A packing list for 3 Cards, 3 Continents (on Nick’s mind)

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A couple of weekends ago, Carrie wrote a post full of tips to pack for a round the world adventure. In it, she said that no matter what one packs, “it will feel like too much and too little at different points throughout the trip”. That sounds about right, but her post played right into my biggest anxiety for our 3 Cards 3 Continents trip: packing for a trip that includes a variety of climates and activities as compactly as possible. That anxiety is only building as the trip gets closer and I thought that perhaps my best method of taming that anxiety would be writing out my plan. Here’s what I plan to bring — until readers convince me otherwise :-).

I intend for everything I’m bringing to fit in this backpack.

My Wallet

Perhaps the easiest part of the trip to pack will be my wallet. As a reminder, the three cards I chose for this challenge are:

Card Info Name and Link Only (no offer)
Card Info Name and Link Only (no offer)
Card Info Name and Link Only (no offer)

In reality, I won’t bring a Barclays Aviator Business card with me since there would be no reason to need it during the trip. I wouldn’t use the card on anything, nor would having it provide me with any perks or travel coverages pertinent to my trip.

However, I certainly will carry my Capital One Venture card and Amex Platinum card.

I’ll want the Venture card for potential lounge access: the card covers two lounge visits per year to Plaza Premium lounges or Capital One lounges. There are some nice Plaza Premium lounge options around the world, so I’ll plan to make good use of those visits.

I’ll want the Amex Platinum card for its Priority Pass membership, which will get my into an even wider selection of lounges, as well as the possibility of Centurion Lounge access (and this card can also get me into Plaza Premium lounges). Furthermore, since I booked a prepaid Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts booking with the card, I’ll bring my Amex Platinum just in case they want to see the card I used for booking. Finally, if I buy any expensive souvenirs, this will be a good card to have for purchase protections.

I will also carry other cards in my wallet just because I rarely leave home with such a thin wallet. For instance, I’ll still carry my Amex Gold card for 4x at restaurants (and my US Bank Altitude Go for an effective 4% back where Amex is not accepted), and I’m sure I’ll still carry my Chase Ritz-Carlton card because you never know when you’ll need a bottle opener.

 

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I’ll also need a debit card. I have not been suckered into upgrading my SoFi Money account, so I am still grandfathered in to the account that offers free ATM fee reimbursements worldwide. I’ll therefore bring my SoFi Money card so I have easy access to cash.

However, overall, my wallet is the least of my concerns.

Electronics

Note that product links to Amazon within this post are our affiliate links.

Electronics are where I expect my first difficulty to lie. I generally don’t leave home without an extensive array of electronics and charging implements.

Here are the electronics I intend to bring:

