Packing hacks of frequent travelers - Intentional Travelers
Clark & Mayfield carry-all Morrison leather laptop bag | Intentional Travelers

18 Apr Packing hacks of frequent travelers

Knowing how to pack a suitcase or backpack is an important skill. We reached out to some of our favorite frequent travelers about their top travel hacks for packing light. Each set of travelers has a different packing strategy. Hopefully, their tried-and-tested packing tips will help you discover the best way to pack for your own situation.

The Carry-On Only Crew

Crossing paths with Kit and Nick in Copenhagen

The travelers: Kit Whelan and Nick Schneble, 7in7 Conference

Travel style: Full-time nomads

The secret weapon(s): Tom Bihn Aeronaut travel backpack, Stuff Sacks, USB chargers

Kit and Nick have been traveling together full-time as digital nomads for almost a decade now. They pack everything in Tom Bihn Aeronaut backpacks so they don’t have to check bags at the airport. In 2015, Nick actually down-sized from a 45 liter bag to a 30 liter travel bag. Very impressive!

Tom Bihn Aeronaut backpack

Kit says, “We’ve had Tom Bihn Aeronauts for almost six years and LOVE THEM! Seriously, couldn’t live without these beautiful backpacks. They carry everything we need for living and working anywhere in the world in any climate (minus Antarctica) and we can carry them onto any plane without worrying about them fitting in the overhead bins.”

Since Nick actually managed to down-size his backpack, we’ll focus on what he’s carrying. The main pocket holds his sandals, liquids bag, laptop and compression sack filled with clothes. He explained to us that although he has multiple electronics – phone, hair clippers, razor, laptop – he cuts down on power cords by having everything charge via USB on his Macbook.

Here’s everything else Nick packs in his Aeronaut:

  • 3D Clear Organizer Cube: Liquid toiletries
  • Stuff Sack Size 1 (x-small): Non-liquid toiletries
  • Stuff Sack Size 2 (small): Cables & MacBook plug adapters
  • Stuff Sack Size 3 (medium): Razors, contacts, travel lock, and other ephemera
  • Stuff Sack Size 4 (large): Empty to use as a dirty clothes bag
  • Aeronaut 30 Small, Steel Packing Cubes: One in each side pocket, holding the stuff sacks, hair clippers, toothbrush, Platypus water bottle, and glasses case
  • Laptop Cache: Protects his beloved MacBook

Everything that fits into one backpack

Stuff Sacks

Travel Stuff Sacks serve a variety of purposes: they stow and compress items like down jackets, they can be used to separate dirty clothes from clean clothes, and some people use them for packing clothing that doesn’t need to be folded. Tom Bihn Stuff Sacks are made of Halcyon/nylon ultralight ripstop fabric. They cinch shut with a drawstring closure and cord lock.

The Tech Travelers

Hanging out with Troy and Dorene in Medellin, Colombia

The travelers: Troy and Dorene, Travel Life Experiences

Travel style: Full-time nomads

The secret weapon(s): Compressor bags, Pacsafe travel safe

Troy and Dorene quit their corporate jobs, sold their home, and became full-time nomads about two years ago. Much of their client work involves video and other tech, so this is a big factor in their packing style. They like to spend several weeks or months at a time in each country, and they are abroad almost the entire year.

Outdoor Research Lightweight Compressor Bags

Troy says, “Compressor bags are our favorite space-saving item for our clothing. Dorene and I each carry three 8-liter compressor bags. This allows us to cut our clothing space in half. The reason we use three 8-liter bags is because they compress down smaller and will pack a lot easier than larger bags.” They use these bags for all their clothes, towels, jackets.

Pacsafe Travelsafe X15 Anti-Theft Portable Safe

Troy and Dorene work from their laptops and do video work for many of their clients. “Now that we travel full-time, we use Pacsafe products every day to carry our video, camera, and computer equipment,” says Dorene. They lock up all their valuables before leaving any hotel room. They say that the Travelsafe X15 bag is perfect for laptops, small cameras, hard drives and passports. “We need products that adjust to different living situations. Every time we move, we lock up our gear in different ways, depending on the location… We affix the bag to sinks, or any permanent fixtures in hotel rooms, to give us the added peace of mind that our precious items are safe.”

For more info, see Troy and Dorene’s awesome video review of Pacsafe products.

The Frequent Flyer Master

The traveler: Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity

Travel style: Frequent overseas trips

Secret weapon: Only the necessities (and Nintendo DS)

Working with Chris (left of Michelle) on World Domination Summit. Photo credit: Armosa Studios

When it comes to frequent flying, Chris literally wrote the book on it. Even though he’s already completed his quest to visit every country in the world, he still flies often – doing book tours and several round-the-world trips each year.

“I don’t own a backpack and haven’t willingly checked a bag on one of my extended adventures,” Chris says. “My gear is consistent pretty much anywhere I go. The only difference if I’m going to cold and hot climates on the same trip is to add a sweater and change the light jacket for a slightly heavier one.”

He tries to do laundry at least once or twice on a trip, and if necessary, will buy an extra shirt or whatever he needs along the way.

Here is all that Chris packs on most trips:

  • Running shoes
  • Work out clothes
  • Slacks
  • Jeans
  • Dress shirt
  • 2-3 T-shirts
  • Socks and underwear
  • Contact lenses
  • Passport and tickets

  • Cash
  • Credit cards
  • Journal and notebook
  • iPod touch
  • Books, magazines, and Nintendo DS
  • Cliff bars
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Electrical adapters
  • Amenity kit from the airline

“Other than the jacket and scarf that I wear, all of the items are packed into the one carry-on bag and one laptop bag that you see here. I also take a much smaller handbag with me that gets packed into the carry-on. I bought this in Hong Kong a while back and use it to carry my notebooks and iPod when walking around during the day.”

Intentional Travelers

Packed up at the end of a 3-month trip to Hawaii, Southeast Asia, and Japan

Travelers: Us! (Jedd and Michelle)

Travel style: Long-term budget travel nomads

The secret weapon: Packing cubes

Our overseas trips tend to last a month or longer, though we do stay in Oregon quite a bit during the summer where we do some house-sitting. For flights, we usually check in our travel backpacks and each carry on a second bag that holds our laptops and other valuables. Because Jedd loves to cook, we tend to pack a few weird items – like cooking knives and home-mixed seasoning salt (and sometimes even a non-stick pan!).

Packing Cubes

Before using our packing cubes (from Eagle Creek and Florious), our luggage was a jumbled mess. The cubes keep our clothes organized. I use a small one for socks and underwear, a medium one for rolled up shirts, and a medium-large for all my work out clothes. Pants and sweaters I might put together in a large packing cube. When we’re staying somewhere that doesn’t have any storage area, we’ll actually keep our clothes in the cubes and use them in place of drawers.

Packing cubes are our one big packing hack – we’re still learning from our fellow nomads and hope that someday we’ll be able to do only carry-ons… For now, we’re really happy with our backpacks: the Osprey Farpoint 55 and Osprey Atmos 65. For day bags, Jedd uses a Deuter day pack that has since been discontinued. Michelle carries a Clark & Mayfield leather laptop bag.

We hope these packing hacks and travel gear tips are helpful for you! Please let us know if you have any questions or recommendations of your own.

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  • Lianne Bronzo
    Posted at 05:21h, 20 April

    You all are so organized!! I usually travel with a carry-on as well, but the insides are kind of a mess. I do love my ziplock bags that compress, though.

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