Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I originally posted this guide in 2012. Since it was published, it has attracted a lot of views, started the No Bags Travel movement, and even got me the World’s Best Travel Hacker badge from FlightNetwork.com. In short, it struck a nerve. Therefore, I keep it updated. Here’s what I got for 2020.
“Where’s your luggage?”
“It’s all I got.”
This is always how it begins. This is what security officers in Ben Gurion airport ask when they see me — sometimes with a tiny backpack, sometimes completely bagless — going abroad. And it is then when I need to disarm suspicions and convince them I am neither a lunatic nor a terrorist.
So I send them to this page ;)
What’s this page, you’re asking?
It is your travel guide to serendipity, freedom, and joy of life.
For the past decade I’ve traveled the world almost full-time thanks to my online money-making tree. What I’ve constantly noticed was how much of an impact your belongings have on the joy of your trip. It made me realize that minimalism is truly a privilege of the rich. The gurus weren’t lying!
Here you will see how I gradually minimized my gear, carefully sculpturing it to a point where it offers maximum peace of mind and comfort.
After a ton of field tests in 70 countries, I can proudly say I have refined my gear to a point where I don’t even need a backpack anymore.
I call this…
No Bag Travel (NBT)
The art of traveling so light you can technically pack all your travel gear inside the pockets of your pants. May also be called ‘No Baggage Travel’, ‘No Luggage Travel’ or even ‘Pocket Traveling’.
The only times I carry a (tiny) bag is when I go on extended periods and need my laptop for work. Regardless, I am always as mobile as a bird.
Minimalist Travel Is About Simplifying Life
It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer.William of Occam
You recognize the classic backpacker look, don’t ya? The colorful bracelets all over the arms. The disgusting, sweaty, worn-out T-shirt. The gigantic Lonely Planet guide. And the huge NASA rocket harnessed on the back.
What the heck do backpackers (rocketpackers?) fill it with?! To me, this is absolute insanity. Back in my days in the Israeli Defense Forces, I had the fetid privilege of spending months in the harsh desert. The funny thing? Neither myself nor my comrades ever carried so much luggage.
This joke actually becomes more ridiculous when backpackers see how better equipped I am compared to them. At first, they’re unable to fathom the idea. How can this guy carry that little and look cleaner than me?
The “secret” (as secrets always are) is elegant and simple:
You can only wear one set of clothes at any given time, so why not maximize the efficiency of this one set and ditch the rest? Why not pick something that never stinks, barely needs laundry, and always looks great?
Less is more. This is what this minimalist travel gear guide is all about.
Benefits of Traveling Light
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.Henry David Thoreau
- Less frustration and wasted time. You won’t have to wait at the airport for your luggage, or worse, get frustrated when you lose it (more common than you think). Going on and off airports will be blazing fast.
- Cheaper flight fares. Most low-cost airlines charge additional money for anything more than a tiny handbag. Under my philosophy, you’ll always comply with onboard luggage policies. In other words, you’ll save money. (Related: How to Find Cheap Flight Tickets)
- Flexibility and comfort. You won’t have to waste energy carrying heavy luggage, or finding a place to accommodate it while you’re out there exploring. You’ll have less back pain. You won’t feel exhausted after an hour. You’ll do much less laundry. Traveling light is pure beauty. It allows you to jump on opportunities and adventures as they come. Serendipity will find you. This, my friends, is what real freedom looks like.
- Better infusion with the local culture. There is some degree of disrespect when you come all the way to a Third World nation holding that big, shiny DSLR camera. Being more modest in appearance will make you more inviting and attract more interactions with the locals.
- Less risk. Because you’ll be traveling with so little, you won’t look like the average tourist. You’ll look more like an expat. Vendors will be less likely to rip you off, and malicious people will be less likely to rob you. (Related: Best Way to Take Money Abroad and Avoid Being Robbed)
- You simply don’t need more. Cyril Northcote Parkinson was known for his disrespect to the lack of human efficiency at managing resources. His Parkinson’s Law suggests that “work expands so as to fill the time available to its completion”. Likewise, luggage expands so as to fill the space available in it. When your boss gives you eight hours to complete a task, it tends to take eight hours to complete it. But if he says you’re free to go home if you finish it in two hours, I bet you’ll find a way. Likewise, no matter the size of your bag, you’ll always find a way to fill it up.
