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How Do You Pack Different When Traveling?
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Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 13:23:27 MST Print View

There's hiking... and then there's traveling (e.g. hotels, hostels, homestays, etc.).

I was a traveler before I became a hiker. But a lot of what I learned here at BPL and elsewhere, I was able to apply to traveling as well. There is a tremendous overlap -- although in traveling, when the "hike" is mostly just a mile (or less) between the train station and the hotel... weight is not as critical. However, traveling can be much more punishing on gear (esp. packs).

Curious, do you travel? Do you use similar gear and pack similarly? Or do you resort more to traditional packing (e.g. wheelies, duffles, etc.)? For me...

Hiking trips - I prefer a "one big hole" top loader, with minimal organization. I find that I use pretty much everything on a trip, so when everything needs to come out at the end of the day anyway, organization is not so important. Indeed, I find using a myriad of stuff sacks and such actually takes up more pack space and leads to longer packing and unpacking time! I do use one stuff sack to house the tiny, misc. stuff, and the items that I need during the day are stashed in outside pockets. -- including hipbelt pockets.

Hiking and Traveling combined trips - I pack just as above, and add passport/docs and a guidebook or two.

Traveling (with day hikes) trips - Here, convenience and organization become more important for me. Thanks to UL philosophy and techniques, my total pack weight is around 10-11 lbs. regardless of trip length (my longest is 7 months). But my travel pack is an understated, zippered day pack with several compartments. Unlike hiking, I rarely unpack everything during a trip, so it's nice to be able to easily locate and reach for certain things. On longer trips, I also bring a tablet computer with me. Plus a bit more toiletries and misc. items (like a compact umbrella, and a light pair of flip flops for beach and hotel use). I wear a pair of walking shoes in lieu of boots. Other than that, my hiking clothes and my travel clothes are one and the same -- and the "layering" technique applies in the same way.

How about you guys? I wonder how many (if any) here are extreme UL practitioners when hiking, but use rollaboards and matching duffels when traveling? :)

Edited by ben2world on 02/03/2012 13:28:59 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 14:09:19 MST Print View


For me it really depends on the nature of my trip. If I need suits for corporate meetings, then it is traditional luggage. But I have done many, many trips with my TNF Flyweight Rucksack and a computer bag, even for business trips where the dress is business casual. It is a pack with no compartments, I can get more stuff in it than larger bags/luggage and with careful packing can minimize wrinkles. I put my 1 gallon toiletry bag in the top flap pocket, and the side pockets are too tight for anything but a boarding pass.

TNF Rucksack and ULA Conduit

For size comparison, here it is next to a ULA Conduit. The rucksack is small and compressible enough that I can get it into the overhead bins of commuter puddle jumpers. A couple years ago I had a week of meetings with a luxury car manufacturer and was able to bring a good selection of acceptable clothing. Also it was January in New Jersey, so my Ex UL Montbell down jacket kept me warm at night.

Here is all my luggage. Usually I only take the laptop case and rucksack. If I have to travel from city to city with corporate clients (and no checked baggage), then it is the top carry on and the laptop bag (corporate image you know). The big suitcase is for suits.

BTW, all the luggage is Briggs and Riley, with an unconditional guarantee. The big suitcase is about 10 years old. Briggs and Riley rebuilt the entire thing last year for free under warranty. They were willing to give me a new suitcase, but my model is no longer made, so they rebuilt it.

Edited for grammar.

Edited by ngatel on 02/03/2012 14:11:25 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 14:25:36 MST Print View

When we travel by car or plane everyone gets one suitcase and that is it. I usually end up doing laundry on longer trips, which is fine. Then we get a backpack/trekking poles as well + my husband's camera gear. We have flying status so we don't pay to check through 2 items each (I box the packs/poles in one box to protect) and I send through the Pack n' play as well in a custom made box. Add in a stroller and I am good to go. If we are driving I am a bit more open to extra junk. Then often we take our ARB refrigerator as well - saves money on food! And we all carry our laptops/ipads as well.
With the second baby nearly here it is going to extra "fun" with even more junk to haul. Still, it is a lighter load than many families carry!

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 15:21:19 MST Print View

I consistently use a generic wheeled crush-able backpack as my carry-on when and a larger 26"x 20 wheeled bag which is thick light fabric with huge YKK zippers. When I lived in Beijing in a 8th floor walk-up I improvised backpack straps for it. I can wear the carry-on as a backpack and still wheel or carry the larger bag the 2 or 3stair flights down to a taxi queue in a Chinese railway station.Needless to say a Western airport or train station is a cakewalk compared to China. I pack very light -nylon pants and shirts all sink washable. Photography is a major hobby so I travel with a fake Northface sling bag as my principle "daypack". It can be rigged with a Golite trekking umbrella for shooting in rain. I carry a Sea to Summit ultra-sil daypack or an Outdoor research Dry Peak bagger for trips when I need to shop for bulkier items.They weigh very little and pack down small. That same daypack carries my sleeping bag lashed to a Mountainsmith Ghost when I backpack.

