What’s in Your Pack, Tim Leffel?

Tim Leffel is author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations and Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune. He is also editor of the narrative webzine PerceptiveTravel.com. So Tim, what’s in your pack?

“As a travel writer, I’m packing differently for different trips, sometimes for work, sometimes for pleasure, alone or with my family. Plus I’m constantly reviewing different items for the Practical Travel Gear blog. I tend to rotate through a bunch of different bags depending on the situation. I’ve got an Eagle Creek Continental Journey carry-on travel backpack, a generic rolling duffel bag, two regular wheelie suitcases in different sizes, a large backpack, and a leather duffel bag.”

“This last one has become my favorite for trips two weeks or less where I won’t be walking around much between hotels or buzzing through five different hub airport connections. I bought it in a Mexican leather shop for $35 and have used it on eight trips so far. It’s comfortable to hold, has a shoulder strap, and is dead easy to spot on the luggage carousel. If I don’t stuff it to capacity, it works fine as a carry-on too. I usually carry it to my destination, then check it coming home (when it’s invariably fuller).

Here are pics before my recent two-week trip to Hungary and the Czech Republic, with the contents laid out and the bag after it was packed. This was a trip where I had to dress nicely for dinner and meetings fairly often, but I was also biking through the countryside of Moravia and shuffling through wine cellars. So I couldn’t be a total travel bum and it was a bit of a challenge to do it carry-on style, but I couldn’t risk losing my luggage going there so I had to make it work

Here are a few notes on some items that help me pack light. My Fujitsu laptop weighs less than three pounds and has a built-in wireless card. It slips into my eBags laptop backpack, which looks just like a regular daypack. My camera case also holds a small notebook, pen, lip balm, and extra memory card, so it’s all I need for the day when doing research. I carry some lightweight, quick-dry clothes from REI and Ex-Officio, including two pairs of boxer shorts, so I can do some sink laundry on occasion. My toiletries are all travel size items that can be carried on. Everything electronic is rechargeable. Only two pairs of shoes: dressy loafers with rubber soles (worn on the plane) and a pair of lightweight, water-resistant sneakers from Technica. If I were going somewhere hot I would also take Teva-style sandals.

You’ll notice that the contents are not very colorful. That’s intentional. Any pair of pants can go with pretty much any of the shirts.

As I write this I’m finishing up my trip and it went swimmingly. There was one long-sleeve t-shirt I didn’t wear and I could have done without the stretchy clothesline since I was in decent hotels. The Skype phone didn’t get used much because high-speed Internet access was often iffy in both Hungary and the Czech Republic. Everything else got a workout and there wasn’t anything I wish I had brought. I stupidly left my travel alarm clock in the room in one hotel though, so time to get another one…

Wearing in transit

  • Slacks
  • Semi-dressy loafers
  • Wrinkle-free sportcoat
  • Wrinkle-free dress shirt
  • Belt, underwear, socks
  • In my bag
  • Two pairs of pants (one dress, one light khakis)
  • Two shirts with collars
  • Two long-sleeve t-shirts
  • Three short-sleeve t-shirts
  • Biking shorts
  • Long underwear(for biking)
  • Baseball hat
  • Sneakers
  • North Face windbreaker fleece
  • Waterproof jacket (balls up into small pouch)
  • Belt that holds money
  • Six pairs of underwear”