Promotion! – Blue Belt Packing

After a night on the couch at Kev’s flat, I finish packing my bag to get ready for our flight out of Manila to Kalibo as part of our journey to the paradise island of Boracay.

“Nice packing, I think you’re ready”, I hear Kev’s voice from behind me.

“Ready?”, I turn around to face Kev. He is wearing a karate gi with a black belt and his face has a calm but meaningful expression.

“You’ve been putting the hours in, and we can tell. Every day for over 4 months, and we see improvement every day”.

“We do”, Mass says from the iPad on the table, Skypeing in from Sydney. I can see he is also wearing a gi of some sort – a black one.

“Do you mean…….?”

“Yes”, Kev says with a smile, “We’re promoting you!”

“Every day”, Mass comes in, “Every day you practice packing that bag”. “It’s smaller, it’s lighter, it’s more aero-dynamic…..and it’s down to the hard work you have been putting in every single day”

I’m welling up, “Thank’s guys, you know I couldn’t have done this without your inspiration, technique, instruction and support.”

Both Mass and Kev are certified black belts at packing. During their travels a few years ago they even got to the point where they were playing games by having so much extra-space in their bag that they had to have 1 ridiculously extravagant or impractical thing at one time (I think Kev had a model boat at one point he was taking around in his bag while motobiking through Vietnam!)

We hug, we bow, Kev and Mass take a final inspection of the morning packing work on my travel bag and I receive my blue belt in travel bag packing. I don’t feel ready but I will continue putting in the work until I reach my overall goal of a zen like existence with no possessions at all :-)


The Bag!

The Bag!

Since I wrote the initial post on what to take on a 12-month trip I’ve been meaning to do an update every now and then on how it evolves over time…..which items I presumed would be essential but I hardly used, things which turned out more useful than expected, things I didn’t think of but had to purchase later etc.

So below is the original list of items with a few notes (in bold). Items in red have either been thrown away, given away, or sent back home. Items in green are things I’ve picked up on the way.

Overall, I think the original pack was pretty decent for the initial destinations of New Zealand and Australia. The weather there (mainly temperature) was far more varied and therefore I needed a larger range of clothes. It’s only since travelling around asia for the past month and a half where I felt a real urge to shed things and pack lighter. 1 Week in Manila and you feel like you’re never going to have to wear jeans and a jacket in your whole life, let alone just for the trip! :-)

The Bag


  • Osprey Farpoint 70L (55 litre main bag plus a 15L detachable daybag).
  • Jack Wolfskin 20L compact daybag. I no longer use this as a daybag as I have the detachable part of the Osprey. the ony reason I still have it with me is that it compacts down and creates a nice little protection wrap for a camera lens.
  • Ebags. Probably the most useful items I purchased initially!


  • 2 pairs of sports/board shorts (MMA style to be used for rolling or sports)
  • 1 pair of denim shorts. Given to charity in Manila
  • 1 pair denim jeans. Given to charity in Manila
  • 1 pair of walking pants
  • 1 walking jacket. Not really being used currently but is light and waterproof for the rainy seasons in Asia.
  • One hoodie jacket. Given to charity in Manila
  • 1 bomber jacket (idea was to use this to double up as a pillow on long coach journeys). Put in a free clothes bank in a hostel in Taupo, New Zealand. Was a last-minute purchase before leaving but never used and took up too much space in the bag.
  • 5 short sleeve T-Shirts, 2 Long Sleeve T-Shirts. Donated to charity in Manila, feel like I never need to wear long sleeves again!
  • 7 Pairs of underwear, 5 pairs of socks. Reduced to 2 pairs of socks. I’m wearing sandals 90% of the time. Kept a pair for running.
  • 1 pair swimming trunks
  • 1 pair walking shoes. Given away in Boracay. Wearing sandals 90% of the time and I have running shoes for the other rare occasions.
  • 1 pair running trainers
  • 1 pair sandles
  • 1 beanie hat. Sent home.
  • 1 sun hat
  • 2 pairs of lightweight shorts. After getting rid of my denim jeans and shorts, I need something to wear on my lower half!
  • Training Gear. I was kindly sent a travel gi, rashguard, T-Shirt, and a bunch of other goodies from BJJ Globetrotters (original post on sponsorship).

The ‘Essentials’

  • 1 Water bottle. Lost in Adelaide
  • 1 smaugh. I still haven’t used this at all yet…..I’m keeping hold of it as it’s so small and was recommended highly.
  • 2x Travel towel. Still keeping the backup :-)
  • 1 silk sleeping bag liner
  • Washbag – containing a lot of usual stuff – mini shower gel, shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, nailclippers
  • Waterproof cover for travel bag. Threw away as it did not match the shape of my bag (which I realised when caught in the rain!)
  • Disposable poncho. Used and disposed of in the Byron Bay Storms
  • Wallet
  • Passport
  • Vaccination record
  • Playing cards
  • Skipping rope (will explain that later)
  • Deet spray
  • Stress ball. Not used….wasn’t stressed!
  • Massage ball
  • Electric razor (and charger)
  • Torch
  • Leatherman juice multitool


  • Laptop (Dell XPS 12). Essential for blogging, music, downtime etc. Although it’s picked up a nice crack down the middle of the screen. Travel Scars!
  • Nexus 7. Also picked up 3 full sized screen cracks!
  • iPhone 5. Lost in Boracay!
  • Backup ‘emergency’ 1-month lasting Samsung phone. Didn’t use and would require purchasing multiple sims in each country.
  • 4-way UK plugsocket. Threw away in Sydney
  • World plug adapter set.  Threw away in Sydney. Too bulky! Instead just purchasing a single adapter in needed in each new country.
  • Go-pro
  • Jambox jawbone
  • Sony a6000 (plus 3 lenses – SEL55210, SEL1850, Zeiss Touit 1.8). Sent one lens back home – never needed to take a photo which required it.
  • Portable Tripod. Sent Home
  • 2x Headphones (normal and sports)
  • External Harddrive (containing a far amount of music, and a lot of photos for pick-me-ups on the road)
  • Chargers and cables
  • External Hardrive (2Tb). Took too many photos and needed more storage!

The Bag

So that’s where we are currently on my journey to zen-like packing! To be continued…let’s see how small I can get the bag by the end!

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