How to Travel the World with 10 Pounds or Less (Plus: How to Negotiate Convertibles and Luxury Treehouses)


The incredible Sony VAIO VGN-TXN27N laptop. This beauty is less than 2″ thick and weighs 2.8 lbs. If I add a few ounces of weight with the extended battery (on the right) and trick it out, I can get 15 hours of battery life. [Update: I now use a MacBook Air]

The name of the game in world travel is being “fashionably light.”

Practice in 30-plus countries has taught me that packing minimalism can be an art.

I returned from Costa Rica last Wednesday, and have since landed in Maui, where I’ll stay for one week. What did I pack and why? Check out the video…

I practice what I’ll label the BIT method of travel: Buy It There.

If you pack for every contingency — better bring the hiking books in case we go hiking, better bring an umbrella in case it rains, better bring dress shoes and slacks in case we go to a nice restaurant, etc. — carrying a mule-worthy load is inevitable. I’ve learned to instead allocate $50-200 per trip to a “settling fund,” which I use to buy needed items once they’re 100% needed. This includes cumbersome and hassle items like umbrellas and bottles of sunscreen that love to explode. Also, never buy if you can borrow. If you’re going on a bird watching trip in Costa Rica, you don’t need to bring binoculars — someone else will have them.

Here’s the Maui list, listed from top-to-bottom, left-to-right:


-1 featherweight Marmot Ion jacket (3 oz.!)

-1 breathable Coolibar long-sleeve shirt. This saved me in Panama.

-1 pair of polyester pants. Polyester is light, wrinkle-resistant, and dries quickly. Disco dancers and flashpackers dig it.

-1 Kensington laptop lock, also used to secure all bags to stationary objects.

-1 single Under Armour sock, used to store sunglasses

-2 nylon tanktops

-1 large MSR quick-dry microfiber towel, absorbs up to 7 times its weight in water

-1 Ziploc bag containing toothbrush, travel toothpaste, and disposable razor

-1 Fly Clear biometric travel card, which cuts down my airport wait time about 95%

-2 pairs of Exofficio lightweight underwear. Their tagline is “17 countries. 6 weeks. And one pair of underwear.” I think I’ll opt for two, considering they weigh about as much as a handful of Kleenex. One other nice side-effect of their weight: they’re much more comfortable than normal cotton underwear.

-2 pairs of shorts/swimsuits

-2 books: Lonely Planet Hawaii and The Entrepreneurial Imperative (the latter comes highly recommended. Check it out)

-1 sleeping mask and earplugs

-1 pair of Reef sandals. Best to get a pair with removable straps that go around the heel.

-1 Canon PowerShot SD300 digital camera with extra 2GB SD memory card. God, I love this camera more than words can describe. It is the best designed piece of electronics I have ever owned. I now use it not only for all of my photos and videos, but also as a replacement for my scanner. I’m considering testing the newer and cheaper SD1000.

-1 coffee harvesting hat to prevent my pale skin from burning off.

-1 Kiva keychain expandable duffel bag

-1 Chapstick, 1 Mag-Lite Solitaire flashlight, and 1 roll of athletic tape. The last is a lifesaver. It’s as useful as duct tape for repairing objects but gentle enough to use on injuries, which I am fond of inflicting on myself.

-1 Lewis and Clark flex lock (for luggage, lockers, zippers, or whatever I need to lock down/shut/together). Standard mini-padlocks are often too cumbersome to thread through holes on lockers, etc.

-1 Radio Shack kitchen timer, which I’ve been using to wake up for about five years. The problem with using a cell phone alarm to wake up is simple: the phone needs to be on, and even if you use vibrate, people can call and wake you up before you want to wake up. The second benefit to using a kitchen timer if that you know exactly how much sleep you are — or aren’t — getting, and you can experiment with things like caffeine power naps of different durations… but that’s another post ๐Ÿ˜‰

What are your favorite must-pack items, multi-purpose tools, and lightweight winners?


How to Negotiate Convertibles and Luxury Treehouses… and Videos from Costa Rica:

The secret to getting what you want is first asking for what you want, then negotiating if you don’t get it. The first part is the most neglected.

Most people never learn to ask for something properly, so they always get push-back and end up negotiating. I cover dealmaking and negotiating exhaustively in The 4-Hour Workweek, as well as in the bonus chapter,“How to Get $700,000 in Advertising for $10,000.” Let’s look at how to win the fight before it starts.

I wanted this trip to Maui, my first to Hawai’i, to be an experience of personal firsts.

Here are a few: driving a convertible sports car on the Hana Highway, flying in a helicopter, sleeping in a full-size treehouse, and scuba diving the back wall of Molokini crater. I fulfilled all of them in the first 72 hours.

