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Travel Packing Philosophy

Question for Bob:

“You want all that you need but nothing more. I suppose the trick is knowing what you really need. “

I see it differently. All you really need is lov…. err, no, that can’t be right. Oh yeah, all you need is a toothbrush, your passport and a credit card. The real trick is determining what level of comfort and convenience you will want. What is your time worth? How much time do you have. What activities will you insist on doing and what do you need for them? Can these needs be fulfilled locally? Can you make do with what IS available locally? Can you, or are you willing to spare the time to wait for spare parts, or whatever it is you did not bring? The Dichotomy of too much vs too little gets very complicated.

BUT, in my opinion, time and patience are the biggest limiting factors. Having lots of money can help with some of this in many circumstances, but not all. If you have a lot of time AND patience, most things can be worked out without bankrupting you. (gotta add flexibility in there too.)

For my part, most of my trips are shorter, and time is the biggest enemy I have. Fortunately, money is not a big issue, so I can spend my way out of many issues if necessary, but being flexible allows me to not have to. For example, when my Honda in Argentina started crapping out, there was no time to “fix” it, so I came up with a workaround to complete the trip. At the end of the trip, or rather, after the trip, when the bike was just not getting fixed as I had hoped, I could afford to just abandon the bike. Not that I had any real choice, going down there to fix it myself would have taken too long to be worth it as I would not have had the time to take a vacation. Here again, had I had plenty of time, I could have fixed the bike. Or, with plenty of money I could have just bought another bike. There are almost always options. Not always good options, but always one that is less painful to you.

No straight path is worth walking down, as there is seldom anything interesting to see there.


Response from Wade

Hello Bob,

This was a great rebuttal, can I publish it? You are right, packing
requires a clear idea of your own parameters. I see many tourists with
huge bags and I think, “how could anyone ever need that much stuff foe
a week long trip,” then you made it apparent: they have all that stuff
because their time is worth more than the expense and effort to cart
everything around: they have one week of traveling, they don’t want to
waste any of it shopping for a toothbrush.

It is good you know yourself and your travels before preparing. I see
all of these “travel packing” lists and they all do not take into
account the simple fact that a person must have a clear idea of their
travels before packing, that there is no such thing as a general list
beyond what you said: a passport and a credit card. Everything else
must be adapted to suit your needs, time frame, and monetary

I have traveled with as much as large backpacks and as little as just
about nothing. If I am riding as bicycle I carru a sleeping bag and
tent, if I am staying in hotels this gear is completely unneeded.

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Filed under: Travel Gear, Travel Preparation

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3169 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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