Edited by Meander on 02/03/2012 15:23:43 MST.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 15:46:14 MST Print View

Depends on how many changes of clothing. My last trip to Hawaii to visit parents, I just took an Osprey Exos 34 which also included a no-cook backpack trip while out there, shoved an iPad in the front pocket, and still thought I overpacked. It's a pretty casual place so I just left some clothing when I hit Waimanu and there was no mailing anything prior to arrival. Before joining this website, I would have brought a seperate roller bag checked with more clothes, shoes, etc... but with airline check fees, just going with carry-on (except Southwest). Next time it will be my ZimmerBuilt Exposure or Half dome. If just a city trip to Los Angeles, I'll bring an Osprey Porter 46 with variable straps.. Not sure I could do that on a winter trip combined with snowsports, with clothing requirements, and all the gear, however. Probably back to the roller bag plus a carryon.

Another compromise might be going out on the town when first landing, then mailing clothing not needed back home parcel post or ground before going on a backpack.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 16:28:27 MST Print View

I find my outdoorsy bike/walk and my traveling do complement each other. I've been doing it for almost 20 years and its fairly automatic for me but when I look at other passengers and see the very large luggage they bring, about 3x-10x my size of luggage, I realize the steady accumulation of changes in my traveling kit borrowed from lightening backpacking tricks. My smaller luggage helps others get their bags on and I wish more would travel lighter.

I never need so much stuff I need to check luggage. Even for weeks away, no matter how cold the place I visit although coldest I've handled is -25F.

For places I am visiting frequently I leave a few items there (biggest is shoes) and then I can travel only with a 20L backpack and in the coldest weather strap an external 3L drybag with my down parka and that's all I need. Unfortunately most of my trips are one-off destinations so I need to carry everything and 20L isn't enough.

For most other times I need about 40L at the peak which is all my clothes and my lunch, so more of a backpack which is your simple top-loading GoLite Peak with the hipbelts removed to not catch on anything. To further survive in confined flights, I have a simple daysack inside which as I get ready so sit in my seat I remove from the backpack and that makes the backpack fit in practically anything, folding over if required or resting ontop of any bags not stuffing the overhead bins.

In the daysack I have a sitmat and my laptop and high-value stuff and any food+drink I need - most flights don't feed us inside the USA contintental flights, even 6 hour Pacific-Atlantic flights.

Weaving through airports I have one backpack no wider than my torso so I can move fast, and generally do move fast.

I carry 2 work shirts and 1 work trousers and 1 work shoes, 2 underwear, and I wash a shirt and underwear each evening, one hot soapy wash sink, and one hot clean and then drip over show overnight and the next day its air-drying in the closet which I then iron and wear the next morning. I've gone up to 3 weeks doing that. Based on the temperature, I pack fleece, down, gloves, hats, Buff. A few fave items which are better for traveling that hiking are for example Paramo Reversible shirts.

I'm usually wearing a thin wicking tshirt and shorts and Keen sandals as I'm moving so fast in any temperature everyone else finds just-right, I'm too warm. I carry a fleece and windproofs which are sufficiently water-resistent an umbrella then is enough for local hotel-office type walks in the wet.

In cool conditions I carry a medium-thickness down jacket (Patagonia Sweater jacket), in colder a thick down parka (Montbell Alpine Light Parka), to get to really cold its fleece+parka+windproof to reduce the coldspots from the stitch-through of the baffles. I am thinking I might bring both my down tops for the coldest situations.

That then gets me from 0F to 110F, between a January in Chicago to a July in Phoenix.

If I'm actually doing outdoorsy stuff at the destination, I'll bring waterproofs and switch to travelling wearing hiking boots, but I never get above the 40L of the backpack. The worst place to pack for is New York, it varies cool rain through to snow so that's synthetics+down. Places like Phoenix don't need any warm clothing and places like Chicago in winter is always cold so simple down.

A few situations the "never check" has saved me hassle, being able to walk up to the earlier flight which is running late and get home earlier is nice. Having bad weather or broken aircraft cause unexpected extra nights is not an issue as my washing methods keep rolling forward indefinitely.

