How traveling will help you focus on stuff that matters

2015 was quite a busy year. It started off slowly with a surf & work trip through Australia, after that I found myself traveling to many different places throughout the year. Most trips were business related, where I attended or spoke at conferences (London, Berlin, Hamburg, Schwerin, Hannover, Cologne, Seville, Dublin, Vienna). Besides Australia as one of the longer trips, I visited northern Ireland on an extended work & travel trip.

While traveling, I realised how dependent we are on the few items we take with us on a trip. With fewer items, traveling feels lighter and suddenly each individual item becomes very important. Better make sure you take the items you actually need with you.

I like to pack stuff for about ten days. Even if a trip is longer. Whenever you travel for more than ten days, you’ll need to find a coin laundry or service anyways. Be aware that no matter how big your travel bag is, there is never enough space for all the things you think you’ll need.

No matter how big your travel bag is — there is never enough space!
North Ireland

Packing for short-term trips

Packing for a short-term trip will give you the base for your long-term trip.

In 2014 I wrote about how I prepared for a long-term travel trip. In this article I share my tips for shorter trips, because I believe that with a minimum amount of items, there is a maximum amount of pleasure you can get from it.

Here is a list of my basic items:

Sport

I am a sports-person. On short trips I always bring my running stuff: Sport Watch & heart-rate belt to track my runs, Running shoes & clothes depending on the season.

My running stuff

Work

The following are the items I need to get work done: A MacBook Pro 13", Sony headphones for distraction free working at cafes or co-working spaces, A notebook with some pencils to be creative offline, and a world-power adapter.

My office stuff

Leisure

You know we women always carry a lot of stuff with us. It’s always a good idea to bring a purse or two for leisure trips or bar-hopping events.

Always bring a purse or two

Toiletery

In case I get sick, I make sure to bring some first aid items and some basic medication that I know how my body reacts to. Besides that I’m more or less depending on: MakeUp & remover, toothbrush, hairbrush, razor, deo. Sometimes I bring my hair dryer as well.

small but very important items

Clothes

Depending on the kind of trip and the local weather conditions, I bring at least: two pair of pants, a shirt for each day, underwear and socks, a jacket, sweater or hoody.

This is pretty much all I need while on the go. Everything on top of this list will be extra stuff for special trip occasions.

Organising

It’s very useful to organise your belongings properly within your travel bag. You know that one item you desperately need, that is somewhere on the bottom and when you try to pull it out will mess up the other items in your bag. This is especially bad when you are in a hurry and then try to put the item back into your bag and the bag seems to have become smaller in size, sound familiar?

My clothes very well organised

Garment cases

To be more structured during my travels I organised my clothes with the garment cases from Muji.

Whenever I have to open my bag to find “the one item on the bottom” those cases are making sure that my clothes stay wrinkle-free and in place.

My washing bag

Washing bag

Another good idea is to have a bag where you put your dirty clothes. I always bring a “washing bag” with me.

On the go it allows me to have them separated to my clean stuff and it is also the bag I would bring to the coin laundry or service.


What case?

Once I prepared my belongings I decide on the bag that I’m going to use. For short-term trips I tried a lot of different bags either weekender or carry-on cases. Then, I came across of the SLICKS backpack a swiss brand focussing on a flexible modular carry-on travel backpack. I thought this to be an interesting approach and agreed to give it a try when the company behind it gave me the opportunity to test a prototype. I used it recently while traveling to Vienna for a four day conference trip.

SLICKS

A modular carry-on travel backpack

Needless to say, Slicks soon became my main choice for carry-on, especially when I want to travel lean. I found it to be an ideal travel bag for my business trips.

In terms of organising my stuff within the bag, SLICKS provides an integrated double-sided “Tripcover” which is a perfect alternative to the Muji cases.

There is also an integrated “Suitcover” which will transport your suit wrinkle-free if you’re traveling with suits — I don’t.

I really like the shoe pocket, I use it to store my running shoes. I couldn’t believe there is space for that too.

The dedicated laptop compartment is perfectly located and easily accessible, allowing me to get through airport security quickly.

If you are interested in this versatile backpack, which is soon going to be up on Kickstarter, you should check out their website.


Getting rid of stuff

I recently read the post from James Altucher where he shares how he lives with a minimum and why he values experience over objects. It is a bit of an extreme lifestyle James is living and probably not everyones path of life. but I agree with him on the fact that we in the western hemisphere are way too attached to our possessions.

What I learned from traveling is that I feel much better if I own less stuff. For example, always when I get home from a longer trip I am overwhelmed with the amount of clothes waiting of me in my wardrobe. I struggle with the fact to have too many options in life. Therefore, I don’t like to own too many things.

It’s just easier to decide what to wear when presented with less options.

In order to appreciate the items I own I started the habit of getting rid of stuff every time I’m coming back from a long-term trip. The first thing I do is cleaning up my wardrobe before I unpack my luggage.


“Planet earth is beautiful and I believe every human being should spend as much time as possible to travel and explore. It’s in our DNA, it’s who we are.” — Tobias van Schneider

So pack your bag, explore the world and enjoy life while appreciating the things you’ve got.