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My Minimalist Packing System! (A30)

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    My Minimalist Packing System! (A30)

    Hey folks! I've been meaning to do this for awhile, and we're packing up for a 5-day beach trip tomorrow, so I thought I'd share my one-bag travel technique! This won't fit everyone's travel style, of course, and my system continues to evolve over the years. (My first true one-bag journey was two weeks in Japan in 2017 with an eBags weekender backpack.) I will say, though, that the Aeronaut 30 is the best bag to fit my style I've found so far.

    First of all, clothes. I travel with three packing cubes, one large mesh cube and two small laundry cubes.
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    Into the large cube goes three short-sleeve overshirts (I'll wear each of these multiple days), a pair of shorts, and my exercise shorts for my morning walk. Into one small laundry cube go five t-shirts; they're a thin DryTek athletic material that packs very light and dries very quickly, in case I need to do laundry in an emergency or for a longer trip. And in the other laundry cube goes five pair rolled of Uniqlo Airism underwear (again, lightweight and washable), five pairs of rolled socks, and my very lightweight nightshorts. (For some reason rolling shirts has never worked well for me.)

    I'll wear my jeans and another shirt and travel shirt, and a pair of comfortable all-purpose walking shoes. Luckily my style is casual and I almost never have to dress up for business or social events so I can pack cool and light. If I'm going to a cooler climate, I'll wear a jacket and pack a merino wool long-sleeve sweater in with the rest of my overshirts.

    In no particular order, I'll also pack my small Travel Tray:
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    I've got a small 65W Anker charger with a collapsible plug and two USB-C, one USB port; and a few USB, Lightning, and MicroUSB cables cover pretty much all my devices. I also pack my Apple Watch charger and a few spare bands, plus an HDMI cable and Lightning adapter so I can play movies from my iPad Mini to a hotel room or friend's TV.

    When I arrive at my destination, of course, I pull this out first, set up my charging for the weekend, and use the Travel Tray to hold my small personal items from day to day.

    I'll also pack my Side Kick for the journey:
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    The main compartment, in various pockets, hold my iPad Mini, a small ZAGG bluetooth keyboard, a Kobo e-reader, an Anker pocket charger, a small notebook and pen, and a soft eyeglasses case if I need to stow my glasses while I'm out and about. Also a Mini Ghost Whale Pouch that holds a very small 20W USB-C Anker charger with a collapsible plug and USB-C, Lightning, and MicroUSB cables. A SuperMini mesh Ghost Whale Pouch clips into the front zipper pocket and holds my micro first aid kit: Two bottles of pain relief, a couple band-aids, and some hand sanitizer and antibacterial packets.

    The Side Kick will go into one of the size compartments of the Aeronaut for travel. As long as I'm running thru the airport, jumping onto a train or subway, or hiking a few blocks or a mile to a hotel, I just have the one bag to worry about. However, while I'm on the plane I can extract the Side Kick if I want to read or watch a movie or otherwise play with my iPad. And when I get to my destination it's a little day bag complete with its own self-contained charging accessories.

    And finally, the toiletries bag:
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    Just the basics here: My Quip electric toothbrush with its built-in travel case, DSC razor in its travel case, Q-tips, deodorant, comb, floss, nail clippers, mini sewing kit, lens wipes. Instead of toothpaste and liquid mouthwash, I have a small pill box with chewable toothpaste tablets (white) and mouthwash tablets (green). I'm also trying something new this trip: I only bother to shave every few days (again, casual lifestyle), so instead of a can or tube of shaving cream, that tiny round tin has a few slivers I cut off a bar of shaving soap; I'm going to see if I can lather one up in my hands really well and shave with that. Shampoo, conditioner, soap or body wash I'll generally get at the hotel or from my hosting friends, or buy them at my destination in a pinch. That leaves the hair gel as my only liquid; I haven't found a dry replacement for that yet so if I'm flying on a plane that's the only thing that has to go in my zip-loc bag. XD

    It's hard to find minimalist dopp kits that suit my needs; this is a cheap one I found on Amazon that's not too bad. It measures about 8" long by 4" tall and 2" thick. Unfortunately both Tom Bihn dopp kids are huge by comparison; the closest other thing I could find that was small but with a bit of organization was the small HLT, but I think that would be not QUITE long enough for my toothbrush and comb. Oh well. If Tom Bihn ever want to target the minimalist traveler a bit more, let me know.

    So finally, everything comes together, with a few other odds and ends:
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    The three packing cubes interlock in the main compartment. The Side Kick goes into the left side compartment, along with a hard case for my glasses. (I'm near-sighted so I don't like to wear them on a plane, so they get tucked in here for most of the trip for safekeeping.) The right side holds a collapsible umbrella underneath the dopp kit, with the travel tray stuffed into the other end of the compartment. The right zippered pocket holds a small LED flashlight on a tether (for emergencies) and a folded-up shoulder strap in case I need to carry it that way rather than by the backpack straps. The left zippered pocket has a tether for my keys when I don't need them in my pocket, and a tethered supermini ghost whale pouch for my AirPods. (If I'm just listening to music on my phone or watch, I don't need to pull out the entire Side Kick.)

