Travel by bus, train, air? – Sure you can in Asia

This is a companion piece to my blogpost about trip planning and booking hotel rooms in Vietnam or elsewhere. I wanted to focus on transportation within the countries other than airline flights. My goal was to fly as I needed but to try to rely on cheaper transport and you can move around a lot between countries here on bus, ferry, and train lines. The best way is to find the website applications which will make it easy to book the travel. Without further ado, I present a few of them for your consideration:

12go – This site is a master site for all kinds of transportation in Asia. You can book combination trips on it which include air, bus, train service. You can also just book a single transport and the site works very well on mobile devices. You get the tickets in an attachment and you can show just the attachment on your phone to activate the travel. I think of this site like a super site to book travel in Asia and to also research possible trips and transit. Very handy to look at a portfolio for a trip you may want to take. You can plan out the train trip from Chiang Mai to Singapore if you want and it will help explain what you need to do. Shorter trips are a piece of cake too.

Giant Ibis – Giant Ibis is a bus transport company that covers Vietnam and Cambodia pretty well. If you want to find bus service to go from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh Cambodia this is the place to look. The site is dead easy to use and you get nice tickets which you do not need to print. Simply show on your phone and off you go!

So far I’ve covered two sites which can make it easier to book travel on a variety of ways and also let you plan “what if” scenarios. Next up is a site which I have used for years looking at railroad journeys. It covers the world basically and you can look up distances, fares, travel times, issues or ways around them. I think of this as a comprehensive train resource for the world at large. Very useful.

If you have to fly and who says you may not want to given distances and time, consider airlines like Vietnam Airlines. I’ve found them to be very responsive and also issue tickets quickly. The website is easy to understand and you can get going quickly. As an example of an issue, I found that some air travel I booked had the first and middle names mixed up. The airlines support fixed this in one day and issued new tickets.

The real thing around asia is you can find multiple ways to book travel. The comprehensive multiple transport sites like 12go are very handy but sometimes you just want the bus ticket like I did from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. Ten minutes later had the tickets in hand.

Hope this helps you if you are planning on moving around Asia and were hoping to find comprehensive sites to book travel. I also have a plan to report on some tour agencies I have been using coming up. I am not a big fan of tours but sometimes they serve a purpose. I will be taking two over the next few weeks because its easier and like most things in Hanoi its very reasonable in price and I get to see historic and cultural sites in a dedicated vehicle.

Some travel to come

Since I have to do a Visa run exit in mid June, I had to make a few changes to other transportation bookings to accommodate that. One thing I had booked was train travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City in June. I will have a little under three months to see Ho Chi Minh City all told before my Visa runs out. Here’s the map of the rail trip.

The trip takes approximately 30 hours and I would get to see everything from where Hanoi is all the way to southern Vietnam where Ho Chi Minh City is. The Vietnam Rail folks wanted to make sure I understood the time the trip takes so I confirmed that I will board the train on the 18th of June and will probably arrive sometime in the afternoon on the 19th.

To me, this is one of those train trips to see an entire country that one should do. Its like the Amtrak across the United States or the rail trip across Canada. To me, there is only one real way to see a thing and its not driving. I’ve tried driving while living in the US and road trips are good but nothing can beat the whistle and sound of the train hitting the rails and the people that gather. While in India, I rode the train from Chennai to Mysore and back. That was an overnight trip and a lot of fun including the morning call for coffee and Dosas. I have ridden Amtrak to San Diego, Santa Barbara, and up to Oregon a few times. There is a quintessential thing about the travel by rail missing in all other methods. Its that progression and sound and feeling that you get as the train propels itself to new places around each bend.

As you probably know, I also took the Shinkansen trains this last few weeks in Japan. i rode in quiet comfort from Tokyo to HIroshima and then from Hiroshima to Osaka. The bullet trains in Japan are nothing short of fantastic. I love the attention to detail on those trains, the speed and the efficiency of the system while still allowing you to see the sights that go past your window at a few hundred miles per hour.

