The 5 Minute Travel Guide: How to Travel With Less Clutter and Leave Room For Adventure

In airports all over the world you will see men and women dressed like imbeciles, they wear a giant backpack on their back (it’s absolutely huge and filled to the brim) and then on their front they wear another regular sized backpack like they’re carrying a baby.

Today I’m going to show you how to pack with less clutter and less junk so you can travel light, not be bogged down with 50 lbs of luggage, leave room for souvenirs and – most importantly – have an adventure of a lifetime. To accomplish this you’ve got to eliminate all the extra baggage, you only need to have carry-on luggage (luggage that is not checked with an airline, it is taken onto the plane with you), and you’ve got to make your luggage as light as possible. You need a backpack and possibly a smaller day bag at most. When travelling you do not want to spend all your time carrying 50 lbs of luggage and/or looking after all that luggage, you want time to explore and have a good time. All that luggage gets in the way.

Below is a list of the essential travel items:

Clothing: You’ve got to bring clothing but you don’t have to bring your entire wardrobe. A few shirts, a couple pairs of pants/shorts, a couple pieces of underwear and a couple pairs of socks will be enough in a warm climate. In a cold climate you’ve got to bring just enough to keep warm.

There are two ways to clean laundry while travelling: 1) Every hotel or near every hotel you will be able to find a launder who will clean your clothes for you at a price. 2) You can wash all your clothes yourself with a bar of clothes soap. Most of the world washes their clothes this way. It’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s cheap.

Jeans and shorts can be worn for several days to a week or more at a time. Shirts can be worn for two days before they start to stink. Socks are at a two day maximum. Nylon underwear can be worn for several days at a time before they start to stink (but I recommend no more than one day).

You can simply plan to wash clothes in the shower every other day and you will be fine.

Toiletries: Toiletries can fit into a single toiletries bag/Shaving Kit.

Toothpaste and Deodorant: A) Bring a tiny sized toothpaste and a stick of deodorant or B) Baking soda can be used as toothpaste and it can be used as deodorant. To brush your teeth with baking soda simply mix some baking soda with water and brush like regular. To use baking soda as deodorant simply wet some baking soda with water and apply underneath the arms (be careful not to use the same brush for your teeth and armpits). This saves room on a bar of deodorant and a bottle of toothpaste (a bottle of toothpaste will have to be thrown away at the airport anyway, unless it’s tiny sized). Bring a toothbrush.

A small bottle of baby powder is essential to keep the feet, and your other unmentionables, dry and stink-free.

Hair care: I like to shave my head before embarking on a trip lasting longer than a week. That way I don’t have to carry around any shampoo or hair gel (both will have to be thrown away at airport checkpoints). Not everyone wants a shaved head so I highly recommend getting a short haircut before embarking so as to not have to deal with extra hassle.

You will not be able to get on a plane with shaving cream and possibly not with a razor. You’ll either need to purchase one at your destination or grow a beard. A small Electric Shaver can come in very handy.

Baby wipes are a must bring item. Baby wipes take up less room than toilet paper, can be used to wash your hands and will come in handy in an emergency. You cannot be sure that any place you are travelling will provide toilet paper. I tend to travel with a Devil-may-care attitude but the thought of having to answer natures call in some 2nd or 3rd world toilet with no toilet paper fills me with unease. It isn’t a chance I am willing to take.

In your shaving kit you can throw in extras like: tweezers, bandages, diarrhea medicine, q-tips, any other medicine you may need.

Electronics: The beauty of the internet age is that everything can be taken care of via a laptop and an internet connection.

Skype can be used to make phone calls from your laptop, you can manage your bank accounts online, you can take care of other business via e-mail and company websites.

E-Book Reader: An e-book reader is a must if you enjoy reading. Gone are the days of packing 5 or 10 books. An e-book reader is the size of one small book and can fit hundreds of books into one nice, little package. Excellent for plane rides, layovers or extra time in airports, and rainy days in hotels or youth hostels.

Cellular phone: Everyone has a cell phone. Whether or not having cell service in another country is important to you is your choice. A sim card can be purchased in any country you travel to and will work for local calls. Some cell phones will work abroad automatically, some cell phones will not work abroad and you may have to purchase a new phone abroad to make calls. Skype can be used to make phonecalls directly from your laptop computer.

Mp3 player if you’re a music lover.

Camera/video camera.