  • Cell phones (2). I have written about the great deal I get on T-Mobile service thanks to adding free lines during the pandemic and taking advantage of the Insider Hookup deal that was offered earlier this year. I currently pay about $130 per month for 9 lines on Magenta Max, T-Mobile’s highest plan. One of the recently-announced benefits of Magenta Max is up to 5GB of high-speed International data per billing cycle. I’ll bring two phones with me to take advantage of up to 10GB of high-speed data (and also to have a backup in case a phone gets lost / stolen / damaged). I’ll be bringing my Google Pixel 6a for the first phone. My secondary phone is currently on a OnePlus 8 Pro 5G, but I may instead pop in the SIM in an older Pixel 3 that I have lying around since the Pixel phone is probably more likely to work if I need to buy a local SIM for some reason. It also takes much better pictures.
  • Photo / video phone accessories. Speaking of taking pictures, I’ll want to get good pictures and video (so I can convince you to vote for my trip as the best one!). To that end, I will at the very least need some sort of phone stand or tripod. It would also help to have a selfie stick. As fate would have it, I own a selfie stick that also folds out into a tripod and has a built-in Bluetooth remote. I’d also like to be able to bring a small ring light to make myself easier to see in low-light situations. I’ve thought about trying out this tripod selfie stick that has a built-in detachable light – it looks very similar to the one I have with the addition of the light and people note that it seems pretty sturdy (which is a difference over mine).
  • Laptop. My new problem is which one to bring. Just yesterday, my laptop screen stopped working properly — it seems that a connector in the display came lose because if I keep pressure on one part of the bottom side of the screen, it works fine. Unfortunately, at the moment, that means I have a Frequent Miler business card folded over and wedged between my keyboard and monitor to keep the screen from looking like a science project gone wrong. Will I be able to get it repaired before the trip? Will I want to chance bringing a freshly-repaired laptop that could go haywire mid trip? Will I have to buy a Dell with Business Platinum credits? Will Dell stop canceling my orders for Xbox gift cards? I have a lot of questions, but I don’t yet have the answers. My current computer is an HP Spectre x360 15.6″ machine. The number pad is a must-have for me and that seems to exclusively come on computers with a 15.6″ or larger screen. Nothing larger than 15.6″ is going to fit in my backpack, which only serves to complicate my shopping. I’ll be bringing a laptop for sure, I just don’t know which one!
  • Charger and cables. I use this Amazon Basics wall charger that can put out up to 100W, including a dedicated 65W USB-C port that can charge my current laptop. I mainly use the cord that came with my laptop to charge it, but it’s nice knowing that in a pinch I can use this charger. I’ll carry two USB-C to USB-C cables and a USB-A to USB-C cable to charge my stuff.
  • Adapter. I have a universal international adapter from Amazon. It has USB ports on top of it, but I find that they don’t include enough juice to charge my devices as quickly as I’d like. Still, this will enable me to plug in wherever I am.
  • Bluetooth headphones. I recently bought a new Google Pixel 6a and it came with a pair of Google Pixel Buds Series A. Those will be my musical companions / live translation guides for this trip.
  • Laptop stand. Without a doubt, my favorite sub-$15 purchase of the past few years (and one of my favorite overall purchases) has been this laptop stand (the exact one is currently unavailable, but there are tons of other identical products on the market). It is a very simple device that has saved my neck from hours of unnecessary ache. As I mentioned above, my laptop screen is messed up, so I am typing this post without using this stand and my neck is killing me (I actually typed that sentence with my eyes closed and my head tilted as far back as possible to try to undo the way my neck muscles are tensing to support my head leaning over my laptop while I type). I really don’t want to leave home without this stand if I can fit it – I love how just a little elevation can make it so much more comfortable to work.

Electronics I would kind of like to have but probably won’t bring include a gimbal to stabilize video with my phone (it’s just too bulky) and a smart watch (Samsung seems to have killed off Samsung Pay in my Gear S3, so the main reason to bring it would be to track steps, but I don’t know if I care enough to have to also remember to charge my watch every night). The Bluetooth connectivity of a smart watch would also drain my phone battery. Instead, I’ll probably lean toward a more traditional watch, though I’ll need to decide between one that can hold up to different types of activities (like swimming / hiking) or one that is easy to reset at each destination (a manual watch). I’ll decide which at some point later.

Clothes

After electronics, my biggest dilemma has been clothing. I’ll need to be able to handle multiple climates and more than a week of travel without taking up too much space in my bag. Here’s what I plan to bring:

