How to Never Check Luggage Again

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Travel has many joys. Luggage is not one of them.

Travel has many joys. Luggage is not one of them.

NOTE: If you signed up for my email list, please see this post in your email (perhaps on Saturday afternoon PT) for the Monday night Q&A info.

This post will explore three options for never checking luggage again. Some of them are extreme; all of them are effective.

In my next post, I’ll detail what I (and some friends) pack in carry-on. Some are surprising and hilarious.

Given that I spend 100+ days of the year traveling, and that I’ve been to 40+ countries, I’ve tested just about everything.

Hauling a five-piece Samsonite set around the planet is hell on earth. I watched a friend do this up and down dozens of subway and hotel staircases in Europe for three weeks, and — while I laughed a lot, especially when he resorted to just dragging or throwing his bags down stairs — I’d like to save you the breakdown. Trip enjoyment is inversely proportionate to the amount of crap (re: distractions) you bring with you.

So, how to avoid checked luggage altogether?

We’ll cover three different options, in descending order of craziness. I promise that something in this post will work for every one of you, even if partially:

– Using “urban caching” for travel purposes
– Mailing instead of checking (and some Steve Jobs-ian quirks)
– Ultralight packing

Many of these suggestions have been given to me by readers over the years, so thank you!

I try and bring such gifts full circle by collecting hundreds of tips, testing them, and publishing the winners.

So here we go…

Travel Caching

I was first introduced to the idea of “urban caching” by my friend Jason DeFillippo.

Remember the first Jason Bourne movie, when various agents are “activated” to kill Jason? One of them lands in Rome, where he accesses a hidden locker that contains everything he needs: a few passports, a gun, ammo, cash in small denominations, etc. That is an example of a single “cache.” (Yes, I’m somewhat obsessed with Jason Bourne)

Doomsday preppers (not derogatory) will often have multiple caches at various distances from a “bug out” departure point like a home or office. In the case of disaster — tornado, terrorism, zombies, Sharknado, etc. — they can set off walking empty-handed, if needed, and find everything they need waiting for them.  Here’s a good intro to this controversial craft.

But how the hell do you apply this to regular travel? Ah, that’s where things get fun.

Let’s say that you’re flying to the same two cities 50-80% of the time, as I do. When I land in New York City, this is what I find already placed in my hotel room:

IMG_2247 - closed trunk

IMG_2248 - open trunk

It is a trunk that contains almost everything I could need for a week. Believe it or not, it was provided and stenciled at no cost by the hotel. All I had to do was ask. (More tips on travel negotiating in the second half of this post)

I refer to this as “travel caching.”

I’ll explain how this can cost less than checking luggage, but let’s look at some key goodies first:

- One (1) winter jacket – I usually live in SF, where it is typically warmer most of the year.

- Cans of lentils and beans, pre-salted and spiced – I dislike waiting 30 minutes for $30 breakfasts. I use Amazon Prime to order Jyoti Dal Makhani or Westbrae organic lentils, having them mailed directly to the hotel.  I eat directly out of the cans.

- Can opener and spoon

- Surge pocket multitool (do NOT put this in carry-on bags). No such thing as too many multitools.

- Jug of unflavored or vanilla whey protein, generally Bluebonnet or BioTrust. I find that whey in the mornings prevents me from getting sick when shifting time zones. It also helps me hit my “30 grams within 30 minutes” rule from The 4-Hour Body.

- L-lysine for immune support (especially after early or late flights), magnesium/ZMA and melatonin for sleep and jetlag.

- Lacrosse balls for rolling out my feet, upper back, chest, and forearms.

- Jiu-jitsu gi for getting my ass mercilessly kicked at the Marcelo Garcia Jiu-Jitsu academy.

- Four (4) collared shirts – I often travel to NYC for business or media.

- Four (4) decent t-shirts, including two V-neck t-shirts (I know, I know), that can used for lounging or casual dinners, etc.

- Socks and undies for one week.

- Two (2) pairs of dress shoes, one (1) pair athletic shoes, one (1) pair hiking boots for upstate adventures.

The best part:  When I check out, I give a bag of dirty clothes to the front desk, they have it all cleaned and put *back* in my trunk, folded and pretty… ready for my next arrival!  They charge it to the same credit card I have on file for rooms.  Doubly cool: Since I stay there so often, they don’t charge me the in-house extortion prices.  They take it down the street to an inexpensive clean-and-press laundry joint.

No packing, no checking, no unpacking, no cleaning.  It’s magical.

So, how can this possibly save you money and sanity?

1) To check an equivalent amount of stuff would usually cost $30+, so $60+ roundtrip.