I can’t wait for this trip. Another one interesting is to ride the train from Bangkok Thailand to Singapore. You have to book that one in segments. Just for interest, here are a few interesting travel sites perhaps to consider if you feel that train urge.

  1. This is a great resource for any train travel. The Man in Seat 61 prepares you for voyages just about anywhere by train.
  2. Interested in booking a combination of train, rail, bus trips in Asia? Best site I have seen is 12go. You can make immediate travel plans on the go. it works equally well on mobile devices. You can combine rail, bus, and air if you want. Want that trip from Thailand to Singapore? You can do it at 12go.
  3. Want that train trip in Vietnam I booked? Heres the Vietnam Railways Site.
  4. Amtrak does a nice job of showing US train travel with how to connect as well.
  5. Want to book the Shinkansen but you are not yet in Japan? I have you covered. You can book Shinkansen tickets here in advance and they will mail the tickets. Have no fear with this system. I used it and it works.

I started awhile ago gathering resources I would find that make it easier to travel in Asia. Bus travel is probably one of the greatest ways to get around. While not specifically rail travel as those are focused above on, Giant Ibis provides a very nice booking resource for bus trips in Southeast Asia. Give them a whirl if you want to also do what I am doing after Vietnam which is riding a bus to Phnom Penh Cambodia.

Thanks all! Happy travels. Try the train wherever your travels avail. No disappointment



Camera Learning Never Stops

I almost stopped doing photography from about December to end of January this year. Work claimed me almost completely and my FujiFilm X100F sat there perhaps patiently waiting as I promised I would get back to it. When March came around, it was time. I left the states for hopefully good and the camera went with. I had things I wanted to capture, places in Japan I only had limited time at. Mostly though I wanted learning. I wanted to start learning again. Now I’m retired and the camera becomes an obsession. I find things to read over dinner or in the room at nights. Here are my current things of learning;

  1. Exposure Compensation and why I would use it. This is one of those things that can affect the quality of the frame you are shooting and you can see the difference immediately. My camera said that an Aperture of 5.6 was good enough but many of my photos were over-exposed. I first thought of turning down the EC a bit. What I came away with this evening is tomorrow I will go play with this and the next one.
  2. Metering and how I was perhaps doing it wrong. I have a feeling that spot metering is not good for me shooting scenes on the streets of Hanoi. I have since switched to Multi Metering and will try that tomorrow on the streets and at the Lake.
  3. Automatic mode and why I may start using it more for street photography. This is a dual edged sword because I don’t feel I learn anything by using the camera in automatic mode. All of the things are decided but if a default is wrong  or the light is not considered correctly, its not so good. So perhaps I need to go back to what I was doing before. I was focusing on each of the program modes on the camera and shooting in them as I could. Since I am here in Vietnam now, practicing is so easy. i just walk out the door of my hotel room basically.

So tomorrow i will go out for some hours again and play with the camera. I will not put it on fully automatic mode because I don’t think learning happens there. i like shooting in Aperture Priority mode because I feel like its the easiest to understand. I will shift though to the next one which is Shutter Priority when I’m good and ready. Fully manual mode is somewhere out there for me. Not today or tomorrow. But given I am in learning mode and I have this whole city to practice in with no work slowing me down, its all possible.

The art of Relaxation or how to put off until tomorrow

I’ve been traveling only two weeks plus days and this is really the first time I have ever traveled without a real destination in sight. Its kind of a weird sensation. I still fight the urge to get to a place or rush through a thing and I have to pull myself back and give myself a good talking to. Something like this,

Hey! Its okay to read your Kindle for 2 hours by the Lake here in Hanoi with a cold beer. You have no place to be and all day to get there. You can walk slower and see more. Turn left instead of right. No one really cares.

I think the retirement thing when it finally came was something so different that I still sit in my room in Hanoi and puzzle it. I can still hear the echoes of the people telling me that task or milestone X or Y may not get done and that may affect subsequent task 23 and milestone 50. Its hard to break out of that mindset but yet retirement has those things.

