Nomad Packing: The essential luggage and travel items we've chosen for three years of travel.
I’ve moved around thirty-four times in my life give or take. That’s a lot. And I’ve got a system for getting from A to B with a relative amount of ease, be it moving from one town to the next or one country to the next, so planning for a three year world trip should be pretty easy… or at least that’s what I thought before I really started to consider what it would entail. And I’m not talking about the living conditions, or the moving about—that’s old hat for us. It’s the type of luggage, clothing, shoes and other equipment that best suits us given what we’ve learned from our previous traveling experience about how we travel.
Essentially I’m talking about a traveling system. It’s been an intense couple of weeks of reflection and research, but so far I’ve come up with the following:
We’ll be splitting our luggage into two types: our carry-on and hold luggage. Both items must be easily moved about at the same time as we’ll be using a large amount of public transport to get from airport to-house-sit.
The backpacks must be cabin-luggage approved for both domestic and long-haul flights and also must be easily usable from day-to-day for all kinds of uses from carrying groceries to carrying hiking gear, to moving our laptops from home to cafe for writing. I was also looking for backpacks that contained hidden pockets for passports and wallets, that had at least some anti-theft properties. Above all, they needed to be light-weight.
After a bunch of consideration, I’ve decided to go with The Modern Bag by ItFit. The main reasons were the price, the features which met all my requirements… and the price. At the moment it’s $75, which is about half the price of all the other similar bags on the market right now. It’s also water proof which is a huge plus given my love of walking in rain, hail, snow and more rain (much to Tony’s disgust!)
We’ve spent the past fifteen years using some impressively battered suitcases (luggage trolleys) to get from A to B. Those suckers have seen everything luggage handlers can throw at them in pretty much every major airport in the world and just looking at them gives me a bunch of fond memories and the odd grimace from recalling the odd nightmare flight. But for this epic trip, I’ve decided that they’re too ungainly to be carted around the place on public transport and up and down stairs and along cobbled streets. But the question then is, what to use instead? Backpacks were out. We’d already have the small ones on our backs. And we needed something lightweight but sturdy, and easily carry-able… with wheels preferably. That’s a tall order! Or at least it was until I discovered duffels with wheels! Where have these things been hiding all these years?
I’ve decided to go with two Caribee Scarecrow DX series 70cm Duffle bags. They’ve got wheels, they’re super light and they’ve got a bunch of handles on all sides, which should be perfect for lugging the things up those metro, tube and subway stairs. The multiple compartments also make my inner organization freak squee with excitement. And as an added bonus, they’re cheaper than all the alternatives of the same weight and size.
My general packing system is to roll my stuff as tightly as possible and cram it in a carry-on suitcase before sitting and—if necessary—jumping on said suitcase, but that’s obviously not going to work in this situation.
Luckily, I encountered a great solution while visiting my Godbabies in Singapore recently. My friend Petya suggested packing cubes, which she swears by to separate her three-year-old and 6-month-olds’ bits and bobs. After helping her cart the kids around Singapore in all manner of situations, I think she’s a freakin’ genius of organization.
I’ve opted for two types of packing cubes: Two sets of Gonex Compression Packing Cubes for things like winter coats and clothing we’ll not immediately need. And one set of four medium sized Gonex Travel Organizer Packing Cubes for the every-day stuff that we’re wearing in any given location.
And for shoes? Well I’m going to opt for my tried and tested method of shoving them in a pillow case protector. I’ve used these ones from Amazon for years now and they’re perfect. They’re waterproof. They zip up and they’re light, so I can store a couple of different pairs of shoes together without them being damaged or damaging my other stuff. They also make perfect washing bags when I’m using the actual shoes.
After gallivanting around the world for a couple of years, I’ve worked out a few things about myself and comfort. I don’t like being uncomfortable if I can help it. What’s the point? Especially if being comfortable is an option that just involves getting over looking like a bit of a wally in front of other people. So here are a few things that I see as mandatory items for good sleep and good travel.
Yes, some airlines provide them and hotels, AirBnBs and house-sits always provide bedding. But anyone who has grown up with rugs in Australia and has then traveled in Europe will understand The Great Tyranny Of The One Million Tog Duvet. I’m a warm sleeper and there’s nothing worst than only having a super heavy, super warm duvet as the only option. Whereas Tony’s a cold sleeper and frequently needs an extra rug.
The solution we’ve gone with are these awesome, lightweight and compact travel rugs by Coalatree. They’re warm, waterproof for outdoor and indoor use and come with a handy travel pouch so we can take them in our hand-luggage on planes. They also fold up to make for good travel pillows. All-in-all I call them a total winner.
I’m a pillow perfectionist, a pillow snob. I’m persnickety about pillows… and all the other alliterative terms I can come up with that go with pillow. The number of times I’ve had a nightmare night’s no-sleep due to a limp feather-down pillow or a flat foam nothingness are too many to count and a couple of years ago I started traveling with my own. The only problem is that with a long-term travel proposition, taking a big bulky pillow just isn’t an option. So what do do?
Interestingly enough, it’s really hard to find travel pillows for uses outside of airplane/train travel. I just wanted a smaller version of a normal pillow that compacted up for a suitcase, that was comfortable. There should be tons of options out there, but there aren’t. There’s one by Tempur, which is exorbitantly priced, and doesn’t get the best reviews and alternatively there’s… crickets.
In the end, it took me a couple of hours of swearing and Googling to find this travel pillow from Therapeutic Pillow Australia. It’s yet to arrive, but the minute it does, I’ll try sleeping on it and post how it goes. If that doesn’t work, the next best option is buying one latex pillow and cutting it in half with a bread knife. (Insert slightly manic laughter here.)
I think they’re the main things for now. I’ll be doing another post for bits and pieces like eye-masks etc once they actually arrive and I can try them out long enough to recommend them. But for now, I’m off to the post-office to see if any more goodies are in the mail for Christmas!