2) The clothing isn’t new clothing.  Most of us have MUCH more clothing than we need.  I simply leave one week’s worth of less-used stuff in NYC.  No purchase necessary.

3) Two WEEKS worth of lentils, beans, and whey protein cost about the same as 2-4 DAYS of room service breakfasts.  It’s also a ton faster.  Waiting around makes Tim cray-cray.

4) If you stay in a hotel often enough, you can simply ask: “Do you have a trunk or something I could store a week’s worth of clothing in? That way, I wouldn’t have to pack so much when I come here.”  The above trunk was given to me this way, but you can also buy one for $60 or so on Amazon, the equivalent of one trip’s baggage fees.  Then ask the staff (who you should know by now) if you could store a week’s worth of clothing in the storage room, basement, or security office.  This can also be arranged with many people on Airbnb.

And if your hotel or host won’t play ball, guess what?  Startups can save you.  Consider using MakeSpace or its close cousins, which one 4-Hour Workweek reader uses to live like James Bond, all while vagabonding around the planet.  Pretty cool, right?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is travel caching.  It’s a game-changer.

Mailing Instead of Checking

This is exactly what it sounds like.

Dean Jackson of the I Love Marketing podcast is the person who — for me — turned it into an art form.

The benefit of mailing versus caching: it’s not limited to your most frequent 2-3 destinations.  It can be used anywhere, but it’s most often used domestically.

Not unlike Steve Jobs and his “uniform,” Dean literally wears the same outfit EVERY day: black t-shirt, tan shorts, orange Chuck Taylor shoes, and a black cap when cold. He doesn’t want to expend a single calorie making decisions related to fashion, which I respect tremendously.  I’m a huge proponent of the choice-minimal lifestyle and rules to reduce overwhelm.

In his words via text, here’s how his packing and mailing works. Comments in brackets are mine:

“As you know, I wear the same thing every day…Black shirt, tan shorts…so I have my assistant keep a carry-on bag constantly packed for 7 days [TIM: It’s a bag with 7 days worth of “uniforms”]. I use mesh laundry bags with a zipper to put together 7 “Day Packs” with a black shirt/underwear/socks [TIM: You can also use gallon-sized Ziploc bags]. Every day while traveling, I unzip a fresh new pack. When I return, she washes and repacks everything, and restocks my travel-only shaving kit with everything I need.

I have separate chargers, shoes, melatonin, etc., so I never have to pack…and she can ship my bag ahead of me without me having to do anything. Plus, she packs a pre-filled return FedEx shipping label for me, so I can — when I’m leaving — have a bellman come get my bag and take it to the business center to ship back.

That whole rig fits in a carry-on sized bag….7 Day Packs, 3 pairs of shorts, orange Chuck Taylors, charging cords, shaving kit…but that all gets shipped. Then my actual carry on is a Tumi laptop bag with Macbook, iPad, journal, passport, wallet. Using the Tumi, I don’t have to take out my laptop for x-rays, plus it’s beautiful leather with just the right pocket config.

It’s pretty light travel.”

Even if you never want to mail your bags ahead, there is one point you shouldn’t miss: It’s smart to have a travel-only toiletry kit that is never unpacked.

Keep one set of toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. at home on the counters and shelves, and have a separate packed kit that is exclusively for travel.

This alone has saved me a ton of headache and last minute “Where is the closest CVS? I forgot my dental floss”-type nonsense.

Which brings us to the question of carry-on…

Ultralight Packing

prewear-small

I’ll be expanding on this greatly, but, to start, please read one of my previously viral posts, “How to Travel the World with 10 Pounds or Less (Plus: How to Negotiate Convertibles and Luxury Treehouses).”

You’ll notice my “BIT” (Buy It There) method of travel seems to contradict the travel caching above, but they’re actually complementary.

BIT is ideal for traveling to places you’ve never been, or that you seldom visit. If it’s a third-world country where your currency is strong, all the better. Travel caching is for your 2-3 most frequently visited locations.

To get you in the mood for the above “10 pounds” post, here’s your first ultralight travel purchase: Exofficio underwear.

More soon…

###

Do you like this type of post? If so, please let me know in the comments.

Please also share your own tips!

If it seems you dig it, I’ll detail (at least) the following in my next post:

- My latest findings in ultralight packing
– My must-have carry-on items and subscription services
– Tools recommended to me by elite military and hedgefund managers
– My favorite bags
– Apps and other tricks that get me from home to gate in less than 20 minutes

Until then, start thinking up destinations.

Posted on: August 8, 2014.

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241 comments on “How to Never Check Luggage Again

  1. We have practiced BIT quite a bit. My smokin hot wife and I were discussing how much good stuff we have to get rid of to fly back home though. I wish there was a “traveller exchange” or something at a hotel where I could use or leave a few lawn chairs or fishing rods or even the last 4 beers out of the case we didn’t drink. Then the next efficiently packed traveller could enjoy them rather than the cleaning ladies.