Money: You only need to bring a little cash, ATM cards, debit/credit cards. Travelers cheques are obsolete and a waste of time and space. Money in the currency of the new country can be withdrawn from the nearest ATM directly from your bank account and dispersed in the needed currency, converted to the current exchange rate automatically.

Bring your passport or other needed identification.

Those are all the must bring items.

To recap:


  • 3 pairs shirts
  • 2 pairs pants or shorts
  • 2 pairs underwear
  • 2 pairs socks
  • One belt
  • Baking soda to double as toothpaste and deodorant (or bring deodorant and buy toothpaste at your destination)
  • Toothbrush
  • Baby wipes
  • Baby powder
  • Clothing soap (or just have your clothing washed at your destination)
  • Other toiletries that fit in your shaving kit
  • Laptop computer
  • E-Book Reader (gone are the days of packing 5 books)
  • MP3 player
  • Cellular phone (remember, skype can be used to make calls from your laptop – or you can have skype forward the calls to your cell phone)
  • Camera (I use the Nikon D90, it’s bulky but it’s excellent).
  • A small amount of cash
  • ATM card(s)
  • Debit/credit card(s)
  • Passport/ID

That’s everything you need to bring. Now let’s look at some extra stuff you may want to bring.

Miscellaneous Items:

Sunglasses – Especially if it’s a warm, tropical sunny climate.

Condoms – Some souvenirs you don’t want to bring back.

A padlock – You never know when you will need to lock your stuff up at a hotel or at a beach somewhere.

Don’t Bring:

Lighters, liquids, travelers cheques, your girlfriend.

Travel Tips:

Always say “no” to the first price when locals are trying to sell you something. They will always try and rob you at first, and the price will always go down when you say “no”. If you can’t get a price you like simply start to walk away and they will say “stop” and go lower on the price for fear of losing a sale.

Taxis and other private drivers will always try and rip you off. It’s best to always get a metered taxi or agree on a price upfront. The sharks hang out at airports, bus stations, and train stations preying on gullible newcomers and foreigners – the prices for transportation at airports, bus station and train stations will always be outrageously high. Either haggle to death with these drivers or walk a little ways away from the station and find a better priced ride.

Don’t get drunk in random places if you want to keep all the money in your pocket. Either A) Don’t get drunk or B) Leave everything of value at the hotel and only bring a small amount of cash. 3rd world tourism providers are masters at extracting money from drunken foreigners.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are the cheapest days to book plane tickets. is the cheapest spot I have found for tickets.

That’s everything you need to know.

Where Should You Go?

Well, where have you always wanted to go?

Float down the Mekong river on an inner tube in Laos.

Take a Black Sea Run.

Celebrate Carnival in Brazil.

Meet the notoriously beautiful women of Colombia.

Start a business in the world’s freest economies Hong Kong and Singapore.

Take a train through Russia on the Trans-Siberian railroad.

See the pristine beauty of Albania.

Have fun. Everything and everyone will be waiting for you when you get back.

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  1. pete smith says

    I’ve tried baking soda as a deodorant. While it is great for removing smells, i found that it left stains on my white t-shirts, something which never happening with other store bought deodorants. I would shower, dry my pits well and then apply the powder to my underarms. It kept me smelling fresh all day but left stains on the underarms.

  2. Mike says

    What size backpack do you recommend? Im going to France, Switzerland and Austria in Feb and was thinking of packing my stuff into a 30 litre waterproof backpack.

  3. pete smith says

    Mike, I’ve been to those countries. Resorts in the mountains of Switzerland are quite cold even in the summertime, which is when i was there. So, at least pack some warm clothing. France and Austria are also a little chilly in the winter, so while best to pack light, emphasize warm clothing. Two to three sweaters and pants will do, along with a couple shirts, warm socks, and boxers, in addition to a hat, gloves, and a jacket or fleece.

    Bring a large rucksack that is small enough to fit on board the plane. You could also, if space allows for it, bring a small bag inside your rucksack for day trips and what not.

  4. Albatros says

    Wow, you mentioned Albania, and I’m Albanian. I’m excited to see somebody as you mentioned my motherland in top places to visit. However, I live in Kosovo which is an Albanian country who declared independence in 2008. But still, Albania is my motherland and has very great places to visit. Thank you Victor!

  5. John says

    Different post (don’t know how I ended up here), but I will read pretty much anything about travel.

    Keep it up!