    And finally in the interior mesh pocket go my final bits and bobs. A stack of face masks (yeah, I'm still wearing them). A small laundry pouch, just in case I need it. A clear organizer pouch, to collect pocket change and receipts from the trip until I get home (so I don't need to deal with change in my pocket going through airport security on my return trip). A short braided extension cord, in case outlets aren't in a good place for my travel chargers. And a small travel pillbox that easily holds about a week's worth of my medications. (It can hold about two weeks in a pinch, and I have a second one if I'm taking a longer trip.)

    And that's it! All bundled and ready to go!
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    Of course this varies by trip. While this would be a great one-bag arrangement for a long weekend visiting friends or traveling to semi-exotic locales, it also doubles as one of my two carry-ons when I go to work at conventions; my other bag is a small Samsonite underseat rollerbag that holds all my con display materials and supplies.

    And in fact this particular weekend, we're going to a beach; we're driving, not flying; and I may want to get a little writing done, and while I COULD do that on my iPad Mini in a pinch, it's not the most comfortable for extended work. So instead of the Side Kick, I've got a side pocket packing cube with a pair of surf shoes and my bathing suit, and I'll be bringing my Medium Cafe Bag with my iPad Pro and keyboard and the rest of the stuff that would have gone into the Side Kick. And we've got a shop bag packed with beach towels, my sun hat, and lots of sun screen.

    Anyway. If you've come this far, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it, or maybe have come up with some ideas for your own future travels! Bon voyage!
    ---
    My Bags: Burnt Orange Medium Cafe BagSide Kick Luminary 15Co-Pilot Aeronaut 30
    Canary Large Shop Bag Dawn Large Shop BagAubergine Everyday Cubelet
    With: Island Packing CubesTravel Tray Cubelet Dawn Wallet

    #2
    Great write up Cooner thanks for sharing all that; have fun at the beach!


    What brand of chewable toothpaste & mouthwash are you using? I keep meaning to try that and then never get around to figuring out what to buy....


    I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds a shirt or whatever that works and buys multiple ones in every colour
    “Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
    “Sir?”
    “It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
    “Sir?”
    “That’s practically zen.”
    -Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by G42 View Post
      Great write up Cooner thanks for sharing all that; have fun at the beach!
      What brand of chewable toothpaste & mouthwash are you using? I keep meaning to try that and then never get around to figuring out what to buy....
      I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds a shirt or whatever that works and buys multiple ones in every colour
      Thank you! So far I bought two little bottles from Lush, "Dirty Toothy Tabs" (oh, clever naming) and "Creme de Menthe Mouthwash Tabs." I forget why I bought these exactly, as I don't usually shop from Lush -- it might have been because they had both the toothpaste and mouthwash available. They're pretty decent but I haven't tried any other brands yet.
      ---
      My Bags: Burnt Orange Medium Cafe BagSide Kick Luminary 15Co-Pilot Aeronaut 30
      Canary Large Shop Bag Dawn Large Shop BagAubergine Everyday Cubelet
      With: Island Packing CubesTravel Tray Cubelet Dawn Wallet

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Cooner View Post

        Thank you! So far I bought two little bottles from Lush, "Dirty Toothy Tabs" (oh, clever naming) and "Creme de Menthe Mouthwash Tabs." I forget why I bought these exactly, as I don't usually shop from Lush -- it might have been because they had both the toothpaste and mouthwash available. They're pretty decent but I haven't tried any other brands yet.
        I’ve used a few different brands! I bought toothpaste tabs initially so I could pack toothpaste that didn’t count against my TSA allowances on a flight but liked using them so much (more foam, even portions, less waste) I use them every day now at home.

        Native makes mint tabs they sell at Walgreens, they have a good clean, natural mint flavor and foam well.

        Unpaste makes mint AND cinnamon tabs, and while I love cinnamon toothpaste, theirs don’t foam as well and it causes residue to build up on your toothbrush.

        My favorite are made by LUSH Cosmetics and are the “Sparkle” flavor. They’re citrus flavored! Beware the “Refresher” flavor! They describe it as cherry and almond but they taste almost EXACTLY like Smarties candy, and I’m not a big fan of tangy, sour flavors, especially when I’m brushing my teeth.

        Also I need to say AWESOME post, Cooner! I just got my first A30 and I’m also a SK user, so I’ll probably borrow some lessons learned making your packing list to help remake my own.

