Don't Leave Anything Behind

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Last year, inspired by Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review, we recapped 2013 and laid out our goals for 2014.

Writing that post and reading the feedback that you left was helpful. Today, we continue this tradition.

First, we will review our 2014 goals to see what went well and what did not go well.

Then we will lay out what’s coming up in 2015 so that you know what to look forward to and can hold us accountable for hitting our goals.

2014 Year in Review

We outlined our 2014 goals in last year’s post.

In short, our goals were:

  1. Launch the Tortuga Air
  2. Start shipping internationally
  3. Publish explainer videos for the Tortuga
  4. Start a study abroad scholarship
  5. Launch the Tortuga Daypack

Let’s see how we did…

Click to continue…

As the year winds down, let’s take a look back at our most popular blog posts of 2014. Next week, we’ll revisit our goals for 2014 and give you a glimpse of what’s to come in 2015.

  1. Is a Backpack a Personal Item?
  2. Airlines don’t agree on what a personal item is and rarely publish sizing rules for personal items. Follow this handy guide to know what you can bring aboard your flight other than your carry on luggage.

  3. The Definitive Carry On Packing List
  4. The conclusion of our 3-part, carry on packing series. This post outlines everything you need to bring to fit a well-rounded wardrobe and your electronics in a carry on bag. You can also download the list for reference later.

  5. How to Pack a Suit in a Carry On Bag
  6. Videos and graphics to show you how to pack a suit, shit, and shoes in your carry on. I used the advice in this post to pack my suit for a trip to London.

  7. The Carry On Luggage Rules to Live By
  8. The first part of our carry on packing series. Learn every airline and TSA rule that you must obey when carrying on luggage.

  9. 7 Secrets to Packing Light
  10. The second part of the carry on packing series. This post outlines the “rules of thumb” that you will need to follow to pack light but still bring everything you need.

  11. How I Earned $1,850 in Airbnb Credits (and You Can Too)
  12. How to earn free credits on Airbnb, HotelTonight, Uber, and other travel services. I recently stayed in a four-bedroom house in Sonoma then a yurt near the Central Coast for free because of the credits I earned referring people to my favorite travel sites and apps.

  13. 8 Travel Gear Blogs You Should Be Reading
  14. If you like Packsmith, you’ll love these sites.

  15. An Illustrated Guide to Hand-Washing Clothes When You Travel
  16. The easiest way to travel with less is to do laundry. Hand washing items like underwear and socks will let you travel with only a handful of each.

  17. How I Used Flightfox to Fly to Vietnam and Hong Kong for $65
  18. If you’re trying to work out a complicated itinerary or to figure out how to redeem miles for an extended trip, let the flight hackers at Flightfox do the hard work for you.

  19. What NOT to Pack: 9 Things to Leave Behind on Your Next Trip
  20. What you don’t bring can be just as crucial as what you do bring when packing light. Here’s the list of stuff to leave at home.

Next year, you’ll get even more great packing and gear advice from our new team of writers.

What was your favorite blog post (on Packsmith or elsewhere) of 2014? Share it in the comments.

Don't Leave Anything Behind

Perfect your packing with our free carry on packing list.

Join our mailing list below to get your packing checklist and weekly packing tips sent straight to your inbox.

Spam is the worst, so we won't send you any.

Most people dread packing, but you love it. You are a meticulous list maker. You have a strong opinion on the best brand of socks. You could pack for a weeklong trip while blindfolded. You love the articles on this blog but know you can do ever better.

If that sounds like you, join us and share your knowledge with other travelers.

We are looking for paid freelance writers to contribute to Packsmith, the Tortuga Backpacks’ blog.

At Tortuga Backpacks, our mission is to help people take amazing trips. Packsmith supports this goal by helping travelers decide what to bring and how to pack it.

Can you contribute to that mission? If so, keep reading.

What You Will Write About

You should be an expert in one or more of the following topics. We’ll ask for your areas of expertise when you apply.


Carry On Information

Travel Gear

  • What to pack, top products by category, product comparisons
  • Example posts

Travel Clothes/Fashion


We also occasionally post about travel technology, travel hacking, and living and working remotely as a digital nomad. If you can contribute to these topics, that’s a bonus. Packing and gear will be your main focus.

How You Will Write

You should be comfortable writing in the style of our blog.

Posts should be 750–1,500 words and broken up into sections and sub-sections for easier reading. The more organized, the better. Use bold, italics, and bullet-pointed lists to make posts easy to skim and to understand.

You should be a clear and effective communicator who is comfortable working in WordPress and basic HTML for formatting.

How to Apply

To apply, fill out this form.

The form asks for links to two writing samples. Please link to posts that are at least 750 words in length and are about packing, travel gear, or travel clothes. In other words, show us that you are already an expert on the subjects that we cover.

We will contact you by December 4th, 2014 if we would like to schedule a follow-up Skype interview. Note that we cannot respond to every application.

If you have any questions, email us. Please do not email your application.

About Tortuga Backpacks

In case you’re new here…

Packsmith is a packing and travel gear blog by the team at Tortuga Backpacks.

Tortuga Backpacks makes urban travel backpacks. With our backpacks, travelers can bring everything they need without checking a bag. We believe in traveling carry-on-only, and our mission is to help people take amazing trips.

The idea was sparked by a backpacking trip to Eastern Europe in 2009. The trip was fun, but our bags were a disappointment. We couldn’t find the perfect travel backpack, so we made it. Our flagship product is the Tortuga Travel Backpack, a maximum-sized carry on for international trips of one week to one year. The Tortuga has over 200 reviews and is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars. For shorter trips, the soon-to-be-released Tortuga Air is a smaller, lighter option.

