At the request of several of my male readers—because apparently, this isn’t a female-only space (who knew?)—I’ve asked my other half, SVV, to step in and share his packing list, a post that’s been in the making for, oh, a year now since our last trip to Europe. Though—surprise!—we’re actually headed overseas in just over a month for a project in Sweden, so it’s timely (again) nevertheless.
Toughing it out in a completely foreign situation with some small comforts of home stashed away is the best way to travel, in my opinion. I know folks who carry less than I do, choosing to immerse themselves in the temporal strata of their situation with little more than the body and soul and a little bit of fabric.
I treat each plane ride or road trip like I’m heading into the dizzy heights of Desolation Wilderness, without a store in sight, and keep my gear to the basics because you just never know when you’ll need to be stripped down to what you can sprint with—and it works. I don’t lose things while on a trip because of my current set up, and I always know where everything is located.
I need fundamentals, money and a plan to get the hell out of town if the going gets rough. Everything else is gravy.
There’s a lack of male-oriented packing posts out there, probably because many dudes think they just need some deodorant, sunglasses and a stuff sack for loose underwear to take a three-week trip across Europe. And while that may be true while you are in your 20s, my friends, if you want to honor the people around you and not stink up the hotel or bar in your 30s or 40s (and beyond), it’s better to lay out essentials before the trip and keep things tight.
The first thing I always try to do is limit my important items to a single rolling bag, ideally carry-on sized.
My computer, wallet, sunglasses, passport, magazines and/or Kindle all go in my personal item—a shoulder bag, this weathered Frye bag being my go-to—as do a car charger, wall charger, a couple micro-USBs, computer charger, hat, pen and pencil, and my iPhone.
For day wear, non-threatening T-shirts (with a Disney character or two for color), Gap neutrals without a logo, or some of my own designs are what I prefer to roll up and pack. I’m picky about the T-shirts that I wear so this is a personal choice. If you’re planning on taking plenty of pictures with friends and/or family while on vacation, being neutral in your clothing choices (both colors and design) is a nice touch for mom’s mantle.
And if you’re traveling as long as we do when we go abroad—which is typically a minimum of two weeks up to a month—then you’ll probably be doing one of two things: staying in an Airbnb where you have access to a washer, or traveling by cruise ship where you have a cabin steward who will take your laundry for you when you need (hotels, of course, also have this option, though it’s often pretty pricey). In any case, assume that you’ll be doing laundry at least once during your trip—most likely, halfway through—and it’ll free your bag up and enable you to travel light.
Chucks with a pediatric insert have saved my big monkey feet from the exhaustion of pounding the pavement in Europe every single time. You can do this upgrade with almost any shoe that you’re comfortable wearing and I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve struggled over the years to find a good long-term walking or hiking shoe that is flexible enough to also be worn into a hip bar with a button down shirt. North Face hiking boots probably don’t fall into that category and the simple solution that I’ve found is to just loosen up the laces on my Converse, carve up a Dr. Scholl’s insert so that it fits perfectly and then I can walk 10 miles on cobblestones without a problem.
Some dudes can wear flip-flops all day long without complaint. I am not one of those guys, but if you can get away with it you’ve just freed up a large section in your carry-on for souvenirs or miscellaneous items.
Rounding out my clothing are one pair of dress shoes, one pair of casual everyday shoes, a handful of T-shirts, three to four dress shirts, a light waterproof jacket, a light sweater, several pairs of lightweight golf pants, three pairs of shorts, underwear to get me through at least 10 days and a whole lot of socks.
My “man bag” as Kristin calls it is my survival kit. This is a toiletries bag that packs neatly into my rolling suitcase and contains suntan lotion, my favorite body lotion and soap squeezed into a non-leak bottle. These bottles are essential to my dopp kit, and actually work! Hair product, needles, nail clips, super glue, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, eye drops, lip balm, Neosporin, cortisone, Imodium, assorted meds, cough drops, day and night cold meds, matches, shaving cream, razors, Q-tips, bandaids, hangover/migraine meds, towelettes, muscle rub, and assorted zip-locks round out the items in my survival kit.
I always bring two pairs of Aviator sunglasses because it totally sucks to break or lose a pair of your favorites and have to buy some cheap knockoffs.
In some cases, I’ll travel with an adapter for European outlets, but for the most part I’ve found you don’t need one. If you do decide to bring one, don’t bother buying the big fat brick conversion types. They are big and bulky and having a heavy transformer in your bag isn’t at all necessary. Even though most of the world is on 220v, virtually every single electronic device I’ve owned in the United States for the last decade has an internal transformer for both 110v and 220v. Read the fine print on your computer cord to see what I’m talking about. See how it says 110/220 50/60? That means you’ll only need to actually connect it to a power source and it’ll do the conversion for you. It does both 110v and 220v, with 220v being the most common throughout the world.
This adapter is what you’ll need (it only changes the pin connection, not the voltage. It’s also like two bucks and weighs nothing). Trust me on this one. Unless you have an 80’s boom box or Walkman when you travel, you’ll never need to lug that hunk of a conversion box around.
Other than that, it’s just me and the sky, the churning humanity of a busy metro or the thrumming and rhythmic song of a long, satisfying train ride. These fill in the gaps of what I think I need and are the purpose of leaving home in the first place, right?
What items do you never leave home without when going on an extended trip?
SHOP SVV’S FAVORITE T-SHIRTS
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