How to pack to travel the world with less than 5kg! – Part 4

the why???
Someone emailed me after I posted no.3 of the ‘what to pack’ series to ask why I was so bothered about taking a small light bag.  I was a bit bewildered, as after years of travelling, the answer to that question was so obvious I hadn’t even asked myself that in years.   It prompted a think!  So, in brief, here is why you always want to have a smaller bag
  • Saves you time – I never have to wait at an airport for 30-40 minutes to wait for my bag to come off the carousel.  Given how much I travel, I am pretty sure that this saved time amounts to months of my life
  • Is more secure – no-one can steal from your bag if you have it with you.  You don’t have to worry about the notorious baggage handlers at Jo-burg airport or the dodgy guys on top of the mountain bus in India or about a sketchy Colombian taxi driver taking off with your bags in the trunk
  • Creates more options – with a tiny bag I can take the bus, the tube, or walk to my hotel.  I am not forced to rely on an expensive taxi.  Also, I never end up staying a hostel I don’t really like the look of because I don’t want to have to carry my luggage any further

Liberate yourself!!!!!

So, the final few things in my bag……

Electronics –
When I was younger, hubby and I would go for a weeks holiday and I would take an 80 litre pack.  It would more or less have pretty much everything I outlined in the early articles and not much more, except for books, lots of books, sometimes 20 of them!.  I love reading when travelling, and it is a real luxury to have 3-4 hours on a bus, train or plane or in a waiting room to enjoy a great novel.  Obviously in the ‘olden days’ when I started travelling, this meant taking 4-5 kgs of books, and seeking out every opportunity to trade in the old ones for new wherever you could find them (there used to be book exchange shelves in the hostels).    The 2007 launch of the Amazon kindle was life changing for me, as I could ditch all the extra weight and space, and I was a passionate early adopter of the kindle.   These days, I tend to rely more on the kindle app on my phone even though I know it is not terrific for my eyes to read with the backlight.  Occasionally I will still pack an actual kindle if I think I will be outside in the sun a lot – where it is much easier to read on a proper kindle.
And of course, being a global remote worker, I always travel with my computer.  I am on my fourth mac – this one is the 2016 version and it is light and pretty durable.  I don’t bother carrying a case, and I have shortened the power cable lead.
So – my key electronics are an iPhone 6 and the new macbook.    Between the phone and the computer, I have tonnes of movies and books which keeps me entertained.  It is mostly impossible to stream movies in the places I visit (the wifi in Kiribati, Tuvalu, DRC etc is always pants) so it is best to download a bunch before you leave home and then ration them out.  And don’t forget the headphones, the chargers and any relevant adaptors.  If I am going to a few places where i need multiple adaptors I take a super light universal adaptor otherwise I just take the swap out plugs for the mac charger, and also use my mac to charge my phone via usb.
Paperwork/Important docs/Money

I was robbed at gunpoint years ago when backpacking in Colombia.  The first thing the robbers did was look down the front of my trousers for the ubiquitous money belt that all backpackers seem to wear.  And then they looked for the hanging pouch thing the rest of the backpackers wear around their neck.  I had neither!     I have met plenty of tourists who have also had their money belts razored off in busy places (especially train and bus stations).

So, while I strongly advocate keeping your valuables safe, I do it in a different way.   I divide my cash and credit cards into three stashes.
  • One-third I keep in my bra in this very helpful stash pocket from Eagle Creek
  • One-third I keep somewhere in my pack – and yes I realise this means leaving it in the hostel/hotel etc where someone may steal it, but it is also plausible that you will be robbed when you are out and it is always good to have a back up
  • The final third,  I carry in a leg holster under my trousers (normally around the calf, but sometimes around the thigh if I am wearing capris).  In the event that I am wearing shorter shorts, then I just keep everything in my zipped pocket.  I bought my leg holster from amazon, but now eagle creek make them too.

I am fortunately blessed with three passports (being a proud citizen of my two adopted countries – France and UK), so I keep two passports on me in my leg holster and one in my bag.    I also have my day to day money in my pocket for casual muggers and daily transactions (Always have money for muggers!!!!!).    I never carry paper copies of the passports and itineraries as I have never had anyone object to be shown a copy them on my phone (this goes for police officers too when asking for ID).    For some more ideas which might suit you better on where to hide your stash, check out this blog

So a couple of other things I always take with me are
  • Protein bars/cereal bars –  I hate being hungry so i tend to always have some food on me
  • Ziplock bags! – see above, as it is really handy at breakfast buffets to make a sandwich and through it in the ziplock to take with you for lunch.  you can rinse and re-use
  • A small water bottle which I empty prior to security and refill afterwards.  I carry a salomon soft flask for this but any type will do.  I am contemplating buying a Grayl water filter when these launch, so I can stop wasting plastic when I travel
So, thats it.  Total weight of my pack rarely exceeds 5kg, and I never manage to fill my pack.  I very rarely buy anything when I am travelling, but if I am so inclined, I can always post it home if it doesn’t fit in my pack.   The motto is ‘take only pictures, leave only footprints’.
I have a totally different, albeit equally lightweight approach to packing for hiking, and will post on this at some point.

2 thoughts on “How to pack to travel the world with less than 5kg! – Part 4”

  1. Tina Barclay

    Love, love, love your travel blogs & tips haere tonu mai e te tuahine 😘

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