- You begin to appreciate simplicity. Before going on my first long minimalist trip abroad, I had given my entire wardrobe to charity. I won’t lie, giving everything away did itch. But it was a great lesson, a reminder of the enormous amount of trash the human race accumulates. Shortly after, I learned a refreshing lesson: An unnecessary item you once owned quickly loses its meaning when gone. You forget it ever existed. When you travel without physical burdens, I find that you’re more focused on your surroundings and the simple joy of life itself.
Minimalist Travel Gear Packing List
We make progress by eliminating things, by removing the superfluous.Steve Jobs
My philosophy is not to stink like a barefoot hippy. It is to be efficient. You want to gear up intelligently. We’re going to carry only a few items, so it’s super important to make the right choices to ensure we’re as lean and mean as possible. Therefore, our fabric of choice is this:
The nastiest mistake I see on the travel trail is the use of cotton or synthetic “travel gear”. The latter may dry quickly and wick sweat away, but it stinks like a mofo. The former not only stinks, but also becomes sweaty, takes ages to dry, and doesn’t keep you properly warm when it’s getting chilly.
And so, our savior is wool. But why wool?
- Doesn’t stink. Wool is naturally anti-microbial and odor-resistant, and quickly evaporates sweat into the air. That means you’ll rarely have to wash it. You can go weeks with a single set of wool clothing. If it does begin to smell, it’ll often be because of food stains rather than sweat.
- Properly regulates body temperature. Wool is naturally both breathable and insulating. It evaporates sweat and keeps you dry in summer, and excels especially in keeping you warm when it’s cold.
- Dries incredibly fast. Imagine being caught in a tropical monsoon. With cotton, you’ll have to change your clothes if you got wet. With wool, you’ll be dry again before you know it. This is like a superpower.
- Doesn’t wrinkle. Wool is naturally resistant to wrinkles because of the structure of its fibers. This means you’ll never look like a homeless person. And no more time wasted ironing if you’re a business traveler!
You can use any type of wool – Cashmere, Mohair, etc. I like Merino wool (which comes from New Zealander sheep) best. It’s super soft, elegant and is widely available commercially. Plus it never itches like those sweaters your grandma used to knit for you when you were a child.
So, without further ado…
Best Travel Gear: Minimalist Packing List
The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.Socrates
I’m assuming you’re gearing up to a specific trip, so I’ll be suggesting gear for different climates. If you’re a ‘digital nomad’ traveling full-time, you’ll need to mix & match depending on the range of climate you’ll encounter.
Shirt (Base Top Layer)
The base layer helps regulate your body temperature and wick sweat away, keeping your body dry. Cotton isn’t good. It retains moisture and can get you cold in the winter even when you have a thousand layers of fleece above. Wool is the solution. It isn’t cheap, but the price well worth paying.
So, which base top should you get?
This depends on your travel destination.
Hot and sunny? Get a thin short sleeve layer (120-150gsm). I recommend something like the Woolly Ultralight Crew / Woolly Tank for men, or the WoolX Wool Addie / Ridge Frankie for women. When it’s really hot, I find wool a bit too warm on my skin. Having a tank top really helps in that case.
Btw, for triple the price, you can get a beautiful 130-200gsm Wool & Prince button-down. I own one and love it, though you can’t machine-wash it.
Cold and wintery? Get a heavier base layer, preferably in the 230-300gsm range. Something like the Minus33 Chocorua 230 / Minus33 Isolation 230 / WoolX Explorer 230 / Meriwool 250 for men, or the Minus33 Ossipee 230 / WoolX Hannah 230 / Meriwool 250 / beautiful Kari Traa for women.
