I have been reading some thoughts from people such as Leo Babauta (Zen Habits) and Chris Brogan on minimalist packing for trips. Babauta just made a trip to Europe with his five kids and wife. Wild. Brogan is a marketing guy and I’m not linking because part of his schtick was to travel mostly with a jacket for a company he was promoting.

The idea is to consider how much stuff you pack that you don’t really need. In this era of airlines charging for checking bags so that everyone is fighting for overhead bin space, this is something to consider.

On my last trip to Germany, I thought about this. Often in trips to Europe there is no good place to run. So I left my running shoes and clothes at home. Much as it would pain a friend of mine who thinks you need clean slacks for every day–no you don’t. Shirts and underwear, of course. As a male, I don’t need lots of toiletries–although Leo’s wife got by with little.

I also have a coat. I buy TravelSmith sports coats plus I have a “photographer’s jacket”–all have several pockets. That’s useful not only for carrying things but for ease of going through security. Everything from my pockets goes into a jacket pocket. It’s all hidden (no phone or cash just sitting out there for all the other passengers to see).

So, I almost got everything including my computer in my backpack. Wound up taking my “laptop bag” as they call briefcases these days, too.

That’s all well and good until I hit customs and immigration at Dulles upon entering the country. Where have you been? How long were you there? Where’s your bagggage?

Great, I got shuttled off to the next higher round of questioning. But when he saw a backpack full of clothes, he became disinterested in me–other than saying, “You do travel a lot.” I figured I was tracked, and I was right. He had my profile up on his computer screen.

I’ll do it again, though. I am upset everytime I return home with half of the stuff I pack unused.

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