Your Ultimate Travel Packing List and Guide, Inspired by Nellie Bly

Updated: Feb 15, 2019

An American pioneer trailblazer and reporter, Nellie Bly, in 1889 embarked on circumnavigating the globe with just a small duffle bag. Bly, an audacious reporter as she was, challenged Jules Verne’s fictional character Phileas Fogg (Around the World in Eighty Days 1873). Verne argued that, “anything one man can imagine, other men can make real,” and oh man was he wrong to not include women. His vision for speed-circumnavigation was made real in 1889 — by a woman. A pioneer that she was, Bly would complete the trip in seventy-five days. How she did it is another topic. Nevertheless, we want to highlight Bly’s masterful and efficient packing skills for such a long and demanding trip especially at an era when resources were limited and technology wasn’t as it is today.

Illustrated Packing List, Women's Media Center

Efficiency, strategy and perhaps meticulous attention to details were few key contributing factors to Bly’s success in beating the world record of eighty days. According to Maria Popova, “How to Pack Like Pioneering Journalist Nellie Bly,” Bly chose to take a single bag, a small leather gripsack that she would be able to pack everything. Her mindset and strategy, the ability to carry her own bag so as to prevent any delays and unforeseen circumstances especially in dealing with customs officials, baggage claim or lost baggage and other snafus which was without a doubt brilliant. That’s what you call a strategy, one that every modern day traveler must take note of from the pages of Bly.

From packing all the necessary items that any modern day traveler would have in their bags,such as clothing to writing tools, toiletries, to articles, that she might require or need to reference, Bly was fully prepared for an adventure of a life time. “As her traveling dress she had selected a snugly fitted two-piece garment of dark blue broadcloth trimmed with camel’s hair. For warmth she was taking a long black-and-white plaid Scotch ulster coat, with twin rows of buttons running down the front, that covered her from neck to ankles; and rather than the hat and veil worn by most of the fashionable oceangoing women of the time, she would wear a jaunty wool ghillie cap — the English-style “fore-and-aft” cap later worn by Sherlock Holmes in the movies — that for the past three years had accompanied her on many of her adventures. The blue dress, the plaid ulster, the ghillie cap: to outward appearances it was not an especially remarkable outfit, but before long it would become the most famous one in all the world,” states Maria Popova.

Although it is important to note that today, we no longer need to pack such things as books, articles, certain toiletries such as towels, soap, wash cloths etc. Since some of these things are already provided by the hotel or we can use an app or computer and other electronic devices such as our phones, iPads or kindle reader and or audible to compensate. Here are few guides and tips for an efficient and masterful packing - your ultimate packing list and guide.

Before you begin, we want to remind you that less is more, therefore, reject stuff you don’t need. The less things you pack the more efficient you will be and the opportunity to buy souvenirs that will actually fit in your Carryon. Which is cost effective, less hassle and a win win. These packing list tips and guides can be for a month or so. Moreover, we encourage all our customers to apply the philosophy of packing in multiples of three. Three is always a great number for many reasons. Even Pythagoreans taught that the number three was the first true number and it is also said to be a number of good fortune. You may have also heard of the saying, “third time lucky.” Not to mention Nicola Tesla’s obsession with numbers divisible by three in addition to his infamous theory about 3, 6, 9; “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have a key to the universe,” states Tesla. Are you convinced so far? Let’s dive in. Multiples of three simply means, three of the same or similar things, either in different colors, shapes, and sizes such as shirts, dresses, jeans, dress pants that can be folded or packed in packing cubes without causing any damage to the original appearances of the items.

It is also important to note that, you should not pack anything that’s been in your closet for about a year or so and have never worn it. Chances are you won’t be needing it. In addition, before you pack an item make sure you have already tried it on first or use the product prior to packing it. What we don’t routinely use in our daily life is likely that we won’t be needing items like that when we travel, except for items such as first aid kit, certain medications, pain killers, vitamins and sanitary items.

