87 Things, 28.1 lbs: How My Wife & I Pack 1 Carry-On for a Year Around the World

Written by Scott January 15, 2015

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things; the supreme excellence is simplicity.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Favorite Poems

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World Tour Update: As Chelsea and I aspire to live this Longfellow quote, today is Day 3 of our yearlong trip around the world, a 10-year dream in the making that we’re calling The Global Dinner Party Project. Last night we had our first LYL meetup in Buenos Aires – a few days ago we had 6 RSVP’s and when we showed up there were well over 30. This city inspires me…

LYL Local Buenos Aires

And we’re hosting our first dinner party for a some locals and friends at our little one-bedroom place on tonight.

If you want to follow the adventure (and hopefully join us along the way), you are going to want to check out this video we filmed before we left. It’s definitely a first for both of us to be in front of the camera together, but I am SO glad Chelsea joined me! You’ll see why when you watch. Make sure you see the picture of us wearing capes (don’t judge).

Also, late next week we plan to launch a totally new tool/service/product that thousands of you have been asking about for way too long. It’s going to give you a very inside look into how we do things at LYL – and all the details of trip as it unfolds.

We’re calling it Live Your Legend RAW and I think you’re really going to like it. But more on that later. 🙂

Now for the big question…

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How Do You Fit Your Home (& Life) into One Carry-On?

That question has been lingering in the shadows of our San Francisco apartment for the past few months as Chelsea and I prepared to pack one carry-on each for a yearlong trip around the world.

Well… it looks like we did it. I think the picture of me sitting on the balcony of our Airbnb apartment next to a modest 45L backpack is pretty good proof.

And here’s the best part –  it was actually a lot easier than we thought and SO damn liberating.

Minimalist’s Disclaimer: Right about now is when I should drop a disclaimer to my minimalist friends. Yes, I know we have a lot more stuff than we need. I know you could have done it in a bag one-third the size. But for us, this worked out perfectly. 🙂

How I Found the ‘Perfect’ Pieces…

My strategy for packing for this trip was simple: I wanted to apply the 80/20 rule to everything I could. I wanted to find the best items out there that also hopefully checked multiple boxes (see the shorts I found that work as board shots, dress shorts and workouts shorts – amazing).

And, this one’s important: I did not want to look like your standard backpacking tourist wearing hiking boots, zip off pants and a pack with a million straps. I wanted to have light, high quality, functional stuff that also allowed me to look somewhat normal (not easy, I know – I stand out like crazy as it is) and be dressed properly enough to go out to nice dinners with Chelsea (and maybe even attend the impromptu foreign wedding, if such an invite crosses our path).

So I ended up totally geeking out on this stuff and probably ordered 60 shirts over the past few months to find the five that I wanted in my pack. Same goes for just about every item.

And that’s a big reason why Chelsea and I have spent so much time compiling this list and video for you all – I’m incredibly proud of how our packing turned out. And we each ended up having a lot of extra room when all was said and done.

So, I hope this is helpful – whether it’s for a year around the world or just a well-prepared weekend getaway, I think a lot of this information will make your trip more enjoyable.

And keep in mind, one of our goals is to avoid winter (except when we head to Antarctica or the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, where we’ll rent gear), so that also allows us to stay a lot lighter.

I’d start by watching the video below, which I filmed from our current home – a wonderfully spacious 1br/1.5 bath flat in the heart of the Palermo district in Buenos Aires. We got it on Airbnb for $59/night.

Then be sure to read the full list since there are a few things I forgot to mention in the video.

All links go to the places where we actually purchased these items. Most the links are for Amazon, and if you decide to purchase one of the items, we get a small commission, but you pay the same price. Our commission which will go towards supporting the dinner parties we’ll be hosting around the world starting this Friday. Thanks for being in our corner!