  • Merino wool shirts (2). After reading others talk about Merino wool for years, I finally decided to take the plunge and try it out. I placed an order with Wool&Prince intending to test the waters on re-wearing a Merino wool shirt for a few days. Last week, I wore the same shirt four days in a row, even wearing it to the park in 90º weather to run around after my kids. Yes, the shirt showed plenty of sweat — but as predicted by those readers who followed the Instagram story, it was dry within about an hour each time. More importantly (and amazingly), it didn’t smell bad. After four days, it had picked up enough of my deodorant smell that I decided to wash it, but I think I could have gotten away with a fifth day (and probably even more if I followed their advice about wetting down the pits with warm water at night and letting it air dry). I bought a Henley and a Polo shirt. I intend to participate in the 100 Day Challenge to get another free shirt down the line (though note that you can wash your shirt during the challenge).
  • Merino Wool Underwear / socks. The shirts made a believer out of me, so I think I’m going to bring some more Merino wool products to round out my collection. I see that Saks carries Bombas Merino wool blend socks, so that may be where the latest personal Platinum $50 credit gets spent this time around.
  • Fishing pants. I own a pair of L.L. Bean fishing pants that are perfect for travel (these look like the more modern equivalent of my decade-old-plus pants). I love fishing pants for travel because they feature pant legs that zip off — which means that one pair can be both pants and shorts. More than once before, I’ve walked around in a sweltering climate in my shorts all day and then zipped on the pant legs to visit a site like a church or temple. Furthermore, fishing pants are designed to dry quickly (important if I need to wash in a hotel room) and they have a lot of pockets (useful for a lot of reasons).
  • Golfing shorts. I hate golf, but I love golf shorts. Typically made of a quick-drying material that is comfortable and lightweight, these fit for this type of trip and packing. I bought a few pairs like this one from Coscto during a big sale sometime last year.
  • Swimsuit. I’ll definitely spend some time in the water during my trip, so a pair of trunks isn’t optional.
  • Uniqlo Ultra Light Down jacket. I have owned one of these very lightweight yet very warm Uniqlo jackets for for years (this jacket is the closest option to the one I have, though it’s a bit different as mine has a hood). I used to sometimes DJ outside at a ski resort wearing this jacket, so I am confident that it can handle the low temperature end of my trip. The nice thing is that mine packs up into a little carry-bag that won’t take up a ton of room in my backpack or it could even be tied to the outside.
  • Sneakers. This is a total sacrifice. I’d like to have sandals for the beach and also have shoes with padding and/or traction for hiking, I just don’t have the extra space, so sneakers is the “compromise”.
  • Fedora. You already knew this, didn’t ya?

I feel like the above isn’t quite enough for a trip of somewhere between 1 week and 2 weeks, but I’m not sure how much more I can fit. If I end up having the space, I’ll probably work in a moisture-wicking t-shirt and/or a long-sleeved t-shirt to give me an option to wear if  I get cold. Thankfully, I have a stop planned where laundry should be an option, time-permitting, so I’m counting on only needing to get through half my trip with what I’ve got.

Bags

Everything above has to go somewhere, so how am I going to carry it?

  • Tumi backpack. Greg and I have talked on the show about how our favorite travel accessory is our Tumi backpack (mine is pictured at the top of this post). With strong zippers and really convenient pocket design, I have come to absolutely love mine. Greg mentioned how this bag is designed to sit upright without falling over and how there is the perfect compartment for chargers or snacks or your laptop, etc and all of that is spot on. This one on Amazon is the closest one available new today to the one that I have, though I bought mine for $100 used on Craigslist about 5 years ago and it is still going strong.
  • T-Mobile Tuesdays drawstring bag. One question I had was what to do with laundry and/or items that are still wet when it is time to leave a place. As if they heard me talking to myself, T-Mobile offered a free draw-string bag for T-Mobile customers last week on T-Mobile Tuesday. The bag they offered was simple, with a single drawstring pouch and one zippered compartment on the front, but that should be enough for my needs. I can pack this bag inside my backpack and get some separation if I have odors that I want to separate from my clean clothes. It may even come in handy as a daypack / beach bag. All that said, Carrie made the point that your laundry bag should be porous enough to not trap the odors too well. Is a drawstring bag a mistake? Hmmm….

Bottom line

I know that Carrie is right and that I’ll inevitably regret not bringing something or wish I hadn’t brought one of the items above. Help me try to avoid mistakes: what is missing from my packing list that should be there or what do I have that you’d leave home? Let me know in the comments.

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Mercedes

A gallon sized ziploc works wonders. Food storage, emergency laundry washer, wet swimsuit holder, etc.

Shannon and Sergio @ScrewTheAverage

Hey Nick,

Any particular reason why you carry the grandfathered SoFI debit card instead of the Schwab?