How I got a Mustang turbo convertible for $278 (gas included) instead of $542 (gas not included):

I bought my plane ticket to Maui about 24 hours before I left, so I landed in luau land with no reservations of any kind. There was only one rental company, so I had to get my convertible from them. Here are the pointers that got me from $542 to $278:

1. The first representative at the desk wouldn’t play ball with discounts, so I told her that I need to take a phone call outside, took a 5-minute walk, and came back to test another rep. Choosing the person on the other side of the table — just like choosing a slot machine vs. playing slots well — is more important than negotiating technique.

2. People who get what they want, just like good negotiators or PR folk, are good conversationalists. Here’s what I said:

“Hey, man. How goes it? I’m so excited to be here. [After giving him my license and info] If you have any discounts I can use — AAA, student, magic elf, or anything at all — I’d really, really appreciate it. I’m on a budget, so whatever you can do would be awesome.”

Notice that I’m asking for what I want without asking at all. The result: $278 with gas included instead of $542 without gas.

How I got a sold-out luxury treehouse for free:

This one is even better. It’s the high tourist season in Maui. It’s so popular to drive from Kahalui to Hana for coastline and waterfalls that my local helicopter pilot said: “Thinking of staying over in Hana? Forget about it. You’ll never get a room.”

Well, I had thought about it, and I wanted nothing more than to stay in one of the famous full-size treehouses in the rain forest. Doing this in the high season is something like showing up for the last game of the World Series and asking for box seats at the door. So I called the treehouse gods and here’s how it went down:

Me: “Hi. I’m really, really hoping that you have vacancies for tonight. Please say yes.”

Goddess of the Treehouses: “Nope. Totally booked.”

Me: “Oh, no. My dream is crushed. Are you sure? Do you have anything at all? Even a dilapidated and unsafe one? [I pause while she first takes me seriously, then laughs] Hmmm… Is there anything at all I can do?”

Goddess: [long pause] “Well… how about a work trade?”

Me: “Sounds like fun. What do you mean?”

Goddess: “Moving some dirt.”

Me: “For sure! I love it. How long would it take?” [Note: I actually do love hard manual labor. It demands full attention, and the repetitive motion is like repeating a mantra. Call me crazy.]

Goddess: “About an hour.”

We talk for another 20 minutes, and she decides that she would feel guilty if she forced me to shovel while on vacation. I was secretly disappointed, but no matter: she and I met up at the treehouse, and after a trip to a small alcove beach together and much conversation, my stay ended up being free. Not only that, but I was adopted by a wild dog — the cutest puppy you’ve ever seen — who then played companion for the entire time. Dig it.

Be a joker when you can, be pitiful when needed, and learn to get a laugh as you field test the most valuable skill in the world: asking for what you want. If all else fails in Hawai’i, just tell them “Kama aina,” which means you’re a local. It should get you an automatic 15-20% off in most places. Don’t tell them I told you ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Here are some clips from my recent trip to Costa Rica:

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361 Replies to “How to Travel the World with 10 Pounds or Less (Plus: How to Negotiate Convertibles and Luxury Treehouses)”

  1. Hi Tim! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have 2 VERY pressing issues with light packing that I hope you or anyone else who has ideas could address:

    1. What do you use to pack all of this in? A packpack that you carry-on? Messenger bag? What if you have an extended trip, do you bring more clothes? Keep washin the same clothes? It sounds like you use swimming shorts for regular shorts then?

    2. How can the business traveler who is accustomed to wearing suits/ties/several pairs of shoes use these principals?

    Thanks in advance! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Luke Krogh

  2. I am new to the backpacker experience but my wife and I are leaving on a year long backpacking excursion in at the end of September. Many of the site I have been reading appear to be uncomfortable recommending (and linking) to specific products. Are afraid that I will be offended if they make some money on the click through? Needless to say, thank you for the great packing advice.

    My wife (Natalie) is a pro at asking for what she wants and negotiating with people until she gets it. I am a bit more reserved but I am certainly improving. Thanks for the great negotiating tips. I will put them into practice.

  3. Introducing Justin’s wife – Natalie:

    “Getting what I want? Well…Alright! That works.”

    Tim, I am continually impressed with you and how you choose to live life. Thanks for inspiring us with your spirit of adventure.

    Feel free to check out our planning process and offer comments or suggestions. We would love to hear from anyone. Except for those computer robots. Not those guys so much.

  4. Oh, I am not tech savy. Sorry, I forgot to share our website with everyone.

    [URL removed per comment rules and in URL field]

    Thanks for giving me some grace. (cute smile accompanied with comment).

  5. Thanks for the travel tips and more importantly, the book! Awesome…and i’m a business/life book/program affectionado…for what ever that is worth

    If I may add one of my personal favorites…

    Kooga rugby shorts are made from synthetic material making them breathe and stretch(a bit) and are practically indestructable. They dry very quickly and can roll into the smallest of corners of you purse..if you’re into that ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Keep up the good work and come down for a jaunt when you are ready. I think that you call LA home some of the time. I’m on Venice Beach and it’s easy like sunday morning.



  6. Thanks Tim!

    I just bought four hour work week, it’s an awesome book! I’m going to be buying 8 copies for my brothers and sisters at Christmas! I love the fact that you see your goal and you “allow” yourself to achieve it. Most people don’t get there because they believe the “haters” who say “there’s no way you can do that”, when they really mean “I don’t think there’s any way I could do that”!

    I made a Mind Movie where I said “I swim every day”, watched it before going to sleep and when I woke up (instead of TV!) and three days later I got a call from my secret shopper company to check out a top NY gym chain and get a 90 day free membership. Not only do I “get to” swim every day (for free), I GET PAID TO GO TO THE GYM!!!!

    In January I made a company that does automatic rent collection for landlords and property managers (DIRECT DEBIT with Automatic Lease), any suggestions on getting them to try it? I know I’m asking for free advice from someone who gets paid thousands of dollars as a consultant, but the worst thing you could say is nothing.

    Again, thanks for The Four Hour Work Week, it has changed my life!

    Tim Seitz

  7. Just got back from Costa Rica. Packed light, almost exactly what you recommended. Couldn’t have been happier with the decision to leave the extra junk at home.



  8. My wife & I are going to Rome this weekend. I’m going to be wearing a decent smart pair of jeans, British Army assault boots, a random T-shirt I got from & my Berghaus waterproof breathable jacket. I’ll have my camera, iPod & a paperback in my pockets along with my credit cards (in the inside pocket, zipped up), and the only luggage I’ll take is 2 pair of briefs & socks in a drawstring gym bag of the sort Bruce Lee had in “Enter the Dragon” ๐Ÿ˜‰ – *seriously* minimalist. But then, I’m only going for 2.5 days & I want to avoid hassle at check-in & customs.

  9. Tim, I’m going on a mini-retirement to the Middle East soon and was wondering – what is the best free travel blog and picture hosting site to post on for people who are going to be out of the states? Any Ideas?

  10. So, you’re living my dream! You just got back from Costa Rica and now you’re headed to Maui!? How do I get on that bus???!!! I really appreciated reading your packing list…lots of new ideas to check out. I’m an aspiring world traveler myself…but getting off to a slow start ๐Ÿ™‚ If you want to check out my travel blog I’d love to hear what you think of it! Thanks again!

  11. Big fan of all the lifestyle tips and travel ideas. Not sure if you have thought much about this but a major pain for travelers who take cell phones, cameras, gps systems, ipods, and such with them is bringing along all of the chargers for these devices to make sure they have power. It adds a lot of weight and volume.

    There are some cool solar powered batteries that solve this problem by serving as a single charging platform for all these kinds of devices. They can also recharge from the Sun so you can have power anywhere on the planet. Pretty cool. One that I know of that’s pretty good is called Solio and also another called SunCell is from

    Enjoy reading all of your posts…….

  12. Hi Tim,

    I was wondering how you used a laptop lock to lock your luggage, but I think I just figured it out – you were combining it with the padlock.

    Would like to see your thoughts on good backpacks as well. Thanks!


  13. I would suggest ripping out pages of the lonely planet or travel book and throwing them out as you go. As a lightweight backpacker- watch the ounces and the pounds will take care of themselves. As for the convertible and treehouse- this is just general shmooozing and personal skills- this might work 1% of the time. Identifying who these will work best on is the key- just like trying to pick the right girl to talk to at a bar. As always it is a numbers game- if many rental car places are side by side- try them all- theres got to be that employee that loves you and hates their employer- this is when you get the hook-up! Cheers!

  14. Tim,

    I haven’t seen packing skills like that since being on tour with a drum and bugle corps. Well….it is hard to reduce the size of a musical instrument, but minimal is the word of the day when transporting 150+ musicians across the country for three months.

  15. Being something of a big traveler myself, both for professional reasons and personal choices, it was a matter of survival to learn how to get rid of excess weight when packing ^_^

    But it is not a reason for me to drop all my feminine side for the sake of saving weight, therefore I have a few tricks to go around this issue!

    When buying a new face cream or just visiting a beauty shop, I usually ask for a couple of samples from the same cream “because, you know, I travel a lot” Same for perfume, and sometimes even make-up (lipsticks, mascara, eye shadows samples are very useful)

    Concerning shampoos & conditioners which usually come in huge bottles, if I travel for work I usually stay in hotel where they are provided. I don’t care about using hotel shampoo, but conditioner quality can be a problem because I have really long hair and don’t want to damage them (yes I’m a girl…)

    Therefore I usually pack a small quantity of hair mask (way better than conditioner anyway and you can use it after each shampoo) in small plastic containers – easier to store than a big one – and I also pack a hair serum to protect from split ends, and they usually come in small bottles too. This mix helped me saved my hair even when traveling in secluded areas where it was exposed to sun, heat, sea water etc… (hey, I still want to look good on my travel pictures!!)

    If I travel for holidays, I apply the BIT theory: I buy shampoo and soap upon arrival, and leave the bottles behind me each time I change accommodations, since they are only a couple of dollars anyway.

    Keeping things in order in a backpack can really be a pain especially when you tend to change location very often. Each time you try to grab something inside and pull it out, the rest of your stuff comes out as well and all the packing needs to be done again, and if not done properly you can loose a lot of space too (for me, as a petite figure, my bag’s weight AND volume are important)

    Therefore I’m applying a simple & cheap solution to avoid this, by using ziplock bags.

    I pack a maximum of 2 Tshirts in one ziplock bag, close them while pushing a maximum of air out so I save the maximum space. I do the same with all my clothes, electronic equipments & cables, papers, toiletries etc… Then I just have to put everything in my back pack.

    Therefore, when I pull something out, the ziplocks glide/slide on each other smoothly and everything stays in place. It also keeps my stuff same from humidity or water (I had my bag once dropped from a boat and everything was saved thanks to that!!)

    When I arrive in a place where I stay longer then I open all the Ziplocks to let my stuff breathe if packed it in a humid area.

    Ziplocks come in all sort of size and colors, are very resistant, sometimes they even have this little plastic handle to close the bag easily, and they really saved me from the nervous breakdown of packing and unpacking all the time ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Hey

    I travel all the time too, and being from Northern Europe I tend to sweat too much in the tropics. So backpacks used to be a big nono for me.. until I discovered German made Deuter backpacks. I have a Deuter Futura 55 and its amazing. Not only it will fit a whole universe inside even though its not that big, it will keep your back from sweating. Its also water-, fire- and whatever proof. In addition its great cause it rests on your hips – so you wont get that tired even when you have to walk a long way.

    Enjoy Maui. Im heading to Central America myself soon.

  17. Hey All,

    On traveling light, I’m a woman with the same philosophy. I just came back from 2 weeks in Thailand. Though 2 weeks is a short time, I visited Chiang Mai, Phuket and Bangkok, roughly 3 diff types of places that might have required 3 diff wardrobes/sets of “stuff”. I love taking a small carry-on, not into backpacks myself (though I did backpack (only back, not back/hip pack) last year on Palawan in the Philippines), and buying what I need along the way. Why haul around shampoo and conditioner and every possible thing you might need? And funny thing is, people are so surprised when they learn that I can travel like that because they perceive me to be some kinda glamour-puss. It’s possibly ladies to maintain some of your glam and still travel light!

    Fun blog!

  18. Anyone know where to get the reef flip-flops with removable heel straps? I’d love them for backpacking campsite shoes. Mahalo.

  19. First of all I thank you for such a very well done, wonderful book–I listened to the CD version and laughed my head off at several parts. I’m sure I looked like a wacko on my Metro commutes. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Take your time on the wife thing, if ever. You’re too young! My hubby and I were married for 13 years before having kids and had the time of our lives with our version of the dream life. We both learned 4 languages each, we’ve crossed the Grand Canyon twice, hiked the Milford Track in New Zealand and kayaked some, hiked 4 days to Macchu Picchu, gone on ultralight planes, swam with whale sharks in Mexico, seen pyramids and ruins, gone on Galapagos, Egyptian and European cruises, snorkeled all over the Pacific including with jellyfish in Palau, seen a lot of Europe, some of Australia, Asia, Latin & South America and went to Easter Island with baby in utero. So now that we’re hunkering down a little bit due to baby, we have no regrets since we’ve done so much.

    To add to your excellent list (we’ve traveled just like that for several years–2 flash dry underwear, lightweight towel, quick dry shirts and shorts and just 1 carry on per person–we were always the first ones out of the airport–SWEET!), I’d like to add my modifications as a female traveler and a new mom (16 month old baby). Personal favorites: 1) Athleta carries excellent, light, quick dry clothing that hold up well to sports but still look very fashionable. Skorts are a must for looking feminine but be fully covered for hiking and steep pyramid steps–you know what I mean, ladies! ๐Ÿ˜› Just a note, a slightly longer length will serve you well in a lot of countries, as well as tankini tops and swim skirts for swimming:-) 2) Fresh & Go toothbrush is simple to use 3) Marsona sound machine for drowning out unfamiliar noises is a must (regularly use with baby at home too so when they hear the sound they know it’s sleep time!)–this has been a life saver for us on many trips, and we now use regularly at home for better sleep. No more changing hotels mid-trip to avoid noise. AND, I know, travel light, but with baby a lot of things are non-negotiable, these help the way for smoother sailing: 1) Peanut shell sling in black fleece–it’s more comfy than the cotton and you can pop baby in and out wherever you are, from birth to 35 lbs. I never take mine off, it’s part of my outfit. 2) Peapod plus portable tent–this is baby’s main bed at home and travel so baby has the same sleep place everywhere we go, and the flaps give all travel parties privacy–great from small babies to 5 years old. I can still jam this onto a little wheeled carry on and pack mine and baby’s minimal clothing around it 3) Go Go Kidz TravelMate (great for wheeling car seat up to the gate for gate check or use on plane) 4) Britax Diplomat car seat is small but kids can use it from birth to approx. 4 years old.

    Make sure the wheeled carry on bag you get is one size smaller than the allowed carry on size so you don’t get bumped to check the bag in if the plane is full. You can always nicely argue/reason/bat your eyelashes that you will put the bag in your foot space.

    Also, very helpful to give baby something to sip or munch on during take off and landing so yours isn’t the baby screaming from ear pain.

    Happy Travels!

  20. A great travel post about packing light for your travels. See Tim’s book The 4-Hour Workweek for instruction on how to design your life so that you can travel like this.

  21. Ahhh light – is for sure the way to go…

    My lightest trip was a decade ago 2 months in India:

    (1) One change of clothes (wash and hang what I wore the night before and hence always clean)

    (2) bar of soap (for clothing and body)

    (3) one pair of sandals

    (4) one set of watercolors

    (5) one notebook

    (6) one pen

    (7) one sleepsheet

    (8) deoderant, tootbrush toopaste

    …and no camera – at the time wanted to experience, feel and flow through the world without always looking through a glass lens – I’ve evolved since then…but no regrets as I have memories firmly embedded in my psyche….

    3 pounds, nothing to worry about, hop on any bus spontaneously any time any place.


  22. Hi all,

    I’m a 19 year old from Australia just about to join the workforce. Since reading your book I have rethought taking up a graduate position and decided to travel instead. What’s the point of rushing into the rat race eh?

    Tim, your book was recommended to me by a friend who took a great interest in the outsourcing aspect of your book. After I had finished the book, I was more excited about the travelling and vagabonding stories and recommendations.

    To think that you have outsourced all menial tasks in your life is amazing. Your e-mail automation was definitely an eye opener to somebody like me who naturally checks e-mail on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis.

    I would like to ask one specific question however; you mention that travel is often much cheaper than originally anticipated. Is anybody aware of any Australian websites that offer the disgustingly good deals that were mentioned in Tim’s book?

    Once again, great work with the book and good luck with the Tango dancing ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Hi George,

      I can’t talk about them yet, but there should be a great Oz-based start-up launching soon. Keep an eye out here.

      Kia kaha ๐Ÿ™‚


  23. Well I’ll keep an eye too, I’m heading for Australia on May 12th for an extended trip, all with a very light backpack ๐Ÿ™‚

    And if needed, I’d be happy to give a hand to a newborn start-up, while I’m around!!

  24. Minimalist packing is the only way to go! I’m a recovering over-packer (after being raised to be 100% prepared for everything imaginable), and had no idea of how much I was missing by bogging myself down with luggage, and how many more opportunities a 1-backpack journey could hold.

    My husband converted me to the school of packing lightly, and we took a 3 week trip to Costa Rica last spring during which I carried my lightest travel load to date–not quite down to 10 lbs yet, though ๐Ÿ™‚ One thing I was really glad we packed was our First Need water filter and Nalgene water bottles. For one, it really cut down on costs of purchasing bottled water everywhere, and it enabled us to travel to wherever, regardless of water potability, and not have to worry about a grocery store being within walking distance in case we ran out of H2O. It’s worth the extra weight, as little as that is. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh yeah, and a lightweight first aid kit is always a must.

    Thanks for the great blog! It inspires some good comments and extra tips from readers, too… getting some good ideas for my next trip!

  25. Check out the new dell mini 12. Big glossy Screen, web cam, about 1 inch thick., well under 3 lbs great battery life less than $500 decked out with extended battery.

  26. Oz-based start-up eh Tim?

    Tell me more ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’m thinking of heading down to South Africa next year for the 2010 soccer world cup.

    All the best.


  27. This post was particularly energizing. When you mentioned traveling Europe it immediately made me think… I’d love to hear from anyone about their experiences applying these principles on a trip to Europe.