Fitting My Life into 87 Things, 28.1 Pounds & 1 Carry-On

Press play to see my full packing breakdown…

Scott’s Packing List for a Year Around the World (Everything fits easily into one 45 litre carry-on backpack)

World Tour 1 Carryon Packing List

My Two Favorite (& Crucial) Items:

1. Pacsafe 45L backpack in storm gray

This was my most exciting find. This company makes bags that are lined with metal mesh and all compartments lock in one central place, so it literally becomes a safe when you lock it up. Very high quality and lightweight, too. And backpack straps can be hidden in the back so it looks like a regular bag. Pacsafe has been around for decades and makes well over 100 bags. I love this company!

2. Airbnb global house rental service 

This is probably my favorite business and website in the world. You can rent other peoples’ homes in 190 countries, and rent out your own while you’re gone (often for a good profit!). You get a much more local experience with a lot more amenities and often save a fortune over hotels. We’re in an incredible 1 bedroom/1.5 bath in the heart of the Palermo district in Buenos Aires and we’re paying $59/night. Hard to beat. Oh, and you can rent boats, tree houses, igloos, castles and lighthouses – all of which I plan to do this year!

We’ve partnered with Airbnb, so here’s a link to try them out and get your first $25 of travel for free. I have a feeling it might be love at first sight. 

Clothes:

Quick clothing note: I generally love light-colored stuff, especially when traveling in the summer. But I also know it’s incredibly tough to keep clean. So in the spirit of simplicity, and not looking like a scrub all year, I went with mainly darker colors, and no whites (even though I LOVE white linen pants…)

Electronics & Mobile Office:

  • iPhone 6 on T-Mobile World Traveler plan (I’m in love with the new iPhone with the Touch ID fingerprint security features (especially using 1Password), and switching from ATT to T-Mobile has totally changed the game. Our $80/month T-Mobile plan comes with unlimited texts, picture messages and data in 120 countries. Yes, unlimited. International calls are 20 cents/minute. And it works as a Wi-Fi hotspot! Blows my mind.
  • Elago thin case for iPhone 6
  • 11″ Macbook Air & charger – I bought this last minute to downsize from my 13″ and I’m so glad I did. I don’t even notice the smaller screen and it saves good space and weight.
  • DODOcase for Macbook Air Handmade in San Francisco – incredible.
  • Kindle Voyage eReader I got rid of my iPad Mini in exchange for this. A MUCH better reading device, battery lasts a month, super lightweight and keeps me purely focused on reading, especially since one goal for this year is to read all of Paulo Coelho’s books! I can use my iPhone 6 for iPad-like needs.
  • Kindle Voyage thin case
  • Beats Pill bluetooth speaker It’s not essential but so fun for hanging around the house, dinner parties and beach fun.
  • My Passport 1 Terabyte slim external hard dive This keeps everything backed up, but we’re also fully backed up using Backblaze cloud storage so we could be up and running super fast if a computer got lost, broken or stolen. All essential files are on Dropbox too. I’m big on data redundancy, if you couldn’t tell.
  • 128 GB USB drive We’re keeping all our travel data on it, and it’s just convenient for big file transfers between computers.
  • 2 Apple headsets just in case we lose one. They’re too light not to have a backup.
  • Joby Gorilla Pod is small, flexible tripod with magnetic feet.
  • Glif iPhone stand & tripod adaptor
  • Rode lavelier microphone for iPhone which gives me higher quality audio for my videos.
  • Samson Go Mic USB microphone Offers higher quality audio for audio-only or in-person & Skype interviews since I’ll be doing a lot more audio recoding this year. More on that when we launch Live Your Legend RAW.
  • Anker small 3200mAh extra battery pack for iPhone It’s good for 1 full charge.
  • Macbook Air ethernet adapter + either next cord, in case Wi-Fi sucks.
  • Global plug adapter This amazing all-in-one piece includes 2 USB ports for charging phones, etc.
  • 3-prong to 2-prong plug adapter
  • U.S. to European plug adapter
  • Headphone splitter So Chelsea and I can watch stuff together.
  • Petzl Tikka Plus 2 headlamp This is the only flashlight I travel with because headlamps are crazy convenient.
  • Power cords for everything. A number of our devices use the same USB chargers, so I just brought one of those, except iPhone charger. We brought three of those, because when you need one, you need one.
  • Assorted rubber bands to keep things organized. Also great for a small wallet and for making it harder for your phone to slip out of your pocket – or get snatched by pickpockets. Wrapping a rubber band around stuff helps a lot.
  • Assorted Ziplock bags for, well, everything – dirty clothes, keeping iPhone safe at beach, etc.
  • Eagle Creek Pack-It cube pouch to keep it all organized.