    Like

  2. I always wondered about the mailing solution: how do you keep in the costs? E.g. if you travel out of the US does it still work? I recently sent a *small* and *light* package to Canada with UPS and spent $100 to get it arrive the day later. It was $60 to get in there in one week.

    Like

    • Rule of thumb – Never use private delivery companies (UPS, etc) for international shipping. They have to pay for their own planes as well as for international fees. The same package, although not over night, would be about $17 via USPS. I recently found that out myself when trying to ship a box of cereal I purchased for $2. UPS tried to charge me $65 to send it from USA to Canada, USPS was $13.

      Like

  3. I’ll be caching in Saigon (only with friends, as I don’t stay in hotels) as I live out of 50L but only need 15-20L for pure travel.

    Re: the things you’ll include in the next post, I would have just included them in this one. Still interested nevertheless (even though you’ve covered the last bullet before).

    Like

    • Oh,really?? I’m Vietnamese,if you come to Ha Noi,i will be glad to give you some advices :).That’s quite pity because i will go SaiGon in next year,not this time.
      contact me via fb. [Moderator: link removed]

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m in Europe for a month with my husband and 7-year-old daughter right now. And I just discovered e-cubes for packing–– total game-changer. It’s like you have mini organized suitcases, so your suitcase doesn’t turn into a clothing explosion. Great for small spaces. And could be used in place of Dean’s laundry bags or ziplock bags. e-cubes on amazon. [Moderator: link removed]

    Love the reminder to just have a separate toiletry bag for travel. I’m probably living out of my suitcase 60-70% out of the year, so this is super helpful!

    P.S. I am overjoyed that you are focusing on list-building and connecting with your people via inbox. Brilliant!

    Like

  5. If you’re on a surf trip, contacting a local shaper at your destination and buy it there is a good way to avoid excessive baggage fees and get good boards for the local conditions. When you leave you can either sell them or spread some aloha to a lucky local

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  6. I find all your stuff fascinating and love learning more about your thought processes and way you do things. One of the only podcasts I’ll actually listen to FYI.

    So definitely dig it, and looking forward to the next post.

    Like

  7. Making multiple trips to Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Please continue to provide more great tips! Thanks!

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  8. Love these types of posts Tim. When I go overseas now I travel with just a single small backpack – it gives such a good feeling of freedom. And I always end up laughing at people with ginormous backpacks. Exofficio is the BOMB – since you recommended those in your last packing post they are all I’ve used o/s and sometimes at home too.

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  9. I love my Rothco Canvas Messenger bag. It’s light, has just the right set of pockets, plus small zipper compartment for passports, etc., it’s indestructible and costs less than $30. And it’s exactly the one Jack Bauer uses in “24” (minus the machine gun and C4), close enough to Jason Bourne, I guess.

    I still have to pull out my laptop at airports, but it’s in a handy Crumpler sleeve that slips out easily and has a convenient and invisible handle.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The dry cleaners will often hold your clothes for a period of time…which may be negotiable. If you’re returning to a location relatively soon, you can simply drop off your clothes there and pick them up when you return. This works well when you go home on a weekend for example.

    We always thought of our laptops as the most precious thing ever, so we needed to keep them with us at all times. Then I realized that my client’s office (think bank fortress) was a more secure location than with me on an airplane. Instead of dragging my stuff home, I’d leave everything with my client.

    Protip: it’s often cheaper to fly to popular vacation destinations than to fly home. So it was possible to negotiate a trip to Vegas or even LA for a weekend, with hotel, car, meals, etc. because flying home was so expensive (small airport). We’d take a laptop bag with just clothes, jump on a plane Friday night, party all weekend, then fly back on the red eye Sunday night. “Shower” in the crown room or airport bathroom at 6 am Monday morning. Pick up clothes from dry cleaning. I’m not going to lie…we weren’t with much on Monday, but I got some great stories out of those weekends.

    I’m also very much a proponent of buy it when you get there. A trip to CVS or better yet a real grocery and $10 is less hassle to me than even an extra 2 minutes in an airport line. You can also pick up real food that way.

    The biggest improvement in my travel happened when my thinking shifted. When you realize, often out of desperation, that there really are no rules, you begin to see opportunities. Everything becomes negotiable, and by negotiable I mean you pretty much can do whatever you want if you ask nicely…for permission or forgiveness. It also helps to have a very finite sense of what your time is worth so that small errors or expenses become trivial to your decision making.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve also condensed clothing to one “uniform.” Prana stretch Zion pants or shorts in gray, white CC v-necks (yes I know, too), teva mush sandals or inov8s, exofficios. The pranas dry quick, stretch, roll up just below the knee with snaps, and have a belt built in. Made for rock climbing so they are bomber. Small black backpack has been my faithful man purse for the last 6-7 years. Clothing, toiletries, and survival gear stays with me where ever I go.

