How Much Stuff to Bring on a Trip?

Traveller woman

The countdown for my trip around the world has already started. We’re now in December 2009 and the trip officially starts as early as June 2010!

In case you don’t know, I recently announced that next year I’ll be going on a one-year trip around the world discover many beautiful places around the world, but also use this opportunity to prove that it’s really possible to live the “Do What You Love Lifestyle”, as I like to call it.

As I started preparing for this trip, I realized that all of my initial ideas of how I was going to travel had to change.

One thing that became very clear is that I needed to find a way to bring a lot less stuff with me than I initially envisioned.

Have you ever traveled and been burdened by your luggage? This happened to me several times and in spite of my best efforts, I always brought too much stuff on most of my trips.

I remember the first time I went to Costa Rica in 2002. I brought approximately 10 books along (and big ones), along with way too many clothes, and I even brought a guitar! I was carrying big suitcases everywhere, and this dramatically lessened my enjoyment of my trip. The guitar thing was a bit too much, so in 2005, when I travelled to Bali, I decided to bring a Soloette folding guitar. It only weights a few pounds in a fairly compact case, and impressed a lot of Balinese people who enjoyed watching me play. But again, that’s another piece of luggage to bring along.

On my last trip to Thailand, I decided to bring along my Brompton folding bike. It’s a neat little bike that I enjoyed using to visit some of the country. But even though it’s the most compact folding bike in the world, it still weighed almost 20 pounds with the case.

On some trips, I even brought my big Vita-Mix blender along!

But every time I travel somewhere, I’m always torn between the desire to travel light and the “need” for some items I feel I can’t live without. Now that I’m preparing for a one-year trip around the world, I realized that traveling light won’t be a luxury. It will be a necessity.

On many places in the South Pacific, the best way to get around is to take small charter planes between islands.  On these planes, you’re limited to 25 pounds of luggage — per person!

Also, traveling light brings an extra level of freedom. When you’re traveling with pounds of extra luggage, you’re tied up to your “stuff” all the time, and it limits what you can do.

In preparation for this trip, I started reading some books and eBooks by rugged travelers. Every single one of these travel experts said the same: “travel light!”

One book that made a particular impact on me is “Life Nomadic”, by fellow vegan traveler Tynan ( Here’s the clothing packing list that he recommended:

Two pairs of underwear

One pair of convertible pants (converts to shorts)

One bathing suit

Three shirts

One bra (if you’re a woman)

I must say I was shocked when I saw this, because I always brought WAY more clothes than this.

In fact, clothes have always been problematic on a trip, because even if you bring one-week worth of clothes, you always have to figure out where you’re going to do laundry, and that’s not always easy.

The logic behind Tynan’s minimalistic wardrobe is that you don’t need more than that if you buy high-quality clothes. He criticized cotton as being the worst fabric for travelers, and instead recommended the company Icebreaker who makes shirts and other clothes from merino wool — a fabric that is ideal for almost all uses.

If you’re wearing one pair of underwear, you’re also washing the other pair. You’re wearing a shirt, but you’re also washing another one.

And when your wardroom is very simple, it’s very easy to wash clothes by hand.

I did an experiment by wearing only two shirts for a week. I simply wore my shirt every day. Then when I took my shower in the evening, I took advantage of the running water to also wash my shirt with a little shampoo. I let it dry, and the next day wore a new shirt, and repeated the process every day. I found that way I never ran out of clean clothes, and my shirt was just as clean as if I had washed it in a machine.

With that little experiment done, I can see how easy it will be to travel with a very limited wardrobe. But beyond clothes, I’m starting to evaluate what else I will bring on this trip.

Tynan recommended a small 28 liter backpack to put *everything*. 28 Liters is quite small. By comparison, the average school backpack is 32 liters. I had a backpack about that size, and tried to pack an entire list of things I would bring on my trip, and surprisingly, everything fit in!

At the moment, I’m refining my packing list.

One of my big burden when traveling was books. But this time around, I don’t plan to bring any books. I’ll only bring an eBook reader (probably the Kindle, unless something better comes out first), and my laptop.

In any case, I’m starting to see the value of traveling light, and I’m quite excited about it!

Less is often more.

Every day, I’m looking at my packing list and reconsidering what I might be bringing on this trip.

Right now, I have a small travel blender by Tribest that I’m considering bringing on this trip, but I might even skip that and learn to live without smoothies for a year (sadness!).

Pretty soon, I’ll be posting my packing list so you can get an idea what are some of the best items to bring on any trip.

Yours for health and success,


PS: The best way to have the freedom to travel anywhere is selling digital products online like I know. If you’d like to know the process of selling your own eBooks in a weekend or less, make sure you sign up for my course “How to Write and Sell Your Own eBooks in 24 Hours or Less”. There’s about 10 spaces left and I’d love for you to be one of the students to take part in this course — and I know that you can accomplish miracles too. Sign up at: