30 For 30/30 #19 – Suggestions for Ultralight Business Travel

My Swiss Gear 40L backpack was my sole carry on a three-week journey across the US and back in 2016.

This is the 19th post in my 30 for 30/30 series where I am publishing a new post each day for the next 30 days within a 30-minute window without much of a plan. You can read about why I’m doing this by clicking this link.

If I am completely transparent, the one facet of my daily practice of simplicity as it relates to living with less that has the potential to become problematic is my fondness for backpacks. If I weren’t a practicing minimalist, I’d likely have a two dozen or more. 

There was a time when I found it amusing to consider the number of purses in the possession of various women in my acquaintance, but as it turns out, the briefcase, messenger bag, and business backpack addiction—to which I am admittedly a slave—is no different.

I think that one of the reasons for this is that backpacks, like their purse counterparts, have personalities and each is designed to further accessorize our presence when we carry/wear them.

My current everyday carry backpack is from the Reaction collection by Kenneth Cole. It’s the Brooklyn Commuter 15″ RFID Laptop Backpack from eBags.com. 

At 30-liters in capacity, it holds everything I need on a day-to-day basis, including:

  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (and charger)
  • 12.9″ iPad pro (and charger)
  • Eye-glasses case (side zippered pocket)
  • Zip-Lock plastic utility bag (Chapstick, eye-drops, contact lenses, etc.)
  • My lunch
  • My Zen-Journal
  • Apple Pencil and Lamy fountain pen
  • and room for clothing in the larger space

Ultralight travel packing

Yesterday I re-read one of my favorite books by Leo Babauta, Ultralight: The ZenHabits Guide to Traveling Light & Living Light, an Apple Books title on my iPad. 

I read it a couple of years ago but re-reading it made me realize that I’d slowly complicated my travel packing. In one section titled Stop Packing Your Fears, Leo writes that we take more than we need because we pack for situations we might find ourselves in.

These situations usually don’t occur but we’re stuck lugging these extra items of gear and clothing on our journey.

We might need a pair of dressy shoes, a raincoat, or a nice shirt for dinner out. But he also makes the case that no one really cares how we look because, like us, they’re more concerned with their own appearance.

So true, don’t you think?

Ultralight business travel

I have some heavy periods of both business and personal travel approaching over the next several months and I’m determined to revert back to the ultralight mode of travel; to give some careful thought to what and how I pack and… take only one bag, preferably my daily carry backpack.

On my last several flights I’ve felt compelled to check my rolling suitcase at the gate after the airline agent requested that passengers do so at no cost to save overhead cabin space.

I think my minimalist sense of guilt for traveling with two bags gets the best of me and I take them up on their offer. I also feel much lighter boarding and deplaning when I do so. 

So why not just pack lightly in the first place? Duh! 

Some suggestions for traveling ultralight on business


  • taking a large suitcase(s) if a single backpack will do
  • packing might use items like dressy shoes and clothes
  • packing books, use your phone or laptop for reading
  • taking a camera, use your phone
  • packing extra shoes – chances are the ones to you wear on the plane will do fine
  • packing clean pants for each day of your trip – this takes up a lot of room


  • taking only a backpack, the smallest you can get away with
  • packing layers instead of heavy coats (unless severe weather demands it)
  • wearing your clothes twice between washings (unless soiled or sweaty)
  • wearing synthetics or merino wool and wash on the road by hand
  • rolling hand-washed clothes in towels and then drying them overnight on a hangar

(32 minutes)

Categorized as 30-for-30

By Baz

writer | coach | practical buddhist

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