STUTHETRAVELER

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Stuart Peck is a freelance writer and video producer who specializes in outdoor, travel, corporate and commercial messaging and branding.  He has written for national magazines, video copy for healthcare and other corporate videos.  He also provides production support for commercials and TV shows.  

Fall Travel Series Part 1: What not to pack.

The less you pack the less you have to drag through security and lug through an airport.  Less really can be better.

Death, that’s the way you can sum up this time of year.  Leaves are dying, the nights are getting colder, shadows make the woods look spooky and all that is pretty much why this is an awesome time of year to get outdoors and take a trip!  There are a dozen and one blogs out there about what to pack when planning your next adventure but it’s also important to leave a few things at home.

Limit your clothes: Obviously you don’t need to pack eight t-shirts for a five day trip.  I know sometimes picking out the right shirt can be a game-time decision but use some discretion when choosing your threads.  Even better, get clothes that’ll go the distance and can be worn over and over again further cutting down on your need to pack extra clothes.  I have three t-shirts that pretty much could carry me on a weeklong trek. If you've read my reviews, you've heard me preach wool. It'll take up less space in your bag and get you further, dry quicker and won’t start to stink after one or two wears.  Check out brands like Exofficio for awesome travel clothes and Ibex for some hip yet versatile shirts that’ll keep you going without needing to stop and change.  

Shoes: Just like clothes limit your shoe intake to a minimum.  As your activities start to get more diverse… so does your shoe collection on a trip.  This sounds kind of feminine but guys can be just as big a culprit as their female companions.  Go for a pair of hiking shoes, like the Merrell Moab Ventilator which are great for the trail or the town. My one exception to the one pair rule is a comfy pair of sandals.  Go for something like the Sanuk Fraid So which come in real handy if you’re getting a lot of windshield time on a road trip or when you’re staying at a hostel or roadside campground.    

Technology:  Make a choice.  Do you really need a laptop, tablet, mobile phone, ipod, camera and that fancy PSWhatever game console?  Don’t even think about cramming $2,000 worth of tech into your carry on or checked bag.  First, you’re a walking Radio Shack and are just asking to get something lifted from you.  Second, when are you honestly going to use all those devices?   For most their phone is an obvious must.  Of course that doubles as your camera and your music, probably means you don’t need your tablet and really, are you going to bust out your laptop while on vacation? Chances are you won’t need any of your gizmos outside your phone.  I’ve taken many trips where I brought my laptop, phone, multiple cameras and ipod… not using any of them save my phone.  Save your weight and your homeowners or renters insurance policy and leave the expensive toys at home.

This image was shot on my phone.  Time of day, location and composition make a picture wall worthy... not carrying 10 pounds of pro gear.  

The pro camera: I touched on this one above but trust me… you won’t use your DSLR as much as you think you will.  Take it from a guy who used to hike and travel with his Canon 40D and 20mm, 50mm, and 70-200mm lenses.  I snapped a hand full of photos with that camera before realizing that my Canon point and shoot worked just as well and wasn’t as much of a hassle to take out and put together for one shot.  I don’t consider myself to be a professional photographer but I like great photography.  I can get results without needing to pack the big guns. Try the Canon Powershot G1 X or if you’re a Nikon fan the Cool Pix line is a versatile option for whatever expedition you’re going on.  

I’ve learned about what not to pack the hard way.  Overstuffed bags, unneeded items and wasted space all can weigh you down and be a nuisance on your trip.  Be smart and be simple.  Test yourself this way... if you were told you were leaving for another country in 30 minutes and you had five minutes to pack what would your essentials be? Chances are that's probably all you need.    

What do you think should be on this list?  I know there are a lot of other things that can stay at home like a brick, three cans of baked beans, your socket wrench set...  I want to hear from you!