    Life is just easier when you find exactly what you like and remove everything else.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. While this is country-specific, anyone planning to travel to/around Japan should check out the Takuhaibin delivery services: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html

    They’re couriers that you can set up through your hotel (or yourself, using the airport and train station kiosks) that will deliver your stuff just about anywhere, usually the next day (two days if it’s across the country).

    Sure beats lugging huge bags on the Shinkansen.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Your tips on travel, packing, gear, et cetera are always much appreciated. Yes, I would very much like to see more if you have them.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great tips. I’m going to do what I should have done a long time ago and make a prepacked carry on plus toiletry kit, separate chargers, etc.

    Would be interested to hear the cost estimates and logistics of mailing. It sounds potentially complicated and expensive, especially for overseas trips. A roller carry on is pretty easy to get around.

    Though I can see how at a certain income level it would be useful, especially if an assistant handled shipping plus delivery at both ends. One concern is: what happens if there is a shipping error, or recipient leaves it at a depot, etc.

    P.s. Your system is making me login to wordpress to use my personal email. But I use a password manager and can’t easily access it on my iPad.

    Like

    • I agree with Drew B. I use Icebreaker brand fine Merino Wool socks, underpants, T-shirts. Amazing. You can usually wear for several days because of the wicking properties. Wash in your room at night and they are dry enough to wear by morning.
      I have 2 bags. An AirBoss by Redoxx and a 35 litre Crumpler Backpack.
      To me the key is a simple flexible wardrobe or merino wool, 2 pairs shows max and phone / tiny laptop only. I also have a small manbag which I carry small, heavy stuff.
      With this approach I haven’t checked a bag for 8 years and my best effort was 16 days in SE Asia with 5.5 kilos.
      (so – Tim, I like your thinking but you’re bordering on over-complicating it!)

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Hey Tim,

    Great post again, thank-you.

    I am from Australia and got back only last week from a 10-week holiday (mini-retirement) to Europe with my wife and 2 young boys, and we never checked a bag. Managed to put the business on autopilot for that time with much help from your 4HWW book and this blog too-thanks again.

    My oldest boy is 4-yrs old and the other is 1 next Friday. We did 4 countries, many flights and trains and even had a travel cot with us.

    We avoided the EU baggage fiasco and French train strikes (and French airport strikes and probably many other strikes in France we didn’t even know about) as we could move quickly when needed.

    And it was easy. Only one of our bags was ‘of size’. The rest were well under requirements. We still bought cool stuff for home and clothes we liked, but swapped in and out from our bags using the post as you suggested above. I also now have a cache in Berlin, with a courier set-up to get it anywhere in the EU in days. Hit me up for details Mr Bourne…

    It wasn’t without its challenges though, heck a 4 yr old and 10 month old is challenging without travelling. But we had an amazing time and we are closer and more cohesive as a family because of it.

    There are advantages to travelling with an infant too, and ways to make it easier on them and parents. Our boys were amazing on all legs, better than me in some cases. Tiny people can sleep anywhere.

    An image that comes to mind is our youngest waving at the entire plane whilst standing in his bassinet on the bulkhead on the final leg. When he should be sleeping, and having them all wave back. This went on for 45 minutes, and the entire plane taught him to clap. A skill he uses now at any opportunity.

    All the best
    Ben

    Liked by 1 person

  16. As much as possible, I try to live like a traveler at home. I keep things light and simple, have two pair (one brown, one black) of the same dress shoes, wear one of three designs of dress shirts to work, etc., and seek out low-cost, local “adventures” such as untried restaurants or local historic sites. I also keep an REI folding camp chair in my trunk so I can pull over anytime and have a nice quiet seat in a park and catch up on reading on my phone or just enjoy the day.

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    • Re: women and packing. I live in Asia and my favourite store for cleansers, shampoos, etc. gives out samples in return for recycling their bottles. Whenever I buy new shampoo, etc. I immediately refill the sample bottles to use for travel.
      I bought great women’s clothing in Bali made from ‘Modal’ a cloth (knit, feels like cotton T-shirt) from bamboo. It’s very lightweight and rolls well. (If a plug is OK, the store is ‘Goddess-on-the-go’ in Ubud.) I also use vacuum-able storage bags in my carry-on if I’m staying in a hotel and know I can chase down a chambermaid with a vacuum before checkout.

