Leader of the Pack(ing)……

Many people have been asking me “what do you pack for an around the world trip?” It’s a good question and since I happen to be tackling it myself right now I figure I’d spend a few bloglines talking about it. Of course the answer depends on how long you’re going, where you’re going and when you’re going, but no matter what, it’s going to come down to comfort versus convenience. The more crap you bring, the heavier your luggage will be and the longer you’ll have to wait in airports to retrieve that heavy luggage. On the other hand, if you go lean and mean and opt to bring only carry on luggage you can look forward to frequent sink washing sessions and/or a general feeling of funk wearing the same outfit rotation over and over.

Francesca has taken a pretty hardline stance on this topic for our six month sojourn.  She prefers to travel fast and light and has instituted a ‘carry-on luggage only’ policy.  She actually stood over me and my one carry-on suitcase last night like some evil travel gestapo pulling out articles of clothing and pieces of electronics that she determined would not be making the flight out of JFK with me.

Francesca: “Seven pair of boxer shorts?!  Seven?! Are you nuts?!”

Me: “Uh….I thought maybe one for each day of the week?”

Francesca: “No.  No you didn’t think, did you?  Five!  Five is the limit on underwear.”

Only five pair of underwear??

Only five pair of underwear??

I am just exaggerating she’s really not like that (I love you sweetheart!), but she does run a tight ship when it comes to packing.   Below are the contents of my one bag, which, if you’ll allow me to digress for a second is the COOLIST piece of luggage ever!   It’s a North Face bag I found on sale at the outlet store in Freeport, ME that is designed especially for around the world trips.  I know you’re saying “oh man, he fell right into the marketing trap!”, but no, I beg you to check out this bag.  It’s so cool!  It’s a convenient wheelie bag for all the airports through which we’ll be traveling that converts into a backpack for those jungle treks.  How much would you pay for an amazing bag like this?  Wait, don’t answer yet.  It also comes with a detachable daypack.  Wow, what a bag!

The Coolest North Face Bag Ever!

Okay, now back to the clothing.  The idea, from what I understand, is to embrace the layering concept and get multiple uses out of each item.  Here’s the tally.

  1. Long sleeve Tshirts; 2 (one lighter, one heavier)
  2. T-shirts; 3 (1 nicer, 2 not so nice)
  3. Long Pants; 2 (1 cargo pant, 1 cargo pant/shorts combo deal – which of course counts as one of my pairs of shorts).
  4. Short Pants; 3 (1 above mentioned combo deal, 1 “nice” shorts, 1 athletic shorts)
  5. Underwear; 5 boxers, 2 tighty whites (for swimming (under my swim trunks) and althletic pursuits)
  6. Sweatpants; 1 (multipurpose; pajamas, activewear, travelwear – I love to travel in sweats)
  7. Socks; 4 peds (those ankle high deals), 3 calf high socks
  8. Sweater; 1 (doubles for cold weather and nice restaurant attire)
  9. Fleece; 1 (no heavier jacket.  We figure if it gets too cold for all our layers (Istanbul in November?) we can just purchase a cheap down jacket or something to get through until we hit Africa.  Then it’s all warm and sweaty from there.
  10. Shoes; 1 pair of flipflops/sandals, 1 pair of durable trail type shoes from Teva.

And now a word from our sponsor: We  contacted the super friendly folks at Teva and they offered to sponsor our trip with a “Pro Deal” so we both got brand new kick ass Tevas for our journey.  We’ll let you know how they hold up on our around the world journey.   By the way, I found out it’s not pronounced “Tee-va” as I had always thought, but rather “Teh-va”.  Who knew?  Actually my former colleague Noa did.  She said “Oh yeah, Teva means nature in Hebrew.”  Imagine that.

That’s about it for clothing items.  Then there are all the hygiene essentials and laundry detergent that we’ll need to transfer into 3 oz. containers to pass through airport security,  a car chamois for use as  a quick-dry towel, and of course all of the communications/media equipment to keep connected to our friends and loved ones back home (Netbook, Camcorder/Still Camera combo deal, Skype account, portable GPS Car Navigation System (we’re going to be mostly driving through Europe) and various converters, chargers and adapters.

Books are kind of a problem on a trip of this nature, which is a problem for me as I loves me my travel reading.   Francesca is bringing her “Kindle”, but I am going to try and see how the audio book thing works out on my iPod.  We’ll see, I may have to break down at some point and buy a book in the airport.  Fortunately for me I haven’t read many Dean Koontz novels so there should be quite a selection for me.

In Retrospect (August 11, 2010):

I have to say I was a bit concerned with how little we were bringing along with us, but in the end it was okay.  We were really good in the beginning about doing sink laundry on a regular basis – even in hotels that expressly forbid it since they offered their own (expensive!) laundry service.  But we did end up visiting a few coin operated Laundromats and ultimately became comfortable without washing our clothes for longer than normally is considered polite. J

Every so often we would swap out our old, smelly t-shirts for fresh ones, which was a problem for me as I had become quite attached to some of them.  See, I’m a collector, a saver, and those t-shirts were now stained with amazing memories of our journey.  Francesca thought I was nuts and insisted that I give them up.  Good call.

Our strategy of only taking carry on luggage was a good on in theory, but as we found out many of the low cost airlines did not allow such large carry on bags or had a limit of one so we were forced to check bags on more occasions than we would have liked including once on a flight from Johannesburg to Bangkok (via Doha, Qatar) where Qatar Airlines thoughtfully lost Francesca’s bag which eventually caught up to us in Luang Prabang, Laos.

The Kindle was a great idea and Francesca enjoyed reading numerous books on the journey.  It was also very handy for use as a travel guide.  We would create PDF documents from Wikitravel articles of cities we were visiting and then view them on the Kindle.  It was a brilliant idea to avoid lugging heavy travel guides everywhere or purchasing them for the Kindle, for that matter.  I was so jealous of Francesca’s Kindle that she bought me one for a Christmas present.  She had it shipped to her friend’s place in Sydney, Australia – which was no fair because I had not gotten her anything. 🙂

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7 Responses to “Leader of the Pack(ing)……”

  1. I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  2. Dan and Francesca, Love the list! I just have to share that Dawn dishwashing liquid is like the most amazing all purpose stuff (wash an oily duck in Alaska then clean your clothes in the sink). Did you know that vinegar is like bleach in a pinch? Sunshine helps whiten your whites if they turn gray. I don’t suppose you are allowed to carry a Leatherman right? I’ll be curious to hear how you survive with so little stuff.
    I was looking at an infomercial and thought of you two : http://www.michebag.com/pages/how-to.

    You could market this on your travels!

    • aroljahns Says:

      Haha. Very nice. Thanks for the tips. They will definitely come in handy. No leatherman – since we’re only doing carry on i think the large, multipurpose knives are out. 🙂 We’re heading out the door, but i look forward to watching the infomercial!

  3. aroljahns Says:

    I was just re-reading my laundry list of clothing items and wanted to update it in the interest of accuracy. Not everything fit in my amazing, wheelie bag suitcase so I got rid of a couple of items; one of my “not so nice” t-shirts and my athletic shorts figuring I wouldn’t be doing a whole lot of running on my trip and if I did go I could use my swim suit (don’t worry it’s not a Speedo!).

  4. […] of you who read our first posting know how excited we were to get sponsored by Teva with a “pro deal” for our around the […]

  5. Very interesting post! Y’all did pack so little. Its still to soon to tell what clothing or shoes or etc… things i am going to bring with me. I know for sure I want a small backpack because I know I am going to be lugging that around with me for the ENTIRE trip (a year or longer)!!! I will be sure to think wisely before packing!

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