Suitcase Secrets of A 64 Year Old Nomad

Traveling Light: Lessons from Five Months on the Road

Arvada, Co. USA – 2-5-24

When planning my five-month trip, I set a personal goal to keep my luggage compact and straightforward. My aim was to take only a backpack and a carry-on bag. I achieved this, carrying one backpack and one carry-on size luggage piece.

However, both bags were bursting at the seams with the bare minimum of what I thought I needed. After just three weeks on the road, I realized I had overpacked and needed to downsize. So, I cut my losses and left some items behind.

The Ultimate Packing Lesson

Despite all the planning and research on packing for a long journey, I learned this crucial lesson: by the end of your trip, you will have only what you need to survive comfortably, and it’s probably less than you think.

This post provides an inventory of my suitcase and backpack after five and a half months of travel. These two bags contained everything I used to make my trip enjoyable. I bought the suitcase in Turkey in August and the backpack in India in November after my old one started to rip.

I always kept my backpack with me because it contained all my essential items, such as my computer, Kindle, power cords, camera*, paperwork, medicine, etc. Everything else went in the suitcase, which I always checked when traveling by plane or bus.

You might notice I have some magic items listed. Magic has been a hobby of mine for years, providing entertainment on rainy and lazy days. Besides reading and writing, I play with magic when I’m bored or have nothing else to do.

*I gave my four-month-old camera to my son to take home when he met me in Hanoi, Vietnam, in November. Nowadays, people use their phones for photos and videos, and camera phones are quite good!

Inside My Suitcase

Contents Of My Carry On Size Suitcase
  • 1 pair of dockers pants
  • 1 pair of blue jeans
  • 3 pairs of camping pants
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 casual top and bottom
  • 4 button-up shirts
  • 2 pullover shirts
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 3 pairs of compression socks
  • 1 rain/sun hat
  • 1 pair of swim trunks
  • 1 raincoat
  • 1 belt
  • 1 fork
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 nail clipper
  • 1 wine opener
  • 2 pairs of swimming goggles
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Deodorant
  • Surgical masks

Black Compartment Bag Contents – Carried inside suitcase

Container Inside My Suitcase With Personal Items, Medicine, Adapters, Glasses, etc.
  • Extra medicine
  • Blood pressure machine
  • Extra reading glasses
  • Prescription glasses
  • Electric plug adapters
  • Nose hair trimmer
  • Electronic translator
  • AA batteries
  • Computer memory cards and flash drives
  • Magic props (4 decks of cards, thread, scarfs, markers, etc.)

Backpack Contents

Contents of My Back Pack.
  • Laptop computer
  • Kindle
  • Power cords
  • Beets headset
  • 2 notebooks
  • 1 folder
  • Medicine
  • Pocket Kleenex
  • Dental floss
  • Daily pill container
  • Muscle ointment
  • Sunscreen
  • Money belt
  • 2 decks of cards
  • Magic mat
  • Sleeping mouthpiece
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hearing aid batteries and case
  • Sunglasses

So that’s it, folks! Nothing fancy or spectacular, just the basics. The more time you spend shuffling around bus stations in Istanbul or train stations in India, the more of a burden your luggage becomes. Just the weight alone is tiring when you’re stuck walking around and waiting for hours in a central bus terminal. And guess what? The restaurants and bathrooms are usually far from where the buses park.

Packing Tips for Long-Term Travel

Before you start packing, ask yourself if you’ll need each item during your first thirty days. If not, reconsider bringing it. Remember, you can always buy things on your journey.

Till next time, enjoy life’s journey.

Joseph O’Brien


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