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      • There are also fold-able ballet flats that come in a pouch and can be used when you need something a little dressier. It could be worth making shoe purchases with travel in mind. Will these pack flat? Is the colour versatile?

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      • Thanks for that tip :) I’ll travel to bali on vacation soon and ubud is the 1st stop! I’ll check it out for sure… esp since I travel a lot on business too

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    • Doesn’t have to be more difficult for us- I travel wearing one pair of shoes, with a pair of flats packed and/or maybe a pair of flip flops if I really think I need them. A change of clothes, a light sweater, and I am pretty much good to go. A small backpack still has room left over for knitting supplies, lots of sunscreen, toiletries, snacks, etc.

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  17. As a documentary filmmaker I’ve learned the art of “ultralight packing” because the camera gear is most important, not my fashion statement, when traveling. You are correct Tim, the Exofficio underwear is the best (Jockey is making similar as well)!

    I’m now able to be in a country for almost three weeks with one pair of pants. 4 pair of underwear, two pair of shorts and 4 shirts, all of the clothing is super lightweight, water wicking and fast drying. I highly recommend Kuhl and Mountain Hardwear clothing. I can basically shove everything, including a toiletry bag, in a large backpack. I still have to check it because of my camera gear I have to take onboard but if I didn’t have the camera gear, I could count it as my second bag and shove it under the seat so I still have one more allowance for the overhead.

    Great stuff Tim, wish I went to the same places most of the time, the travel caching is a great idea!

    Like

  18. To save space and keep organized, I wouldn’t go anywhere without compression/”stuff” sacks in various sizes and colors. Socks and underwear in one, t-shirts in another, ultralight rain jacket in another, one for dirty clothes, one for little electronic stuff. Rolling everything up tight saves tons of space (and who cares if your underwear is wrinkled…roll t-shirts to minimize) and different colors make it very easy to find stuff quickly and to pack/unpack quickly. Take an extra one-liter sack (they weigh nothing) to isolate wet stuff.

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  19. Awesome tips! I’m loving these emails. Although this seems to apply a little more to guys. Girls tend to have more stuff – even when we condense the number of outfits. Any packing tips for girls specifically?

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  20. It’s great to hear about new ideas like travel caching.

    I have been constantly travelling for two years now, staying in each place for a bit, facing different requirements towards gear whenever I come to a new area. I ‘rent’ clothes, buying the things I need at a second hand store/opt shop/charity shop and returning them when I leave. Makes for a bit more variety in your outfit, surprises, the chance to donate at the end and you constantly practice to not get attached to stuff. You do need a bit of time but finding your local shop can be part of your first-day explorarion.

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  21. I’d add wool clothes to your list. Wooly underwear, on amazon, is awesome and never smells. Wool and Prince shirts look good and can be written multiple times, with no smell or wrinkles. Ultralight gets lighter!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I love the giraffe kissing pic–that place is about 10 miles from where I live in Nairobi.

    Great tip on the beans for breakfast. I’m a huge breakfast eater and I almost die when I’m travelling and can’t get fiber and protein when I wake up.

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  23. Have not done much travelling in my life but it is in my short term plans and these tips are brilliant! Thanks Tim and keep them coming. … Kerry

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  24. I’ve traveled and lived exclusively out of a carry-on for about four years now. And I’ve learned many of these strategies the hard way. Now I can attach names to them. I have caches all over. A tent & survival gear in Colorado. Warm summer gear in AZ. Sweatshirts and jackets in Chicago. Etc… It’s really been helpful.

    But I love the shipping of Ziploc bags. That is pure genius! I use packing cubes to keep my stuff wrinkle-free and fresh. And this is a natural extension of them. Now maybe I’ll be able to transcend the carry on by sending the required outfits ahead of me.

    Great post, Tim!

    Like

  25. TIM, PLEASE FIX YOUR NEWsLETTER EMAIL DESIGN. ITS SO HARD TO READ IN THE GREY BACKGROUND WITH BLACK TEXT – MY EYES HURT. Thanks for your attention

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  26. It’s great to hear about new ideas like travel caching, pretty flash.

    I have been travelling constantly for the last 2 years, staying in each place for a while, facing different requirements towards gear wherever I go. I started ‘renting’ clothes and tools, buying good but cheap things at second hand stores/opt shops/charity shops and returning them upon departure. Makes for a bit more variety and surprises in your outfits, you can blend in better, you get the chance to donate at the end and you can make the search for your local shop it part of your first-day excursion. Takes some time and patience, but it’s part of the experience.

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  27. Awesome tips! I do the digital nomad thing half the year and use a lot of these. I would recommend using MakeSpace for your urban caching. I had to fly in to a friends wedding in NYC direct from Bali so I made a 007 Go Box with my pressed tux, socks, cuff links … I had it delivered to my hotel from their app. You would love it.

    [Moderator: link removed]

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  28. I have worn a huge overcoat, even in hot climates and stuffed it full rolled up socks, underpants, in fact, anything allowed as carry on. The massive weight is not part of your carry-on allowance. So you can travel without checked luggage. Once through the passport control and security, simply take off the coat. Then stow it in the overhead locket once on board.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Thanks for another great post, Tim. The big key is thoughtful planning.

    This past winter my wife and I took a week long ski trip to Utah and brought our 1 year old son – without checking any bags.

    We did this by finding out that there are places that rent out any imaginable baby gear all over the country, obviously cheaper than checking it (we got a stroller, portable crib, high chair, and box of toys for about $150 for a week.)

    Like

  30. Great post! A warning to fellow travelers based on my experiences around the world. “Buy it There” generally works well for most things, but electronics are the main exception I have found. Those of us in the U.S. are spoiled by Amazon’s low prices, great selection, and fast shipping. Trying to track down a specific external HDD, or a new lens for your SLR while abroad can be time-consuming and expensive, especially compared with what you are used to paying at home.

    There are services out there that will allow you to buy something from Amazon (or any other online store), ship it to their U.S. address, and then they will ship the items to you in another country (whether you live there full-time, or you are just visiting). They can also combine multiple packages into a single shipment for you. I sent myself some electronics from Amazon to Singapore via ‘HopShopGo’ and it worked really well. I had already been away from home for several months, and I had built up a list of gadgets that I wanted to have with me, and the savings by buying from Amazon more than made up for the shipping fees.

    That said, some other countries can’t fathom the idea that you might want to ship something to yourself. You can bring whatever you want in your suitcase, and no one cares, but if it comes in via FedEx, they have 10,000 questions and fees. I broke my Kindle screen while traveling, and had a replacement sent to me in Bosnia. The courier wouldn’t deliver it to my hotel, because it needed to clear customs. So I got in a taxi and I went to the DHL office, but they still wouldn’t release my package (heh). Instead, a driver drove me to the secure, cargo area of the airport where I had to meet with the Bosnian customs inspector and explain what this was, and swear that it wouldn’t be sold in the country, and that I would take it with me when I left. They put a note in my passport including the serial number of the device, so that, when I was leaving, they could make sure I actually had it with me (no one bothered checking).

    Being stubborn, I tried this again in Turkey, and had a few things shipped from the U.S. to my apartment in Istanbul. This time they wanted me to pay more in customs duties and third-party clearance fees than the entire shipment was worth, so I never even collected my package.

    Bottom line — if you absolutely need some gadget / computer accessory, bring it with you. If not, do without. Minimalism wins again.

    Like

  31. While on the road some of the expensive things to get are nonalcoholic drinks and to get them cold is even harder to do. Solution: go find a cheap low cost store or even a used items store, purchase a low cost styrofoam chest, go to a huge grocery , low cost foods outlet , get a flat of bottled water, drinks of your choice, and bags of ice. Throw it in your rental car and voila, instant refreshment at low cost. Best thing is, you can dispose of it when you leave. No need to carry it back home !

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  32. I travel a lot for work, but mostly international. I NEVER check luggage, but I have a few other methods I use. The main one, is that I bring one suit, and I wear it on the plane. It gets less wrinkled and takes up less space, and I can usually get the flight attendant to put my jacket in the closet (so it’s hanging rather than overhead). With one shirt/suit combo, but a few additions in the suitcase (tie/suspenders/vest) it’s quite versatile. The carry-on bag basically carries my toiletries (never unpacked), running clothes/shoes, and my socks and undies. I’ve even gotten my wife to do that same, where we can go four days with one bag shared between us.

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  33. Great ideas. My wife came up with a great ravel idea for saving money on cold drinks . You purchase a cheap styrofoam chest at a local low cost store, stock it with bottled water or drinks and a bag of ice. Throw it in back of your rental car for all day cool drinks and use it in your hotel room if you don’t have a frig . Works great. You just dispose of it when you leave or give donate it to the local charity.

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  34. Seriously when I received your “re-Introductory” email I thought -UGH, one more email to delete! But then this arrived this morning & I LOVED the quick and easy info style! Keep it up Tim!

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  35. Land’s End sells 100% polyester t-shirts and polo shirts that have been treated with an anti-microbial agent to ward off odor. They can be washed in a sink and dried overnight–or less. Even if you don’t wash it, usually whatever body odor is there at the end of the day is gone by morning. And they are 100% wrinkle-proof.

    Also, I went with an all-black wardrobe years ago. Saves time, effort, money, and I can wear the same thing everyday and no one knows (not that I care much about what people think about my clothes).