Feel an itch to browse some more? Then go check Amazon. The only rule of thumb to remember: 100% wool. Try to choose the best weight (gsm) for your destination, but don’t obsess over it too much. I was in Canada in the winter, and a 170gsm base layer did the job. And remember:
You need only a single shirt.
Wool doesn’t stink. Therefore, it’s the only shirt you’ll need. Don’t believe me? After you buy your shirt, wear it for a couple days. Do some workouts, sweat in it. Then do the same with cotton. Now sniff both. Smell the difference?
Mid Top Layer (For Cold Weathers)
The mid layer helps insulate your body and trap heat. Obviously you don’t need it when you travel to a warm place, where a single shirt (the base layer) is all you need. But in cold weather it’s necessary.
For the mid-layer, our best materials are wool, fleece and goose down.
Wool: breathable, doesn’t stink, dries quickly, insulates even when wet. Warmth per weight isn’t exceptional. Can be a bit pricey.
Fleece: breathable, dries quickly, can be found very cheap. Lacks water resistance and can smell after a while.
Goose down: the king of warmth per weight. Exceptionally packable. Best for extremely cold and dry conditions. Not nearly as breathable as wool and fleece. If you’re going to get your heart rate up and be super active, it can get very hot very quickly. Can be very expensive. Can also smell.
So, what to choose? As always, this depends on the weather:
Not too cold? Get something like the Aran Crafts Irish Wool Sweaters (beautiful!) / Cashmeren Turtleneck / Woolly 250gsm Zip-up or 1/4 zip or Woolly Henley 190gsm if you’re a man. Short on cash? Go with a Goodthreads’ sweater. For women, go for a beautiful Aran Crafts Irish Wool masterpiece / West End Knitwear Cable Sweater / Carraig Donn Long Irish Sweater.
If you’re on a budget, you can get a $30-40 Polartec fleece in a variety of weights: 100 / 200 (also for women) / 300. However, I prefer paying extra for wool, because fleece can smell. When you go No Bag, it’s noticeable.
COLD? When things get icy, you want to go with goose down. The higher its Fill Power (FP), the warmer it is per gram of down. For great overall warmth:weight, the Montbell Plasma 1000 (Men / Women) is unbeatable. It offers 1.6oz (45g) of top-notch 1000FP down, and weighs a ridiculous 135g (4.8oz). For very cold climates, you’ll want more fill though, something like the Plasma 1000 Alpine at least. Montbell has a nice line:
One note though –
Down is very good at trapping body heat. You’ll be warm, especially when you’re wearing a wool base layer underneath. So pick your jacket accordingly. Don’t go nuts – most if not all down jackets (real down, not synthetic ‘puff jackets’) will suffice for up to -20c (-5f).
That means, you don’t have to buy something super expensive. And they’re all light. I’m not convinced you should pay an extra hundred or two just for a jacket that’s 50g lighter for the same amount of down and fill power.
Personally I’m using an Eddie Bauer Hooded Cirruslite I picked on an Amazon sale for a ridiculous price ($25, a store tried to get rid of last-season inventory!). Amazing fit, coated with a water repellent, and very durable so far. Kept me very toasty on my last trip to the snowy Pyrenees.
Oh, and if you’re going somewhere real freezing, (think Greenland, Siberia or Antarctica in the winter), consider a full down suit.
Outer Top Layer (Storm Shell)
An outer shell protects you from the rain, snow and wind.
Personally I won’t bother taking a shell if it’s just some light rain/wind we’re talking about. If it’s anything more serious, a shell can be a godsend. So buy a shell if you’re going to be under heavy wind, rain or snow.
Opt for a light, breathable, fully waterproof (not just ‘resistant’) shell.
The lightest one is the Arc’teryx Norvan SL (Men / Women) – waterproof and windproof at only 4.2oz! (120g). Very pricey tho, a much cheaper alternative is the Outdoor Research Helium II (Men / Women, 6.4oz / 180g). If you find a fully waterproof shell that costs less (and isn’t too heavy), go for it.