        And no shame in going buck wild buying multiples of the same item, G42 ! Nowadays with so much shopping being done on the internet, once I know a particular shirt, etc. fits me well, I’ll literally buy multiple colors/prints of the same item.
        Last edited by Chicagoan; 09-14-2022, 07:47 PM.
        I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I'm using right now:
        Everyday Carry: Cambiata
        Hiking Daypack: ADX31

        Car and Plane Travel: CP, TS, and SZTSB

        Comment


          #5
          Chicagoan Aah, thanks for the recommendations! I’m running low on toothpaste tabs so will need to buy more soon. Funny you mentioned that, I’ve been tempted to start using them at home too! Just need to remember to cancel my toothpaste subscription. XD

          Oh, good luck with your A30! It’s really my favorite travel bag I’ve had, fits my packing style almost perfectly. And the SK just fits in the end pockets, with a couple inches left over to stuff something small alongside it.
          ---
          My Bags: Burnt Orange Medium Cafe BagSide Kick Luminary 15Co-Pilot Aeronaut 30
          Canary Large Shop Bag Dawn Large Shop BagAubergine Everyday Cubelet
          With: Island Packing CubesTravel Tray Cubelet Dawn Wallet

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for the reco's Chicagoan

            I don't want to hijack this thread, but let us know how the updated A30 is working for you - I can't remember if you've seen/used the previous version in comparison?
            “Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
            “Sir?”
            “It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
            “Sir?”
            “That’s practically zen.”
            -Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by G42 View Post
              Thanks for the reco's Chicagoan

              I don't want to hijack this thread, but let us know how the updated A30 is working for you - I can't remember if you've seen/used the previous version in comparison?
              Not going to steal any of Cooner’s well-deserved thunder for this post, but I did own the older A30 (as well as take it on an extended weekend trip) and later sold it in favor of the WF. As much as I like the WF as a carry on bag for plane travel, it’s annoying to flip through the compartments like pages of a book, and I’ve wanted something more like the MYD I use on road trips because you can access all the items without removing them from the bag (that whole “open dresser drawer” concept).

              And Cooner, please let me know if you find any other brands of toothpaste tablets you enjoy using! Switching from paste to tablets has been a total game changer and I love being able to portion out exactly the number of tablets I’ll need based on the length of the trip (especially helpful when I’m backpack camping!).
              I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I'm using right now:
              Everyday Carry: Cambiata
              Hiking Daypack: ADX31

              Car and Plane Travel: CP, TS, and SZTSB

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Chicagoan View Post
                I’ve wanted something more like the MYD I use on road trips because you can access all the items without removing them from the bag (that whole “open dresser drawer” concept).
                It’s funny you mention that because that’s one of the things I love about the A30. The guest room at my dad’s house is tiny but I can flop the A30 onto a chair or table, unzip all three compartments and basically live out of it like that for the entire visit. (The small laundry cubes help too.) Which is a game-changer for me because normally I’m the type who HAS to unpack my bag into a dresser drawer as soon as I get to a hotel or other destination. XD

                I’ll let you know if I find any other interesting tabs! The “Dirty” ones from Lush are a pretty standard mint flavor. I’ll probably look for those ones you mentioned from Walgreens. ^.^
                ---
                My Bags: Burnt Orange Medium Cafe BagSide Kick Luminary 15Co-Pilot Aeronaut 30
                Canary Large Shop Bag Dawn Large Shop BagAubergine Everyday Cubelet
                With: Island Packing CubesTravel Tray Cubelet Dawn Wallet

                Comment


                  #9
                  Great post Cooner! Glad that the A30 is working for you. I love the A30 because it suits my packing style very well.

                  I might give toothpaste tabs another try after reading this thread. I gave up because I need ones for sensitive teeth, but I can always use the tablets for travel even if I can’t use them every day.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    After seeing your pictures, Cooner, I exchanged my Ursa A30 for Burnt Orange.

                    One perk of an unlined main compartment that folks don't realize is that brighter-colored bags now provide great contrast and make it really easy to find things!
                    I own a LOT of Tom Bihn bags, but here are the ones I'm using right now:
                    Everyday Carry: Cambiata
                    Hiking Daypack: ADX31

                    Car and Plane Travel: CP, TS, and SZTSB

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Chicagoan View Post
                      After seeing your pictures, Cooner, I exchanged my Ursa A30 for Burnt Orange.

                      One perk of an unlined main compartment that folks don't realize is that brighter-colored bags now provide great contrast and make it really easy to find things!
                      Oh, wow, I hope you enjoy the new color!

                      I've noticed burnt orange seems to be a tough color to photograph because it tends to react to the lighting conditions a bit. Sometimes it seems like a dark orange, other times it seems like a more muted tan-brown color. But it's definitely not BRIGHT ORANGE like, say, Orange-152. I think it's just bright enough to stand out a bit but not so overwhelming that it won't also work for more conservative business settings.
                      ---
                      My Bags: Burnt Orange Medium Cafe BagSide Kick Luminary 15Co-Pilot Aeronaut 30
                      Canary Large Shop Bag Dawn Large Shop BagAubergine Everyday Cubelet
                      With: Island Packing CubesTravel Tray Cubelet Dawn Wallet

                      Comment

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