I ain't takin' nothin' that'll slow down my travelin' …

Johnny Cash

A Packing List

Introduction (to the annotated list)

the packing checklistThese comments introduce a series of pages containing an extensively annotated version of the (print-friendly) One Bag packing checklist, describing the individual items in some detail and (where appropriate) explaining why they are included. Although this is but one person's list (mine, shared with my wife), it is offered as a successful example, in the hope that it will both inspire and assist you to develop a customized packing list of your own.

If you have not already done so, I strongly encourage you to read the page on Using a Packing List. This will make the purpose of this list — which is not as obvious as it might seem — much more clear.

On a first reading, it's probably simplest to visit these pages sequentially, by clicking on the "next page" button at the very bottom of each one. For future reference, of course, you can navigate directly to specific sections of interest (using the Packing List menu, above).

What to pack when travelling (on a trip of any length)? The old adage ("half as much clothing and twice as much money") is at least half right. The One Bag packing list is intended to suggest the maximum amount of stuff one should ever need to cart around (and remember, not everything goes into your bag: the indicated quantities of clothing, for example, include those that are being worn). On many of your travels, you should be able to manage with considerably less. The list explored here is the one I actually use, allowing me to live more or less indefinitely out of a single (carry-on-sized) bag.

Aren’t Some of These Suggestions a Bit … Extreme?

Above all don't weigh yourself down with too much stuff, since one can't even express the difficulty of carrying and dragging it along, especially on land.

Jean Zuallart (sixteenth-century French pilgrim)

Not really. Like most things in life, they're relative, and depend on your intent. This list attempts to be all encompassing, equally suitable for a three-day business trip to Duluth and a three-month exploration of rural Asia. Again, the whole point of a proper packing list is to provide a blueprint for a lifetime of travel, not a shopping list for one particular type of trip. When using the list for a specific journey, obviously, you simply disregard the inappropriate items.

And again, this is my list, not yours: consequently, there may be items on it that are inappropriate for you (just as your list could include things that I would never pack). The important thing is that nothing goes in your bag that isn't on your list (if you truly need it, fix your list)!

It's really not all that difficult for most people — on most trips — to reduce their travel burden to a single bag with a fully-loaded weight of not more than 25 lbs (11kg).

Beyond that may take more concentrated effort. Dedicated backpackers are not above drilling holes in their toothbrush handles, and cutting the tags off their teabags, in order to minimize weight. You won't find anything quite so extreme here, but you will observe an ongoing concern about whether or not the value of an item truly justifies the weight and bulk that it adds to your load.

Finally, remember that the lightest, least expensive, and most trouble-free items on a packing list are those that aren't there.

Click the next page button, below, for the first section of the annotated packing list.