Packing Cubes

The Ultimate packing list must include these items and these items should also be packed in packing cubes so as to prevent mishaps and or messiness in order to stay organized and efficient: Keep in mind that these items must be in travel-sizes and TSA approved.

Toiletries (if you don’t like hotel toiletries or only use specific products for skin care and hygiene). Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, tooth brush, tooth paste, floss, body lotion, face lotion and other facials cleansers, creme, toners, exfoliates and masks, make up kit, Makeup Removing Cleanser, nail clippers, deodorant, perfume, hair spray, sanitary pads or tampons, razor, blades, shaving lubricant, hand sanitizer, Natural and Gentle Solid Sunscreen, Tide to Go Pen or other stain removers.

Safety Pins

Few other items that people tend to overlook and these items are found in my globe trotting grandmas carryon are; safety pins organized from the smallest to the biggest each in threes and a sewing kit. You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the security checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in a ziplock bag, and separate the bag from your carry-on baggage while going through security screening. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage. For more information visit TSA by clicking here

Comfortable Cloths:

Be mindful of bringing your beloved or most expensive cloths and shoes. In situations like baggage lost or theft you don’t want your trip to go sour before it began simply because you will never be able to get back your beloved shoes or dress that you spent your hard earned money on. Minimize such snafus by becoming aware of packing things that you need vs. things that you want to pack. A need is a necessity and a want is not. Remember to also pack socks, underwear’s, scarfs, comfortable jacket, blazers, sweater, a cap or hat, hoodie, yoga and or regular training gears you use for working out.

Shoes: ( a sneaker, flip flops, neutral color heels and the shoe you regularly wear and love depending on the season and climate condition of the place you are going. Just be sure the shoes are comfortable.

First Aid Kit and Medication such as pain killers and vitamins. You can put them in travel size bottles and label them. As recommended by 2018 New York Times 52 places to go in 2018 traveler, Jada Yua, recommends getting foreign correspondents to help you design your first-aid kit. Beyond the basics (Band-aids, anti-bacterial ointment, ibuprofen), you want:

— Lavender oil for bug bites.

— Loperamide (Imodium), Cipro and oral rehydration salts for the inevitable G- I issues. And Travelan, which you take before meals to prevent the inevitable.

— A SteriPEN water purifier, which came in handy when I was holed up in hotels in South America with no bottled water around.

— Lacrosse ball for rolling on sore muscles (a physical therapy trick). Finally on Jada’s ‘always list’ are Compression socks — “the best I’ve tried are from Cep Compression — and noise canceling earbuds (I use them for transcribing interviews), though you don’t need super expensive ones.”

Electronics and Apps:

Whether a camera, chargers, extra batteries, head phone, an iPad or kindle reader a personal laptop, and of course your cell phone especially if you like to take pictures on your your phone or liked to capture a scene in a video; these items should be packed in your hand back instead of your Carryon. They should be in an easy to access place and safe. Avoid packing books or heavy items that can easily be accessed or downloaded through an app or an electronic device. For more information on gadgets, apps and electronics you can visit our blog for more.

Empty your wallet then add your travel credit card, debit card, stare I’d or drivers license, an emergency contact number (suggested by one of our readers, Natalie Miles and it’s something we tend to overlook), and few other items you would like to travel with. The goal is that if in case you loose your wallet you don’t have to worry about how many items are in your wallet and if your privacy and or important items could affect or jeopardize your identity, safety etc. Take caution traveling or packing items that have intrinsic value. Also, remember to pack sleep aids to avoid jet lag, and the most important document especially for international travelers, your passport and vaccination booklet.

Another important item that should go in you hand bag is a sustainable water bottle, preferably, the BKR brand or hydaway collapsible ultra stashable, planet-friendly water bottle. “Breeze through airport security faster than you can say "sip stash repeat" with new Travel Packs.” In addition, perhaps your favorite protein bar mints, two packs of gum, napkins etc.

Complement the ultimate packing list and guide by also reading travel friendly gadgets, apps and devices. Feel free to let us know if this lists and guides helps. Better yet let us know if you have any recommendations.

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