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  36. Newest and best bag on the market: Minaal carry on. Kickstarted this year to over $300k, company founded by some seriously awesome and mega-traveling good guys from NZ Jimmy and Doug.

    Worth checking out. http://www.minaal.com/

    PS I’m not one of them or their company. Just a super satisfied customer.

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  37. I like your new blogs with lots of details, how to etc. Some of it I can use but some is not my style. Will share when the opportunity arrises! Thanx

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  38. enjoyed it, but you should be kicked out of the travelers’ union for suggesting cacheing 4 pairs of shoes – the biggest space wasters in travel. 1 pair of dress shoes for bu\siness and one pair of athletic/hiking shoes max. going a week without working out is usually good for the body and soul anyway.

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  39. After a magical weekend getaway to New York City was ruined by lost luggage, I learned never to check a bag again if I could help it. (Sometimes I have to lug the company’s A/V equipment for my speaking gigs, but I’m trying to find a way around that, too.) My light-packing method is like borrowing books from a library. Before leaving on my trip, I scope out the thrift stores and charity shops near my hotel, and confirm that the hotel has laundry service or a guest laundry. When I arrive at my destination–usually the day before I have to speak–I check into my hotel and go shopping! I love thrifting anyway, so this is part of the fun/adventure of traveling for me.

    I pack shoes (2 pairs neutral dressy, 1 seasonal) in my carry-on, I wear a pair of casual shoes and a casual disposable outfit to the airport. I pack enough undies for the trip, 1 dressy multi-purpose outfit (in case I don’t have time to shop when I get there), and I go thrifting to get anything else I need. I launder everything at the hotel (or send it out) and I’m all set for my stay, which is usually 2 to 4 days in a given city. When I’m packing for home, I bring only what fits into my carry-on. Anything that doesn’t fit is laundered again and donated back to a local charity (including, sometimes, the disposable casual clothes I wore to the airport, or a pair of shoes I brought with me).

    If you can’t find what you need at the thrift shop, you always have the option of going retail, but I’ve never had to. I’ve always found amazing outfits in every city where I’ve tried this. And it’s crazy cheap. I can usually buy and launder 4 days’ worth of clothes for less than the cost of checking a bag. If you have overflow clothing you want to keep, you can mail it back to yourself. Or you can buy a disposable gym bag at the thrift store, and check it on the way home. (I don’t mind checking a bag on the way home, when it won’t ruin my trip if it’s lost or delayed.)

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  40. Are Indian convenience foods such as those offered by MTR available in the US? It’s possible to heat up the pouches in the boiling water of a hotel-provided electric kettle. I love the paneer korma.

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  41. Great post. Thanks for these very useful tips. I have been keeping a travel-only toiletry kit for some time, and I’ve recommended shipping instead of carrying to friends, but, as usual, you take things up to a different level. Here’s another tip: since I live in a coastal city with no public transportation to speak of, and so I need to drive, I carry a few things in my car — including toiletries and a bathing suit. That way I’m always ready for the beach.

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  42. Earth stickers [photos/pictures of planet from space] as “currency,” a convenient/universal way to say “Thanks” wherever you go. Lightweight, small, appreciated in situations abroad where you want to give them something but awkward/offensive to pull out cash. “EarthSeals” — 200-300, for $30, by donation, few ounces.

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  43. When traveling in Japan I use a 1/2 shipping method. I usually bring my bag and a small backpack with me. When I get to my destination I drop off my bag and carry around backpack with the usual tech stuff and necessary goods. I usually spend a week or two traveling around that area (Tokyo for example) and leave my bag where I am staying. When I am done I get the hotel staff to send it to my house via Kuroneko (Black Cat which is kinda like UPS except better). I usually take the slow way home and without my bag I am free to go exploring with no hassle!!

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  44. A great post Tim full of good ideas. I found you can create a lot more space in a bag by putting sets of clothes or food/liquids in a ziplock type bag and then vacuum packing them

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  45. At what hotel do you stay in NYC? If they had wanted to charge you for storage, would you have paid? How often are you at that hotel?

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  46. I enjoyed the post. Please continue to send them. I’m in the USAF and travel when I get the chance so post like this make my life more wonderful. Thanks. Hope to hear from you soon.

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  47. I love your posts! Keep them coming. U especially like hearing about what you eat when you’re traveling – fascinating u eat canned food. One of the things I worry most about is the cost of food abroad and also getting sick from good abroad. Could you do a post on what to do in energies abroad? I’m 25 yr old woman FYI. I’m planning a trip in the next year.

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  48. Ultra-light packing seems to me to be an extension of how I live at home. I forget the author of this quote, but “to be enlightened, one must travel light”. Keeping too much crap at home is just as burdensome as taking too much on a trip; but because it’s at home, we get used to it.

