Shrinking bags and simpler travels
I set out on this lifestyle to escape the stagnant routine I found myself in, "leading nowhere" doesn't say it right, it's the fact that I could see where it was going that got me off it. Predictability can be comforting, but doesn't lend itself to my best memories.
Experience and technology have helped me shed a whole lot of it. At first, my backpack was stuffed to capacity, and in fact had my sleeping bag hanging off the outside, plus, I had two other smaller packs slung over my shoulders. Now I just have the one backpack, which has become increasingly more spacious.
Here's some of what I've gotten rid of, what I've learned and what's coming down the line to slim things down even more for the permanent traveler.
Smartwool is great for more than just socks, but underwear and shirts and more. It repels water, which means stink, which means you can get an extra couple days use out of your gear before washing, and that means you can pack less.
Even my laptop will soon be retired, as Android phones have caught up to be as powerful as the average computer was just 4 years ago, and are only getting better. Laser keyboards and mini projecters can provide the same full keyboard and screens we're used to without taking up the space, meaning your entire computer fits in your pocket.
As I get rid of more things I see opportunity to drop even more, combine more. I've long dreamed of a sleeping bag that functions also as a jacket and a backpack by unzipping at the waist. This is something I see happening this year, the idea has been stewing and resources are coming together. All and all this will cut my current load by a third or more while providing a warmer jacket than I currently have.
Couchsurfing was one of the first sites I found for traveling specifically, allowing millions of people to go just about anywhere in the world and have a place to stay in the home of a friendly local. Google will help guide me to anything, and my own site, Trip Hopping, will show me all the people driving around who have an empty seat in their car for a passenger like myself.
I learned how to make a site like that just by poking around the internet for tutorials and answers; it's getting easier for people to get their ideas out there to provide great services. This is especially awesome now that the internet is on our phones just a pocket reach away. There's even a site for dumpster diving (which isn't nearly as nasty as it sounds, look into it), so even food can be more easily found.
I'll continue to ditch, combine and shape my gear until it's next to nothing as long as I'm traveling, but my comfort comes from knowing good times don't care if you're traveling or how much crap you have, they'll find you and be waiting to be found anywhere at any moment.
For those interested, this is more or less what I do have now in my pack, in 3 sections:
- 5 or 6 shirts, including the airplane one with buttons
- Pair of jeans
- Pair of quick-dry shorts, double as swim suit
- Pair of long johns underwear
- 3 more pairs of smartwool, under armour and camping boxers
- 3 pairs of smartwool socks, plus one thin pair
- gloves, beanie, baseball cap
- rain jacket/windbreaker
- Sleeping bag, 0 degrees + gortex bivy sack (waterproof layer) + mosquito headnet
- Camelback daypack
- laptop in case with charger + waterproof bag that holds laptop and more
- android phone (with extra battery, coiled cable and combo car/wall outlet charger)
- waterproof pack cover
- water filter
- small cooking pot
- chromatic harmonica
- small flask
- camping towel (compresses to size of golfball)
- dr. bronners (use for everything, soap, laundry, even tooth paste)
- foldable toothbrush + tooth paste
- nail clippers
- small electric razor with regular blade attachment (the kind you need shaving cream for
- solar charger for phone
- book of matches or a lighter