I sat the by the lake today right next to the old town here in Hanoi and watched the people propelling themselves to here and there. I felt their desire to see what the things were or to hop a cab or a tour bus and cram in all they could in a set of days and nights. I watched older folks like me move at a slower beat. I talked with a few younger backpackers who measure success by countries visited and visas stamped. I get that People do not have the luxury of time to kick things back a notch and get lost in Tokyo or find their way after taking a puzzling series of left and right turns in Hanoi.

I reached retirement in a circular direction after having wanted so desperately to leave the San Francisco Bay area for almost 10 years. It seems from about 2009 when I knew a divorce would come to finally moving out to a room in 2014, the thought was that I would move slowly through Asia at a pace up to me. It took until 2018 when i filed for retirement and also saved an amount of money that made me feel comfortable that I knew the time had come.

So with that said, I’ve learned some things about retirement after years of doing Information Technology and Program Management.

  1. Nothing prepares or tells you about the sudden lack of things you have to do. Its like a balloon and someone starts letting the air out and you know there is more room in the balloon but there is nothing taking the escaping air’s place.
  2. You know you are supposed to then “slow down” and only do what you want to do. But what are those things you want to do? And more importantly can you afford to do them with time, energy, money and desire.
  3. I desired to get rid of almost all personal possessions and get down to a single travel backpack that could be carried on flights. My reasoning for this is that all the things are “baggage” and you end up with the so many Kg of bags but you have the other metaphysical baggage too. You can get down to the weight restrictions of carry-on bags but the metaphysical and psychological and mental baggage weighs you down.
  4. Tomorrow does not exist in retirement. There is nothing to do that needs to be done today or tomorrow. The things that are left matter.

Now I’ve left the states and I have no car, no bills, no debt, no room. No things. The absence of things besides a small rubbermaid container that my wife is holding with papers and cards and memories means that life stretches out with no limitations. I have no room waiting for me or car needing attention or matters of importance to attend to. Cars and kids and things have gone their way. I could never see how they would get done or how things would end up for my children. I won’t dwell on each because even in retirement where nothing gets done, things still have orbits. There’s a bigger life out there.

I’ve just kinda checked out of the project management and life tasks which held me down, kept me focused on the tasks and deliverables. On vendors that needed to have a gentle tug every so often.

No I cannot see those days coming back. I still catch myself missing them and i have a stern talk with myself. Lets just say I earned this and move on.

Rainy Day in Hiroshima

One thing about the weather here in Japan in March. Its unsettled. In Tokyo earlier this week we had a few days of on and off rain and then my last day there it was simply beautiful but cold all day. Today here in Hiroshima, the weather was mostly rainy. Its a gentle rain for the most part so I tend to get out and poke around and then come back to the room and read and relax and then go again. I spent today looking at the areas around my hotel. I think Hiroshima is a fantastic city to wander in. The side streets are gems of little restaurants, pubs, and evening clubs. There is an enclosed mall area which is fun to walk through as well. I’m going to wait to go out again until this evening so may add a bit more to the blog post then.

I love the downtown and river areas with the small bridges and little communities down side streets. I also started playing around with zone of focus and manual mode on my X100F which I had not done in awhile. That’s a good sign by the way. I had kind of stopped learning about my camera and now I feel energized about experimenting more. One thing I do know is I will never be more than a novice at this stuff. I don’t do post processing, shoot in raw, use Lightroom. I just shoot the jpegs and grab them from the camera and enjoy them and share on google photos. Maybe at some point I will start doing that but for now I want to learn manual photography more.

Here’s some frames from today’s adventures.

I think the rain is starting to clear a bit so I may add more to this post this evening. I’d like to do a few night shots of Hiroshima if things get a bit dryer out.

Retirement Thoughts

I’ve been retired only a week now from a rather busy 20 years doing IT. I catch myself wondering whether a thing is done and then I realize its not mine any longer and I’ve left it behind. Others are doing the work and my work finally is taking some time for myself, reading and learning the camera, living elsewhere. A person asked me if I felt guilty leaving all of what I had behind. I guess the operative words are “all” and “behind” in the remark. No, I don’t feel guilty about leaving. This was a thing that started for me last year but I knew in 2011 a time would come when I’d go.

Asia just happens to be the place I ended up but I could have gone other places that were cheaper as well. There still are cheaper places just not in the United States overall. The real thing about Southeast Asia is that I am comfortable here. There is a goodness of fit in the places. I think about my grown children a few times a day. I do know you never outgrow them but you do have to make a life for yourself and not just live through them.

I realized on the train that I had to do that. That my happiness means something. That I must find a new thing which is not the same as the old thing. I don’t want to meet the new boss that’s the same as the old boss.

The blog here was created not just for travel and vagabonding but for introspection, technology, anthropology. All the categories. I just feel now I can make the most use of the time I have left. If I stayed at home in California, nothing of note would have happened and I would have ended up continuing to work because the cost of living in the Silicon Valley is ridiculous. As my friend Robert remarked over coffee one day,

the whole place here is like Hong Kong. A special economic zone.

Yes and it places retirement and joy of life easily out of reach unless I am the CEO of something or the founder of something else.

What I want is a cheaper existence which will let me do things, eat and drink well, and adventure forth.

Sorry to bore you with the introspective stuff. Sometimes its grist for the mill and the blog is an easy reach away.

Steps to Take

When its time to go. The room empties and the thoughts are full of the leaving. My daughter looks at me with both a questioning and happy look. I’ve thought about the moment to leave for years actually. Back in 2011, I routinely thought I would be at a point when I would leave the states for some period of time and get something back which had been lost in translation. By 2014, I saw the path but there were things needed. I got those things done by 2016 with the last job. It meant getting the money and transferring to full-time and enjoying the work being asked to be done.

Then in 2017 I paid of the last credit card debt. About a year ago I saw the debt from 4 years before get paid off completely and I had the feeling that pounds had been shed and I could start looking at what remained. I wanted a few things out of 2017:

  1. Money and savings. I wanted an amount of money as a safety net that would let me travel but not really be used unless necessary.
  2. Pay off the car and any recurring debt. There were no credit cards and if I could impart one piece of advice is to not give in and get them. I met the goals to pay off one debt and then I paid the car off in 2018.
  3. File for social security retirement after my birthday and be satisfied with the monthly pay out. While I feel that the actual amount would never work here; in the places I will go, I will have sufficient funds to last me.
  4. Plan the trip. Planning the trip was the most fun guys! I was able to decide I did not want 90 countries in 3 months. I wanted a slower pace that would let me sit in a coffee shop for a day or by the lake in Hanoi and read or try creating new content. I wanted countries and to travel using rail and bus service where possible.
  5. Execute the requirements and watch the final date arrive. The final voila of all violas. The date arrives and the room I have lived in for almost 2 years empties. By tomorrow the remaining physical stuff is donated and recycled in a good way. I’ll be down to two bags. This is where the sweet spot is for me.

So all the tick marks have been checked almost and today I sit in the room writing the post with tomorrow being the last day of work. No more meetings until I leave tomorrow. No more work. I am so thankful for a few of the points above to be able to leave work behind on my terms.

Perhaps I over-planned things but when I make a change like this I want both planning and random events. I want to turn left on the street in Tokyo when the subway station is to the right. I want to get lost with my camera in Osaka and see the thing which was withheld. As you can see, I only mentioned Japan. The two weeks in Japan is meant to get through some of the work stuff and be out walking the way I like each day. Seeing cities and getting back to a place I have missed since the last time in 2011.

The blog will change and my stories will take hold. I already have outlines for a few of them. I always meant this blog to be different than my previous outings where my self-hosted domain held over a decade of detritus. This was meant to be the take-off spot for a new thing. Old detritus need not apply.

