I just got back to the states after five weeks of steady travel, Israel, Germany, UK. I'm getting too old for this...stuff. But I started thinking, after replying to the What Laptop? question on this forum, that we really should somewhere have a serious -- or maybe not so serious -- discussion about travel, because so many of us do so much of it. Here are some things from me:
1. I sometimes have to travel day after day, often with suits and ties, and no time to get dry-cleaning done. If I have to take a large amount of stuff, I say ***remember the post office.*** When I'm traveling in the states, I will mail dirty clothes home to myself. It's cheap, they'll actually provide the box (or bag) for you, and every pound counts when you're tired. This also applies to books, which I tend to buy a lot of. The Post Office will get them home a lot easier than you will.
2. Scout hotels in advance for laundry and dry-cleaning facilities, and in-room irons and ironing-boards. If you know you can get the laundry done, you can cut down on your clothing weight.
3. Weigh your backpack/briefcase. I have a great Tumi business backpack, but the pack itself, with the laptop envelope, must weigh five or six pounds. I'm thinking of going with an unpadded backpack, just to save weight. I'd like to find some kind of lightweight *sock* to give some protection to the laptop...
4. When I was doing a lot of serious photography, I took stuff that I never used. I did almost 10 seasons of archaeological photography with an F5 and later Kodak digitals, and *never* used the right-angle finder, which I continued to take anyway. Okay, it's only a couple of ounces, but it all counts. And I was always dragging AA cells all over the place. I've never been anywhere where AA cells aren't available and cheap, at least at the airport.
5. Remember, you can always throw stuff away. This last dig in Israel, I threw out two pair of shoes before coming back. They were fairly well wrecked anyway, and do I need two pair of wrecked tennies so much that I'll tote an extra six pounds of shoes home? No. I also threw away two shirts and about six pairs of hopelessly dirt-stained socks. Throwing away stuff is good.
6. If you're doing a lot of outdoors stuff where it's not too cold and not too hot, nylon shirts and pants are good. I wear North Face. The best thing about them is, you can wash them in ten minutes and they're dry in two hours, they're light, and they don't take up space. I used to travel with a pair of jeans for lounging around in the hotel room, even when I was on a suit-and-tie trip; now I take the North Face pants. They'l save you a pound.
7. All my tunes are on my laptop. Why am I taking my Ipod? I'm not.
8. Golf slacks with some polyester content and pleats, and a golf shirt. With a sport coat, just fine for almost anything short of strictly formal, and they look okay, don't cost much, don't wrinkle. Easily washable and ironable. Maybe a little hot.
9. If you're going to a colder place where you are traveling hard, but also might have to dress up, and you don't want to take two heavy coats, one sporty and one dress, remember heavy-weight (but not expedition weight) polypropylene long underwear. Light, takes up almost no space in your suitcase, and you can wear it under nothing more than a sport coat and tie and be warm down to freezing. Add a pair of light gloves and a watch cap, and you're good for fairly cold weather.
10. I have a pair of Bose sound-reducing headphones. I can sleep through a crying baby on the plane with my laptop, a little Mozart or Pink Floyd, and the earphones. Worth the weight. I threw away the hard case.
11. Aleve (stronger than ibuprofen). Imodium (For the evenings after the days when you thought a raw vegetable might really taste wonderful.) Decongestant. Triple antibiotic ointment. BandAids in a tiny Ziploc bag. Tweezers.
12. Several garbage bags. Isolates wet clothes from dry, dirty clothes from clean, shoes from clothes, etc. I've never in my life taken too many of them.