Traveling Lighter

It’s that time of year again – time for VMworld (I couldn’t decide if this should be here or on my IT blog). Last year I wrote an article on my IT blog,, about traveling lightly to VMworld. It travel at least twice a year, once for the Air Guard, and once to go to VMworld. In either case, I absolutely can’t stand being heavily laden with unnecessary junk. Last year’s VMworld was my first experiment in minimalist travel. While it was nice to be able to move with ease through the airport with only one bag, I could have done better. My aim here is to explore my pain points from last year an hopefully refine my process to streamline my travel this year. In no particular order, here were my issues as I recall:

1. My bag was too bulky, thus was a pain to carry through the airports. This was largely due to my Hoka One One running shoes and my Patagonia jacket.

2. At VMworld, while I didn’t pick up hardly any swag, I did take the backpack. I used it to carry my laptop and essential items. Carrying that became cumbersome and irritating. Also, I now had two bags to try to bring back.

3. Being a recovering clothes nerd, all of my garments are 100% cotton. Wearing only two outfits for a whole week didn’t work well as my clothes began to smell bad. I longed for a fresh change of clothes.

4. I carried my jacket around because it gets a little chilly at night in SF. The jacket was too hot during the day, and very bulky in my backpack.


Those were my main issues. This year I plan to try traveling lightly again, but with an eye toward solving the above-mentioned problems.

This Year’s Plan

Twice above I mentioned my jacket being a burden. It was really too heavy a jacket. This time I’m considering not bringing a jacket at all. It gets a little chilly in SF at night this time of year , but not that chilly. In addition to my jacket, my running shoes of choice, Hoka One One Mafate 3, are HUGE and take up too much space in my bag. Ideally, I should get some minimal running shoes, but I’m not used to running in those. This time I’ll bring my Brooks Ghost 5s – they are a little less bulky than the Hokas. If I could get past how dumb it would look, I could just wear the running shoes all the time and leave my boat shoes behind. It certainly would be more comfortable.

I still would like to get by with just two outfits, however I still only have all cotton clothes, which get smelly. Minimalists like Leo Babauta would probably recommend washing my clothes in the sink or shower. If I did that, my cotton chinos and OCBDs would never dry in enough time to be worn again. Nearly all of the minimalist travel blogs I’ve read suggest synthetic, or merino wool t-shirts and pants. I’m just not going to buy new clothes, especially when I don’t like the way they look (slouchy). When I think back to my earlier days, I remember always wearing undershirts. If memory serves me well, the undershirts made it so I didn’t have to wash my outer garments nearly as often. My plan is to get a couple pair of “active” underwear and technical shirts to be worn as undergarments. This should help keep me dry if I sweat any, and keep the funk off of my clothes. Plus, synthetic garments can be easily washed in the shower and will dry quickly. The shirts will double as my running shirts.

My main issue, really, is what to carry around all day. I am the only IT person for my company, and as such, I can guarantee that I will have to remote in and work on something. In that same vein, I MUST keep my phone with me and keep it properly charged. For this reason, I need to carry my phone, my portable phone charger, my MiFi, and either my MacBook Air or my iPad 3. I even did an experiment yesterday to see if I could remote in and work effectively with my iPhone – I can, but if I had to do something out of the ordinary, would that suffice? Probably not. At the very least, I’d need my iPad. If it was solely a matter of weight, the MacBook weighs 3.0 pounds, that iPad with my leather targus case is 2.4 pounds (1.4 without the case). The iPad wins

Whch piece of gear I carry also dictates which bag I use. I can use my 5.11 Tactical Rush MOAB 6, which is a small messenger type bag to carry my iPad and related gadgets around during the day. If I didn’t have to bring two pair of shoes, I could even fit all my clothes in the Rush 6 and hand carry the iPad in the airport. If I bring the MacBook, I will need to use my backpack, the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12. Since these two bags are designed to strap together, I could bring both and simply detach the Rush 6 to carry during the day.

As I think about this more and more, I seem to only further confuse the issue, although I am leaning closer to a decision. This year, when I travel, I want to be where I am. I don’t want to be burdened by my stuff. At the same time I have to be able to live and work and be clean. I’ll post again when I come up with my final solution.

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