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What’s In Your Backpack? Migrationology Edition

REI Lookout 40

My Travel Backpack

I guess many would consider my packing style to be minimal, though I don't really think of it that way myself because I carry all the things that I need.

Packing Style

When I travel, I like to pack with the mindset that I want to be able to carry all my stuff anywhere without it being a burden.

In other words, if I land in a new city and I need to walk 20 kilometers across a city, I want to be able to do it with everything I own.

So when I pack I keep this in mind and only carry an amount of stuff that won't hold me down.

I'm not a real minimalist.

Sure I've seen videos about those extreme, minimalist travelers that claim they own just 10 items but fail to mention that when they arrive anywhere, they must purchase a bar of soap or a new tube of toothpaste.

While I like to go light, I am also frugal with my things. If I happen to have a free bar of soap from a guest house, I will carry it along with me and use it until it's all gone.

Packing light, not buying many things along the way, and not wasting things is an effective strategy for saving money to travel.

My New Camera Bag

My New Camera Bag


Right now, I'm using a midsize REI Lookout 40 backpack. Though the description claims it to be a daypack, I think it's just about perfect as a long term pack.

It's not too big, yet it's just slightly bigger than a normal school backpack. It allows me to slip in my computer, and fill the rest of the bag up with clothes and toiletries.

I also carry a Lowepro Passport Sling bag for my camera.

I really like this bag because it fits my DSLR nicely and there's also space for things like a bottle of water for a day out.

Another reason I really like it is that it is plain, and doesn't look too much like a traditional camera bag.

A few of my clothes

A few of my clothes


I really don't like shopping and I try to avoid buying clothes as much as possible, so luckily I'm not one of those people who accumulates a giant wardrobe when traveling.

I normally won't buy a new shirt until my previous one is about to fall apart.

Here are the clothes I carry:

  • 4 shirts
  • 2 shorts (1 cargo shorts, 1 sports shorts)
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 3 pairs of underwear
  • 2 pairs of socks (though I try to avoid wearing shoes as much as possible)
  • 1 rain jacket

Of course, depending on weather conditions, this can always change. In order to carry just a small amount of clothes, I wash them quite frequently in the sink of wherever I'm staying.

If it's warm, I exclusively wear sandals (flip flops) though I do have a pair of Salomon XT Wings for hiking and other outdoor adventures.

My toiletries kit

My toiletries kit


I tend to live and travel rather maintenance free. I carry virtually nothing apart from a toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers, sun lotion, and a few normal toiletry odds and ends (like Tylenol). I also carry a small microfiber towel.

All my toiletries fit into a small, 2″ x 6″ little bag.

Canon 550D

DSLR Camera


Being a travel blogger, writer, and attempting to survive by means of the internet, there are a few gadgets that I carry around with me when I travel.

MacBook Pro

About 1.5 years ago I made the upgrade from a small netbook computer to a 13-inch MacBook Pro.

As I spend a lot of time on the computer writing, editing photos and cutting videos, it was a really beneficial upgrade.

Though I find the computer to be a little heavy, it's worth the lugging around! When buying a travel laptop you need to think about what you'll be using it for and how much you'll be using it.

Canon 550D

For a while, I traveled with only a small point and shoot camera, and for most purposes it was perfect.

However, my lust for photography and attempting to share higher quality photos justified my purchase of a DSLR Canon 550D full-size camera.

It's much heavier and bulkier than a point and shoot, but the photo quality can't be beat. It also shoots great HD videos.

Small Unlocked Phone

I don't have any sort of fancy phone, just a cheap unlocked phone strictly for making calls, not for doing e-mail or tweeting.

Other Stuff

There are also a number of things I carry that I don't get attached to and I try to recycle them in an ongoing cycle.
This includes things like books, plastic bags, water bottles, etc.

Note on Packing

What a lot of travelers don't realize is that almost everything one could possibly need (as long as it's not too personal or specialized) can be purchased in other countries around the world.

If the exact same thing can't be bought, there's often a substitute that may even work better, or cost less than buying it at home (we are all humans around the world and we all have some of the same wants/needs).

For instance, when I was in Egypt, I needed eye drops and when I went into the pharmacy, a bottle cost me about $0.50. That's much cheaper than they'd be in the United States.

Final Thought

Everyone packs differently, and all of us have our own unique comforts when we travel.

When you pack for a trip, make sure you have enough to be comfortable with, but don't overdo it so your things hold you back or tie you down.

When you start worrying about your stuff, it's time to analyze and scale down!

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Tuesday 15th of November 2011

just got back from a month in india with a 35L bag. Probably wouldn't go so light again. (well my next trip is russia so i definitely wont)

Anyways, I brought so little stuff that I really didn't have anything of comfort and some days i just needed something nice. Was a pain finding stuff there, most of what was available was junk.

I'm not knocking India... I absolutely loved it and would go back without hesitation. its just a little on the dirty side, and like i said, sometimes you just need to feel nice.

So yeah, next time i'll bring more stuff. It's not like you carry your bag for extended periods. i guess just make sure its not sooo big that it won't easily fit.


Wednesday 16th of November 2011

Yea, I can see the desire to have some nice things in India, where once you're outside the big cities, it can be a dusty and dirty experience.

For me, nice is now a pair of jeans. Unless I'm hiking or doing some activity where I expect to get muddy, I'm usually wearing jeans whereas in the past I'd scoff at the idea because they are heavy and dry slowly.


Tuesday 8th of November 2011

Wow, the simplest and lighest travel luggage I've ever seen. Sometimes fewer weight indeed equals more enjoyment when traveling. Hope you and your super mini travel backpack visit China someday :)


Monday 24th of October 2011

Great packing list! Not sure I would manage to do it with a 40L bagpack but that's very inspiring to see how Mark's travels with it. I need to try it for my next trip! Although I can imagine that being in warm SEA helps in terms of packing light ;)

Mark Wiens

Thursday 3rd of November 2011

Hey Alex, Yah, being in a warm climate really helps to lighten the load. Probably in Europe you'd need a few extra clothes, as well as more formal clothes.

Sam - FoodTravelBliss

Sunday 23rd of October 2011

I always try to travel light, but I am currently in the UK where winter is well and truly seeing in. Which means purchasing a couple of extra layers, some enclosed shoes and a jacket. I am hoping I will always be wearing them and they won't have to add too much to the weight to my bag, but I find winter travelling always makes it harder to pack lighter.

Mark Wiens

Thursday 3rd of November 2011

Right about that Sam. So far I've really been traveling in warmer tropical climates (I'm slightly afraid of cold weather), but cooler climates definitely mean a few extra things and a little more weight.

Tyler @

Wednesday 19th of October 2011

Mark, I like the packing list and love the Argentina jersey! You are are really "kiss"ing it (keep it simple, silly).

Mark Wiens

Thursday 3rd of November 2011

Haha, Thanks a lot Tyler!

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