What’s missing from others’ travel packing lists

We have now been on the road for 3 ½ years – nonstop – since there is no home for us to go back to. After 1,250 days of travel, you might believe us when we say that we have some experience in packing our suitcases.

Since our last post, a year ago, on what goes into our bags, we have added a few new things. We follow a rule that, when we add a few new items, then we remove a few things. This keeps our bags full, but not over-packed.

LIST OF NEW ADDITIONS

  1. Slippers! We know most people suggest just wearing heavy socks instead of slippers, but, when you’re in a place with no heat, it’s cold outside, and the floors are just as cold, slippers over those heavy socks are worth their weight in gold. Trust us on that!
DSC08616

Beth’s slippers are hand crafted in North Dakota by Bison Booties. They have a fleece lining inside and suede sole outside. Joe’s slippers are Climaplus 100 Camp Shoes from Mont-Bell, the perfect thermal booties for him.

  1. We use a good electric toothbrush in the US, but, when we travel to places with limited or no power supply, that won’t work. The little battery-operated toothbrushes just don’t cut it. What to do? We asked Soheila on our last dental visit in Portland, OR. Clever woman! She gave us this little 2-minute timer.
Suhela said, “If you do a good job of brushing your teeth for 2 minutes every morning and evening, you’ll be just fine.”

Soheila said, “If you do a good job of brushing your teeth for 2 minutes every morning and evening, you’ll be just fine.”

  1. The perfect personal bag is what everyone looks for. Beth couldn’t ever find all the features she wanted in a bag: lightweight; the right size; able to fit her small camera easily; pockets with closures for her wallet and her little paper memo book; difficult to pickpocket. She looked far and wide. When nothing materialized, she made her own.
The bag fits snugly under her arm and is super lightweight. The decorative buttons are on the front of the bag so Beth knows just where items are when she reaches in.

The bag fits snugly under her arm and is super lightweight. The decorative buttons are on the front of the bag so Beth knows just where items are when she reaches in.

  1. It’s the little things that are important. For years we had so many rubber bands in our kitchen drawer that the ball we’d made would no longer allow the drawer to close. We underestimated how often we use them. As we travel outside the US, we discovered no one else seems to use rubber bands like we do. So, if you want them, take some with you! We use rubber bands for compressing slippers and other items in the suitcase.   When we cook, they’re handy for sealing open bags of food.
We bought little 2” X 3” ziplock bags and store miscellaneous items for travel in them - like rubber bands. They’re easy to find and to keep organized.

We bought little 2” X 3” ziplock bags and store miscellaneous items for travel in them – like rubber bands. They’re easy to find and to keep organized.

  1. Another item we have taken with us – and will continue to take – (that is never on anyone else’s list) is “calling cards.” We made ours smaller than the usual business cards, with our names, email addresses, phone numbers, and – most important – how to find our blogs.  We did the design on excel with 15 cards per sheet, but you could use any program. A copy store printed them on heavy cardstock, and then we used their paper cutter to cut them into individual cards. It ended up costing a few cents for each card.
When we meet people on our travels, it easy to give them our card with the contact information neatly printed out.

When we meet people on our travels, it easy to give them our card with the contact information neatly printed out.

 

LIST OF WHAT WE REMOVED FROM OUR SUITCASES

  1. Rain pants were essential for hiking in New Zealand, and we used them several other places as well. We had planned to bring them to South America, but we knew we’d probably not wear them enough to justify the space they’d take up. We hope it’s not a mistake because, as we write, the rain is pouring down outside.….
  1. We took combination spoon-fork-knives with us as well as chopsticks. We thought we’d eat more food “on the go,” and they’d get a lot of use, but it never worked out that way. We were also advised to take a water purifier. Even in remote places, it was totally unnecessary for us.
  1. Joe removed his umbrella from the suitcase. Beth didn’t. Joe reasoned he would just pull up his hood. That worked for less than a month. Joe went in search of a portable umbrella in Cuenca, Ecuador. It malfunctioned on the second day, but he cobbled it back together for now with the help of a twig.

We should note that we’re using the same Eagle Creek roll-ons and the same shoulder bags that we started with 3 ½ years ago. They’ve put up with a lot, and we’re grateful they’re still working well for us. A few clothing items have been retired and similar ones have replaced them. We did “upgrade” to very light SmartWool socks because they dry much faster.

When you have what you need while you’re traveling and not one thing more; when every item is used; your suitcase zipper glides in closing; and your bags can be easily transported by you – then you have achieved the perfect balance.

 

June 2016

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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21 Responses to What’s missing from others’ travel packing lists

  1. My husband and I are about to leave for an almost year long trip. Thanks for the useful information!

  2. I’m amazed and inspired by your efficient packing habits and style!

  3. Marge says:

    Fun to think about in process as we are now in Adelaide. Marge believes in rainpants, Carl doesn’t so we’ll see what happens in N.Z. Never thought about rubber bands.

    • If you are not hiking in NZ, we think rain pants won’t be needed. On the other hand, quick dry fabric of today’s travel pants might be enough, if you don’t mind getting wet and cold.

  4. I love these travel hints. Nothing teaches as well as the experience itself. (Did I hear an ‘I told you so’ in that umbrella story???)

  5. We always carry a small knife sharpener. It’s rare to find a sharp knife in any self catering accommodation.

  6. Annette Davey says:

    Great useful information, thankyou. My hubby Paul insists that I carry a whistle for use if I am in trouble or lost (gets instant attention) Rubber bands are very useful. Enjoy

  7. Cliff Mail says:

    Good post, we found calling cards were great. Our bag labels kept getting ripped off in flight and the new ones that I found were designed to insert a calling card in, a bonus use. A swiss army styled pocket knife proved invaluable, velcro ties for cords and cables and a flexible gadget tray which i still use every day. Battery powered hair clippers were great for keeping hair undee control.
    I am in awe (and a little jealous) of the fact that you have been on the road for 3.5 years. Halfway mark?

    • Yes, we are at the halfway mark. Beth just uses tiny scissors to cut Joe’s hair. Velcro ties sound like a good idea. Same for the Swiss Army knife, although we carry an Opinel folding knife. What’s a flexible gadget tray, please?

  8. Merrill says:

    I pack 2 clothes pins which have been handy several times but are mostly used to close a bag of chips! We wrapped some duct tape onto a straw but never needed it. The absolute best item we carry is an electrical extension cord. The most unused: a cable bike lock.

    • Yes, our extension cord is essential. Rubber bands have been used for holding bags closed, and we’ve usually found clothes pins at our rental places for same purpose. Like you, we took duct tape but haven’t used it.

  9. Excellent post! I find rubber bands are something you would never think to pack but always end up needing!

  10. Jack M says:

    Great advice for long-term travelers.

  11. danyadarling says:

    I try always to travel with an umbrella too.

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