foldable hat
  • Amateur Traveler branded baseball cap

Other Stuff

  • laundry bag
  • shaving kit
    • razor
    • stick deodorant
    • toothbrush/toothbrush case
    • nail clippers
    • floss
    • small scissors
  • clear plastic Ziploc bag
    • shaving cream
    • shampoo
    • conditioner
    • toothpaste
    • capsaicin cream (good for a sore back)
    • sunscreen

Things for International Travel

  • money pouch (I use one with a felt back which is more comfortable)

Things for Domestic Travel in the USA

Travel Podcaster  / Blogger Things

What’s In My Pockets

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

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