Kamran A. Khawar oversees Product Development and Operations at VinoVue, a technology company that he co-founded in 2011. In his spare time, Kamran A. Khawar is an avid traveler and has learned the art of traveling light.
Pack the same gear, no matter how long the trip is. I bring 3 sets of clothes, wash whatever outfit I’m wearing when I take a shower, and hang it up to dry overnight. Get by with a week’s worth of clothing if you do laundry once a week.
Shoes: high-performance and versatile, wicking sweat and drying quickly
Shirts: No cotton. It soaks up sweat and stays wet all day. Get polyester or merino wool. it’s nice to have a fancy shirt for special occasions.
Underwear: Quick-drying, lightweight, odor-resistant, and comfy. In winter, long underwear works wonders. You’ll only need a single pair if you wear regular underwear underneath, so you won’t have to wash the heavier one as often.
Pants and shorts: Ultra-thin nylon pants are lightweight, packable, breathable, quick-drying, and often have some nice features like extra pockets and zip-off legs. They’re great in hot weather, but not so great in the rain (you could add a DWR finish for water resistance, or just bring an umbrella). Soft shell pants offer more durability and water resistance, but are heavier, bulkier, dry slower, and cost more. They work better in cooler weather, especially if you don’t plan on washing too often. Try to find pants that don’t look too silly, so you won’t have to bring extra pants for fancy fun times. If your pants fit, you can skip the belt, and for guys, quick-dry shorts double as swimwear. You can cut some corners here, as cotton pants won’t hold you back so much if you have an umbrella, don’t mind washing rarely, or have laundry facilities. Until someone invents truly travel-worthy jeans, don’t feel bad bringing jeans.
Socks: Merino and threw out all my white cotton gym socks the same day. Seriously. Merino wool warms in winter, cools in summer, insulates even when damp, dries quickly, resists odor, and is soft and plush and wonderful. I bring two ultralight pairs for summer use, and a warmer pair in winter.
Other extras: I’d recommend a money belt, a nice small camera (or smartphone), a journal, sunglasses, an outlet converter, hat, gloves, and two books (it’s hard to find a book right away once you finish), or an e-reader. Those are all the extras I ever use. Umbrellas aren’t a bad idea if you don’t want to spend $100 on a rain jacket. Just remember that if you want to add extras, think about how often you’ll use it, and if it’ll be worth it. And by the way, saw the chapters out of your guidebook and tape the spine. It’ll fit in your back pocket and you can give them away when you’re done with each country.
Eventually I added a few things: A packable daypack, an ultralight wind jacket, a collared shirt, and swapped the emergency blanket for a sleeping bag liner instead (which is still just optional anyway). Overall weight was almost the same, and these items can be extremely useful.