As we’re only travelling with hand luggage, i.e. 40 litre travel packs, every item of clothing and gear has to be carefully chosen.
In order to be a really minimalist packer you need to have clothing that can be hand washed and dried overnight and our kit is chosen based on this principle.
My top items are as follows and have been used for the last 16 months of travelling in Spain, Central America and South East Asia.
(1). Crocs Crocband X-Flip flip-flops.
These have proved to be the best casual daily footwear in tropical climates for several reasons;
(a). Grip: These flip-flops, being made of Crocs special rubber compound, not only grip the floor better but also hold the foot better giving much more confidence and faster walking.
Previous flip-flops I’ve tried have had little grip and the toes end up clawing to try to hold them on.
(b). Hygiene: Due to their all over rubber material these flip-flops do not absorb sweat or bacteria, therefore they don’t smell, not a bit!
Contrast this with leather footbed sandals which can stink after just a few days.
If the Crocs get dirty they can be washed with soap in a basin and towel dried in seconds, unlike leather or fabric which has to be left to dry and takes ages.
It will be interesting to see if its practical to get by with just flip-flops.
These Crocs flip-flops cost around $36 in Thailand.
(2). Quiksilver Amphibian hybrid shorts.
The caption on the label says “At home in and out of the water”.
These shorts are a cross between surf boardshorts and leisure shorts, so for minimalist packers less items of clothing are needed. They are extremely lightweight and pack down very small.
(a). Board shorts: Made of quick drying, lightweight polyester material which doesn’t look wet once out of the sea.
The slim, close cut means they don’t drag too much when swimming.
(b). Leisure shorts: In muted colours and designs, featuring belt loops and pockets, these look like smart/casual shorts suitable for wearing in the city.
These shorts cost around $50 in Panama.
(3). Decathlon Domyos T shirt.
There’s currently a lot of publicity surrounding merino wool for travel clothing, but with starting prices of around $50 these are very expensive.
Having tried one for a few weeks I found it to be a bit smelly after a day or so and sweat showed as dark patches.
Polyester is still a good solution for travel clothing and these Decathlon ones are very thin, light and best of all cost only €5 ($6) in Europe, i.e. around 1/10th of the price of a merino wool one.
The minimalist packer could get by with just two in different colours.
(4). Decathlon swimming goggles.
As its usually uncomfortably hot to run in tropical climates and you can find reasonably priced accommodation with pools, swimming is a good way of keeping fit while travelling.
The only kit you need is a pair of trunks or boardshorts and a pair of goggles for a ‘serious’ swim.
As with most Decathlon products, these are very well designed and made, plus great value for money at €12 ($15).
(5). Kindle e-reader.
Printed guidebooks like Lonely Planet are usually thick and heavy and for our Asia trip we’d need six which would be totally impractical to carry.
Also, as we’ve got lots of free time, reading has become one of our main pastimes and getting lost in a good novel is addictive.
Thankfully with a Kindle we can take as many books as we wish and download more.
(6). Rohan Grand Tour Chinos.
Admittedly documenting trousers is pretty boring, but these are one of my only indulgences in specialist technical travel clothing.
Only one pair of long trousers were packed as we’re in tropical climates and wearing shorts during the day in most places.
As denim jeans, which most of the locals wear, are too hot for us these technical chinos are ideal due to the following;
(a). Smart-casual. Chinos can be worn with a buttoned shirt for smarter evening wear or casually with a t shirt and flip flops and then look similar to beige jeans.
(b). Easy to maintain. As these are made from lightweight material not cotton they dry quick, pack small without creasing and are cool to wear.
(c). Pickpocket proof. These have a zipped side pocket hidden inside the main pocket so money, passport, credit card etc. can be kept here securely.
These trousers currently cost £68 ($100) in the UK.
The rest of the kit…
As there’s loads of travel packing lists on the internet, one more won’t harm!
In addition to the above items there’s not actually a lot more stuff.
Luggage: Lowe Alpine Carry-On TT40 (litre) travel pack
This can be carried as a rucksack or a suitcase.
If anything its too big and for tropical climate travels as my kit would easily fit in a 30 litre bag!
Plus a cable and padlock for securing to furniture etc when there’s no safety box.
Daypack: Karrimor X Lite 20 (litre) packable rucksack.
This folds down into a seemingly impossible tiny pouch about 2 x 3 inches.
Shorts: Additional pair of Columbia Omni Dry polyester cargo shorts which are useful on transit days as the pockets can store a phone, earphones, Kindle, passport and toilet paper – yes, you sometimes need to supply your own here!
For the really minimalist packer a second pair of shorts could actually be left out.
Running vest: Useful lightweight extra layer for chilly weather and cycling etc.
Underwear: I’m not going into the pros & cons of various types of underwear as some do, that’s just too boring!
Two pairs of UnderArmour boxer briefs have served me for over a year with no complaints. Washed daily of course!
Socks: No, none, they’re just not needed but if they are I’ll buy some in a market then ditch them when we’re somewhere hot again.
Baseball cap, sunglasses.
Mask & folding snorkel. With a noseclip the snorkel can be used with swimming goggles in shallow water, so the mask could actually be left behind.
Small Travel towel. Rarely used other than for sitting on and drying off at the beach if the sun takes too long!
Umbrella & poncho. These could have been left out and just bought locally for a couple of dollars if it rains.
Ultra lightweight jacket: Montane marathon jacket which is very small and light and cut close enough to look like a casual zip top instead of a cagoule, especially as its grey not dayglo.
Casio basic plastic digital watch. Illuminator version to properly see the time in the dark.
Smartphone. UK SIM card with minimal credit as only Skype used for phone calls.
First aid kit. Unfortunately diarrhoea treatment being the most used item.
Toiletries & personal hygiene items.
Items not in photo:-
Old fleece top, yet to be worn, just in case its too cold for the vest+tshirt+jacket combo.
A pair of strapped sandals were brought along for instances where hiking might be involved, such as visiting ancient sites, waterfalls etc. but these are now hardly used and probably could have been left out.