My journey of one starts on Thursday. This Thursday. It’s time to reclaim the miles and the sights and the walking and seeing. It’s been since 2011 since I revived my acquaintance with Japan. It’s still there silently waiting to greet my steps with all the places I have not been and a few that I have like Lion Beer Hall in the Ginza.

But a 1000th step requires the first one and the 500th one. You cannot skip ahead to a thing and not pay the fees. I’ve paid a number of fees. Now its time to take the steps.

The Time Gets Closer

Only a few days left before I leave the states. Hard to believe that the time has almost come to be done with work and leave for Japan. My travel is all booked but the things I will do are random. Turn left or right. See a block of small neighborhood businesses or go to a large historic site. All up for negotiation!

I have 5 days in Tokyo. I booked the time because I wanted to burn out the work thing in some days of walking one of my favorite places. I feel like I need to get rid of the Microsoft Project GANTT charts, get away from the trinity of project colors (red, yellow, green) and also be done with the meetings and webex calls.

I started thinking perhaps of how I got to this time and place. How the times since about 2009 created the desire. I never did know how I would do it back then. In 2011, I returned to India, Singapore and Japan for a shorter trip. I think I knew then that I could not just stay in the Bay Area and expect happiness. My marriage was broken and the pieces were sharp and painful. I still lived at home and that was perhaps the worst part. It took me until 2014 to move out. When that happened, my vacations started again. I set a goal to visit a number of west coast cities and walk them and I accomplished that last year with my trip to Vancouver.

But I knew a bigger thing was out there. In looking back with only 4 days to go before I leave I realize that without the current work, it never would have happened. Things had to occur in a set of manner with sets of next steps. And they did! The steps all completed and its left me at the end of February with only days to go.

I’ve heard the term “gap year” a few times. Heard the term digital nomad and ex-pat and any number of terms referring to a set of conditions and how a person can carry forward with an absence from school or work. Perhaps a remote career awaits in media or communication or creation. Maybe the desire is to find a new home. I’ve realized I am none of those things. I am instead a vagabond and hobo of the life ways. A walker of a path that started to form in 2009 and then was blurred or hidden until now.

An amazing thing has happened. My tomorrow has come true. Perhaps I always believed it would but there were years in there where I doubted. Where the times were hard and unhappy. All of that has changed and I find myself at the edge of a step I have been waiting for.

I don’t know that I will write again before I go. I fly to Tokyo on 1 March and then on to Hanoi Vietnam on 16 March. No more business trips with their carefully mandated arrivals and departures. Now its up to me and my desires. Stay here or to there. Get to India or stay longer in Thailand. I don’t know.

And that’s a good thing.

Getting it Ready – Some Notes for the Road

I’ve been away for a bit getting some final planning done. I leave now in a little over a week so I had to take care of some logistical things. If you too are gonna depart for a time to be determined or a round the world trip, I’ve found a few travel things which I’ve focused on. My primary goal with these rather disparate things is to bring things into control so I don’t really depend on others too much.

Here’s my working list of things which I worked on. Its a list in Ulysses as well which is the home for things of this kind:

  1. Mail services. There are a lot of options for this when you hit the road. You can just rent a mailbox at UPS or USPS or FEDex. Just send the mail to the ex-wife and torment her and have her destroy it all. Or do what I did. I found a virtual mail and mail forwarding service specifically designed for travelers. There are even choices with this. Some will make you pay for each piece of mail. Others don’t give you many options in how mail is treated. Each gives you a real address you can use for mail forwarding. They all require a USPS form to be completed and notarized and a monthly or annual fee. I am using this one because it seemed to be the best value but still offers a lot. Find one that works and take care of your stuff.
  2. Travel charging and USB power. I know. Completely different but I have been going through different device combinations and then discounting them because of various limitations. There is no ideal charger with AC ports and USB chargers that will also do the variety of power adapting on the road. There are ones that come closer but you suffer in size or weight so choose carefully. I need one that will charge 4 USB devices and have 4 power outlets and also have plug adapters that do International plugs. Its better to not have to carry multiples of things here. I have the closest one I have found which is this one. Is it perfect? No. There is no perfect one but it will work to charge my devices and I am not lugging around a separate carry on bag for all the adapters I need.
  3. Carry-on versus Checked Bags. No real contest here. Carry-on for the win and pick a bag that is flexible and will accommodate your needs. If you cannot travel really lightly get yourself a 45L bag and do some organization with cubes. I chose the Tortuga Outbreaker because it also handles some needs on organization and function but it trades in some weight for that. Find the bag that fits your zen of traveling and use it. Forget the bags with wheels. Roller bags are dangerous. Also check out a resource I have been using for years when looking at traveling light. The One Bag site is an excellent resource that has driven me to make good travel decisions.
  4. Itineraries and tickets and vouchers and passports and stuff. Be sure you have this managed. I have printed out various and sundry things like proof of onward travel from Japan. Bus tickets from Vietnam to Cambodia. Rail tickets from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Remember to take visa photos and pens. I’ve looked at this one as trying to reach even 50% of what I will need when I go. Undoubtedly I will need to get things on the road. Pack technology that works and that leads me to the final one.
  5. Technology that works. I went through this earlier and decided to take a single platform with IOS and MAC devices since I can share a set of applications across them all. But your needs are different. You need to enable yourself on the road and not feel constrained. Don’t self limit to a device which will not fulfill its destiny on the road. Need a laptop with a keyboard? Get that done. Want a tablet for easier use on small planes and buses. Get that too. A cell phone is not an option here. Just plan on it and get an unlocked one so you can plug in SIMcards on your travels. I’ve had android devices in the past I kept but had SIMcards in India and Singapore and Vietnam I would buy then toss. Easy to find cards with data only plans are easy on the road. Make the right decision here to fulfill your needs with maps or data sharing on the road.

Finally, this stuff does not take the place of play. A bit of work up front will give you the play later. Take it on!

I leave in a week and days and work ends soon. I purposefully chose an itinerary to let me burn out the work credo in a place I love. I’ll walk the city streets with my FujiFilm X series camera and my choice of devices. Finally, the needs around work will end. Whether a smaller project continues after me is beyond my control. My last day is set and it leads to my destinations.

Now I know that some planning covers a lot of woe on the road but I want some random events. Life is not a GANTT chart for me after 28 February.

The Electrical Lifeforce and other Thoughts

I’ve been spending a few days considering things like what basic electrical adaptors and USB chargers are best for me. Here’s the scenario. You don’t want to carry a bag that has so many adaptors and plugs and doodads. You don’t want to carry multiple things when one will do. You have to find devices which will power and empower you and your devices. I bought a few things now which I have come to find out will not work overseas or are not specifically supported by their own website or on Amazon to work. Electricity is something to be careful with here folks. You are gonna tap into electrical systems in countries which vary wildly. Find a reputable travel site or blog and read what works that they report on. I found this site which lists the devices recommended. I opted for two of them:

  1. MAKETECH Compact Aluminum 2-Outlet Travel Power Strip. This device handles a multiple number of functions which I find very useful. It has two American plugs and it also has three USB chargers.
  2. Flight 001 4-In-1 Adapter. This thing is all color-coded so the forgetful nature I have should not be able to miss this thing.

Remember that neither of these convert power but only adapt and provide. Be sure your devices support the 110 to 240 levels that you plug in.

So lets talk use cases for the MakeTech device Flight 001. This device plugs into the Flight 001 4 in 1 adaptor in the wall in a hotel room. It provides outlets for me for my 12 inch Mabook and for my camera battery charger. There are three USB ports on it as well. These ports will hold my iPad mini 4 and my iPhone 7 plus cables as well as the cable to charge my camera and my headset by switching the adaptor for Type C at the end off or on.

