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Lugging long-term on the RTW

A lively debate about “backpack vs. suitcase” can break out among travelers, especially those on long-term and/or around-the-world (RTW) travel. For my present RTW, most destinations are urban settings, with visits to family and friends in various cities around the world. I also have every intention of stopping in a hotel once in awhile for the occasional splurge and total relaxation.

I’m traveling with these primary pieces:

  • North Face “Mentor” backpack, measuring 52 cm x 35 cm x 14 cm (20.5 in x 13.5 in x 5.5 in) and weighing 1 kg (2 lbs), composed of 600D + 1200D polyester fabric, and volume 33 litres (2015 cubic-inches).
  • Victorinox Werks Traveler 3.0, 22″ Deluxe (Victorinox Swiss Army 22″ Expandable Werks Traveler 3.0 Luggage), which I’ve already been using for various trips around the world since 2001. Weighing 9 pounds, the suitcase measures 24 in x 15 in x 10 in, which gives a maximum volume of about 58 litres. The suitcase is beat up in a few places, but the sturdy little guy is going to get one last “kick” and “workout” around the world this year. An advantage for this piece of luggage is that it fits into overhead bins on long-haul planes, e.g., Boeing 767-300, 777-300, 747-400, and Airbus 340 series, which are generally the kinds of planes used for transcontinental and international flights.

In early December, I packed up my household belongings in Chile for shipment back to Canada. This meant I packed simultaneously for my long-term travel. This had the benefit of having everything “out” at once, and separating things what I needed from those I didn’t. The drawback was having everything out at the same time, and deciding what was to go into storage, and what was to accompany me.


ALL THIS FOR ONE YEAR

Above, left-to-right top-down:

  • winter scarf, toque, and gloves
  • cargo shorts
  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 not shown)
  • 2 packing cubes with shorts
  • 4 t-shirts, including 1 Columbia XCQ olive, 1 Columbia Titanium olive, 1 Columbia Titanium blue
  • 4 pairs long socks (1 pair not shown), 1 pair short-socks
  • 2 long-sleeve shirts (1 not shown)
  • 1 pair of indoor shorts

Above, left-to-right top-down:

  • 2 fleece pullovers in black and gray
  • 2 baseball caps (Canada, Canucks)
  • 1 green REI fleece jacket
  • 1 black Victorinox toiletry case
  • small black windbreaker
  • 1 large blue rain jacket by Sierra Designs

It’s now May, and I’m presently in the Bahamas for the entire month. I’ve added a new set of swimming trunks and a pair of sandals : light and easy to pack. The latter may be true, but I’m holding onto “less is more” as best I can.

I made the photos above with a 4thGen-iPodT and a Canon EOS450D. This post appears originally on Fotoeins Fotopress (fotoeins.com).

19 Responses to “Lugging long-term on the RTW”

  1. Xandré Verkes

    Wow… I am so jealous!!! Would love to do an RTW!!! How on earth were you able to pack so little?? crazy & inspiring!!! (&I am not a heavy packer at all!!! ) 😀 **

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    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Hi, Xandré. I still wonder how I can pack so few clothes, but it’s required to me “think less”. If I truly need something (for my time here in the Bahamas, for example), I’ll just go and buy it. Winter travel in New Zealand and Europe might get interesting, though. 😉 I’ve got a bunch of other crap that’s filling up some space in the luggage, and I’m trying to get rid of that, too. There are lots of other inspiring people out there who are also blogging about their upcoming or present RTW; check them out, too! Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  2. Anita Mac

    Very well done on the packing light! I am sure I won’t be able to do it as well. I have learned one valuable lesson along the way – pack the basics – pick up location specifics along the way and donate the old shirts when you tire of them and replace with something new! I did that when trekking in Nepal – the shirts were in mint condition – the sherpas on my tour loved them – and I got to pick up something new along the way! Will have to reference your list on my next trip – still think I will need a skirt, something colourful and my downfall – a little more shoe selection! What can I say – I love my shoes!

