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Minimalist Ultralight Travel Guide for Business Entrepreneurs

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With clients in 10 US states and 4 countries I often need to travel. I like to keep things as simple and minimal as possible, especially when I'm flying on an airplane. I love traveling and strive to be a lightweight travelling ninja! My next trip is back to New Zealand for 3 weeks for both business and recreation. I thought it would be fun to share how I am able to meet Air New Zealand's requirement of 7 kg (15 lbs) or less for carry-on luggage.

The list below meets this weight limit. The trip begins with 17 hours of total flight time from Boston to Los Angeles to Auckland, NZ, so comfort is key! For the business parts of the trip, I will use all of the tech gear listed below. The fun parts of this trip will include meetings, swimming, hiking, horse back riding, and mountain biking.

This page covers my minimalist ultralight packing list as a female entrepreneur, after many years of trial and error. I have broken this page into sections to help explain and share the reasons why I have included certain items. I will also share some tips for packing light as a onebag traveler.

Wherever I plan a trip, the first place I start is with a packing list. My list is a detailed spreadsheet on Google Docs. It helps me to limit what I pack, and includes the weight of each item.

All of the items listed below are things I have used, tried, and tested. If you are just starting out, don't feel like you have to buy an entirely new wardrobe or set of gear. Always look for sales and discounts while buying the best quality that will last.

Benefits to Ultralight Minimal Travel

  • Less strain on the body and back when carrying gear

  • Avoid checked luggage fees

  • Ensure luggage is secure

  • Start the adventure when the plane lands, instead of waiting at the luggage carousel

Luggage

The first place to start is with your luggage. Whatever size luggage you have is what you will fill. For this reason I recommend starting with a smaller bag (35-45 Liters). Check with your airline about the carry-on size limits for your pack. For the past 5 years I have used the Osprey Farpoint 40 Backpack. It is durable, water-resistant, very comfortable, and it has a lifetime warranty. In addition, it has a padded laptop sleeve and lockable zippers, along with stow-able harness and hipbelt. I also use a small 12 liter Eagle Creek day pack as my personal item. It is lightweight, has a padded tablet pocket, and lockable zippers, and fits inside of my Osprey pack so that I can be a one bag traveler. I also use packing cubes and stuff sacks to keep organized, sort, and save space.

CLOTHING

Pack clothing as if you are traveling for just one week. Even if you're going for longer, you will be able to do laundry. This tip has greatly reduced packing volume and weight. Another tip is to layer your clothes. You will notice from my packing list below that I do not have very thick or heavy clothes even though I will be leaving the US in the winter. Instead I wear layers to stay comfortable. I always wear the heaviest clothing on the plane - key tip!

When packing clothing, think about your planned activities, the environment, and the weather forecast. In this packing list, for example, I have included a bathing suit, bicycling shorts, and a sun hat for my adventures. Because I will be going in the shoulder season between spring and summer in New Zealand, I need to have clothing that will accommodate different temperatures. I’m happy to provide this clothing list, especially for women.

Travel clothing has definitely evolved in the past 10-20 years! One fabric that I love is Merino wool. This comes from sheep in New Zealand. It’s not the scratchy wool, but instead is very soft and comfortable. It is also antimicrobial, so it does not smell after you wear it to work out. You won’t have to wash merino as frequently as other fabrics. Synthetic clothes dry quickly, but can also retain odors. New synthetic clothing from Patagonia, for example, includes odor control properties, along with SPF 50 for sun protection.

Info on clothing fabrics:

  • Avoiding cotton (heavy and slow to dry)

  • Merino wool (antimicrobial, warm when wet, more expensive)

  • Synthetic clothes (dries quickly, newer products have odor control, less expensive)

SOCKS/UNDERWEAR

SHIRTS

PANTS/SHORTS

JACKETS/RAIN GEAR

HATS/GLOVES/ SCARF

MISC

Footwear

I suggest only packing one to two pairs of shoes. Your location and agenda will determine which shoes you pack. New Zealand is very casual, and for this trip, I will pack a pair of Gore-Tex trail runners and a pair of sport sandals. With these two pairs of shoes, I am able to go to meetings, hike, mountain bike, use public showers, and go to the beach. Shoes are another heavy item to pack, so wear the heaviest footwear on the plane.

Tech

I use a Samsung Galaxy tablet for all of my travel. From using it as an e-reader for Kindle books, to watching movies, to working on Word documents or spreadsheets, this small tablet allows me to get a lot done on the road! The lightweight keyboard helps me to do work tasks, and the case protects the tablet and includes a stand. I love noise cancelling headphones for travel, and use Bose noise cancelling earbuds because I find that they work well, pack up small, and weigh very little.

Toiletries

This is an area that you can save a lot of packing weight. Toiletries are heavy and can take up a large portion of available packing weight. I pack mostly dry toiletries instead of liquids. Not only does this help to bypass the TSA 3-1-1 rule with carry-on luggage, but these items weigh very little and last a long time. For example, I use the Lush shampoo / conditioner bar instead of bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

Accessories

This category is often where people can get carried away and throw in a bunch of “nice to have” or “just in case” items. Think about what you absolutely need, and what can be simply purchased if needed during your travels. Multi-use items help to keep a pack ultralight and the number of accessories low. A great multi-use item is a dry bag. I wash laundry in my dry bag, use it to keep my electronics dry if it rains, or keep my gear dry if I'm on the water kayaking. You can also fill it up with air and use it as a pillow or store dirty laundry to isolate odors in your luggage.

First Aid Kit (travel size)

Although you can easily buy a small first aid kit for travel, I make my own because it often weighs less and is less expensive. Hospitals and pharmacies are close by in case of more serious medical needs.

  • Band-aids

  • Tylenol

  • Benedryl

  • Pepto Bismol

  • Imodium AD

  • Moleskin

  • Antibiotic ointment

  • Hydro cortisone ointment

  • Medical gloves

  • Alcohol prep wipes

Money and Documents

Depending on your location and length of travel, it pays to think ahead to ensure you have the right documents and money for your trip. This may include a passport, visa, currency, credit cards, or licences.

  • Cash = $100 US

  • Schwab Bank ATM / Debit card - (Schwab is an excellent global ATM card with no foreign transaction fee and ATM fees are reimbursed worldwide)

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card - (no foreign transaction fee, 3% back on travel, $300 travel credit per year, accident insurance, trip cancel insurance, Priority Pass lounge access, $100 credit towards TSA Global entry)

  • Capital One Venture credit card - (no foreign transaction fee, 2% reward points earned on all purchases)

  • US Driver license

  • Tickets/itinerary

  • Medical insurance card - copy

  • Business cards (3)

  • US Passport

  • Global Entry TSA card

  • Priority Pass Lounge card

  • Copies Of Passport, License, Cards, etc. (print and digital)

Disclaimer: This very helpful post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means that should you click any of the links and make a purchase, I may get a small commission at absolutely no cost to you.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK. WHAT DO YOU PACK FOR ULTRALIGHT BUSINESS TRAVEL? I SPENT A LOT OF TIME WRITING THIS STORY, SO IF YOU ENJOYED IT, PLEASE CONSIDER SHARING, AND LEAVE A COMMENT OR QUESTION AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS STORY. I’D REALLY APPRECIATE IT!

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Meet the Author: Sarah Scala

A dynamic consultant, coach, and educator, Sarah Scala provides organization and leadership development, executive coaching, succession planning, change management, public speaking facilitation, and team development solutions. Her work transforms performance of executives, leaders, and teams, helping them reach their highest potential. She supports US-based and global clients across cultures, generations, geographies, and diverse industries.

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