We are a small business but are growing quickly. If you are a similar-minded traveler, join us on the journey to eliminate checked luggage.

Photo: Nan Palmero (Flickr)

Earlier this week, I returned from a 12-day trip to China. There I met with our suppliers and attended the Canton Fair, a massive import/export trade show.

As a personal challenge, I packed for my trip in only the Tortuga Air. We usually recommend the Air for short trips, from one to three nights. I wanted to show an example of extreme light packing and to demonstrate that you can travel indefinitely even in a small bag. This approach isn’t for everyone, but perhaps you can find a more sensible middle ground for yourself.

Today’s post will outline what I packed for the 12 day trip and how I made it work. My bag weighed 8.8 kgs (19 lbs) when I checked in with Asiana Airlines for my departing flight.

My bag weighed 10 kgs on my return flight, including a few gifts and everything I had collected at the Canton Fair. The Air was packed to bursting because I wanted to travel without using the expansion panel.

The packing list below is for the departing flight.

Click to continue…

Applications are now closed. Thank you for your interest. We will be posting more opportunities in the future. Keep an eye here and on our jobs page.

Do you love to travel and, more importantly, talk about travel? Have you ever helped someone else plan a trip? Are you the go-to source of travel info for your friends?

Then we want you to join our team as a Concierge. You’ll help fellow travelers choose the right gear and ensure they have a great trip.

But first, a bit of information about us.

Why Tortuga Backpacks?

We are a small, fast-growing company that’s just starting to hit its stride. We had the idea for Tortuga on a backpacking trip in 2009. After experiencing the shortcomings of travel backpacks first hand, we’ve been obsessed with fixing them ever since. We’re solving real problems, not just selling stuff.

Tortuga has been named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Brilliant Companies and nominated for Carryology’s Best Carry On Award. Our first product was a hit, and we are about to release two more. Next year will be a big one for us. Will you be a part of it?

Our customers are awesome. They are world travelers who share their trips and write glowing reviews.

We’re posting this opportunity here and not on a job board because we hope our next team member will come from within our community or via referral. Keep reading to learn more about the role and to see if you’re a good fit.

You Might Be a Good Fit If…

You are empathetic. Anyone can reply to a customer with a generic, pre-written email. You care about the problem and won’t stop until it’s fixed. You will be the customer’s advocate. Can you stay positive when dealing with a tough customer? We’ve found that a considered, honest response will defuse most situations.

You love travel. You haven’t been everywhere (yet) but you want to go. Your passion for travel should be infectious, even through email or Facebook. Customers identify with us because we’re passionate travel junkies, not a faceless corporation.

You take initiative. You should have a bias for action both in working with customers and in creating new projects. Have a good idea? Let’s do it. No presentations, multiple approvals, or layers of management required.

You’re a great writer. Your job is to provide clear, concise, and helpful answers via email. Good writing is crucial. We’ll be reading your application closely.

You double check. Dealing with customers’ orders (and money) carries a lot of responsibility. You don’t take that lightly. You check and double check everything to avoid mistakes that will create more work.

You think in systems. At Tortuga, we build systems and document them to make our jobs easier. We use Standard Operating Procedures so that the business is reliant on a system, not on any one person. If you like making checklists, you’re in the right place.

You want to learn. You should be comfortable acknowledging mistakes, getting feedback, and asking for help. Unlike most people, you embrace a challenge and want to improve every day.

Your Responsibilities

You will be the Concierge helping travelers take amazing trips. That’s our mission. On a daily basis, you will:

  • Answer questions via email and social media about our products and occasionally provide packing and travel advice.
  • Edit the FAQ and product pages so that customers can get answers without having to send an email.
  • Manage our social media accounts and Team Tortuga site.
  • Be one of the faces of the business online. Contribute to off-site discussions about Tortuga by being helpful, not sales-y.
  • Document how you work so that your tasks can be delegated or improved in the future.
  • Look for trends in customer feedback to help us improve existing products and create new ones.
  • Build and nurture a community of like-minded travelers. This is an upcoming project that you will own.

Why This Role?

The Concierge will start as an hourly position working 10-20 hours per week at $18/hour.

You can work from anywhere. You control your own hours but will be expected to respond to customers daily during US business hours. Living in North or South America is ideal.

If all goes well, your role and responsibilities will increase.

We will provide Standard Operating Procedures and screencasts for your most common tasks. You’ll be encouraged to document your processes and to automate your most repetitive tasks. You will be free to focus on helping customers and creatively solving problems, not typing the same answers over and over.

Do Not Apply If…

  • You are not interested in customer service. We have great customers and 1-2 hours of email-based work needed per day. You will have plenty of time for other projects. However, you will be answering customer emails. If you aren’t interested in helping people, don’t apply.
  • You like working at a big company. We are a small business. There is no HR department. There are no layers of management. If you need something done, you do it.

How to Apply

  • Send an email to
  • Make the subject line “Concierge [Your Name]”
  • Write 3-5 paragraphs about:
    • Who you are
    • What relevant experience you have
    • Why you are a good fit for the Concierge role
    • Why you want to work with Tortuga Backpacks

If you have any questions, contact us. If you know anyone who would be a good fit for this role, please forward this post to him/her.

We look forward to reading everyone’s applications and to welcoming a new member to the team.