Here is everything my backpack contains upon returning home after 9 days of travel, namely one week on business as well as the preceding and following weekends.
A few items live in the backpack permanently, so as to always be at hand, even when not traveling. I have just been told this is called an Every Day Carry... When the moment comes to pack for a trip, an added benefit is to reduce the number of decisions to take (and to avoid forgetting).
The basics therefore consist of:
- a small silk neckscarf (see the magic objects section);
- an A5-size transparent pocket containing various documents: a printed address and phone list, a photocopy of my passport and driving license, the numbers to call in case of credit card loss, a 50 euro note, 2 ID-size photographs. The plastic pocket is from Japan, with pictures of the dreadful gods of wind and thunder;
- ibuprofen (see the magic objects section),
- emergency food, currently 3 packets of nuts, stolen from an airport lounge,
- chewing gum,
- a pencil and a pen,
- phone charger.
The topic of clothes requires thinking. When packing, this is actually the chapter where I find the most difficult decisions need to be made. For now let us just count: this time, I will be wearing a business suit and an overcoat when traveling. In the bag we have:
- a pair of slacks,
- a business shirt,
- a necktie,
- 2 white t-shirts (see the magic objects section),
- a pair of underpants,
- a pair of socks, woolen because this is December, in Germany.
This occasion was special because I also had to be ready for an outdoors mystery "snow" activity. So we find:
- a pair of ski socks (which were also perfect to wear while walking my legs off throughout freezing Berlin),
- a pair of woolen gloves and a pair of undergloves,
- a ski hat.
At home, the toiletry bag is always ready. The bag itself is one of those regulation transparent plastic bags suited for the x-ray scan. This removes the need for a dedicated toiletry case and saves space. The contents:
- a toothbrush and a mini toothpaste tube,
- a razor and a bottle of shaving oil (see the magic objects section),
- a small roll-on deodorant,
- ear plugs for air travel,
- a European social security card,
- a mini EU to US plug adapter,
- a 12V to USB in-car power adapter,
- medicines: ibuprofen, melatonin, anti-diarrhea, cortisone spray,
- a small tube of body lotion.
- a laptop and charger. Although it is a lightweight model, this is still the heaviest item in the whole kit;
- a folder with notes, documents and a printout of my calendar.
What loot? In such a tiny bag, can you fit anything more than the very basic necessities? Well, yes. Returning home we have:
- 4 bags of German candy, plus a marzipan loaf, a bag of chocolate-covered gingerbread hearts, a little box of chocolates,
- 2 packs of German string sausages,
- a football magazine in German for my son,
- a keepsake German witch doll,
- 2 miniature liquor bottles: Jaegermeister and Braunschweig-made "Mumme" liquor,
- a tube of Aronal toothgum care toothpaste (only found in Germany).
To be complete, here is the contents of my coat pockets:
- leather gloves,
- reading glasses (non-breakable pair).