  28. Hey Tim,

    This post makes me want to travel a lot more. ๐Ÿ™‚

    If you evercome back to Panama again, just drop me off a quick email, Ill be glad to show you around.

    You also gained a group of followers down here in Latin America so youre more than welcome..

    Te esperamos por aca,


  29. Dude, it is kind of embarrassing to admit this but just reading your blog and watching your videos is giving me a freaking peak experience, and I’m talking huge neurotransmitter release! Omg man, you are amazing, you are opening my eyes to how I should approach the life better than any self-help book I have read so far. I’m going to read your book ASAP. What you are doing is revolutionary. I loved the packing video, I’ve dreamed for years of one day traveling with virtually no luggage and turning the world into my playground ๐Ÿ˜›

  30. Petzl E+Lite is the only flashlight/headlamp you’ll ever need.

    I bought one last year for a week long backpacking trip, I haven’t used any other of my headlamps since. Weighs 30 grams and you can beat the hell out of it. It’s just like the Mag Lite, except better. You don’t have to hold it in your mouth when your car breaks down, or your reading a book in the tent. It’s the iPod of headlamps.

  31. Fantastic list! Getting me motivated to start to travel just for the sake of it, as I’ve been living the city life in one place for too long, playing it too safe and now ready to embrace the fear of the unknown road in front of me…..bonus is still being able to work anywhere from a laptop. Hell, just getting one pair of orderless boxers to wear for a week would be a godsend!

  32. Hey Tim,

    Been using a lightweight wallet called the SlimSlimmy. It’s ultra-thin, holds plenty of cards & cash, and offers some nice pocket weight reduction.

    Your articles are awesome!


  33. How much does the stuff in the ‘maui list’ cost?


  34. Tim,

    Great post, very informative and intriguing.

    Two questions: (1) Do you not worry about power adaptors for foreign power outlets? (2) With all this minimizing of packing for a trip, what does your wallet consist of?



  35. “The problem with using a cell phone alarm to wake up is simple: the phone needs to be on”

    I don’t know what kind of phone you are using, but the phones I have had over the last couple of years allow you to set the alarm, switch the phone off and it will turn itself on at the set time.

  36. Hi Tim,

    You only tell us how you store your sunglasses, not which ones you actually use.

    If you want to use your laptop in those places where you travel you should check out Glarewear sunglasses. They really make the difference if you are working outdoors a sunny day, either by making it possible for you to save some battery or see the screen at all.


  37. from their website:

    Clear Lanes Are No Longer Available.

    At 11:00 p.m. PST on June 22, 2009, Clear ceased operations.

  38. Tim, can you tell us what you recommend in the way of earplugs? The first few nights away from home I always have a hard time sleeping due to unfamiliar noises.

  39. Hi Tim,

    I think this list is in need of updating. The jacket is no longer available, the Fly Clear biometric travel card is no longer is business and the Lewis and Clark flex lock link gives a 404 error.

    Regardless this is awesome information and I hope to use it as a blueprint for an upcoming trip.


  40. Tim,

    Must you encourage men to dress so un-stylishly when traveling? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Polyester pants are practical and fast-drying but also so ugly!

    Kudos on the guide to packing minimally though. I was inspired because I often over-pack.

    I can see this working out for jaunts to tropical islands… but how about when traveling to a city with a continental climate and needing to maintain a modicum of stylishness and comfort?

    My favourite items for traveling:

    For hiding money:

    I am a fashionable woman that frequently travels alone. Most money belts don’t accommodate my fitted jeans. I get a lot of mileage out of an ankle money belt like the link below, and I’m much less afraid of falling asleep on trains/planes/etc. if I know someone would have to go up the leg of my pants to steal my money/passport. It’s great for sleeping with in hostels when you’re sharing a room with strangers.

    For sun protection:

    My skin is pale and sensitive. Shiseiso Anessa is the best sunscreen ever. The coverage is phenomenal even though it’s ridiculously thin and viscous. I’ve never gotten burned–even in the desert and tropics. It doesn’t sweat off and lasts for hours. It mixes well into your foundation or moisturizer too. It even comes in travel size. The bottle lasts for months. It’s magic. The only problem is you can only buy it in Japan or on the internet. The US formulation is different.

    Shiseido Anessa Sunscreen

    This is how and what I pack when I’m going to a continental city in spring/fall for weeks to months and why the items are great.

    – Lululemon’s sports bras

    They’re really comfortable, moisture-wicking, and fast-drying. They’re great if you’re traveling somewhere hot and muggy, and/or stuck on a train/bus/plane for 12 hours cos they wick sweat away from your skin.

