Travel Gear

An unsorted list of travel gear I pack in my backpack. Inspired by Matt Mullenweg's "What's in my bag" post, Polle de Maagt's travel notebook.

I like to travel with only the minimal essentials. Everything that I'm not using regularly, I simply don't want to take it with me. IMHO there is no need to pack your backpack for all the possible "What if" moments. Here are 23 other reasons why you should travel with just one carry-on backpack.

What are my preferred backpacks?

Goruck Echo
My 16L daily EDC backpack that I use for commuting to work when I only carry my essentials. And still some space available for an extra jacket or some groceries.
Goruck GR1
This is my other daily EDC backpack that I use when I need to take some extra stuff with me. For example, when I go to the gym before or after work. It always contains the same EDC gear as the Echo. It has a volume of 26L. This daypack is also big enough for a weekend or midweek away. It even worked perfectly for my 10 day trip to Montevideo and Buenos Aires. While my brother used the GR2.
Goruck GR2
The GR2 is my workhorse for longer trips. I used it to travel around Japan for 3 weeks, and Mexico for 2 weeks. And the best thing is, it is still a TSA carry-on compliant 40L backpack, so a great travel backpack.

For me, the pros of the Goruck backpacks are first of all the aesthetics. It has a low profile, it is not obvious that you are a backpacker or tourist and thus carry value stuff. Plus it looks good when traveling for work. The backpack opens flat due to its clamshell design., which makes (un)packing so much easier. It has a separate compartment for my laptop, which you can easily access, but still safe because it is hidden and close to your back.

A big con is definitely the steep price. (Be patient and wait for a discount moment like the 4th of July, Veterans Day, or Black Friday). But I also think it will pay itself back because of the robust build of the bag. It feels like it will last a lifetime. Another thing is the outside front pocket. It is not very accessible when your bag is full of your belongings. Unfortunately, it is not really a quick access pocket. For that purpose, I use the small pocket inside the bag. And the front pocket to put away small flat items and I irregularly need.

Reviews by others:

Size comparison of the Goruck backpacks

Centimeters and Kilograms are converted from Inches and Pounds mentioned on Goruck's website.
  Goruck Echo Goruck GR1 Goruck GR2
Volume 16 Liter 26 Liter 40 Liter
Height (Centimeter) 41.91 cm 50.8 cm 55.88 cm
Width (Centimeter) 29.21 cm 30.48 cm 31.75 cm
Depth (Centimeter) 10.79 cm 17.15 cm 22.86 cm
Height (Inch) 16.5″ 20″ 22″
Width (Inch) 11.5″ 12″ 12.5″
Depth (Inch) 4.25″ 6.75″ 9″
Weight (Kilogram) 0.88 kg 1.45 kg 2.15 kg
Weight (Pounds) 1.95 lbs 3.20 lbs 4.75 lbs
Laptop Compartment Up to 13″ Up to 17″ Up to 17″
Price Discontinued $295 $495
Warranty & Customization

What travel gear is in my backpack?

Goruck Field Pocket
3L or 4L field pocket that carries all sorts of small EDC and valuable tech items. Like all the Apple adapters, cables, and power plugs. I have multiple field pockets that I can use if I'm packing more or less depending on the trip.
Sea to Summit See Pouch (medium)
This is a handy and light 2L Dopp kit for my toiletries. Because you can see through it, this makes it very easy to go through security at an airport when traveling with only a carry-on backpack.
Peak Design packing cubes & shoe pouch
Light and strong packing cubes to hold my clothing. I have the packing cubes in both sizes, small and medium. They are compressible, so they can almost hold double the amount of a normal non-compressible packing cube. And there is a separate compartment in the cube to hold dirty clothing. Besides the packing cubes, I also have to shoe pouch to hold an extra pair of shoes and flip-flops. This way I keep the inside of my backpack clean from any sand and odors.
Goruck American Waterproof Jacket
A super straightforward jacket to block out wind and water when cycling through Amsterdam. It has enough big pockets to put a lot of stuff in. It is the perfect travel winter jacket in combination with my Patagonia Nano Puff.
Patagonia Nano Puff
A warm lightweight jacket that can be worn underneath my wind and water jacket. Together they make an excellent winter jacket. And it is very packable so it doesn't take up a lot of space in my backpack.
Apple MacBook Pro 14”
With charger + cable.
Apple World Travel Adapter Kit
Handy kit with all the adapters that you may need. They work for the laptop and iPad charger. I always take an iPad charger and cable with me for charging my iPhone. And only the adapters that I need to take for the specific trip.
Apple Keyboard & Mouse
Both are small and lightweight. Ideal for traveling.
Roost laptop stand
A laptop stand that can raise your laptop to the ideal height for your back and neck. Making remote working just as good as working from the office. It is super lightweight and packs super small, so it fits easily in that small spot somewhere in my Goruck.
Apple AirPods Pro
Maybe the best gadget purchase I have done in the last couple of years. I don't miss untangling the cables. And I feel totally comfortable wearing them while biking through Amsterdam or rushing to an airport gate.
Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Canceling headphones
I can't imagine flying intercontinental without noise-canceling headphones anymore. To me, they are essential for a comfortable flight.
Anker Powerbank (20.100 mAh)
ABC! Always Be Charging. To charge my iPhone and MacBook a couple of times. I noticed it can charge my iPhone at least 5 times.
Dopper water bottle
Stay hydrated. Drink water. Alcohol doesn't count. Reduce plastic waste. But make sure it's empty before you go through security at the airport. Fill it up after security for free and you will easily save €5,- every trip.
Secrid wallet
I actually have 2 Secrid wallets. One is in my pocket with the most important cards that I use daily. And a second one with less important cards and some emergency cash.
Other small items
Lip balm, tissues, pen (to fill out forms at the airport border control), eye mask, earplugs, nail clipper, painkillers, sleep aids, multivitamins, protein bars (for a healthy snack), and energy gum (to battle jetlag and hangovers).

My favorite apps when traveling

Google Maps
IMHO the best app to find my way around in a city, because it now also include public transport information.
Foursquare & Swarm
To find hidden local gems, and keep a logbook of all the places I've been.
Google Translate
Before I go on a trip I download the local language in the app. Live translations to English by the camera even worked for Japanese.
Get around a city quickly. Especially handy for traveling to and from an airport. When I'm tired or a bit stressful because of catching my flights. I don't want to deal with obnoxious cab drivers, and even negotiate about prices.
Reisapp Buitenlandse Zaken
The app from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs that provides information around travel advise, safety and contact details for each country. Always handy if you get in to an emergency situation.
For podcasts and my favorite music playlists (already downloaded at home!) to lift me up when feeling down or to get to sleep in the airplane.
Yes, the native note-taking app from Apple. I use it to make a simple itinerary. Which I can share easily with family and friends and always works even when I don't have an internet connection.
Simply the best to-do list app for iOS and Mac.

Basic words to use when traveling

English Dutch German French Spanish Italian
Hi! Hoi! Hallo! Bonjour! Hola! Ciao!
Two beers, please. Twee biertjes alstublieft. Zwei Bier bitte. Deux bières, s'il vous plaît. Dos cervezas, por favor. Due birre, per favore.
Thanks Dankjewel Danke schön! Merci beaucoup! ¡Muchas gracias! Grazie mille!
Bye! Tot ziens! Auf Wiedersehen! Au revoir! ¡Adiós! Arrivederci!