Pants & Leggings
I used to travel with those brushed-nylon convertible travel pants. They were comfy. The problem was that they started smelling after a couple days. It wasn’t that bad, but it did inspire me to search for alternatives.
Then I replaced them with the since-discontinued Wool & Prince wool shorts. That solved the aroma issue, but they were way too thick for hot climates, where I was visiting most at the time. So I began traveling…
with just my swimming shorts!
This proved to be a genius move for a number of reasons. First, because I was immersing them in water the whole day — I was scuba diving and ocean bathing a lot — they never smelled. Second, I liked their super light feeling. And third… I could wear them without underwear!
So, which pants/shorts should you get?
If you’re going somewhere warm, any swim shorts with pockets will work, like the Kanu Surf Barracuda. For women it’s trickier. You can’t just walk in bikini all day. But you can wear some light yoga pants / loose trousers (look for ones with pockets if you’re going No-Bag). Try SmittenMerino.
If you’re traveling to cooler climates, or if you just want to look nicer, try Makers & Riders wool trousers (there’s a similar model for women). I’ve been wearing them for a couple years; very durable and extremely good looking. They use 45% wool at 190gsm. If you need something warmer, get the Wool & Prince ones, which are 60% wool, 240gsm. Similar price for more wool!
Note: Neither the Makers & Riders nor the Wool & Prince trousers are pure wool. Still, they don’t smell. Wore them for years now; no problem.
If you don’t want to spend any money, just pick your favorite pair of jeans. I find myself traveling with jeans more and more often. Not always comfy, but they don’t smell nearly as bad as brushed-nylon “travel pants”.
Now, if you’re going somewhere cold, put a nice base layer underneath the pants — wool leggings, you guessed right. Pick the gsm according to climate and how cold-sensitive you are: Men (170 / 200 / 250). Women (170 / 230 / 250 / 400) can pick a thicker pair of leggings and use them as as their only legwear. Put a nice wool pullover sweater/dress on top.
P.S. Whatever pants you go with, I highly recommend sewing an internal pocket. This will secure your passport, money and credit card. Been doing it for years. In my experience, this is the best way to take money abroad.
Back when I started traveling, I was wearing the famous ExOfficio Give N’ Go because of all the hype. However, they proved to take noticeably longer to dry than my wool gear. This is why I now wear wool exclusively as my undies.
Currently I am using two great pairs of Woolly, but will replace them soon (they start to wear out, I’ve had them for two years). Get the cheapest 100% wool boxer briefs you can find on Amazon. Here are some options from WoolX (for men), Utenos (Men / Women) and Janus (Men / Women).
How many pairs should you pack? When I go No-Bag, I’ll have just one, and wash it when I’m showering every night. It’ll dry before I wake up. When I do carry a bag, I’ll take two pairs and alternate. Having two helps when you’re going out at night
P.S. For those prone to chaffing, I recommend boxers over briefs.
P.S. #2 For ladies looking for 100% merino wool bras, they exist!
Going somewhere cold? You may want to have wool gloves. Take a pair with touch-screen capabilities, so you don’t have to take a glove off (and freeze your fingers) whenever you want to take a photo. Good options:
Personally I’d pick the Elma gloves for most cool weathers – amazing looking, made of genuine leather and real cashmere wool, and very cheap. If I’d go somewhere like Alaska in the winter, I’d take down gloves.
If you need something to cover your head, look for – of course – 100% wool beanie. Here are some good options for men from Minus33, Stetson, Aran Crafts, Smartwool and Ralph Lauren. For women – Fjallraven, Aran Crafts, Vrikke or Kari Traa. Anything that you like and is 100% wool, pick it.
By the way, for more versatility, get a wool buff! You can use it as a beanie, a neck scarf, a balaclava, even ring it around your head to warm your ears. I even used a lightweight buff in Central America to protect my face from mosquitos trying to bite me in the jungle all night. It’s a versatile garment.
The human species has evolved walking, running, sprinting, jumping and climbing barefoot. This is why, for the past decade, I’ve been wearing “barefoot shoes” pretty much exclusively. I love it!
Normal shoes have numerous problems. Mainly, they don’t allow enough space for the toes to spread, and their sole isn’t flat. This makes you strike the ground with your heels (hurting your back, and leads to biomechanic issues.
Check this out:
My favorite barefoot shoes?
Out of all the pairs I ever had, those are my favorites:
- For sport-sandals, the Xero Shoes Z-Trail. For “huarache” style sandals, either Xero Shoes or the Earthrunners.
- For sport shoes, the Xero Shoes Speed Force (super light!!!). I wear them every time I go to the gym. SUPERB shoes.
- For cooler weathers, the VivoBarefoot Gobi II. Had them for a couple of years. Destroyed them climbing an active volcano in Ethiopia. The volcanic rocks were so sharp they scratched the hell out of ’em.
- For cold weathers, the Lems Shoes Leather Boulder Boots! I wear them now almost every day. Unique-looking, high quality leather, a good layer of cotton inside to warm up your feet, a solid sole, and they seem to be repellent enough of rain and snow. I see Lems now released a fully waterproof version, perhaps it’s better to get those. My only complaints are their sizing (I took 45EU/11US instead of my usual 43EU/9.5US and I should have probably taken 46EU). Lems may have fixed the size issues by now though. Also durability! My left boot’s leather “disconnected” from the sole a little (in a tiny portion of the shoe), and my right boot’s heel developed some deformity. Minor issues really. The boots are great.
- For a fancy look, check out the absolutely stunning Carets barefoot shoes. They are expensive, but they’re also the most gorgeous, well-thought pair of barefoot shoes you’ll ever wear. I’m gonna wear them at my wedding.
(Lems Boulder Boots traveling Russia to the left. And my pair of Carets to the right.)
Once you get used to barefoot shoes, you’ll never go back. The right part of your feet will land first when you walk or run, providing natural shock absorption without added stress on the back. Your toes will have room to spread, giving you a stronger grip. Your tendons and ligaments will strengthen too, and your whole posture will improve.
And don’t limit yourself to the models I listed. Do some research, maybe you’ll find other barefoot shoes you like better.
P.S: If I travel exclusively to a beach destination, I take just my flip flops.
P.S #2 If you take shoes, don’t forget to get some 100% wool socks. I use those unisex 100% Alpaca wool socks and love them. I tested them by taking just one pair to a No-Bag trip to Czech Republic. The damn socks refuse to smell.
P.S #3 If you travel to warm destinations, have open shoes (sandals, huaraches, flip flops). Humidity, warmth and darkness is a killer combo for bacteria.
P.S #4 If you have small children, have them wear barefoot footwear from day one. That will ensure their feet develop well, wide and strong!
When Apple started using their dual-lens technology (bought from Israeli startup Lynx Imaging), my life as a photography enthusiast changed.
In the past I used to carry a DSLR. But it is no way for a minimalist traveler. DSLRs are massive and heavy as hell. Also I never felt good walking with a DSLR into a poor village, where people can barely afford a McDonalds.
Luckily, smartphones have really gone a long way. Check out those unedited photos from Canada I took with my iPhone 7 Plus back then in 2017:
Who would have ever thought we’d ever be able to achieve a nice bokeh (blurred background) on a smartphone?! This is done by using a setup of two lenses and combining the input computationally.
Having two lenses (of different focal lengths) also means you can switch between them in one click and get x2 zoom without quality loss:
I now use an iPhone XS (which has an even better optic quality!). I’ll upgrade to whatever comes next in September, 2020. By the way with the new iPhone 11 Pro there are three lenses! The widest one takes gorgeous landscapes.
When you have a smartphone that can take this kind of photos, you have an exceptionally powerful device in your hands. This (and merino wool!) is what truly allows us to go No Bag without major sacrifices.
The smartphone really is an amazing invention. No need to carry a laptop anymore – you can book flights, read news, respond to mails, all from that tiny device. No need to carry a notebook for notes. No need to take scuba dive / workout / vaccination logs. All could be logged on apps. It’s also your clock, and your music player, and your GPS. You can download maps. You can monitor your business. You can stay in touch with family and friends.
In short, the smartphone is awesome. It’s having an awesome camera, a phone, a GPS, an eBook reader (+10,000 books), a pen & notebook, backups of your important documents, all in a slim waterproof frame that fits your pocket.
However, you must be diligent. With great power comes great responsibility. The easiest way to corrupt your travels is to constantly check your emails, browse social media, and get a false sense of home. Don’t let it destroy the sense of adventure you’ve been craving so much.
Use Airplane Mode generously.
Apps I travel with:
- Booking.com (I book most hotels with it)
- Airbnb (Sometimes I’ll rent an apartment long-term)
- Uber (Awesome. Driver comes to you, and can’t rip you off)
- Airalo (eSIMs everywhere for great prices! Older phones don’t support it)
- TripAdvisor (To find out nice things to do and good restaurants)
- TripIt (To organize your flight tickets and bookings)
- Kiwi.com (For flights). I book mostly through the Skyscanner website tho.
- FlixBus (a good network of buse rides throughout Europe)
- Been (To track the countries you’ve visited ^^)
- Waze (the best GPS when you drive a car)
- Google Maps (best for when you walk)
Don’t neglect your hygiene and smell like one of those nasty backpackers who’ll go past you in a train and leave behind a trail of horrible odor ;)
Going No Bag doesn’t mean you need to smell bad.
Did you know that sweat itself doesn’t stink? It’s only when it comes in contact with the bacteria in your armpits that all hell breaks loose. Neutralize that bacteria and you neutralize the odor. Your sweat won’t smell. But the solution isn’t normal “anti-perspiration” deodorants. Here’s why:
First, your body needs to perspire! Second, normal deodorants contain toxic substances that you don’t want absorbed in your body. Third, they leave icky stains on your expensive wool shirts. The solution?
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
I use it all the time; even at home. When I travel I carry it in a tiny plastic container I bought from eBay. You don’t need much; a small amount will last you forever. The way I apply it is this: immediately after my morning shower, I’ll touch the powder with the tip of each of my index fingers and then apply it.
Years ago, I used to travel with a Thai crystal stone (potassium alum, not the synthetic ammonium alum) as a deodorant. It works, but it’s much bulkier and not suitable for No Bag Travel. Both the stone and baking soda prevent bacterial growth, allowing you to perspire without smelling.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
I carry a Tom’s of Maine travel size toothpaste, which is perfect for No Bag Travel and doesn’t contain nasty substances like peroxide. Combine with a travel toothbrush like this or this and you’re set. If you’re taking a bag, no sense in compromising – you’ve got space for a normal toothbrush.
I tend not to carry soap, because I stay now mostly in well-equipped hotels. If, however, I go off the grid, I’ll grab a travel size bottle of Dr. Bronner. You can use it to both clean yourself and your clothes, if needed. It’s a very concentrated all-natural soap, a little bit will last you forever.
P.S: If you want a more comfortable way to carry your soap, perhaps use a GoToob. Any size up to 3.5oz you can take up on an airplane.
Towel: PackTowl Ultralite
Get the Nano if you’re going No Bag. Get an Ultralite if you have a bag. When my sister joined the Israeli Defense Forces, I gave her a packtowl. She was shocked when she took a shower, used it, hung it dry on a clothesline under the sun, only to come back 8 minutes later and find it 100% dry.
I personally don’t use it almost at all anymore, because I stay in hotels. I will however take it if I go on some more hardcore travels again.
Wallet: Carbon Fiber Money Clip
I use the KOOLSTOF. It’s the perfect example of minimalism. Takes little space. Super lightweight. Holds your bills and cards tight. Always springs back to its original shape, even after years. Passes through airport security without upsetting the metal detector. And looks awesome. By the way, there are much cheaper carbon fiber money clips on Amazon that look identical.