So that's all the good stuff. The bad stuff is fellow passengers.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 17:13:45 MST Print View

One year Ben's travel backpack is a Target brand, then an REI pack, and now a Case Logic laptop backpack ; ).

Back when you had the Embark pack, I went looking and bought an Embark laptop backpack that is similar to your Case Logic. I use it for work everyday and love it.

Edited by jshann on 02/03/2012 17:14:48 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 17:33:28 MST Print View

"One year Ben's travel backpack is a Target brand, then an REI pack, and now a Case Logic laptop backpack ; ).

Back when you had the Embark pack, I went looking and bought an Embark laptop backpack that is similar to your Case Logic. I use it for work everyday and love it."

Busted! I am a horrible Slut when it comes to backpacks -- kinda like Imelda Marcos and her shoes! I just clicked the "Buy" button on this. Someone please help me...

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 18:08:24 MST Print View

Looks like a mixed bag here -- as expected -- suitcases and wheelies as well as backpacks and daypacks! As a traveler, this BPL site has really helped me cut down on bulk and weight. But then, it looks like the airlines are doing a pretty good job at "steering" people toward lightweight traveling as well.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 18:40:45 MST Print View

The airlines seem to be turning their planes not only into cattle-cars but overhead bin hogs as well. I often fly Southwest in-country and it is still not bad -free checked luggage , but now you pay to get into earlier boarding and many families on airlines can't try to reserve seats together unless they pay up-that's a major lawsuit waiting to happen. But in general the new fees and weight limits are causing carryons to max out . Going to China on Air Canada I could see early on that we would have to park our bags towards the front of the aircraft because people were endlessly shifting the overheads to try to fit that big honker in there.I'd say all this stuffing and messing around got the flight crew to an ugly kind of place at just the beginning of a long flight.It delayed our takeoff by a good half hour. I'm hoping soon that the days of reclining seat backs end soon. Talk about man's inhumanity to man ...and the grand joke-one of our in-flight movies -Contagion . People forget SARS so quickly and thermometer guns aimed at your forehead as you disembarked.

Edited by Meander on 02/03/2012 18:42:08 MST.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/03/2012 21:05:33 MST Print View

My traveling and backpacking tend to use different items because I am optimizing for different things though I still tend to go pretty light weight (everything fits carry on).

Bag: Backpacking it's carry comfort, and minimum weight for adequate durability (Gossamer Gear Gorilla). Traveling it carry on legal, adequate carry comfort for a couple of miles, easy access (ideally lockable), and good durability (Sherpani Blaze or Osprey Porter 46). Also, when traveling I tend to bring a second bag for day use (Lowe Passport Sling, or Patagonia Ultralight Courier Bag). When backpacking, I never separate my gear.

Clothing: Some overlap, but in the back country I don't care (much) how I look if I am comfortable. When traveling I want to blend in so I pay a bit more attention to style. Also, when traveling I tend not to be working as hard as when I am backpacking so clothing for the day time is selected for for "light work" activity level rather than heavy work, and I tend not to bring clothing that will keep me comfortable in worse case weather at night... because I can going inside to warm up.

Toiletries: I am a bit more concerned about how people react to me. So deodorant, razor, shampoo, etc come when traveling and don't come backpacking.

Extras: When traveling I tend to bring more technology because I have grown used to being able to look think up via the net. I also tend to bring more camera gear because I am not so concerned about weight.

My traveling light packing records thoughts it a bit more detail.


Edited by verber on 02/03/2012 21:07:37 MST.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
traveling on 02/04/2012 10:16:40 MST Print View

The times when I travel some way other than driving myself are few. Going home over holidays is the big one. For that I'm generally bringing presents and locally produced items people back home can't get, so I rarely find myself on a plane without a large suitcase. On those occasions when I'm not lugging stuff home, my clothes and toiletries fit in a large daypack and my electronics and reading material go in a laptop bag, while a thermarest pillow gets clipped to the outside. Neither is UL but both are several years old and continue to serve their purpose. I don't foresee swapping them out anytime soon. Jansport has a lifetime warranty, and the Ogio bag has held up admirably to my none-too-gentle treatment. I can do overnight trips with the laptop bag alone. If it's a longer trip but I'm not taking my computer, I'll only use the backpack.

I have my toiletries in multiple size bottles so I can take the smallest that will suffice for a given trip, and I try to multi-purpose items as much as possible. One thing I don't take hiking but which comes with me every other time I leave the house is my tea mug. Again, several years old and nothing but praise for it.

Edited by spelt on 02/04/2012 10:20:45 MST.

T kawa
(kitsune) - F
Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/16/2012 14:46:15 MST Print View

Everywhere I go is with a golite peak. You just put differnt stuff in it for differnt purposes. Course I don't winter hike. But last year I went to NYC in january for 3 weeks, europe in may for a month and Peru in august (Inca Trail, titicaca, amazon) and everything fits in the peak. Usually with a smaller pack stuffed inside so that I can take out and make the peak look smaller for flights.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/16/2012 14:55:45 MST Print View

I did exactly the same last week on a trip to Panama. Still tweaking the system but it worked out ok, Sea2summit dry evac bag at bottom with clothes, a daysack I remove ontop with my in-flight goods. I walked 6 miles home from the airport using the GoLite Peak's hipbelts but otherwise they were stored inside for clean lines through airport/hotels/taxi, the less dangling to catch the better. 40L was a perfect size, also my netbook I had in the Peak's rear pocket and it was quick to get out for the TSA.

One key point with overhead bins is the randomness of the volume and the shape of the volunme. The key trick is NOT squash everythng so small because then it can't take the shape of whatever is overhead. That's why the evac bag and not a compression bag.

I had 2 hours spare in Houston airport, I walked its entire length twice to get some cardio and then cooled down before boarding.

Off to Trinidad next, will use the same basic system.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/17/2012 16:02:58 MST Print View

When my boyfriend and I go car-camping or on trips in the car we just bring our UL backpacking gear. To that gear we add a cooler of food and drinks and I'll usually bring a gym bag of cotton clothing.

Recently we went to Death Valley and it was awesome sleeping in the back of the SUV and not having a lot of gear, not having to set anything up to go to bed. Just move stuff from the back to the front, get my quilt out of my backpack and it's bedtime.

I make sure to treat my stuff the same as when I hike, which is that I put it all away as if I'm going to have to put on my pack and take it with me. There is nothing I hate more than how your stuff gets so lost when you go car camping and you're always searching and searching for stuff.

Next time I travel to a faraway land like on a plane or whatever, I'm bringing the smallest amount of gear I can get away with. I'd rather just buy what I need when I get there.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/17/2012 17:32:44 MST Print View

"I'd rather just buy what I need when I get there."

I wouldn't do that in Europe... or Japan... or Australia! :)

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: How Do You Pack Differently When Traveling? on 02/17/2012 18:06:21 MST Print View

I like a big, soft duffle - 2-3 pounds of bag weight instead of a roller duffle. Rollers weigh 8 to 11 pounds which is a big fraction of the 50-pound bag limit. And they are harder to fit in a rental car trunk when with the whole family.

I'm a backpacker. I can carry two duffles over my shoulders for a 1 km walk through an airport. I don't need or want wheels.

If we're doing much public transit, then I go to frameless or internal-framed packs to keep our hands free.

Otherwise, that universal traveling rule: "Bring half as much clothes and twice as much money as you think you'll need."

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Looking for a light-weight roller carryon on 02/17/2012 19:14:18 MST Print View

If I travel it is usually for business, requiring 1-2 suits, 2 pr slacks, 3-4 shirts, etc. that can't be avoided. For everything else, though, I'm simply carrying less. My carryon bag typically weighs 20-25 lbs (sometimes 30), plus the briefcase.

I'm in the process of trying to find a much lighter-weight rolling carryon. At 30 lbs I'd rather not carry a duffel + briefcase on my shoulders. The current rolling carryon weighs 11 lbs. If I could find one that wasn't necessarily bullet-proof (because I never check it I don't need it made out of steel!), I'd be a happy camper.

Any recommendations for sub-5lb roller carryon?

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Looking for a light-weight roller carryon on 02/17/2012 19:48:05 MST Print View

Looking last November I ended up with this. The build quality is pretty light. They replaced it with a much heavier truck. I ended up taking an older bag that I liked better. Just posted to give you a sense of things and how they have changed. The bag is sitting here unused and no longer on site available.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Looking for a light-weight roller carryon on 02/17/2012 20:12:56 MST Print View

sorry can't be specific with a roller bag but my advice is go for a squishy soft sided type bag it will fit better. Plenty of times I've seen "but it fit last time" passenger statements due to slightly different aircraft. Also good to get a bag bigger than you need so it can shape. A tightly stuffed bag will tend to refuse to go narrow/short to fit in whatever is overhead. If you can, get a bag which if half-empty is half the size, you can remove something from the inside and spread your stuff around rather than check a bag. Then place in your roller bag two handled soft-sided bags so basically its two bags in one bag, which is your one carry-on bag to meet the rules.

Also a bag with nothing external to catch anything, clean lines.

I'm sure such a bag exists...... basically is a simply duffel a small frame, handle, on wheels.