    – Uniqlo’s Heattech shirts + tank tops

    You can layer them and stay really warm, or they look GREAT alone. They pack up small and dry quickly.

    – H&M’s thin t-shirts + tank tops

    They’re cheap, come in lots of colors, and are very thin–great for spring weather, packing and quick overnight drying.

    – cotton-lycra jersey dresses

    So versatile! great for layering.

    I usually pack 1 or 2 of the following types of dresses: t-shirt style dress, bandeau tube dress, and/or infinity style dress.

    – silk and cotton scarves –

    they can be used as scarves, headbands, belts, sarongs…

    For spring/fall travel, I usually pack: 2 long sleeved shirts, 2 t-shirts, 2 tank tops, 1 black leggings, 2-3 tights, 2 dresses, 3 scarves, 1 pair jeans and/or shorts, 1 miniskirt, sneakers, flip flops, bikini, underwear, socks, 2 belts (one for pants, one hip belt), 2-3 necklaces, high heels, small leather evening bag, med canvas shopping bag, toiletries + makeup.

    This seems like a lot, but every item except sneakers packs up really small, so I can often fit this into one carry-on. It’s light enough to carry up and down stairs. I carry a med size backpack or messenger bag for personal effects (wallet, camera, sunglasses, hip flask, water bottle, tissues, nail file, etc). I wear a hoodie, leather jacket + low-heeled black leather knee-high boots when in transit zipped up over my jeans or leggings.

    And voila, I’m set to explore cosmopolitan cities in style.

  41. Hey Tim,

    Only live with the essentials, and you can freely move throughout this wonderful world.

    Thank you for sharing this useful list. You inspired me to be able to take my life in a backpack. I’ve not only boiled down my possessions to the essentials, but made sure that each item has maximum functionality.

    My stuffs:

    2 pairs of Adidas socks (no cotton)

    2 pairs of ExOfficio Give-N-Go boxers

    Duofold midweight base layer top and bottom

    ExOfficio Give-N-Go shirt

    Arc’teryx Delta LT Zip Pullover long sleeve

    Marmot Ion Windshirt

    Gander Mountain fleece jacket

    2 pairs of TekGear black shorts (polyester)

    2 pairs of TekGear black pants (polyester)

    Adidas slippers

    Columbia waterproof shoe/sandal hybrids (“shoendals”)

    Waterproof hiking shoes

    Insulated gloves

    UPF 30 bucket hat

    Fleece beenie

    MSR Packtowel

    I can throw all that (maybe one or two more articles of clothing) + cleaning/bath stuff + laptop & accessories into a single carry-on backpack. I’ve lived comfortably in Boston, US Virgin Islands, and other places for weeks. Can’t wait to go international for months with this stuff.

    It feels so liberating and free to not have to worry about “packing.” I can throw ALL my stuff into a single backpack and move anywhere in the world.

    Thank you for inspiring me to be location-independent live freely,


  42. Hello, i was wondering, why are you posing in the photo with a Hurley, in an Asian building? The two don’t usually go together……

  43. Tim,

    We are preparing a big trip to Brazil. We are traveling LIGHT! Do you have any backpack recs? We are looking at 30L daypacks. (Which is amazing because the Kiva expandable duffel holds about 30L of stuff… amazing that it’s so small!).



  44. What is this challenge in this? I’m a backpacker and touring cyclist and can hold a self supported tour with a sub 10 lb loadout excluding my LBE.


  45. Hi Tim

    Thanks for that dude!! I’m sure they’ll come in use when im on my adventures ๐Ÿ™‚

    All the best


  46. Tim –

    I have an office in India and I travel there a few times a year for at least 2 weeks at a time. Packing with 10lbs or less is fabulous advice for men, but Iโ€™d like to know what suggestions you have for women. Response โ€“ highly appreciated.


  47. Hi Tim. This is an awesome read! Me and my mates are planning some adventure after finishing uni and these tips are definitely helpful. Thanks!

  48. AWESOME! Derek Sivers from recommended your blog! LOVE it! I look forward to finding your book! and LOVE lite packing tho i’m rarely known for since i’m an artist/musician… tricky stuff in that bizniss especially when i’ve wearing all the hats! i think i’ve gotta find a bunch of others to wear all the hats so i can travel lighter, ay?! LUMINOUS CHEERS TO YOU!! sarah.:.

  49. It would be hard for women to keep it lite especially when traveling abroad. This is a great advice though. Great read!

  50. I am a woman and I don’t agree with you Rory ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I travel a lot for work, sometimes up to 2 weeks at the time and always manage to travel very light. The heavy part is actually my bulky computer from work (I have the same Vaio as Tim as a personal computer)

    I have clothes that mix & match and wear the bulkiest / heaviest ones when on the plane – boots, jeans or jackets for example. All my toiletries (the challenging part) come in very small packaging and I practice the BIT method extensively!

