Travel Inventory

The other day, I wondered how many things I’m carrying as I travel. My bet is the number of items is fewer than 100, but I wasn’t sure. As a minimalist, I prefer to travel as light as I can and I want to share with you the things I’m carrying at this moment.

Figure 1: Everything my backpack can hold

The hat was bought in Hawaii due to the recommendations from two people whom I had met. They warned me to get a hat to protect my head against the hot summer sun. So I listened.

I keep a plastic bag handy to carry things when I do grocery shopping. It has saved me a few yens, and the environment.

I bought a metal water bottle after seeing one selling for less than $10 in Himeji. My old water bottle was leaking, hard to clean, and made from plastic. I like this one much better since it's simpler made and can maintain a cooler temperature if the water is cold enough.

All these items can fit into the 22 liter backpack. I'm not sure how much it weighs now, but at the Honolulu Airport it weighed at 6.6 kg, or 14.5 pounds.

Figure 2: Clothing

This picture has all the clothing I'm carrying and they all fit in the clothing bag. There are three sets of clothing, including the one I'm wearing. I had to buy a pair of shorts in Hawaii since I didn't want to wear my swim trunks as regular shorts.

Originally, I packed two pairs of pants. I sent one home after realizing that having two is redundant due to the summer heat. I also sent back a set of clothing to cut down on the weight.

I bought a white undershirt at a 7 Eleven in Kyoto because I needed to wear something when I did my laundry. I didn't want to be bare-chested.

I usually do laundry every 7 to 10 days depending on how sweaty I get. The good thing is that my shirts and socks are made from wool, which is more breathable and stinks less than cotton.

Figure 3: Toiletries and Medicine

This toiletry bag contains more things than I need. For example, I never used the first aid kit and I rarely used the bug repellent and bug spray. The anti-itch eye drops for my allergies is useless since it's not spring anymore. I take my vitamins on an inconsistent basis. I have two soap bars, though the one in the case is almost gone. There are two extra tooth brushes (the other I got recently so it's not pictured) that were from two guest houses. I will use them as soon as the current one is done. The laundry leaves that I bought at the REI in Seattle is useless, too, since I don't wash my clothes by hand in Japan, though I might use them in other countries. I don't use sunblock anymore, though it might come handy in Southeast Asia if it's too hot there. The rest of the items, such as medicine, tooth paste, tooth brush, nail clippers, and razor I use on a regular basis.

Figure 4: Electronics and Others

These items go into the front pocket of my backpack, with the passport and the earbuds go into the outer pocket.

I took out the case for my phone since my phone gets hot during the day when I walk around too much. I think a "naked" phone will run cooler, but I'm not sure.

I really don't need that many business cards since I'm not meeting as many people as I thought. Most travelers share their Instagram account or WhatsApp with me.

I also have an extra USB-C cord because the one I'm currently using will most likely break since it's six years old and is held with black electrical tape.

I bought an inflatable travel pillow at the REI in Seattle and only used it a couple of times. I actually think it has a leak now. I'll have to test it out again.

The heaviest item here is the battery bank. I only use it to charge the Kindle. I didn't use it for any emergencies where I couldn't find an outlet as I'm only going to cities, not rural towns.

I still haven't used the outlet convertor since Japan uses two prong outlets like the US. Not sure what they use in Southeast Asia.

I have a Tile Tracker in my backpack in case the backpack gets stolen or lost, though I highly doubt it'll happen.

The combination lock is useful for storage lockers in hostels, but I never felt a hostel is unsafe. Some hostels even provide a locker and a lock to use. Nonetheless, it's good to carry a lock.

I bought a small gift in Kyoto. I was going to send it home, but it's so small that I decided to simply carry it with me, perhaps to act as a lucky charm. 

Figure 5: Recently purchased

I bought these two items in the past couple of days. The packable parka is from Uniqlo. I bought it since I thought it was going to rain that day, but it didn't.

The other item is a wallet that can hold bigger bills since Japanese bills are larger than US bills. This wallet also has a zippered compartment for coins, which I like. However, I would need to lose a lot of change for it to justify the cost of this wallet.

To conclude, I actually regret buying the parka and perhaps even the wallet. They just add more to the things I carry. Now I have to carry my old wallet in my backpack.

There are also things I shouldn't have brought, such as some items in the toiletry bag. A general rule is this: If I don't use the item at least 80% of the time then I don't need to carry it. This is known as the Pareto Principle.

Overall, I have about 80 items in total, not counting each Q-tip and every business card. I use about 85% of the things I carry on a regular basis and 10% I use off and on. The other 5% of things... Well, they provide a peace of mind I suppose.


  1. I have questions. Mainly: how do you get away with wearing socks and underwear 2-3x before washing?

    1. I just do. Because they are not cotton. My socks are wool and the boxer briefs are by a brand called Exofficio. The T-shirts that I wear are also merino wool. Unless I did something that got me really dirty I usually change my clothing every 3 days.

    2. That makes sense with the wool, it’s great stuff. You also have the advantage of magical Asian powers; not sweating a lot and somehow not having body odor!


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