Traveling Light, Lighter and Choices to Make on the Vagabond Trail

I started considering the clothing I have been carrying since leaving six months ago and came up with a new direction. I need less clothing here. I still want sufficient clothing to last a week but lets be honest. Being on the road does not mean changing clothes every day. I can be clean but maintain my clothing at much lesser levels. Here is something to consider if you are traveling carry on with a 45L backpack like me. This is based on Southeast Asia only so use carefully but maybe some of it works for you.

  1. T shirts. I left with a set of six shirts plus the one I was wearing which means 7 all told. This is too many to carry I believe. So I slimmed down to carrying three t shirts and wearing one. The magic about this number is that its still enough to get through a week on but you wear the clothing longer. I will replace all 4 t shirts in Da Nang when I get a package from California in Da Nang.
  2. Underwear and Socks. Same rule applies. Its easier to replace socks and I don’t really worry about underwear that much. So down to carrying three pair of socks and 3 underwear.
  3. Jeans and long pants. Simply put; don’t do it. In most places Jeans are just gonna be too hot. I roasted in Hanoi my first weeks and then decided to get cheap cargo shorts in a stall for about $7.50 US each pair or less. You can get these anywhere in Asia in a market and its all good. Lose the jeans and buy lightweight cargo shorts.
  4. Toiletries. This is the biggest waste of space and weight ever folks. Trash the shampoo and bar soap and stupid little TSA containers and just buy it when you get there. You may need meds and eye stuff. That’s important!
  5. Camera Gear, lens. This is probably a personal thing but do you really want to carry that Nikon or Canon DSLR with all those lens and that bag that weighs like 10 pounds? Get a smaller and compact mirrorless travel camera. For me, I want to record my travels. Cities, roads, buses, planes, people, buildings, landscapes, cityscapes. Unless you are a pro photographer what more do you intend to do? The Fuji X100F can be a fantastic travel camera and it has been voted as the best for 2018. Or just stick to your phone. For me, the camera is a learning thing so I wanted something small and portable. Your choice! Your shoulder.
  6. Electronics and Charging. You need to have the ability to charge multiple devices but the chargers need to be small and flexible and also able to be used across the voltages you may find. The best is to find a multipart charger that can take two AC plugs and up to three USB ports for charging. Consider what that means! You can basically charge everything with this setup. You also need a plug adapter. This is not a converter but it will adapt the plug for your international ready multipart. Shopping at amazon will be good for this item but replacing things on the road can be difficult unless you have a mail service at home or a willing ex-wife to help out sometimes.
  7. Laptops and phones. The lighter the better. Do you need a 6 pound windows laptop or a Chromebook? How about the MacBook 12 inch 2017 model instead of the larger MacBook? Don’t forget the phone and make sure its unlocked and you have correct cables for both of the above. Don’t forget the software that runs on your ecosystem. This unites my travel having the same ecosystem apps on both the laptop and the phone. This can be Google Docs or some other app. Google docs is good across so many platforms.
  8. Reading. Reading can be a big or little thing for the weight on your shoulder. Carrying hardback books may give you the thrill of the page and paper and the feeling but there is another feeling. The backpack on the shoulder feeling. For me, the kindle paper white works a charm and I share the hotspot on my iPhone to download books to the kindle.

The final dynamic is how you travel. Do you pack a suitcase and check it in? A bigger backpack you cannot carry on? Do you carry a personal item? How does your bag deal with your needs? I travel with the Tortuga Outbreaker 45L bag. Its the king of organization but you pay a bit of weight. I also carry the Tortuga daypack as a personal item but also when I head out for the day.

A few other things I have noted in six months are other bags like camera bags and laundry bags and toiletry bags and small zip bags to carry the electronics and charging stuff. All of these combine to make more weight on your shoulder. I use packing cubes but I could just roll the clothing but the cubes seem to separate the weight out while making things easier to find. So many choices but I’ll leave you with a few things.

Final Comments on Packing it Light and Making it

Traveling in Asia is not difficult. The planes, trains, buses are not inherently hard to do. In Vietnam especially there is an understanding of how the backpacking tourist industry works. The buses and plane flights I’ve done have been very considerate of traveling with gear. If you are on the road try to consider the way you will use the devices you pack. A backpacking backpack loads from the top while a travel backpack opens like a suitcase. What seems easier to you with frequent or even long term stops in countries or on trains?

I think everyone at times decides to lessen the load they carry in favor of making new decisions about what is road worthy. If you are on the road forever vagabonding the idea you need 7 days worth of clothing is probably overdo. Consider carefully how you record the sights and sounds. Maybe a smartphone just works for you. Finally look carefully at the laptops and electronics you choose. A laptop that weighs 6 pounds is 6 more pounds on your back or shoulder. A Chromebook can make the difference.

Thanks for reading along up to this point of my voyage. Its been a grand and never ending solo voyage.

Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.