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  49. Great post, that will come in handy for when I’m jet setting. Dean Jackson was a mentor of mine and is the resident “guru” in marketing for my industry. Glad to see that you referenced him.

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  50. Great post. Back to hacker Tim. Cool. About the post: I travel weakly to same city but because of country’s local security idiosyncrasy cashing is not an option, but have been using a set of gym Fivefingers and toiletries just for travel and never leave my carry-on. Also replenish my energy bars stack after travel so I don’t have to cheat a meal if it comes to that.

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  51. Big Fan of this…I got 9 days in puerto rico in a carry on…

    I still don’t think its too efficent – slipped into my old ways, currently in an Airport and had to check luggage.

    To be honest…I am more concerned about carrying the thing than price, I feel wayyy better about life if I only have a bag

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  52. Great post! Yes please, more tricks on travel optimization! What do you do with food while travelling? Do you prep meals to bring with you in your carry-on (restrictions?) or just bring supplements/eat at airport restaurants? I find myself starving while travelling due to lack of healthy alternatives and rigor to prep.

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    • personally I find Eofficio women’s underwear to be very itchy – and not my style either – I have one pair of marino wool underpants that are just great – probaly why the company stopped making them! but I found some polyester ones that are comfortable and dry easily. Tougher for women than men unless you want to wear a thong – which I hate.

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  53. As usual, what more can we say? Tim lives what he writes about. There is rarely a stone unturned. Brilliant insights and it’s-obvious-reminders from someone who lives just ahead of the wave and graciously shares his wake for us to follow.

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  54. Great post!

    Traveling for the military I mailed stuff home all the time. I still have the black plastic footlockers. I got the idea to use these because they were labeled “with in USPO maximum size standards.” I have used them for storage and when it is time to move I just load them up and trough them in the truck. I have also mailed my guitar back and forth across the world.

    Just got back from a month long trip to Guanajuato MX and only had my carry ons. Although I did check it because of pocket knives and muti-tool.

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  55. You asked us to voice our opinion on this content in relation to the new email marketing direction. Well here it is: you gave two examples of the high quality content you will start to deliver, one was how to swim and the other how to start a $1m business in a week. I’m sure the type of content in this post is very valuable to some of your fans, but you will learn that effective email marketing is a two way street. We all put up with the emails about the podcasts because when you produce gold, it’s better than good, it makes us better people for having read it. You want to pay homage to your neglected email list, work on producing more gold, and know when you’re settling for less. That prelaunchr post is about to help me land me the marketing job of my dreams, and that’s the definition of providing true unquestionable value to your readership. Thanks for the gold!

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  56. I love travel related tips and posts. I am the worst at taking too many things and always coming back with things I didn’t use.

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  57. Really enjoyed this article I find it very interesting to hear from people like you who think at things from a different angle, most informative keep this sort of material coming I learnt loads from it. Thanks.

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  58. Mailing stuff back was a huge revelation when I was introduced to it. Dirty laundry makes for excellent packing material. I also wear pretty much all black, all the time. That way, I don’t have to make any decisions in the morning about what goes with what. I refer to it as “Garanimals for adults.”

    In the travel sanity arena, I’ve also developed a Sanity Shortlist of the stuff that is not BIT friendly, either because of availability or cost. This so when I have that insane last minute “but what if I only *hallucinated* that I packed it?” moment before pulling out of the garage, I can quickly lay hands upon those things and assure my fevered brain that I have them. Examples: glasses and spare contact lenses (prescription + without corrective lenses I would get lost in a hotel room bathroom) and laptop power cord (Want to prioritize your work with ruthless efficiency? Only give yourself one full battery charge to do your stuff. I found this out the hard way.).

    P.S. Tim, I bet you never get sick of how secret agent it is to show up at a hotel room and have a trunk with your name on it waiting for you. Does it have a palmprint or retinal scanner to open it? Because it really should. Just because.

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  59. With my head office in WI planning cache items there, but following previous tips I have reduced my travel to a carry on and it makes a huge difference. My luggage is never lost, I make sure to simply pack less, and honestly it’s less stress.

    Would like to see people’s favorite bags, currently using the Timbuk2 duffel and a small Jack Spade messenger but looking at the Minaal bag.

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  60. If Tim Ferriss never wants to get cray-cray again, Tim shouldn’t use the term. ;-) Loved the post and am looking forward to the next one since I’m attending the Air Guitar World Championships in Finland this month. The never-unpacked toiletry bag idea was a godsend for me a few years ago. Regarding the comment about women’s shoes…the trick there is flesh-colored shoes in a few different styles (sandals, flats, heels). <3

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