Greetings from Playa Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica!!
Currently wiping sweat from my brow, at 9:30 AM, at a restaurant attached to a hostel near the beach. Enjoying a heaping mound of fresh fruit, pancakes, eggs and toast… for $2.50… score!… and trying to keep these monkeys from swiping anything off my plate.
So as promised here is part one of two travel tips that will save you thousands of dollars per year in airfare. It will also save you hours of time waiting around in airports, an absolute must if you happen to live in Charlotte.
Fun Fact: Charlotte is home of the worlds first hamster powered baggage carousel. If you’ve experienced a major airport with a slower baggage claim than Charlotte, by all means comment and share your story.
Two Bags of Freedom Please
So that’s it. Two bags. One carry on and one backpack.
I took this picture Monday at Mystica in Costa Rica. An amazingly tranquil yoga retreat and “tree top therapy” resort. I highly recommend you stop by if you find yourself in the Lake Arenal area. Ask for Kirsten…tell her I sent you.
I was on day 10 of a 16 day trip around the country and had texted a friend some pics of the resort. She was commenting on how expensive it must be to travel so much. “Not really”, I responded, as long as you know a couple tricks. One of those tricks is to pack lite!!
If you haven’t read Tim Ferris’ “How to Travel The World in 10lbs or Less” – Check it Out
I learned a lot from Tim and also from this gem: “Vagabonding – An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long Term World Travel” by Rolf Potts.
Now you might say, “yeah man, its easy to pack for the tropics… pair of shorts, flip flops, couple t-shirts, go pro.. all set!!”. This is true – it’s easier to pack for a single climate adventure. Fact. But I’ve used these same two bags, on the same trip, from Dubai to Abu Dhabi to Amman to Cairo to Milan to the total of Ireland with nary an issue – different environments to be sure.
The reality is, you bring all of this stuff with you when you go on a trip, and most times, if you’re anything like me – you end up wearing the same shorts, the same couple shirts and the same shoes every day. You pack for every conceivable circumstance. You simply don’t need to. Tim Ferris recommends just planning to buy an item when you actually need it… and only if you can’t borrow it first. Genius. What you save in baggage fees throughout a year, will more than pay for a shirt for a special night out. This doesn’t work for everything, don’t get me wrong – if your plan is to summit Kilimanjaro, you’re going to need some luggage. But this exact setup has sufficed for 25 countries and counting.
I prefer the Osprey Farpoint 55 w/ Daypack. Its just oversized to be a carry on, but it is soft, so I’ve yet to have a problem getting it by the ticket agents… other than a single snarky lad with Canada Air in Lima, Peru… but it still passed. I also use the day pack for more than just travel: local hikes, motorcycle rides, the works. Utility piece.
So What Do You Actually Pack?
The day pack zips off and is your under seat bag. It’s also a perfect hiking bag, with water access, breathable fabric, and it is very light.
In the daypack I typically have the following:
- The latest book I’m reading…in this case “Linchpin” by Seth Godin
- Go Pro
- Various charging cables
- Wise Owl hammock
- A pen…often overlooked but essential.
- Global Entry Card
The “big bag”, on this particular trip has:
- Pair of jeans…wearing them
- Pair of shorts
- Hiking shoes
- “Nice” walking shoes…these can double as dressier shoes for most occasions.
- Sandals…wearing them…no matter the weather. Note: Now most times it doesn’t matter with TSA PreCheck, as we don’t take our shoes off… but contrary to what the obviously wealthy, smooth looking…he had great hair…fella in line in the Roatan airport was trying to explain, to the not-so-bi-lingual agent, TSA Precheck doesn’t work in other countries. See my comment about “Typical Americans” on the Roatan Recap post. Sandals save you this headache, in most countries they won’t make you remove them.
- One “nice” button down…wearing it
- 4 other shirts…3 T’s and one Kuhl shortsleeve…my new favorite.
- 5 pairs of socks and undies
- Belt…wearing it
- Lightweight jacket
- Baseball Cap
- Bose Mini speaker…essential?… by no means. A luxury I save space for.
Only 5 Pairs of Undies? Yuck!
Yes. Plan to wash your clothes while on the road. This is practical in most locations. You can wash them in a hotel sink and air dry them…like your granny did…, use a friends washer/dryer or have the hotel wash them. I will usually plan to do laundry twice on a 2 week trip. The time you spend doing this will be saved at the baggage claim.
Disclaimer: This setup may not be for everyone. I have plenty of friends who lug 3 big bags along with them on a 5 day trip, complaining all the while. But saving money and headaches isn’t for everyone either…
Now that you are packed…with no planned checked luggage, you can usually buy your plane tickets for half price! Really!!
NEXT POST: NEVER BUY TICKETS TO YOUR DESTINATION, ONLY WHERE THE PLANE GOES.