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Travelling Light: Three Months on a Carry-on

This time next week, I will be on my second leg of a four leg flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia.  Over the next three months I will be flying all over the place, logging over 20,000 airline miles and making at least fifteen transfers.

I simply can't afford to deal with misplaced baggage on this trip, and I need to be mobile enough to easily pack and move without worrying about carrying around multiple bags.  So, how do you travel for three months with a carry-on?  It's actually easier than you might think...


Clothes take up the most space in any traveler's bag, so if you want to travel light you need to eliminate them.  There are a few easy tricks to this, but the best is simple - use synthetics, wear bulky gear, buy local, and donate on the way out.  For this trip, I'll only be bringing the following with me:

Wearing when traveling:

  • New pair of jeans (they will wear out most likely)
  • North Face Hyvent waterproof/windproof shell (if I go somewhere cold I just need to add some cheap sweatshirts)
  • ExOfficio synthetic boxer briefs
  • Underarmor heatgear synethetic long sleeve undershirt
  • ExOfficio synthetic safari shirt
  • Socks
  • Salomon Gore-tex trail shoes

In the backpack:

  • 4x extra pairs of Ex Officio synthetic boxer briefs
  • 4x extra pairs of Underarmor heatgear synthetic undershirts
  • REI Taku mountaineering pants (waterproof hard wearing shell pants)
  • Reef leather flip flops (these have already been on three continents and 15+ countries with me, they rule) 

    That's it for three months.  I'll grab t-shirts and other gear (including stuff I need for training muay thai in Thailand) locally and give it away as I move on.  The only reason I'm even bringing that many extra pairs of underwear is because I'll be going through them like crazy in Thailand.

    Incidentally, I can't recommend Ex Officio Give-N-Go synthetic underwear enough - they are awesome for sports as well as just normal wear, they can be worn for multiple days, they dry quickly when washed on the go, and they are always comfortable and never chafe.  Downside is they are a bit pricey, but highly recommended.


    So what am I going to do with all the extra space in my pack?  Load up on gear of course - this meshes well with the clothes because I can also use them as padding.  For my long trip I'm going to be traveling with a cut down set of gear, eliminating all of the camping stuff and relying on what I find local in each area.  For now, I'm planning on the following:

    • Locosys BGT-32 GPS datalogger
    • SPOT Satellite Messenger
    • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 (digital camera, my old standby)
    • Canon A590is (backup digital camera)
    • Gorillapod classic (not taking the SLIK this time unfortunately)
    • Dell Mini10 w/ 6 cell battery (I may replace this with a new Core i5 laptop, TBD)
    • Western Digital 250GB Passport USB drive (for backups)
    • Petzl headlamp
    • 10x20mm miniature spotting scope / monocle
    • Emergency Kit (first aid, treatment tablets, Celox, etc.)
    • Overnight Kit (antiperspirant, toothbrush, etc.)
    • Power adapter kit for SE Asia and Europe

    I'm also very seriously considering and extremely likely to pick up a Sony PRS-300 ebook reader - it's so much less bulky than carrying around real books that it's almost a no-brainer.

    There you go - all the gear and clothes a geek needs to survive three months away from home stuffed into an Oakley tactical pack.


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