Monday, October 25, 2010


I was packing today for the next attempt to fill my passport when I got to thinking about "stuff" again. I figured that I'd take some photos as I went along to see what I ended up with.

As I've written about before, I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather spend my money on "experiences" than on "stuff" and I've been trying to do just that for almost a year now. Book after book, website after website all extol the virtues of having less and the internal rewards that it offers. I can definitely vouch for the idea as it certainly makes life simpler. Even with the conscious effort to live with less, I was surprised at how much I still have. Let's take a look at what I've been living/traveling with since January and you be the judge...

First and most importantly, my connection to the outside world. In this photo you can see my electronic umbilical cords: a Sony Vaio laptop with extra battery and charger, my Nook, an iPod, two cell phones (Palm Pre for the U.S. and Google Nexus One with extra battery for the rest of the world), and a "universal" USB charger with interchangeable (world) plugs. Not shown is my camera, which I'm using to take the photo but a second battery and the charger are in the photo.

Opportunities to minimize the above? Eliminate U.S.-only cell phone and use the Nexus One in the U.S. but I'd end up on AT&T or T-Mobile and who'd want that? I could toss the iPod and use the built-in Nexus One music player at the gym. Ditch spare laptop battery that I rarely use? The potential weight savings is about two pounds if I did everything.

Next, things for the gym. I have two complete "outfits" made of a shirt, short, and athletic undershorts. Also in the photo are my exercise log book ("what gets measured gets improved" or something like that), my iPod (again), gloves, and a pair of lifting hooks.

Opportunities to minimize the above? Realistically, not much. I could go with one outfit but I'd be washing more frequently or wear "street" clothes but it's just not practical. I could stop going to the gym but I do enjoy it. The potential weight savings? Zero.

Next is what I'd call "summer clothes", which is made up of 14 (!!!) short-sleeve T-shirts, four pairs of shorts, and one bathing suit.

Opportunities to minimize the above? Get rid of some of the T-shirts. While packing I tossed two of them so I'm down to 12 that I still really like. I will practice the one-new-one-in-one-old-one-out rule from here on out. The potential for weight savings is less than a pound.

The following photo could be called "dressier clothes" not that they're formal but that I can wear them to go out at night. I have four pairs of jeans, three "nicer" short-sleeve shirts, and nine long-sleeve shirts.

Opportunities to reduce? As Maverick said to Goose in Top Gun, "This is what I call a target-rich environment". I tossed two of the long-sleeve shirts and two of the "nicer" short-sleeve shirts (one prior to taking the photo) while packing and there's probably more. I'm on the fence to get rid of one of the jeans but they're all in like-new condition so it seems wasteful. I could probably save a little less than a pound here.

And the next contestant on the Price is Right? "Winter clothes" come on down! I've got a wool hat, a snowboard jacket, a light-weight "nice" jacket, a rain coat, a rain poncho (in the black bag), a sweat jacket, and four sweaters:

What can I loose? One sweater and the rain poncho for sure. Everything else has its place for now and the potential weight savings is small. (If you're keeping score, nothing got removed during packing.)

Last on this list? My shoes. Four pairs. Running shoes for the gym, Croc sliders for daily use, athletic-hiking-style "outdoorsy" sneakers, and my boots:

I've considered not replacing the running shoes when they die and start using the athletic-outdoorsy shoes at the gym. What's missing is something nice to wear when I have to dress up a little. Since I don't have anything appropriate, I end up wearing the boots or the outdoorsy shoes but they don't really cut it. If I can find something that's nice, light-weight, and can be used in a variety of situations, I'll probably add them to the pile. The worst part of the shoes is that, since I have huge feet, they take up a lot of space in my bags and they weigh a lot. The weight savings is a wash unless I start a foot-binding program.

What's not shown? Socks, underwear, a microfiber bath towel, and my toiletries. It all weighs in at about 80 pounds and easily fits in these three bags using the "rolling" method:

Yeah, it's still too much to lug around (I could get rid of about four more pounds) but it's worked in all four seasons this year. I'm not sure what I'll do when I get back to "real life" and have more space but I'll worry about that then. :-)

If you were leaving for a year, didn't know where you were going, what you needed, and didn't want to spend money on things, what would you pack?


  1. I don't remember if I told back when we were working together about these guys:
    I listened to the podcasts they've recorded over the year they've spent in Europe. Basically they sold everything they had in the States and lived out of the suitcase for the whole year while traveling in Europe... They may have some advice, but I have none. But then again it seems you're doing just fine!

  2. Olganator! Thanks for reading my blog. I checked out their site and they aren't really updating it anymore but they have some good stuff there. Thanks for the tip and watch your door...I might just show up in the great white north one day!


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