Monday, 7 January 2013

Gear of the Traveling Ninja

dimanche, le 06 janvier 2013; 22:56
emplacement: 3 ave Albert Einstein, Batiment E, Chambre 302
pourquoi: Je vous voulez présenter les essentiels pour la vie du voyageur.

In case Google Translates the above incorrectly or in case I’ve written it incorrectly, “I would like to present to you the essentials for the life of a traveler”

My life as a language exchange scholar with my French host family has finally come to an end. Alas, I packed all my worldly belongings into two backpacks and threw them into the trunk of the family car. Then we solemnly climbed in and drove me out to Villeurbanne, a neighbourhood in Lyon.

After getting myself sorted out at security, I received my keys and opened it to a giant closet; I mean tiny room.

Yep. Tiny. Room. University style. Université Lyon 1 to be exact.

Alors, c’est pas grave. That will be another post. Tonight I am writing from my spacious desk in my tiny room. Without internet. So this will be posted tomorrow when my wifi kicks in.

Actually the size of this room is what inspired me to write this post. Months ago, I had meant to write about my travel essentials. If you recall an old post, I’m obsessed with the weight of my travel gear. And over the past 20 months (!) I’ve become a pro at keeping the essentials.

When I was preparing for Wanderin’ the Globe, the first and most important gear I needed was a backpack. After hours at MEC, I chose my now well traveled yet mighty Gregory Deva 55L. This pack was on sale for $199CAD and designed to fit my petite 5foot (150cm) frame. This pack is near perfect with the exception that it is somewhat heavy when empty – a whopping 2.35Kg (5.17lbs)!

This pack has been around. A few times and counting. You can’t tell but there’s a pair of runners in the top compartment:

So, what goes inside this backpack you ask? Well, the most real estate goes to clothes. However, to minimize this burden, they all get vacuumed sealed in heavy Ziplock bags. This technique saves space and saved me from the stinky fish sauce incident in Vietnam. I believe you can find that post in “Jonesing for the Jungle”. I wish I knew how to hyper link my own work…anyway, it's in the Sept 2011 year section...

All my clothing gear, including two jackets believe it or not…:

For the male readers, this won’t apply to you but for the chicks, this product is better for the environment and wallet. And it’s a Canadian company! Google it:

This two-in-one mirror/brush has been through some rough times that it finally broke ):

Thank goodness, I have a light back-up comb! And every traveler (especially an Asian) needs a ninja style pair of chopsticks:

 The two-in-one is pretty sweet but check out this badass four-in-one. To all the gals and gays who want to keep their nails lookin’ good, this is a must:

As a modern day solo female traveler, I wouldn’t feel complete without my gadgets. They keep me connected with family, friends and capture most of my experiences:

And allow me to carry more reading than I could ever imagine:

Pulling a McGyver when the occasion calls. One luxury I afforded myself before France was upgrading from my degrading Acer netbook to a fancy MBP:

The next four pics are items I cannot travel without. In Malaysia, I met the guy who sits next to the guy that designed the Spork. The Swedes are brilliant industrial designers. Did you know the guy gets one penny for every Spork sold? Probably the smartest Christmas gift I’ve ever requested was my Swiss Army knife – thanks big brother! My travel towel and sleeping bag liner weigh next to nothing and dry faster than I can slice a baguette open with my Swiss Army Swag. The sleeping bag has saved me from creepy crawlies in dodgy beds. Yep.

I’m totally going to plug my friend’s product here. During my pit stop in Toronto before heading to France, I met up with an old friend who makes animal cruelty-free personal grooming products. Check out her products at: and help support the handmade revolution!

Becks, thanks a million for this delicious soap!

When my friend Andrea C joined me in Cambodia, I asked her to bring me one of those reusable nylon shopping bags that tuck into themselves like they barely existed. Well, she did one better by having our good friend Asmin C pass along some swag from one of our suppliers at lululemon.

This lightweight yet indestructible shopping bag is about the size of my iPhone. And it carried my bed linen when I was in Bali:

All these little things along with a few I haven’t mentioned, add up to weight that must go into my main pack and my daypack. And just to completely nerd myself out, here are the numbers:

Total weight of my gear is 19.25Kg (42.35lbs).
However, if I remove the pack weights when empty, I lose 3.35Kg (7.37 lbs) making my actual gear 15.9Kg (34.98 lbs)

You might be wondering how I got these numbers. Well, math does not run in my Asian blood (I know, what?!) And this may not be an essential travel item, but the slight OCD in me travels with one.

This awesome digital scale allows the geek in me to weigh just about anything:

As I reflect on all the shtuff I have with me, I know I can still trim off more weight on the scale. Like do I really need to have 12 pairs of G-strings? But, but they were on sale at Undiz!


  1. Years ago, a group of us were traveling in Italy with an Aussie girl. We ended up renting a small little apartment. That afternoon the local boys kept dropping by to knock on our door.

    At first, we were all a little perplexed. The next morning we saw her massive collection of G-Strings hanging out on the clothesline over the alley. Hope you picked the colorful ones Davie.

  2. Haha Mark!! My G-strings are like candy coated colours of sinfullness!

  3. Hey Davie, Its been too long!

    So, Dan and I are off for a little vacation. I am dustin' off my lovely backpack once again.
    I think I might try your ziploc bag trick. Do your clothes wrinkle more in bags?

  4. Hey Elise! HNY! That's right you guys are heading to Amsterdam, then Cairo again. 95% of my clothes are knits so I don't have to worry about wrinkles. However, I roll everything so the two pants I have get a little bit wrinkled - it's inevitable. Good luck!