Slobodanka Graham


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[Podcast: Episode 7] Pack and travel like a man

[Podcast: Episode 7] Pack and travel like a man

Pack and travel like a man

James and I caught up to talk light travel. He and his partner Amy run Mint Content, an IT content writing and strategy business. They've lived in Thailand and work in Australia, Singapore and Europe. I wanted to find out how James manages his wardrobe, packing and carry on bag.

Listen to us as we ramble on about the pleasures of light travel.

We are sitting at the National Library of Australia in the beautiful Bookplate Café and I am joined by James, master content strategist, business owner and world traveller. So welcome James, lovely to have you here today.

James: Thank you very much, thank you very much, great to be here.

Q: I know you are light traveller, you once sent me a photo of your bag. What prompted you to travel like this?

James: So I first started travelling light in about 2009 on a trip to Europe and I just had a backpack a very small probably 20 litre backpack and I found that I was just so nimble, able to get through airport super quickly, and when my clothes would get sort of get dirty or whatever I would just throw my t-shirts away and buy new t-shirts in whatever country I was at and I found it was such an efficient way to travel. So easy, saved me hours inside airports and it was just the way to go with it.

So when we talk about travelling light are we talking just about carry on that you take onto the plane with you?

James: Correct that’s right. So I basically refused to travel with any sort of checked baggage nowadays.

Q: So how do you decide what to take with you?

James: I have sort of a system basically of what I pack. It’s kind of changed over the years from early days of just kind of packing a bunch of t-shirts and shorts and things like that and then for the summer months and then figuring out ways to keep it confined to a small bag or small carry wheel on case that I have nowadays and it’s kind of just evolved from there to sort of get cleverer and cleverer with as much stuff that’s actually useful to me on a trip, so it’s all necessity I think.

James' carry on bag - for one year's worth of travel!   

James' carry on bag - for one year's worth of travel!


Q: Yeah have you got a packing list? Do you use a packing list?

James: I do, I generally do, yeah that’s right.

Can you share it with us

For sure.

I will add to the post, if you don’t mind, sharing that with the Planepack readers because I think they really would like to see what that might be.

James: For sure, for sure, happy to do that.

Q: I know that you have been overseas for quite a long time but if you were to travel with a carry on bag like this, how long do you normally travel for?

James: So in terms of duration?


James: So the trips I take vary usually I guess the most recent long trip was almost a year.

Amazing with just one carry on bag?

James: That’s right, that’s right, so I guess I have a bit of, I kind of would pack a standard amount of luggage and then when clothes and things like that deteriorate I will just replace inside a country there. So I have kind of a sort of disposable attitude to a lot of the stuff that I pack I guess yeah.

Yes I think that’s a good idea, you don’t have to then travel with your best outfits

James: Exactly.

You travel with something that you dispense, get rid of quite easily

James: And there is all sorts of good, interesting sort of anti-bacterial fibres and stuff like that like kind of shirts and stuff made of microfiber that pack up really tightly.

Very light.

James: Very light, yeah, you know moisture off, things like that.

Really useful.

James: Really useful sort of stuff I think Tim Ferriss who most people are aware of, he has got a good series of some packing light and yeah I think there is a lot of products and a lot of t-shirts sort of fabrics and all of that sort of thing that he mentions in there that are really good.

That’s right.

James: Interested in the concept.

It’s definitely the contents of your bag that make the difference.

James: Yeah, yeah.

Q: So what does your partner think of this? Does she travel equally lightly?

James: She travels not as light as me but she has definitely come around to the concept of trying to get through airports and carries little as possible.

Does she travel with carry on only as well?

James: She does mostly. Occasionally I think she may have to check a bag or too if there is presents or things like that, that she is bringing back but probably 80% of the time it’s yeah.

You can post those back as well?

James: That’s right and we have done that too. I think that’s a great thing to use as well if you can.

So you have travelled extensively in Asia?

James: Yup.

Q: Would you like to share perhaps some anecdote with us or tells us a little bit about what your travels were like, what did you like most?

James: Sure, well I have been spending a lot of time in Thailand, in the city of Chang Mai. It’s been great for building a business because the cost of living is so low. Now anecdotes-wise I am not sure if I have one on hand but…

What’s it like? Is it culturally different in terms of the things that you carry with you or the things that you might wear?

James: I guess for me it’s probably because it’s so warm there all year around that allows you to pack even lighter especially as a man I think you can get away with packing a lot less than a lady who have may to pack sort of hairdryers and I think men sort of generally do have an easier time with packing light.

Good, that’s great, thanks.

James: No worries.

Q: So what’s your favourite bag? You mentioned that you used to backpack but now you have a roll on.

James: I have upgraded to a roll on small wheelie on a hard case bag.

Yes, yes.

James: So that’s really good. I think it’s good to travel with a hard case. Some way to protect it from just the elements and it gives the actual bag structure so you can organise it well I think.

Are you able to stay under that kind of 7 kg limit which is mostly what you carry on?

James: Yeah generally yes, probably the heaviest thing that I carry with me is a laptop that I will probably, I usually keep that you know in a laptop bag with me.

Separately, so that’s your additional item?

James: That’s right.

Because most airlines allow you to travel with one small bag.

James: Exactly.

It will be yours?

James: That’s right, I have also found too that if your bag does go over the limit it depends on the airline but if your bag does ago over the limit they are often amenable to a bit of negotiation and trying you know, if you can sweet talk out of a fine or whatever the extra charges that they put on.

They do charge quite a lot?

James: They do, especially airlines like Jetstar.

Jetstar, that’s right, if you buy additional luggage you need to decide at the beginning that you want to carry on but my advice is always to check the small print before you fly.

James: Totally.

Q: So what’s your advice for someone who may be considering traveling light?

James: My advice would be to think of your packing or think of what you take as just the necessities I suppose. So think about what your week or something looks inside a foreign country and how often you will be able to wash your clothes for example things like that and just be very pragmatic, don’t take anything that’s . . .


James: Yeah you need that minimalistic sort of lean traveller mindset to be able to do it, so then it’s so much easier, it’s so worth it.

It is so worth it.

Q: So what’s your top tip for somebody who wants to travel light?

James: Good question, don’t be afraid to throw away clothes when they . . .

Wear out?

James: When you need to, that’s right, or put them in a charity bin, if there is one there to make your life easier I suppose.

That’s great, thanks James, it’s been wonderful talking to you.

James: No worries.

Thank you so much for your insights as a man traveling light, thanks.

James: No problem.

Mint Content: IT writing, strategy and marketing

Tim Ferris: how to travel light




Inside India: travelling light

Inside India: travelling light

Light and sound travels: headphones + audiobooks = comfort

Light and sound travels: headphones + audiobooks = comfort