This could save your life one day.
Imagine you got lost in a jungle trek (happened to me in Costa Rica). Or got yourself stranded in the ocean for some reason (boat accident, scuba diving or paddle boarding troubles, etc). Imagine you hiked through the woods and Fortune threw a bear your way. Or you were chased by dogs you’d like to repel. If you’re a woman, imagine being followed when you’re alone.
In rare cases like these, you’d want to catch attention. Shouting is energy consuming, demoralizing, and in many cases not loud enough.
The solution is a safety whistle. Read those Amazon reviews:
Never thought I’d need to use it, but sure enough, I got stuck in a tree well while skiing. Scary as hell. I have it attached to my zipper pull on my Patagonia shell jacket which made it easily accessible. That’s a big deal when you’re hanging upside down in a tree well, using one hand to hold onto a branch for dear life. I blew this thing like my life depended on it. Sure enough, after about 5 minutes, another skier heard it echoing through the woods and found me. Fortunately I wasn’t immersed in powder. I could breathe and extract myself after I calmed down. Could have been much, much worse.
This whistle is extremely loud. I got it to scare off bears while hiking. Even though all my trail buddies laugh at my “rape whistle”. I’ll take all the jokes if it works as intended just once in my life!
When I bought this whistle, I imagined it would be nothing more than one of the many trinkets I own for emergency situations, but never use. I brought this whistle with me on a family vacation the Philippines. Everyone poked fun at the whistle because I tend to be over prepared. But no one could foresee that this little whistle would be the one thing that actually saved our lives! My family and I were on the island of Palawan and rented a private boat tour for the day. We were supposed to tour a few different islands in the area and be brought back to shore. About midway through our tour, in the middle of the ocean our boat was cut into by the massive waves (what our “captains” neglected to mention was that a Gale warning was in effect and boats were supposed to be out of the water hours prior) and in a matter of seconds our boat completely submerged. We grabbed everything we could and with our life jackets strapped on were floating in the middle of the ocean- no swimmable land in sight. I went into survival mode and the first thing I did was blow with fierceness into this whistle, weary that anyone would hear it but feeing as though it was our only hope. Our boat had no method of communication, no walkies or dispatch. It also ran on a gasoline engine- we were drenched in gasoline as the 3-4ft waves thrashed around us. After about 5 minutes of using this whistle a boat appeared in the distance. What we would find out later was that they were on their way to shore (also due to the intensity of the waves) and that they could not see us because of the height of the waves, but the only thing they could hear was the blowing of our whistle and the very tip of our boat before it sank completely. This whistle saved our lives, and no one was laughing at it afterwards! I’ve had many family members and friends who have asked me for the link to purchase. I definitely recommend having this whistle with you if you’re out on the water, it’s truly a lifesaver.
It once saved my life in a scuba diving accident. While floundering in the ocean, I blew SOS and was heard all the way to shore; several miles away. I was rescued as a result.
I hope you’re convinced.
So, which whistle to get? You want a couple features:
- High decibel count (100+) so it can be heard from a mile away.
- No moving parts! Pea-less design to eliminate the risk of jamming/freezing. Also eliminates the rattle when you walk ;)
- Doesn’t take a lot of breath. Fell and broke your ribs? You won’t be able to give a hard blow. You want to turn heads with minimal lung effort.
- Ultralight, portable and comfortable to carry; flat if possible!
- Bright design so you can easily find it.
- Plastic. Won’t stick to your mouth when cold.
Good options that checks all the above:
This is the most ironic item on the list, because it’s one you may never get to use. But if you break a leg or lose your friends or get lost/stranded somewhere remote, you’ll wish you had one of those. They’re cheap, weigh nothing and barely take any space. No excuse not to have one.
P.S. Every woman should have one in her purse. Bad guys don’t like attention being drawn to them.
P.S.#2 Those whistles scream like a banshee. They’ll leave your ears ringing. Use only in emergencies! Anyone around will hate you for deafening them.
