No Luggage: What To Pack When You’re Packing Nothing

No Luggage: What To Pack When You’re Packing Nothing

For next week’s No Luggage challenge, I can’t pack anything that won’t fit in my pockets. So what makes the cut?

The clothes

Van Heusen Performa suit jacket and pants, fast-drying T-shirt, fast-drying underwear, fast-drying socks, shoes
When I first had this idea, I figured I’d just wear go with the same combination of T-shirt, jeans and jacket (plus underclothes and footwear) which I used for Hand Luggage Only. The main difference is I needed to be sure that the shirt, undies and socks would dry overnight after hand washing. I had three outfits during HLO, so if something wasn’t dry the next day, I could throw it in the suitcase and continue drying it that night. Can’t do that this time around.

To ensure my gear would be continuously wearable, I ended up hitting camping supply stores for clothes designed to dry quickly when roaming through wet glades or rivers or whatever it is that people do when they voluntarily decide to stay in tents. (No, I’m not a camping fan.) I picked these up a few weeks ago, so I could do test runs and make sure they all did what they said on the label. Everything went fine, but I’m still in sticker shock over the prices of this stuff. When you’re used to buying your socks at Kmart, paying $35 for two pairs seems fairly extreme.

The Van Heusen suit was a pretty late addition to the plan — so late in fact that it only got delivered yesterday. The key selling point for the Performa range is that it is crush-resistant, so wearing it for a week will be a pretty good test of that. And wearing a suit (albeit with a dark T-shirt rather than a collared shirt) means that I’ll look professional — arguably more professional than I usually look.

Tech gear

BlackBerry Torch, charger, headphones, case
All pretty self-explanatory. The Torch is utterly essential, since it's where I'll get all my work done. The SIM in it is from Optus, though I'll probably make use of Wi-Fi when I'm in airports and other locations.

The headphones enable music (and longer phone calls). The case offers protection, and doesn't really change the bulk of the device in my pocket.

Personal hygiene

Deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, shave stick
Hotels will supply me with soap and shampoo (which will also double for clothes washing), so what I need to pack is the stuff they don't offer. The toothbrush is from an airline amenities bag, so it's not as long as a regular model.

The razor and shave stick are somewhat indulgences. I could not shave for a week, but I can't stand the feeling. Initially, I figured I'd just take the razor and use soap, but I know from experience, the shave stick is more effective, and it doesn't noticeably change the bulk in that pocket.

Other stuff

Passport, pencil, wallet, keys
I don't have a driver's licence, so a passport is my most effective ID. Some hotels and airlines get fussy about this stuff, and it's hard for me to break the habit of always having a passport with me. (Plus it gives me practice if I decide to try an international version of this.)

Wallet is self-explanatory, though I've stripped it of any non-essential cards. The pencil is for taking notes when I can't use the BlackBerry during take-off and landing, and to sate my Sudoku addiction with any newspapers lying around the place. The keys are so I can get back into my house at the end of the week!

Fitting it all in

I did a test run last night to see how it all fitted together, and this seems like the optimum arrangement to begin with:

Jacket inside left-side pocket has the BlackBerry, headphones and passport (in a plastic wallet for protection).

Jacket inside right-side pocket has the wallet and keys (on a ring with no tag).

Pants left-side pocket has the "washbag" gear, stored in two plastic sandwich bags. I'd originally wanted them all in one bag (less stuff to empty out at airports), but the two-bag approach works better for actually fitting in my pocket.

Pants right-side pocket has the adaptor. I normally keep my wallet in this pocket, but the bulk of the adaptor is less obvious down here than in the jacket.

So my bags aren't packed and I'm ready to go. Roll on Monday!

For the No Luggage experiment, Angus Kidman is doing his normal job while travelling Australia for a week with not much more than a BlackBerry. There will be frequent showers.


  • Whilst safety razors, as shown in your picture, are exempt from the list of prohibited items for carry-on, in practice many screening points will confiscate them.

  • Wow, if you were my boyfriend, I would think you were either anal or a bit over the top or both. Seriously, is this considered healthy? What’s wrong with a tiny carry on bag? Are you trying to promote the use of zip lock bags? I don’t get all this. It’s just a little creepy.

    • Having already travelled with just a carry-on bag, I wanted to try an entirely different experience. People often already find me creepy, so I don’t expect this to change perceptions overall 🙂

    • It’s about traveling lighter, being more mobile. I think this is great, not ‘anal’. I’ve used a similar setup before, but only for 2 nights at a time, with a full suit, and my Motorola XT720 instead of a blackberry. Will be interesting to see how this turns out Angus, good luck.

