The Fifty Pound Nomad Life

When I first embarked on this nomadic lifestyle, I thought I’d take as many suitcases as I needed, so I could have everything I wanted with me. If “my home is where I roam”, then I would take all my favorite things with me. It immediately became apparent that this was a mistake. Firstly, each checked bag has an associated fee levied by the airline. Secondly, each bag has to be carried to your destination, sometimes when you’re tired and frustrated. This was a moment of reckoning.

As a lot of you know, fifty pounds or twenty-three kilo is the limit on a checked bag before you start paying for weight. Depending on the staff member checking you in, you may pay the overweight charge of $100 and up, for as little as a few pounds over. Chucking things into the trash at the side of the line is a special kind of shame. I’ve been there, many times. The worst part is when you didn’t chuck enough, got back in line, only for the woman to frown at you and tell you it’s still overweight. Investing in a baggage scale is something I put off until now. And just like that, I am in control of the suitcase, instead of the other way around.

Even though nomadic travel seems like vacation at times, it’s really living a normal everyday life, just at a new location every three months (in our case).  Getting there and setting up a temporary home is made easier with less baggage. Sometimes, there are no elevators, no dollies, no one to lift your bag, etc. It’s all on you, which reminds me what my father used to say to me. Whenever we got ready for a summer in Germany, he would give me one suitcase and say, don’t make it heavier than you can lift yourself. Smart advice.

With my limits clearly defined, I had to fine tune what I bring with me. I need things that make me feel at home where ever I am and also practical things like clothes and shoes, but also work comforts and something to entertain when the power goes out. I started thinking tiny, like those tiny house innovations where each object has more than one use. For example, I use an exercise band for strength training, that I also use to wrap around my hand when I work to put cushion between me and a hard work station. I have a tennis ball to play with, that doubles as a massager. My Purple cushion is great for sitting, but also works to bolster a sagging mattress. My cloth shopping bags are great for shopping and also as beach bags, since they are washable. All my books are digital, because books are heavy, and I have one notebook that is reusable. I use erasable ink, and when the notebook is filled, I just nuke it in the microwave and it’s blank again, like magic!

All this extreme packing reminded me of those “What’s in my Bag” sections in travel magazines, and I’ve always thought they were kind of superficial. So, I’ve made a real list of the contents of my checked bag, carry on and personal item.

I hope you enjoy and learn from my experience.

What’s in my checked bag?

5 dresses
2 belts
1 hoodie
5 shirts
5 tank tops
3 long pants
1 skirt
1 skort
1 bathing suit
1 sarong
4 scarfs
1 do-rag
3 hats
1 night-shirt
1 pair compression stockings for long hauls
and of course … socks & underwear

1 pair beach Birkenstocks
1 pair Ipanema flip-flops
1 pair hiking Teva’s

1 exercise band
3 games
1 sewing kit
2 snorkel goggles
1 snorkel
2 swim goggles
1 toiletries case
1 Purple cushion
1 medicine/emergency kit
4 cloth shopping bags
1 cross over cloth bag
1 umbrella
1 woobie
1 mosquito net
1 white noise machine
and … my Bummelnchen Snuffy and Jack

What’s in my carry-on bag?

1 laptop
2 pairs of glasses (sun and computer)
1 bag of PPE
1 bag of office supplies
1 pencil/pen case
1 bag of cords
1 Skyroam Wi-Fi hotspot
1 reusable Rocketbook Wave notebook
1 brain training puzzle book

What’s in my personal item?

smartphone
travel documents
wallet
keys
jewelry

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