P.S #3 The universal distress signal is three consecutive blasts. Wait 20-30 seconds before you repeat the blast pattern. By the way, one blast means “Where are you?”, two blasts “Come to me”, and three is “Help”.
Is This All Your Travel Gear?!
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. (Confucius)
As you can see, all that can easily fit your pockets. No need for a bag/vest.
What about a Lonely Planet guide?!
Do people still carry those in 2020? I never carried a Lonely Planet, even before smartphones existed. Approach people, ask questions, interact with the environment. They know best, and you’ll get a richer experience. To make sure you’re not missing out on anything, hop on TripAdvisor for a minute or two and check the top things around to do/see/eat. But locals know best.
To have a better understanding of the country you’re visiting, I recommend to read its WikiTravel page beforehand. Time well spent!
P.S. Another benefit of minimalist travel – No Bag or One Bag – is that you can wait for the end of each day before finding a place to stay. This flexibility will grant you some sweet accommodation deals on Booking.com.
Am I going to wear the same thing every day?!
Nobody’s going to notice :) People are so occupied with their own appearance that they don’t really notice. If they ask questions, explain to them about the philosophy behind you travel gear. Trust me, if I lived Destination Poon with the same clothes every day, there’s nothing to worry about.
What about a laptop?
For the vast majority of people, I do NOT recommend traveling with a laptop. It is a serious burden, and your smartphone lets you do most things anyway. The only exceptions are if you’re working while traveling.
So if you’re a National Geographic photographer, you’re gonna need that huge DSLR, fancy lenses, and perhaps your laptop to edit on the go. If you’re a “digital nomad” who makes money online and travels all year, obviously you need your laptop. In such cases, you’re going to need a bag too.
Personally? I’ll bring a laptop only if I plan to work. These days I work almost only from home where I can focus, and venture on short, intense trips every couple of months. I leave my laptop at home. This helps me recharge my mental batteries for when I get back. I like this cycle a lot.
P.S. If you’re looking for my laptop recommendation, I use the Apple MacBook 12″ (lightest Mac ever produced – 0.92kg!) and love it. However they stopped making them. Anyway, I use Apple exclusively because of their sealed OS. I like its reliability and intuitiveness over the bloat and blue screens of my previous Windows machines. Whatever laptop you pick, get one with a large resolution (mine is 2304×1440). This is your #1 factor for productivity.
P.S #2 If you need a universal travel adapter, get the Kikkerland. Or just buy a local one (will be smaller) when you’re at your destination.
By the way, if you need a backpack, I recommend the Tom Bihn Synapse 19. It’s small but surprisingly spacious. Will fit your laptop easily. Throw in an extra shirt, underwear, socks, etc. You’ll have plenty of space.
What about a Kindle device?
Love it! The benefits:
- Thousands of books for the weight of a paperback.
- Lasts weeks on a single charge.
- No glare; e-ink tech reads like a real book, even under sunlight.
- Built-in light; you won’t fall asleep with the lamp on! Kindle shuts itself off after a couple minutes of inactivity.
- Can use it with one hand.
- Easily take notes and highlights.
- Built-in vocabulary.
- Change text size.
- Books are stored in the cloud; always safe even if Kindle is lost.
- Instant book delivery upon purchase.
- Warm-light to reduce eye strain and improve sleep quality. (Oasis only)
Grab a Kindle if you travel with a bag. I love this device. If you go No Bag, just install the Kindle app on your phone (hope you got a large screen!). Not nearly as nice as the Kindle device, but it’ll work for a short trip.
The Minimalist Travel Approach Is Now Yours
I also have in mind that seemingly wealthy, but most terribly impoverished class of all, who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it, or get rid of it, and thus have forged their own golden or silver fetters. (Henry David Thoreau)
That’s it. You now have at your disposal the only minimalist packing list you’ll ever need. Go out, use it, and enjoy life to its true potential. I wish you loads of sexy adventure, and the safest of travels. Rock on!