Backpack & Snorkel - Making Memorable Moments
Backpack and Snorkel - Making Memorable Moments

To help support the expenses of hosting this blog, some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” This means that, if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive a small commission from the seller; there is no added cost to you.

Auto Europe - Car Deals Around The World
Hershel - Fantastic Luggage
Gabriel - Fine Jewelry
My Medic - Best First Aid Kits On The Planet
My Medic - Best First Aid Kits On The Planet
Auto Europe - Car Deals Around The World
Hershel - Fantastic Luggage
Gabriel - Fine Jewelry

Packing Light is Easier than you may think

 

We used to over pack terribly when we traveled internationally and I typically ended up carrying my backpack and 2 heavy suitcases through sandy streets in beach towns, hilly and uneven streets in e.g. Hong Kong, and bumping into people right and left.

 

A few years ago, we flew to Providencia, which is a small Caribbean island belonging to Colombia.  The flight there takes place in a small plane and, with the inexpensive ticket that we had, we were allowed only one carry-on per person weighing max. 5kg and that's it.

We debated if we should store our luggage at the airport in San Andres from where the only flight takes off or... pack light.

Well, we decided to take the risk and pack only what we needed - and we survived!  I am proud to say that was the time when we truly learned to pack efficiently and we have done it ever since.

 

Gone are the days where we packed clean clothes for every vacation day plus a few extra ones, a whole pharmacy to ensure that we have something for every possible illness we could get.  And guess what: We still wear clean clothes every day, have the medicine that we most likely need and now we save on fees for checked bags and we travel lightly and easily.

 

 

So, how did we do it and can you do it too?

 

Below, I will explain what we do and why we do it and I will show you our packing list which is designed for adults traveling in warmer climates.  If you travel with children or go to colder or rainy climates, then you will need to add more items.

 

The most important realization

...is that you don't need to bring a set of clean clothes for each day of your itinerary.  Hotels typically have laundry machines and, if you are as stingy as I am, you can wash your clothes in the hotel bathroom yourself for free.

We typically bring clean underwear and shirts for 3 days.  It is important to bring clothes that are light weight and dry easily.  My normal office socks and many of my t-shirts are easy-dry that you can buy in any department store; we had to look a little harder to find easy-dry underpants.  

If you are traveling light, (almost) nothing is worse than clothes that soak up water and need 3 days to dry.

 

Typically, every other evening, in the hotel we spend 10min to wash our clothes in warm water using the shampoo or soap that is provided by the hotel.  Then we use extra hotel towels, place our clothes on a towel, roll it up and then wring as much water out as we can.  Actually, this is a great game - see how lets go of the towel first when twisting it.

Afterwards, we use cheap metal hangers (the ones that you get with a garment purchase in some stores or at the dry cleaners) and some clamps and hang them in our hotel room over night, ideally in a place where there is some air movement from the ceiling fan or A/C.

In most cases, the clothes will be dry the next morning.


 

The second most important realization

...is that you may not want to pack things that you think you may need or things that you will only need once.

Here are some ideas:

  • If it is winter and you fly to a warm climate: pack your summer clothes in your backpack and wear your winter clothes on all flights.  No airline will charge you for a winter jacket that you are wearing, even if you are traveling in the Caribbean.
  • Elegant night on a cruise: unless you want to take photos wearing your formal gowns: wear your formal wear on the flight and wash them on the cruise ship.  Take shoes that look formal, but can be used for your regular activities on your trip.

The third most important realization

...is that clothes that you roll up need much less space.  Therefore, I always roll up my clothes to maximize storage space.

 

Medicine

I typically pack enough prescription medicine for the duration of the trip plus 3 days.  As I don't want to carry the big orange containers that mostly have air in them, I put my medicine in a small medicine bottle.

Since I sometimes get headaches or migraine, I always put the headache and migraine pills together in a small container (e.g. an old Advil bottle) or alternatively you can use a small plastic zip lock bag.  And I never take more than I think I will need.

Other than those, I only carry a few Tums and Pepto Bismo with me.  Again, I put them in small containers or plastic bags and never take more than I will need.  If you need more and you travel abroad, then you may find that they may actually be cheaper where you are.

 

Cameras and Camcorders

I love my DSLR camera and my camcorder, but I need to admit that my cell phone camera is so good that it can often replace them.  So, nowadays I only take my DSLR camera and its multiple lenses if I go to a place where I know I will take epic photos.  If we go on a beach vacation, then I will leave it at home and only take my cell phone and my underwater camera.

 

Tips for toiletries due to airport restrictions on liquids

  • Tooth paste: we use small 0.85 floz (24 ml) tooth paste tubes that we refill at home from our regular tooth paste tube.  Depending on the length of the trip we take 1, 2 or 3 per person.
  • Mosquito repellant: we bought small spray bottles at a Walmart that we fill the mosquito repellant in and wrap it in 2 zip lock bags, just to make sure that if the bottle leaks, we don't contaminate everything in the backpack
  • Sun lotion: We have several 2 floz (60 ml) tubes that we refill
  • Shampoo: I typically bring 1 small shampoo bottle from a previous hotel trip, as not all hotels always have shampoo or sometimes they run out
A small backpack is all it takes
Clothes Hangers and Clamps

The following packing list allows me to travel in warmer climates with only a normal backpack (you can get the PDF here)

  • Passport with visa(s) if needed
  • International diver license if needed
  • Cell phone and charger
    Must have on the cell phone:
    - copy of all reservations (also in your email account on the internet)
    - google maps with save offline maps
    - google translate
    - addresses of hotels and sites to see (also in your email account on the internet)
    - phone numbers of hotels, sites to see, car rentals (also in your email account on the internet)
    - information on sites to see (also in your email account on the internet)
    - books to read
    - music
    - plenty of available space for photos and videos
  • 3 clothes hangers and 4 clamps
  • 3 pairs of socks and underpants - all easy-dry
  • 3 T-Shirts - all easy-dry and wrinkle free (100% polyester or polyester/Spandex)
  • 1 pair of short pants or long pants (convertible into shorts)
  • Medicine for the duration of the trip plus 3 days and medical devices
  • Toiletries
  • Universal travel adapter (if needed)
  • Foldable bag for shopping or the beach

  • Reusable empty water bottle

  • Underwater camera with charger (if needed)

  • Selfie stick

  • Swim wear (useful for hotel pools too)
  • Sunglasses for anyone who does not have photochromic eye glasses
  • Credit card with no fee for international use -> call your credit card company before you travel and put a travel notification on your account
  • ATM card -> call your bank before you travel and put a travel notification on your account
  • Cash
  • Multi plug extension cord (for cruises: absolutely not allowed to have surge protector as it can set ship on fire)
  • Pajama (my pajama is a T-Shirt plus light weight pants that I can use as shorts for outdoors)
  • Small and large Ziploc bags
  • Plastic utensils
  • Bottle opener
  • USB battery pack and charging cable
  • Car charger
  • Pen to fill out immigration papers
  • Chap stick

  • Hand sanitizer spray

  • Breath mints and snacks

 

Depending on the destination, the following items may be needed

Tube sizes for cremes