      • You and Angus are made for each other then. Anal or not, you’re both a bit weird – in a good way! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear about this fad when it appears on Today Tonight and gets its own Facebook page.

    • It is handy for when the heat is on. Sometimes you can’t get back to the safe house and collect your bag, and carrying a bag everywhere tends to attract the attention of the law. Great post !

  • Gina, if I was your boyfriend, I’d be trying to get as far away as fast as possible as well. It’s a harmless experiment building on a previous hand luggage only experiment.
    Like De Niro’s character says in Heat, “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat.”

    • I’d thought of that, but not all hotels supply conditioner (and shampoo isn’t quite the same in this respect). It’s definitely the item most likely to get dumped if I’m feeling my pockets are overcrowded.

      • I tried shaving oil pre-HLO for testing purposes and found it less effective – plenty of people have praised it, so I’m guessing maybe it doesn’t play nice with my skin type.

    • Short answer: Because one razor will last me all week. Unless they get confiscated by airport security every day and I have to buy new ones, of course.

  • You should be able to get smaller roll on deodorant as well, rexona makes it I think.

    Save a little room in the pockets so shave stick doesn’t need to get removed.

    Also if you know you are going to be gone for only say a week. You should be able to ration the toothpaste into smaller container.

    • I prefer speed stick for day-to-day use anyway as it happens. The Rexona roll-ons are smaller, but thicker — the shape of the current one is actually pretty pocket friendly.

      Toothpaste — partly reflects that it’ll get smaller anyway, while travel-sized ones don’t have _enough_ for a week. Also, you ever tried transferring toothpaste between containers?

  • What are the rules for buying things during the experiment? Obviously you’ll buy all food and replace anything, and you’ve mentioned you’ll use free hotel stuff/any newspapers lying around, but does that stretch into buying books/magazines/things you didn’t realise you’d need?

    • The fundamental rule is: I can’t keep anything. So I could buy a newspaper (or grab one in a lounge, more likely), but I won’t take anything with me.

      If I realise something is so essential I need it permanently, I’ll definitely note that.

      • How about a mechanical pencil? All the benefits of a pencil (guaranteed to write, etc) and no need for a sharpener. I used to carry one with a notepad wherever I went. Actually, that was one that I made for the pad, so that it would be smaller. Constructed it out of a gel pen’s ink tube and the pencil mechanism from a 3-in-1 Bic pen, then stuck it in a holder stapled to the side of the notepad 😛

  • Good luck with it Gus, should be interesting! Keep us posted on how you find airport security and any queries that come about from airline staff in regard the the experiment!

    In regard to the passport, would it not have made more sense to have gotten a NSW Photo Card ( card from the RTA instead? Photo cards offer the same accepted level of identification as a normal state drivers licence, and are smaller and can be ported in your wallet unlike a passport. As its in your wallet, I think it may even be less likely to be lost.

    • Good point. That would be more minimal.

      That said, the passport doesn’t exactly prevent me carrying anything else (it fits well in the suit pocket, and probably won’t leave there all week unless a hotel demands it).

      • I was going to argue in my post that using a photo card rather than a passport would free up a pocket for something else, but the general approach seems to be “take as little as possible” rather than “take as much as possible that can be carried on a person”.

  • I like the idea of being in a suit and everything being precisely located in various pockets, stripped down to the very essentials for a week of work. The suit ties it all together for a professional look. One other thing I’ve always wondered is why hotels don’t supply toothbrush and toothpaste. Asian hotels tend to supply these.

    • @Mark: I didn’t want to do the Scottevest thing as (a) it’s been done a bit and (b) it removes the professional focus – the point is not just minimal travel, but minimal travel while still working.

    • If I bought a scarf, I’d either give it to charity or wear it non-stop for the rest of the week. But it’s more likely I’d just suck up being cold – I grew up on the Northern Tablelands so I’ve had some practice.

  • This is actually extremely interesting. Being the mobile type myself, I like to know the minimum amount of stuff I can keep in a car kit or by the front door to grab on the way to the airport if I need to be elsewhere on short notice, yet still look professional once I get there.

    • In my experience, that only applies at the pricier end of the market, and I’m not staying in that kind of place much. I know Formule1 doesn’t supply toothbrushes. Moreover, it seems wasteful to go through six toothbrushes in a week when I don’t need to.

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