Travel Documents & Software:

  • Pacsafe passport wallet with RFID protection This zips shut, making it a great place for all my travel docs, credit cards, cash and random papers – just don’t lose it!
  • Credit cards for travel: Schwab and Wells Fargo checking, Chase Ink Bold Visa Signature, Amex Platinum, Amex Starwood, healthcare ID card, driver’s license (which I actually lost at a bike rental shop in Uruguay yesterday, but am confident of a full recovery!)
  • Small Moleskine red ruled notebook which is my travel journal and task book.
  • Find My iPhone device on iCloud  – A great tool for finding lost devices, but I also gave my login to my parents so they can see where we are. It might feel little on the Big Brother creepy side, but it’s a fun way to have added safety.
  • 1Password I’m in love with this software, and at this point I’m realizing a password protection and simplification tool is a must. Works awesome with iPhone 6 TouchID, too.
  • Dropbox for data backup and sharing pictures and files.
  • World Nomads provides comprehensive travel insurance.
  • TouchNote is an iPhone app for snapping a picture and sending a physical post card to anywhere in the world. It will be awesome for keeping up with birthdays and important moments this year!

Other Gear & Fun Stuff:

  • Live Your Legend Flag is easy to fold and take to all our local events and adventures.
  • Peppers polarized sun glasses These are the only sunglasses I buy now. They work well, look pretty good, float on water, and they’re only $33!
  • Compact day pack from the World Domination Summit 2014 gift bag. It rolls up super small to go into my main pack when I’m not using it for day trips and a separate carry-on.
  • 2 Packsafe TSA locks and cables turn our whole damn backpack into a safe!
  • Klean Kanteen 800ml stainless steel water bottle Can double as a foam roller after big adventures!
  • Waterproof playing cards These are especially important since Chelsea and I usually play while having a happy hour beer. The winner picks dinner.
  • WADFitters speed jump rope It’s crazy lightweight and makes for some of the best workouts around.
  • Aerobie Sprint flying ring By far the best flying disc ever made. Its bigger brother holds the Guinness World Record for longest throw – 1,320 feet. So much fun for the beach, working out with a friend or making new ones!
  • Lacrosse ball We use this for mobility and rolling out muscles and pains.
  • Trail Light Dayhiker first aid kit We really hope we don’t need it!
  • Roll of compact duct tape From ripped bags to blisters, this stuff works for just about everything!
  • Aquasphere SEAL goggles These come on every trip. It’s the best google/swim mask combo I’ve ever seen, and it actually stays clear so you can see stuff!
  • 2 black carabiners We use these for hooking stuff onto the pack or hanging things at home.
  • Fodors Argentina travel book We’ve tried just about every guide, and Fodors is far and away our best. Awesome pictures and descriptions, too. We won’t buy a book for every location, but it’s always fun to have.
  • Eagle Creek Packit waterproof Pack-It sac (medium) This keeps it all together. 

Toiletries:

And, then there’s Chelsea’s list, which of course is much simpler and concise than mine…

She took a different approach and decided to bring mostly things she already owned that she can get rid of/replace as needed throughout the trip but she did focus on bringing small and quick dry items.

  • Pacsafe 45L Backpack (gray)
  • Pacsafe Handbag (gray)
  • Beyond Yoga Long Legging (black) My travel outfit.
  • Beyond Yoga Gathered Legging (black) My favorite, most comfortable workout pants.
  • Lululemon Shorts  These are quick-dry for working out, biking, swimming, etc. but can wear as regular shorts.
  • 2 Lululemon tops – One works to wear over a swimsuit, and both are quick-dry.
  • long sleeve shirt It’s thin and quick-dry to wear over workout clothes, and I can wear it as a regular shirt if it’s cool.
  • Exofficio jacket This is light, quick-dry and has a hood. I can wear it with regular clothes or for physical activities. This jacket does not pack down as much as some others, but to me it looks better with regular clothes than some other options.
  • Black and white sports bra Both can sub as regular bras.
  • PJ’s: 1 black tank (can also wear as a regular tank) + boy shorts + comfy shorts.
  • 1 long sleeve lightweight button up blue shirt – Part of my travel outfit and can be worn over things as a cover up or on its own with sleeves long or rolled up.
  • 1 white tank – Part of my travel outfit that I can also wear as sleep tank.
  • 1 blue tank
  • 1 multicolored tank
  • 1 gray tee
  • 1 white tee
  • 1 black and white maxi skirt – This goes with all tops except multi-colored tank.
  • 2 short dresses
  • 2 maxi dresses
  • 1 pair jean shorts
  • 1 pair blue and white patterned shorts
  • 1 scarf/beach cover up – This is part of my travel outfit and works as a blanket on plane or a towel for the beach.
  • 2 mix-n-match bathing suits – one solid black, one solid pink
  • wireless nude bra
  • 5 pairs Exofficio underwear These are quick-dry so they can be washed regularly.
  • 2 pair quick dry socks (white)
  • 1 pair New Balance Minimus workout shoes
  • 1 pair Toms  Part of my travel outfit.
  • 1 pair flip flops – I just brought something I already owned, but may need to get something comfortable enough to walk all day in.
  • 1 hat (dark gray) I chose this because it packs down and is useful to wear while touring the town, hitting beach and doing activities such as hiking.
  • 1 pair goggles
  • 1 Theraband for resistance work
  • iPhone Arm Band I want to  do yoga and other classes without bothering Scott. 🙂
  • 13″ MacBook Air + case
  • Kindle Voyage
  • iPhone 6
  • dSLR camera – I needed an upgrade, and while I was tempted by a full frame for picture’s sake, this one is so lightweight and still takes quality images.
  • All chargers
  • 2 napkins + 1 small piece of burlap for food photography styling
  • Toiletries: Conditioner, face wash + cream + serum, makeup remover wipes (for situations where I may not be able to wash my face in the sink – trains, planes, etc.), hairspray, B&B Curl Cream (put into 3oz container), hand lotion, nail polish, nail polish remover pads, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, mouthwash, Chapstick, lip gloss, deodorant, bobby pins, Q-tips, travel size sunscreen, small perfume.
  • Makeup: Tinted Moisturizer, blush + brush, 4-container MAC eye shadow + brush, bareMinerals + brush, SPF powder, eyeliner, mascara,  tweezers.
  • Additional items: mini lint roller, 1 bracelet, 1 necklace, 1 hand clutch to carry at night, supplements, prescribed medication for travel (malaria, altitude, antibiotics), small collection of other medicine (Tylenol, cold and flu, allergy, etc.), nail clippers, extra hair rubber bands.

And a travel scale to get our official weights (we left that in California)…

  • Scott: 28.1 pounds
  • Chelsea 28.6 pounds (I’ll carry some of her stuff sometimes…)

And that is how you fit two adult lives into two 45-Litre backpacks!

I can’t tell you how good it felt to get all that packed up.

And in case you’re wondering where we started, here’s a couple pictures for contrast…

Before packing

Our SF apartment, 12 hours before trying to fit it all in our packs

 

The Salvation Army pile

The Salvation Army pile

After packing

Scotts Final Backpack

And finally, the obligatory cheesy shot that my parents insisted we take before walking into SFO Airport…

10 years of dreaming - the cheezy parent shot

The 10-year dream coming to life 🙂

And that’s how we kick off an adventure!

So, what’d we miss?

Let us know in the comments.

Now I’m off to help Chelsea navigate our local market and prepare for this dinner party!

Onward,

Scott

P.S. Then click here to come join in on the adventure on our official World Tour & Global Dinner Party Page!

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