Monthly Archives: June 2011

10 Days, 1 Bag Debrief

I’m back from my 10 day work trip to Minneapolis and Madrid. Things went well, especially in terms of the clothing and gear I brought with me. Packing light was the right call and I definitely brought the right stuff. Everything I brought with me was used at least 3 times, from nice button down shirts to my Trail Maker shorts (for the gym), to my Patagonia Houdini jacket. It would have been great to not have my MacBookPro, but even with that added weight, my pack was manageable.

The highlight of the trip was my arrival in Madrid. From the moment I set foot off of the plane, it took me just under 30 minutes to reach the hotel: 5 minute walk from the plane to the Immigration, 1 minute at Immigration, 5 minutes to get a cab, and about 15 minutes to get to the hotel, not far from central Madrid. Simply unbeatable.

Unfortunately while my gear was great, my travel situation was not. Originally my plans included seven flight segments in 10 days, going from DC to Minneapolis to DC to Madrid to Newark to DC. But United’s system outage two Friday’s ago lead to one of my flights getting cancelled. It ended up not affecting my ability to get to Spain on time, but meant I had to spend about 5 hours sitting around the Minneapolis airport. Coming home, weather in the midwest and south caused a domino of cancellations of Continental flights. The end result was me spending 9 hours in Newark airport waiting to get back home to DC. For a while it looked like the late flight I had been rebooked on might get cancelled after multiple delays, so I was mentally preparing for either legging it to get a late train to DC or spending the night at a hotel near the airport or in NYC.

While spending extended, unplanned stretches in airports is a bummer, I was never worried about what it would mean for the stuff I had with me. I had no checked bag, so if an overnight or alternative travel situation arose, I didn’t have to deal with getting a checked bag back. I was light so if I had to run for a train or bus, it wouldn’t have been a physical problem. I had plenty of clothes, plus stuff to wash the things I was wearing, so all I would need would be a sink and I’d be clean and fresh for whatever came next. In fact, the stuff I had with me would allow me to travel for days or weeks beyond what was planned with absolutely no additional stress or effort. This is the real virtue of packing light and packing the right things for my needs.

One last note. The GoLite Jam2 is a great backpack. I never filled it more than half way, though it would have been easy to over pack it. I didn’t do much shopping, though had I, I would have had the space needed to bring things home. While the roll-down, top-loading isn’t ideal for repeated access, it worked fine for my situation. It also allowed me to collapse the part of the pack that I wasn’t putting things in, making it feel smaller than the 50L that it actually is. I still think more purpose-built bags like the MEI Executive Overnighter or Tom Bihn Tri-Star are better for this sort of business travel, but the GoLite is definitely good in that you can use it for this stuff, but then do actual hiking and camping with it. Since having multiple applications of one bag is appealing to a lot of folks, this might make the GoLite actually a better carry-on pack than some of the high end, US built traveler bags.

Ultralight Packing for a 10 Day Business Trip

I’m on my way out the door for a ten day work trip involving seven flight segments taking me from DC to Minneapolis to Madrid (by way of DC) and back to DC. I’ll be at two conferences for work – Netroots Nation and the UNI Communicators Forum – and sadly I’ll have a fair amount of work to do while on the road outside of convention hours.

Unpacked Items

Laid out to be packed

I’d recently ordered a Tom Bihn Tri-Star bag, but sadly it is on back order and hasn’t arrived in time for the trip. Instead I’ll be using my GoLite Jam backpack. It’s a 50L frameless pack which I’ve never used for work travel before. The good thing is the top is a roll-down enclosure, so I can dramatically reduce the size of the pack to the space that I’m actually filling with my stuff. I would say that I’m actually only using about 30L of the pack.

Here’s my packing list:

  • 3 button-down shirts
  • 3 quick drying t-shirts (1 extra for lots of gym use)
  • 1 pair lightweight black  pants
  • 1 pair Patagonia Trail Maker Shorts (for gym and walking around)
  • 2 pairs lightweight socks
  • 2 pairs SeV Travel Boxers
  • 1 pair running shoes
  • 15″ MacBook Pro
  • Kindle (easier on my bad eyes than the iPhone)
  • Toiletries (including laundry detergent) in a Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizing Cube
  • Clothes line
  • Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack (Stuffs down tiny, but can hold my MBP & then some)
  • Power cords & European plug converter in a Tom Bihn Snake Charmer
  • Passport & travel documents
  • In the picture there’s a pair of camouflage cargo shorts. At the last minute I decided to leave them behind & use the Trail Makers more
All packed

All packed. The cat stays.

The tshirts, socks, Trail Maker and underwear are packed in a small Tom Bihn packing cube, which is also the center of a bundle for the pants and button down shirts. I’ll be wearing a Patagonia Houdini jacket, another t-shirt, underwear, socks and jeans. I’ll also have a pair of black Keen Denver slip on shoes, which are great for walking around and look quite professional, and I’ll wear a belt with plastic buckle so I don’t have to remove it at airport security. The other things on my person:

  • Wallet
  • iPhone
  • Handkerchief
  • Sunglasses
  • Ear buds

I’m really bummed out about having to take my MacBook Pro. I’m waiting for the new MacBook Air to come out before getting a light-weight computer, so I’m stuck until then. I’d hoped to just work off of my iPad, but the reality is that I have too much going on for me to function on an iPad and iPhone for 10 days. The result, unfortunately, is about an extra five pounds plus when you add in the power source. I hate carrying my MBP when I travel, but I’ll just have to be even more judicious with my packing choices to compensate for some of the added weight. What’s particularly frustrating about the MBP for me is that were I doing the trip with an iPad instead, this would likely be my longest, lightest work trip yet. Oh well. Hopefully Apple releases the upgrade MBAir some time soon, so problems like this will be greatly mitigated in the future.

Still, this whole pack weighs in at just over 15 pounds, so not too bad given I have a 15″ MacBook Pro. The top of the backpack is rolled down as far as it can go – reaching the top of padding. If I need anything else, I can buy it and have plenty of room to bring it back with me.

David Simon vs Eric Holder

Shot:

I want to speak directly to [showrunners Ed] Burns and [David] Simon: Do another season of The Wire.

–Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking at a Justice Department anti-child-abuse forum attended by Wire actors Wendell “Bunk” Pierce, Sonja “Kima” Sohn, and Jim “Prez” True-Frost.
The Daily What.

Chaser:

“The Attorney-General’s kind remarks are noted and appreciated. I’ve spoken to Ed Burns and we are prepared to go to work on season six of The Wire if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug prohibition.”

–The Wire creator David Simon, in an e-mail to the Times of London responding to Attorney General Eric Holder demand for an additional season of the acclaimed HBO series.
The Daily What