    10 pounds is a bit of a low limit for business travelling but I always managed to travel with a carry-on luggage.

    Girls can definitely travel in style without 2 large suitcases ๐Ÿ˜‰

  51. Just wanted to add a nice find to the light travel pack – shaving oil. I first found this stuff last year before my trip to Thailand. The container is really small and allowable by TSA – about 1 OZ or less. You squeeze 5-8 drops on your hand and rub into your wet whiskers. You get a great shave – better than with most soaps. 1 little plastic bottle lasts quite a long time, perhaps 40-50 shaves, so it’s great for long trips.



  52. Hey, I adore your blog and your book. I travel a lot and have kept your travel tips useful but what about when visiting colder climates? Some months back I went to Norway during the winter and it was a disaster.

  53. That Vaio is no longer available. Probably just updated though. Great read. Despite your recs Tim, I’m considering taking a small laptop like the Vaio when I travel just for my writing and business needs. Anyone on here have any recommendations for unlocking a TMobile Blackberry?

  54. Tim

    Great resource, but like TianaCo, I think a little more pizazz in style is good too.

    I like to carry a silk travel blanket and sleeping sack they are light, keep me warm when its chilly yet are comfortable in the heat and fold up tiny. Most of all I can use them when I am not sure how clean the bedding is where I am staying.

    Thanks for the tip about athletic tape, I always carry duct tape, this may be an alternative.

  55. Interesting perspective on minimalist packing, Tim! I’m committed to packing as light as possible and always looking for tips ๐Ÿ™‚

    @ Sarah Ballard — curious as to why you would need packing tips specific to women. As a female who travels (not nearly as frequently or as far as you) I can tell you it’s easier than you may think. Sure, we may have to bring along a couple of bras and our preferred swimwear might be two pieces instead of one. And yes, we may want to bring some make-up along to… but do you need primer, foundation, concealer, eyeliner, eyeshadow, blush, lipliner, lipstick, lipgloss? Really, now… Think along the lines of MINIMAL and SIMPLE, regardless of whether you are traveling for business or for pleasure. And if you travel frequently to the same location for business, perhaps you could look into leaving a few items there (toiletries, maybe one work-appropriate and one casual outfit, along with shoes).

    @ Rory — as you can guess by my response above I have absolutely no problem keeping my packing to a minimum… AND I’M A WOMAN! To be fair, I have yet to hit the 10# or less goal (well, for anything more than a two night stay) but I’m well below the maximum legal carry-on. If anything, I’m less inclined than a male traveler to weigh myself down with gadgetry and gear.

  56. thanks for this blog tim-

    i for one, have always been madly obsessive about packing- i think if there is one thing that reflects one’s sense and sensibilities in life, it would be the way he packs.

    in this subject, i think the compendium of this travelling engineer is excellent-

    He really knows his shit and tackles everything. He is the real thing, quite geeky (perfect for my taste) and funny in that sense.

    I am not related to him in any way- so, i am sharing this site because i really believe it most valuable.

    and yey to comment of TianaCo!

  57. Hey, I adore your blog and your book. I travel a lot and have kept your travel tips useful but what about when visiting colder climates? Some months back I went to Norway during the winter and it was a disaster.

  58. Thank you very much for providing some good ideas on this topic. I have sought out a great variety of honest suggestions about travel tips and some unreliable recommendations. Do you have any more good suggestions or places on the Web that I can find more detailed information? This would be certainly appreciated! So, continue the good work!

  59. If there is one thing I love the most, it is traveling. I pack LIGHT all the time! Believe it or not, I’m a girl who loves to dress up on travels, but I don’t worry on excess baggage nor additional suitcase(s). When I traveled to Hong Kong and stayed there for a week, my suitcase is only half full! For my HK trip (and a sidetrip to Macau) I only brought 1 pair of jeans, 6 tops, and 1 pair flipflops plus the jeans and shoes I wore on my flight to HK! Also brought 3 undies (of course!) and just did some washing of undies on the hostel! This way, it’s enough for me to fill up my suitcase for purchases I made during travel.

  60. I have to agree with the buy-it-when-you-get-there mentality. I rarely carry bulky items like mouthwash. Just too big, heavy, and too likely to leak under changing air pressures.

    When I do carry liquids in my checked luggage, wrapping them in one or TWO plastic bags is essential. After having a tube of toothpaste ruin a new suit, this is a RULE for me, not a guideline.

    Another time saver I found is to use a men’s shaving tote, with a hook or loop, so it can be hung on the bathroom door or towel rack. Don’t unpack it, just use what you need, and put them back in the tote. When it’s time to go, you’re ready in seconds.