Also, if you need any packing ideas and tips, here’s the list of items with approximate weight that we’ve been using and optimizing since 2016.

We hope you have lots of fun, stay safe!

WR2

Come on, man, ditch the fedora! It’s not even functional. I bring a floppy wide brimmed hat. Provides SPF, takes very little space and can be folded and smashed up.

I also bring only a few pair of spandex underwear and wool socks, even for long trips. I fill an old hotel shampoo bottle with laundry detergent, so I can hand wash my undies and socks in the hotel bathroom sink. They dry quickly, especially wringing them out in a hotel towel. This allows me to not have to bring so much clothes and not have to do laundry often. Other clothes I can rewear a few times,but not underwear/socks. Another trick:. For a quick steam clean of shirts, hang them in or next to your shower while you take a shower.

TSR

Wow! You just hit me with the 1-2 punch with this article because FM gives me a fix for my passion of Maximizing return on spend… BUT this article hits another craving: Minimalism! I can’t wait to see your posts w/ pics of how you packed/fit everything (especially the jacket? and shoes? or you intend to wear the sneakers and only pack the sandals?) Also, I never heard of Wool&Prince so looked them up. Their website says wear an undershirt which turned me off because if i wear an undershirt, then the top shirt is really like a jacket then which I don’t wash my jackets often and they don’t stink so smells (pun intended) a bit gimmicky to me.

TSR

Ahhh….so it will be your 1 shirt for the 3 continents! Looking forward to seeing those posts for both the trip and the polo usage). I might follow your lead on one after I see how your trip goes!

SteveH

For the two free lounge accesses with the Capital One Venture, it states the cardmember gets free access and guests are $45. Does anyone know if the other person is an authorized user on the card (ie, separate card number), would they also get the free access even though it is technically one account? Trying to give my neighbor some advice and want to make sure I’m telling her the correct thing.

TimR

VentureX AU will allow access, regular Venture AU will not

SteveH

Thanks. They just have the regular Venture so if I’m understanding correctly, she will have access to the Plaza Premium Lounge, but he would have to pay $45?

TimR

Venture gets 2 complimentary visits per year for themselves and/or AU’s/guests. If no other trips planned could use both at the same time (primary+guest)

FullMoonMadness

An imperfect solution to the larger laptop requiring 10-key is to buy a 10-key only keyboard. It would create other challenges like how to transport it without the keys getting mashed down, and it’s one more thing to carry. But maybe this will work for you.

Mary

That is a LOT of tech. I founded, owned and operated a very popular travel site for 13 years, and I did just fine with a small MacBook, an iPhone and two cables with the Apple international plug set. Tiny flex tripod. Done. Why all the backups? I mean, I know your destinations are a secret, but you’re not going to the Moon, are you? 😉 If something breaks, you buy a new one. If a cable stops working or you lose one, ask at the hotel front desk. People leave cables behind all.the.time. I guarantee they have a lost and found box with every cable you could possibly want. And they will have plug converters, too.

Cavedweller

Yup a charging cable in Greece 2 EU..Worked better the the US one..

Anita

All for redundancy! Most things can be replaced in most places, but not on the plane and not after closing hours. And of course there’s the extra time involved.

Anonymous

I thought that the Sofi debt card only works at Allpoint atms (hope I’m wrong). I searched for one on the Allpoint site for Greece (where I’m heading) and found none.

Robert

Hi Nick. When SoFi changed their rules I too was grandfathered in and used the debit card in my travels. Before a trip earlier this year I called to confirm that I was still grandfathered in and was told no. I also had been with them for a long time. Oh well, I just changed to the Schwab debit card. PS. Really enjoy FM!

Shannion

Sarah Murdoch has the best packing tips. https://adventureswithsarah.net/blog/category/Packing

enthusiast

Bring the aviator card if it has chip and pin and none of your other cards do. The capability can save you at train stations and unattended gas pumps.

FredF

A UV rated top while out in the sun or at the pool/beach. Climate warming is the real deal