I’ve eliminated the need to carry a completely separate 4 port USB charger with this configuration! I may just buy a second MakeTech device and pack away to ensure things remain stable.

Main Lesson Learned

Be careful out there. Some devices and doodads look too good to be true. Read the specifications but also read real user reviews on Amazon. People have experienced the devices and reported and have probably done what you are gonna do.

I also wanted to limit the number of electrical plugs and adapters to carry. The MakeTech appears to do just that. But read the device stuff and be sure. I will not really know until I am sitting in my room in Hanoi and I want to charge my iPhone. But I can do some preliminary research and ensure the things I’m buying will work reliably.

In Other News…

A few other interesting tidbits from the life of Mike and his places. My manager at work asked me just the other day to extend a month to help finish a project. Totally unexpected but the money is nice! Now I will stay gainfully employed until the last day I am here. Thanks company! My wallet thanks you a bit too.

I also paid off my car loan Friday. A major milestone was reached and I am now debt free for the first time in years. No more revolving and interest bearing debt with credit unions. Now I can transfer the car to my daughter before I pull this plug.

I also realized that I will be very glad to leave this place. The whole degrading thing with Trump in office really makes the USofA look bad. We look like we are spiraling around in some lower arc with less morals and convictions and values. How is it possible I wonder? Its past the comics posted on Facebook. We just seem to be lost and wandering in a dark place where conspiracy theories and alternate realities drum beat our days. I’m sorry everyone. We’re not all that way. Its almost MLK day and he said not to judge by the color of the skin but the content of the character. We seem stuck on the first thing. Will we ever get to the second? Maybe in 2020. Will I be back then? I don’t know. Is there something to come back to?

Packing and Organization – A Capsule Workflow

Pack for a week and travel for years is not the province of the hostel going crowd. What is needed is an example and workflow that anyone can follow that is considering the adventure of a lifetime. I’m going to help that along in a series of blog posts regarding building that capsule from a base of clothing we all can have available with the finalist bag I have chosen to carry. Without further ado, the bag I have chosen to carry is the Tortuga Outbreaker. Here’s the bag.

First off, the clothing and I must state that since this adventure has no real end that I cannot pack that way. So the first blog post focuses on capsule clothing and organization to control that clothing. I’ve taken ideas from Tortuga’s post on this here. The basic idea is to come up with a set of foundation clothing one can use that is the baseline. Here is mine.


Socks and Underwear – 6 pair of each. I bought some Merino wool socks but I am not going to buy some $50.00 a pair underwear so I go with cotton.

Shirts – I am going with 6 cotton t shirts packed.

Pants and Shorts – I am going with one pair of jeans I wear, a pair of Chino’s and a pair of shorts.

Jackets – One hoodie I will wear.


Now we come to the all important organization of these items. Remember, I am not going to discuss electronics, camera, or other non-clothing stuff at this point. This post is only about clothing.

Packing Cubes – The bag I have chosen has small cubes already included in the main compartment. I will need a single large cube that will fit my t shirts and pants. This cube is the foundation element in the pack. The clothing is rolled where it makes sense and stowed in a packing cube unzipped half way. The packing cube is then placed in the primary compartment of the bag.

I believe that packing cubes make up a necessary organization and functional need for clothing particularly. The Outbreaker has smaller “cubes” already in the bag so I will use those for smaller clothing items. There are four of them so two will be for socks and two for underwear. There are zipper pouches that can hold the shorts and laundry bag.

This creates the foundation organization I need and lets me look at a composite capsule list for not only clothing but my next post which will be electronics. I don’t feel a pressing need to be truly minimal here so I am taking a bag that will hold 45 liters. That size is the upper limit on carry on but also the so-called “sweet spot” for travel like this.

Stay tuned for the next in the capsule series which focuses on the choices I’ve made for electronics. There’s a tradeoff on these things so I am still looking at choices. Do I carry the iPad mini 4 or my kindle reader? I can see one or the other but not both. We shall see.