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How do I travel lighter for better mobility?

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How do I travel lighter for better mobility?

Postby Winston » Tue May 26, 2015 4:46 pm

Hi all,
I have an issue and question on my mind. When I went around different cities in China, I found that it was a pain to have two luggage pieces, a luggage case with wheels and a backpack, both of which were packed tightly and difficult to zip up. Every time I hailed a cab, the driver would want me to put them into his trunk, but I didn't want to do that cause he could drive away with all my stuff if he wanted. I didn't like feeling vulnerable or out on a limb, so most of the time, I put all my luggage in the back seat. Also when I got on a bus, the driver usually wanted me to put my luggage in the outside side panel luggage compartment of the bus. But when I do that, I also worry about it getting lost or stolen.

Also with all my luggage tightly packed and no extra room, I could not buy additional clothes or souvenirs or items, unless I carried around another handbag so that I have three pieces to haul around. Additionally, when you bring your luggage into the subway station, you have to squeeze it with you into crowded trains too.

So I was thinking, it's probably best to travel as light as possible, especially if you plan to visit a lot of places. However, it's hard for us to do that because our American mindset tries to prepare for every possible situation, which means packing a lot of stuff in multiple luggage pieces. Also, the more you think "What else do I need?" the more things you will find to pack, so thinking is actually a detriment in this case cause it leads to overpacking.

I made the mistake of overpacking three times in Russia and regretted it each time. Each time, I promised I wouldn't do that again next time, only to do it again. Now I've finally had it and think the sacrifice of carrying very little stuff around you is worth it.

Also when you tire easily and aren't in shape and have less endurance and energy, like I do, the stress and burden of carrying large luggage pieces around takes a toll on your body and becomes very tiresome, so that moving from one hotel to another feels like a day's work and leaves me exhausted afterward. Therefore, I would like to travel as lightly as possible when I go back to China.

So I was wondering: What's the best way to travel lightly? And I mean as lightly as possible. Should I just have one duffel bag or small luggage piece? If so, how many sets of clothes should I pack? Two or three? Should I have both summer and winter clothes? What about a jacket? Should I carry upscale business attire for special events and dress up occasions too? How many socks, underwear and toiletries should I include? How many pairs of shoes and what type? What's the optimal way to organize all that and travel lightly?

Ideally, I wanna be able to move around easily with as little luggage as possible, so I can hop into cabs and buses quickly and easily without trouble or heavy lifting.

In China, me and Ethan_sg had differing opinions on this. He carried around several large luggage pieces. He thought my luggage case was too small, and I thought his were too big and that he carried around too much. His aim in China was to settle down, so he said that he needed to bring everything he needed, which was a lot of stuff. He said that I needed a bigger luggage case for all the stuff I was carrying too. But I wasn't sure whether my plan there was to settle down or travel around, so I tried to prepare for both scenarios. I figured I would try to carry less, and if I needed more clothes, I could always buy more.

Rock, you are an experienced traveler. What's your take on this? How lightly do you travel? How many sets of clothes and shoes do you carry around when you travel? How many luggage pieces do you have? What have you discovered is the optimal luggage load to have so that you will have everything you need, yet be able to travel with maximum mobility? Any advice?

Thanks.
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Re: How do I travel lighter for easier mobility?

Postby Rock » Tue May 26, 2015 5:18 pm

Good question. I can get all over easily with a duffle bag and shoulder bag. Total weight around 15 kgs. I don't need to put anything in a car trunk or bus carriage nor ever check-in luggage on flights. I can keep it all on my lap when needed.

Duffle Bag:

Clothes - 1 extra pair of pants, several pairs of underwear, several under T-Shirts, a pair of socks, a few anti wrinkle shirts, a couple T shirts, and a pair of shorts which can double as swim trunks.

Toiletries - shampoo, shaving cream, razor with lots of extra blades, deodorant, sunscreen, toothpaste, floss, toothbrush (all liquids 100 ml or less)

Electronics - chargers for laptop, camera, iphone, ipad, ipod, external battery pack, 1 to 3 outlet, universal outlet adapter

Vitamins, meds, painkillers, and sleep meds

One extra smaller shoulder purse

Shoulder bag:

Laptop, camera, ipad, ipod, and earphones

Small pouch with passport bank passbooks, international drivers license, cash, passport pictures, pen

Front pockets:

Credit and debit cards, IDs, Taiwan drivers license

iphone
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Re: How do I travel lighter for easier mobility?

Postby Winston » Tue May 26, 2015 6:11 pm

Hi Rock,
Thanks for detailing all that out for us. Do you pack that lightly even if you go on a long vacation? I think most of the time, you are in the Philippines nowadays right? If so, do you leave most of your stuff in your condo there? You use it as your base right? So you probably have more stuff to store there.

A drawback of traveling lightly is that you have to do laundry more often. What do you do when the hotel you're at doesn't have laundry service?

I think I remember your duffel bag. It was pretty heavy. Why didn't you get one with wheels so you could drag it around easier? Or get a small rectangular luggage piece with wheels? Is there an advantage to a duffel bag?

You only have one pair of socks? Why not carry more? Socks don't add much load. With only one pair, you'd have to wash them every night. lol
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Re: How do I travel lighter for easier mobility?

Postby Rock » Tue May 26, 2015 6:37 pm

Winston wrote:Hi Rock,
Thanks for detailing all that out for us. Do you pack that lightly even if you go on a long vacation? I think most of the time, you are in the Philippines nowadays right? If so, do you leave most of your stuff in your condo there? You use it as your base right? So you probably have more stuff to store there.

A drawback of traveling lightly is that you have to do laundry more often. What do you do when the hotel you're at doesn't have laundry service?

I think I remember your duffel bag. It was pretty heavy. Why didn't you get one with wheels so you could drag it around easier? Or get a small rectangular luggage piece with wheels? Is there an advantage to a duffel bag?

You only have one pair of socks? Why not carry more? Socks don't add much load. With only one pair, you'd have to wash them every night. lol


You last saw me traveling in USA on way home and I was bringing some things to leave permanently at my place there. So I was had more stuff than normal. My normal packing weight of 15 kgs. is a cake walk and I could walk around all day with that. I like light duffle bags with no wheels cus they have almost no weight. I can just carry everything on my shoulders and it's good decent exercise too (2 birds 1 stone).

If need be, I can wash things in the sink and dry them by hanging them after wringing out most of water.

My ipad is my ebook reader and has hundreds of books. My Macbook pro is great for watching movies and in USA, I can get Internet connection on Southwest flights. Technology has made it possible to travel with very little. And believe me, having 15 kgs. or less makes everything so much easier. I highly recommend a minimalist strategy to travel! Otherwise you can easily get burned out and give-up.
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Re: How do I travel lighter for easier mobility?

Postby Mr S » Tue May 26, 2015 8:18 pm

Heed this advice from a travel master:

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, 121-180 A.D.
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Re: How do I travel lighter for easier mobility?

Postby Winston » Tue May 26, 2015 9:50 pm

Thanks Mr S. Great link on Rick Steves site! I like this page. It has very good advice.

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/packing-smart

"Remember, packing light isn't just about saving time or money — it's about your traveling lifestyle. Too much luggage marks you as a typical tourist. It slams the Back Door shut. Serendipity suffers. Changing locations becomes a major operation. Con artists figure you're helpless. Porters are a problem only to those who need them. With only one bag, you're mobile and in control. Take this advice seriously.

Packing 101

How do you fit a whole trip's worth of luggage into a small backpack or suitcase? The answer is simple: Bring very little.

Spread out everything you think you might need on the living-room floor. Pick up each item one at a time and scrutinize it. Ask yourself, "Will I really use this snorkel and these fins enough to justify carrying them around all summer?" Not "Will I use them?" but "Will I use them enough to feel good about hauling them over the Swiss Alps?" Frugal as I may be, I'd buy them in Greece and give them away before I'd carry that extra weight over the Alps.

Don't pack for the worst-case scenario. Pack for the best-case scenario and simply buy yourself out of any jams. Bring layers rather than take a heavy coat. Think in terms of what you can do without — not what will be handy on your trip. When in doubt, leave it out. I've seen people pack a whole summer's supply of deodorant or razors, thinking they can't get them there. The world is getting really small: You can buy Dial soap, Colgate toothpaste, Nivea cream, and Gillette razors in Sicily and Slovakia. Tourist shops in major international hotels are a sure bet whenever you have difficulty finding a personal item. If you can't find one of your essentials, ask yourself how half a billion Europeans can live without it. Rather than carry a whole trip's supply of toiletries, take enough to get started and look forward to running out of toothpaste in Bulgaria. Then you have the perfect excuse to go into a Bulgarian department store, shop around, and pick up something you think might be toothpaste.

Whether you're traveling for three weeks or three months, pack exactly the same. To keep your clothes tightly packed and well organized, zip them up in packing cubes, airless baggies, or a clothes compressor. I like specially designed folding boards (such as Eagle Creek's Pack-It Folder) to fold and carry clothes with minimal wrinkling. For smaller items, use packing cubes or mesh bags (one for underwear and socks, another for miscellaneous stuff such as a first-aid kit, earplugs, clothesline, sewing kit, and gadgets).

Go casual, simple, and very light. Remember, in your travels you'll meet two kinds of tourists — those who pack light and those who wish they had. Say it out loud: "PACK LIGHT PACK LIGHT PACK LIGHT.""

Ideal packing list:
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/ricks-packing-list
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Re: How do I travel lighter for easier mobility?

Postby momopi » Thu May 28, 2015 4:04 pm

there are many web sites and forums on hiking, backpacking, prepper, survivalist, etc. that contain lengthy discussions on how to pack light. Just google for info. I made the mistake of overpacking on European backpack trip and caused plantar fasciitis and peroneal tendonitis issues. This is why I buy ECCO shoes and use powerstep inserts today (better quality ecco shoes do not require the inserts).

Back when I traveled for work I was on 6 different planes a week. Learned very quickly to ditch the check in luggage. If I needed more tools or cloths I buy them locally.

For vacations I pack a folded light duffle bag in my luggage. On the way back I put all dirty laundry in the duffle bag and pack the luggage with gifts. You can reduce laundry with quality disposable underwear.
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Re: How do I travel lighter for easier mobility?

Postby Winston » Thu May 28, 2015 5:56 pm

Rock, Mr S, Momopi,

Thanks for the input. On Rick Steves site, he advises that we use air compression bags to put our clothes in. I've seen backpackers use those before. Where do you get those? Are they available in Taiwan? Aren't they a lot of trouble, since you have to pump air out of them each time? Also, when your clothes get dirty and need to be washed, you have to put them in a separate bag which will still take up normal space right? Are those air compression bags worth the trouble?

Rock, is your packing list similar to this:
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/ricks-packing-list
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Re: How do I travel with lighter luggage for easier mobility

Postby MrMan » Thu May 28, 2015 8:45 pm

I've tried compression bags. The airlines have reduced the weight they will allow over the years, and sometimes it's easy to go over the limit so compression bags aren't as necessary. But when you get to the other end, if you don't have access to a vacuum cleaner, you can't recompress the bags. it doesn't matter if you are moving or if you are taking lots of gifts to someone you don't want to bring back. You can bring an extra bag back with you, too.

Here is a trick I used as a single man:
- Have mom pack my bag.

Here is a trick I used as a marries man:
Have my wife pack my bag.

For some reason, after we got married, I realized my wife has the ability to stuff something really large in a really small space.

They say you should bundle your clothes rather than fold them to hopefully not have to iron. I've done this with a travel bag. I don't know if you get as much in that way or not.

Here are some tips for getting more stuff on a plane. Bring a large backpack and put other stuff in it. I might put in things I need like a neck pillow in the bag, but also another bag with things I need in my seat and also a computer laptop bag. So I have a carry on and a personal bag. (They allow a purse or backpack.) If you have something heavy and don't mind lugging it around, you could put that in the backpack and not put the weight in your luggage to pay for it. The problem is, you have to lug the stuff around. In the past, I think I've taken a small luggage rack with me.

If you have kids, bring a stroller. I might be able to pull it off with a three-year old. I've taken a double stroller and put a lot of our families carry ons. Tiny kids can't take their own carry ons, so we'd use it to get extra luggage across the Pacific. But I can't carry it all, so I'd put all that junk on the double stroller. I've got a stroller in storage that I could throw away if I had to on the other end of an overseas trip. They may have tiny renta-carts in the security-cleared area of an airport, but you have to get the stuff there, and you have to find the carts, and pay for them. It's better to have the stroller and use it to roll carry-ons right up to the plain before the store it right before you go in the door.

For light travel, someone suggested an Indonesian sarong. Lonely Planet travel guide makes much of how important it is to have a towel. While we don't wrap it around our heads to keep the bugbladder beast of Traal from killing us because it thinks if you can't see it, it can't see you, towels are useful. But sarong are better. You can use it as a towel, a sheet, a kilt etc. But since it is thin, it is light, takes up less space and weighs less in the bag.

Btw, I try to have rubber bands and paper clips and dental floss in my stuff. I try to sneak past fingernail clippers if I can. I've had rings and stuff break on my bags. Paperclips and rubber bands can be used to MacGiver up a temporary fix. Fingernail clippers can cut string. Dental floss can serve as string if you need it.

They won't let me take a half-full bottle of water through security, so I take an empty one. I fill it in the secure area so I don't have to keep bugging the stewardess on the flight, which is often drier than the desert.

I don't know if they still sell inflatable neck pillows, but I have a few from the 1990's and 2000 era that I keep in my luggage for international flights. it's hard to sleep without them. It's good to have a face mask or some cloth to put over my eyes, but airline blankets can serve in a pinch.

I wear long pants and socks because some flights are cold, even to the tropics, because of the altitutde.
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Re: How do I travel lighter for easier mobility?

Postby momopi » Fri May 29, 2015 6:58 am

Winston wrote:Rock, Mr S, Momopi,
Thanks for the input. On Rick Steves site, he advises that we use air compression bags to put our clothes in. I've seen backpackers use those before. Where do you get those? Are they available in Taiwan? Aren't they a lot of trouble, since you have to pump air out of them each time? Also, when your clothes get dirty and need to be washed, you have to put them in a separate bag which will still take up normal space right? Are those air compression bags worth the trouble?
Rock, is your packing list similar to this:
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/ricks-packing-list



Vacuum bags do not reduce weight of your pack.

It's not about what others pack, it's about what YOU pack. Make a list of everything that goes into your pack and ask folks to review and suggest how to improve it.

If a hotel doesn't have on-site laundry service, they can usually refer you to one locally. If you can buy socks, underwear, T-shirts, etc. cheap locally, it might be better to simply buy and discard/donate as you go. Think in terms of how much you are spending for the entire trip divided by number of days for your trip. It doesn't always make sense to spend 3 hours inside a laundromat in Paris when you could be visiting the Louvre.
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Re: How do I travel with lighter luggage for easier mobility

Postby Winston » Sat May 30, 2015 1:52 pm

Momopi, Rock,
On Rick Steve's packing tips webpages, he features these photos of travelers with a single backpack. See below. Is this the size of backpack that he recommends? Holy cow, it looks like you can hardly fit anything in there. How do you compress 2 or 3 sets of clothes in that? Geez. Can all the items on this packing list: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/ricks-packing-list really fit in there?

Do you recommend attempting to travel with the kind of backpack shown in the images below? Does Rick Steves also prefer backpacks over luggage cases with wheels?


Image

Image
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Re: How do I travel with lighter luggage for easier mobility

Postby Rock » Sat May 30, 2015 2:05 pm

I like an oversized duffle bag with no wheels (almost weightless), a small shoulder purse, and the computer bag. When I need to consolidate, I can put everything into the duffle bag. Normally when on the plane, I keep out my computer bag but leave shoulder purse in duffle bag.

Total weight of everything consolidated can be 8-13 kg. So it's really not a burden to carry with me.

I don't like backpacks like those in the photos cus it's so easy for people behind you to open things up and take them without you realizing it. Duffle bag can be held towards my front at important time when I'm in crowds.
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Re: How do I travel with lighter luggage for easier mobility

Postby Winston » Sat May 30, 2015 2:23 pm

Rock wrote:I like an oversized duffle bag with no wheels (almost weightless), a small shoulder purse, and the computer bag. When I need to consolidate, I can put everything into the duffle bag. Normally when on the plane, I keep out my computer bag but leave shoulder purse in duffle bag.

Total weight of everything consolidated can be 8-13 kg. So it's really not a burden to carry with me.

I don't like backpacks like those in the photos cus it's so easy for people behind you to open things up and take them without you realizing it. Duffle bag can be held towards my front at important time when I'm in crowds.


That's a good point Rock. But isn't a duffel bag held by only one arm or hand? Isn't the weight of it all on one hand or arm, whereas a backpack is evenly distributed between both shoulders? What if your arm gets tired of carrying your duffel bag? How long can you walk with it?

You can carry a backpack in the front too by wearing it in front of you, if you are in the city so you don't get pickpocketed. When I carry a backpack, I usually put expendable stuff on top, such as clothes and towels, and the important stuff at the bottom, so that it's harder to get to. Plus, I have padlocks that I can use to lock up the zippers of the backpack too.

Rock, given a choice between carrying a backpack (as shown in the images above) and a luggage case with wheels, which one would you choose and why?

Have you traveled with backpacks and luggage cases before? If so, what did you think of them?
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Re: How do I travel with lighter luggage for easier mobility

Postby Wolfeye » Sat May 30, 2015 2:46 pm

Well, there are those compact rain jacket/poncho/anorak things (got a cheap one on Amazon for about $14 that was decently compact, but the "Enhanced Patrol Poncho" is somewhere is somewhere around $40 & might be more solid & a bit smaller). That should save a decent amount of space right there.

For clothes, something called a "skivvy roll" is typically pretty useful. It's a pair of socks, a shirt, and shorts (athletic or underwear- I'd go with the athletic/workout shorts so you can use them as regular clothes). Track pants tend to be a good idea & maybe a pair of work gloves just to have a useful thing that you might unexpectedly need.

Some food & water to go with all this, maybe with a little "patch-yourself-up kit" would be pretty complete. I'd definitely say to bring WETNAPS & TISSUES, because you might want to wash your hands before you eat on-the-go & you might happen to not find toilet paper in the bathroom. Other than that, cigarettes with an electric lighter (because it'll work if it gets soaked) that's wrapped in duct tape would work pretty well as a first-aid kit. A small Swiss Army Knife that has tweezers would fit on a keychain & maybe a small mirror (like a piece of a plastic signal mirror) to get something out of your eye in your wallet really gets things working. A rag in your pocket for dust (maybe they demolished a building & the dust & grit is blowing everywhere, maybe there's a fire or something, etc...).

Aside from tourist things like cameras & maps, I don't know what else you'd really need. Ideas would be: money, phone, pocket knife and/or multi-tool, maybe a little flashlight (like a Fenix), a sharpener on a keychain, possibly one of those Write-In-The-Rain notepads & a pencil (there's also collapsible pens that can go on a keychain- then again, a pencil is more reliable & can be sharpened with a blade), a watch (maybe a solar one that has a compass feature & a light), and possibly a solar & dynamo type of phone charger (some of those, like the Waka-Waka, can also be used as a flashlight).

Sunglasses might be on the list (especially if they're the kinds that don't shatter easily & I think there's some kind of things you can put on the lens to keep them from getting scratched- it's like clear tape, which could probably also be used). I'd go with the non-polarized versions (that way you have dark glasses right when you have need of them & someone also can't see where you're looking, if that winds up being important).
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Re: How do I travel lighter for easier mobility?

Postby Winston » Sat May 30, 2015 3:13 pm

Momopi or anyone else,

I have a question about shoes. On Rick Steves site, he says:

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/ricks-packing-list

Shoes. Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes with good traction. Mephisto, Ecco, and Rieker look dressier and more European than sneakers, but are still comfortable. Sturdy, low-profile tennis shoes with a good tread are fine, too. For a second pair, consider sandals in summer. Flip-flops are handy if you’ll be using bathrooms down the hall. Whichever shoes you bring, make sure they are well broken in before you leave home.


If I only have room for one pair of shoes, what kind should I bring? The thing is, I find that the more fashionable shoes that are better looking, are less comfortable and bruise my feet while walking. But the comfortable loafers I wear don't look attractive or stylish. So it's a tradeoff. Is there a way to have comfort and style at the same time? If so, what type of shoes should I get?

Also it's hard to find a pair of shoes that looks good with both jeans and slacks and lightweight cotton pants. How do you find a pair of shoes that matches everything yet is comfortable to walk for miles on?

I don't know what type of shoes Rick Steves is referring to above, and some of his outgoing links are broken. Can you post any recommendations with pics or links? What do you suggest?
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