Lightweight travel- planning for the future

One thing people always comment on when taking me to the airport is that I never seem to have very much stuff. I always think I do and am continually trying to eliminate those extra things I don’t REALLY need.

Next year when I have my life basically on my pack, it’s going to be even more important to only bring what I need to make my life comfortable but not weighed down (oh! I’m so punny). So I’m thinking now what to do about this stuff.

The first thing I am doing is getting a lighter pack. I love my Jansport Cordillera 33 but it is finally starting to wear down- straps fraying, a buckle or two broken. At 2 lb 4 oz it’s part of the “ultralight” group of packs for sure- though I had no idea about this stuff when I bought it. I will likely sell it if my new pack doesn’t work out, since Jansport lifetime guarantees all of its packs, and with a few fixes, it will last another 10 years. The setup of pockets, loops and straps has been pretty great for me with a good assortment of places to stash your stuff.

Current pack- Jansport Cordillera 33 (circa 2003)
Current pack- Jansport Cordillera 33 (circa 2003)

So why not keep this pack then? I was kind of torn by it, but every ounce really does weigh you down on the road. I decided to look for a pack that is marketed more towards ultralight hikers, and get one on sale or used if possible.

There are a lot of options out there these days, which makes sense- certainly you would think there are more high-tech fabrics compared to 10 years ago. What I will be going with is the following, purchased through a lightweight backpacking forum. It is called Exodus by a company named Mountain Laurel Designs. I figured this is a good sign for me as I always loved when the scattered mountain laurels would bloom in the woods where I grew up.

It’s basically new- the guy who bought it said it was too small for his 6′ frame, he never even took it to the trail. He’s including a few upgrades- hip belt pockets, a tiny LED light, top extension (you can pack bulkier stuff if needed) and a Gossamer Gear mini sleeping pad- which provides the frame for the pack, and is something I wanted to get anyway. All this still looks like it will weigh out to about 26 oz- a full 10 oz less than my current setup!

MLD Exodus pack
MLD Exodus pack

It’s slightly larger it looks like than my current pack which is something I was looking for, for just-in-case scenarios.

It should arrive in time for me to test out on my next trip to Turkey and Georgia and I will do a review then- since I will be both “backpacking” and “trekking”.

As far as other things go- I definitely plan to bring a sleeping bag of sorts. I get cold pretty easily and I will be camping at various times. Again, my current bag already is pretty light at 33 oz. But I would like to save weight if possible. I may do a similar thing and opt for something lighter, and sell my old one. It seems as though the way to save on weight is getting a sleeping “quilt” bag- which is what I do with my bag half the time anyway. I will need more time to investigate, but since I’m the sort of person who gets cold even in a hostel, I’m 95% sure I will take a sleeping bag with me on my RTW trip. I’m NOT sure at all though if I will bring a tent or tarp. It seems like shelter should be reasonably available so I very well may save the weight. Or not! It can save me money in places like Japan or New Zealand. I hope to do a few overnight trips in the fall so we shall see…

I will be having a trumpet that is made out of plastic- post to follow when I get the horn! These trumpets weigh only 1lb, which is amazing! Normal metal ones are 4-5 lb.

I will bring a few electronics but am undecided yet which to bring. I will detail this more in a future post.

The main thing I will put in the bag is my clothes. I don’t want to bring too much of this so it will need to be good quality and versatile. For this reason I may likely spring for some decent apparel.

I think I could get away with the following:

UNIQLO Ultra-light down jacket- they will be opening a store in LA this fall, and I will be there for the initial sale, coupon in hand! They have some interesting lightweight but high-tech options for budget people like me. Their jackets are only a couple of ounces, and warm!

uniqlo-ultra-light-down-coat_1

Another packable jacket for rain- like Dri-Ducks- that is lightweight. OR, I may use a tarp-poncho that is for shelter or wearing in the rain. Not so fashionable though ;P

Two pairs of pants (one that is more “travel” and one that is more “jeans” like)- I am really interested in some pairs by Anatomie and Outlier, but they are really really expensive!

1 pair of leggings that can double as thermals

A “magic skirt”- a friend of mine has this sarong-like thing and I finally figured out what it is. These are beautiful- made out of old silk-polyester saris- and reversible/convertible. And of course, because they are made from a silk blend, VERY lightweight.