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    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Hi, Anita. Choosing what was the most “basic” was both easy and difficult. It’s been six months into my RTW, and so far so good. Right now, I’m getting my fill of summer, but I’ll surely be getting a decent dose of winter, too. How my clothes will vary for the remaining months will be amusing. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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    • fotoeins

      My glib reply to your question is: “Skill. Pure and total skill.” 😉

      For the most part, I’m staying with friends on my RTW, which means washer-and-dryer access. (WOOT!) If something breaks down, I’ll buy replacements.

      I’ve avoided temperature extremes thus far, so what I showed in my post is doing very well for the time being. Here in the Bahamas, I bought some flip-flops and swimming trunks. When it gets colder, I’ll layer my fleece; I’ve “rated” the sum total of my fleece-layers down to about -10 to -15C. I plan to be in New Zealand, Australia, and Europe for their respective fall/winter seasons, and I’m sure to have access to plenty of shops. I can imagine the scenario: I’ll tell people what I’ve packed, they’ll look at me in horror, and they’ll quickly recommend a shop or two to buy a winter-parka. Or two. At least I have a scarf, toque, and gloves, right?

      Thanks for your comment and for your kind retweet!

      Like

  3. James

    Love that you have two baseball hats. It’s the minimum I would bring as well 🙂

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    Reply
    • fotoeins

      James, I wanted to bring more, but I felt that might’ve been excessive. Besides, I could always pick up some more on the road! We should chat sometime! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

    • fotoeins

      Hi, Suzy! I’ve a pair of black winter shoes, which got full value during the first four months of this trip throughout North America. With a pair of flip-flops, I’m not using the black shoes here in the Bahamas, nor will I likely use them in (now-humid) Hong Kong. But New Zealand and Australia in July and August, respectively? Yeah.

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  4. Duane Storey

    I definitely packed more this trip than the last one. But the reality is that I’m not bushwacking my way through a jungle right now – I’m trying to enjoy my time in one of the world’s best cities. My strategy is to pack to live in a place (which I usually do for a few weeks), but also have a backpack with me so I can branch out on my own. When I was in Thailand I packed a 40L backpack (which fit as carry on) with some clothes and a camera gear and went out on a 3 week adventure without a suitcase. Then when I got back to Thailand, it was nice to have my better clothes and a better selection of comforts from home that I brought.

    This trip I brought a guitar, but had I not I might have even brought a few more things in another suitcase. So in short, I can pack light if I want to, but I much prefer to pack comfortable nowadays so I don’t have to look like I’m on safari every time I’m out with the locals!

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    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Hi, Duane. You’ve a good strategy. In my view, there really is no correct strategy, because people should pack ultimately to their level of comfort and schleppage. I have a folded-up duffel bag in case my suitcase gets a bit too bulgey. The great utility of course is being able to use the duffel bag this weekend when we fly out from Nassau over to Georgetown on Exuma island here in the Bahamas. Thanks for reading and commenting – hope all’s good with you in the B.A.!

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    • duanestorey77

      Some people go out of their way to pack light, and to me that’s like one of those people who does the Grouse Grind simply to record how fast they did it in – it misses the point of doing the Grind, and that’s the experience. I’d rather the package match the experience I want when I get there. If that’s backpacking, then so be it, but like on this trip, I’d rather have a suitcase of decent clothes for going out.

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    • fotoeins

      Agreed. One thing I don’t have is a dress shirt, even if it was short-sleeve or even a collared polo-type shirt. It’s come up once so far when I went to the One & Only Ocean Club here in Nassau, and I think the occasion might come up again while in Hong Kong. Then again, I am going to be in the shopping mecca that is Hong Kong.

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  5. Jen Kirk

    Pretty amazing indeed, and I saw it with my own eyes so I know it’s legit! Master packer indeed! 😀

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    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Hahahahah! Thanks, Jen! 🙂 Still, I’m surprised how it’s been gradually easier managing with less.

      Like

  6. Vera Marie

    I’m really good at paring down the clothes, but what I call the “preservatives”–medicines and makeup stuff not to mention electronics take up increasing amounts of space.

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    Reply
    • fotoeins

      The peripheral stuff (e.g., couple of books, med-kit, etc.) takes up valuable space, no? I don’t have a tablet because I’m not much interested in carrying yet another e-device. Thanks for reading and commenting, Vera Marie!

      Like

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