Potentially another convertible maxi-dress type thing although if magic skirt ends up being amazeballs and such, I might be able to get away without it. The issue is travel in conservative cultures where I need ankle-length skirts. Or heck, another longer magic dress!

1 hip-length sweater with merino wool (warmth/non-stinky-ness), probably cardigan style to switch it up

Some assortment of shirts- I often like tunic-y things since they are flattering, conservative, and fashionable. There are an interesting assortment by the hiking/travel companies these days that are not fugly, that use quick-dry synthetics, or natural fibers like merino wool that don’t absorb smells. I don’t know how many and which yet.

3 pairs of socks- one compression sock for travel, and these awesome space-dyed Japanese lightweight microfiber hiking socks I bought for like $3 each in Shinjuku.

Couple underwears- I need new underwear anyway so no problem for me. I know I am lazy so I will not do the 2 pairs backpacker thing, but will have a week’s worth or so. It’s important to be realistic. Maybe only two bras though?

Bathing suit- I will likely get something conservative, or that can become conservative, for cultures that aren’t all bikini-like. Even in Thailand, I was at more of a local’s type place once, and the few women my age that were using the “hot springs” (more like a public pool) were all covered up. I ended up putting a shirt on top of my bikini/boyshorts combo. Hopefully I didn’t offend.

2 pairs of “shoes”- my Merrell trail runners (Pace Glove) and another pair to be purchased- probably of this similar “glove” style that has a nice Vibram sole for walking, but more fashionable ballet-slipper type look.

1 pair of water-resistant sandals that can dress up. This has been hard to find what I want exactly.

2 scarves- a smaller red/flowers one I use for hair, belt, etc, and a larger one for my neck- can double for a shirt, potentially skirt, beach wrap, tablecloth, etc.

I think that is pretty much it here. If I can figure out how to do one of those lookbook spreads I will post it here!

I will bring a small amount of medical supplies but am not sure what things yet. Again to be discussed in a further post.

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The Real World Wide Trip – 2015

Earlier this summer, I booked an epic-ly awesome ticket. It was a mistake fare that I was alerted to through the blog Mighty Travels, and the site flyertalk.com. I was able to score a ticket going from LA to Budapest, and then a few weeks later from Prague to Tokyo, for a little over $300.

When I saw this I did a quick calculation and decided to go for it. I saw that I could finish my requirements for school by week 10 with some planning. I booked the ticket for as late in 2015 as was available at the time and put my trust in the Travel Gods for a good journey and continued deals.

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With a fare like this it’s a big relief to have a start to the trip. I’ll have 3+ weeks in Central Europe to travel around, and then go to Asia, and I don’t have to worry about the cost of the flight. From Tokyo I have many options. The one I am most excited about is to use 25k United Miles to go roundtrip from Japan to Oceania (maybe Fiji?). I am allowed one stopover and for me that will likely be New Zealand, where I hope to spend a couple weeks, then a few days in a Pacific Island paradise, before heading up to Hokkaido province of Japan where I have a mistake hotel rate ($7 a night!) booked for 3 weeks in a nice hotel in the northern part of the province. It looks like there is local hiking all over Hokkaido so I will be sure to check this out. I will have a chance to stop and rest a bit if I feel like it. I might do a little English tutoring if I can scare it up to make some money.

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After this I have a tentative plan to go to Siberia in Russia, where it’s looking good that I will have good access to (maybe even jam on?) a music/culture festival in Kyzyl, Tuva Republic. After that I’d like to hit up a similar festival called Naadam in Mongolia, and then somehow get me to Serbia (hopefully via the ‘stans) by mid-August for the Guca festival (where, fingers crossed, I should have a place to stay thanks to a friend at school). I’m open then but I have a tentative goal to head back to Thailand for Christmas and New Year’s, since I had such a good time there in 2013-4 during the holidays. Nepal and India are places I’m interested in, but I’m open to any good deals in the fall of 2015. I plan to take the end of year holidays to reassess my future and what I will do with music and medicine for the years to come.

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As a summary, this is where I’ve gone thus far! Quite a few places in less than 2 years 🙂
Screenshot 2014-06-18 at 16.57.47