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This month we are excited to introduce you to the new team of travel writers joining Packsmith. Each one is a seasoned traveler bringing a unique perspective on packing light. This week we’re presenting Shannon Whitney and Jessie Beck.

Meet Shannon, The Girl Who Says, “Yes!” to Travel

During this season of my life, I work in Customer Relations for an airline. I don’t live abroad, however I do live in Texas which sometimes feels like another country. I consider myself a pretty “normal” traveler.

Surprisingly, there’s a lot a person can do with two weeks of vacation, and I’m the queen of maximizing weekends. I’ve found that while a two month trip across Europe isn’t realistic for me right now, there are incredible places all over my own country that I can visit in a weekend if I’m wiling to say, “Yes!” pack smart and travel on the cheap.

Between my expertise from work and the amount of time I spend in the air, I’ve become a carry on resource for all of my friends and family. It’s not unusual for me to receive a text in the middle of the day from my sister’s friend asking if she can carry on her sewing machine. (By the way, you can. Just check the needle or buy a new one when you reach your destination.)


Screenshot from my friend Erin.

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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.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned from over a decade of long haul travel it’s this…

Every Trip’s the Same

You are not a beautiful snowflake, neither is your once in a lifetime journey. An 18-month trek from Alaska to Chile is identical to crossing Russia via the Trans-Siberian Railroad, hitchhiking Europe, or an Indonesian surf safari – at least as far as your bag is concerned.

There are exceptions of course (tweet me any you can think of) but long trips all face the same obstacles – lengthy transportation, harsh weather, shifting cultural norms, and budget issues, to name a few. At it’s core, packing is about overcoming these obstacles.

You can’t prepare for everything, but if you master these three packing pillars – Mobility, Multi-Purposing, and Compromise – you’ll be well on your way to long haul travel bliss:

Disclaimer: Just to be clear, this article is about travelers on the move for trips of 3 months+. It is not intended for people moving to a single location abroad. That’s totally different. Click to continue…

Fred and Jeremy discuss why bringing proper documentation and a fat wad of cash to the Chinese Consulate would be a good idea; why the Sundance Film Festival is better than Christmas; and how soon everyone will be able to travel like Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
The US Government is planning to relax travel restrictions to Cuba, allowing more Americans to visit. What demographic of travelers will make this trek? How will American tourism help the Cuban culture? And a question for you to reflect on for the rest of your day: What will this do to the price of Cuban cigars?

In This Episode

  • 01:20 Important update regarding the Tortuga Air
  • 05:29 10 year Chinese visas
  • 08:00 Treat yo’self: Jeremy’s Sundance excursion
  • 12:03 Cuba/US relations
  • 18:18 What the new rules really mean
  • 20:55 The future dynamic of Cuban travelers
  • 22:55 Open tourism affecting Cuban culture
  • 28:59 Would you go to a country with a travel ban in place?
  • 34:50 Word to the Wise

People On This Episode

Links from This Episode

Word to the Wise

Win a $100 Tortuga Backpacks Gift Card

Every month we give away a $100 gift card to someone who subscribes to and reviews the podcast. Subscriptions, ratings, and reviews are helpful for getting the show ranked and discovered by other travelers. We appreciate your help spreading the word about Power Trip.

  1. Subscribe via iTunes, Stitcher, or your podcatcher of choice with our RSS feed.
  2. Leave a review in iTunes.
  3. Fill out this form after you’ve done both for a chance to win a gift card.

Feedback and Questions

If you have any feedback about the show or questions for us to answer on the air, email: podcast at tortuga backpacks dotcom.

I stood at the baggage carousel, shifting my weight. The machine spit out bags at random intervals. Each time the rubber curtain moved, dividing the interior machine from the belt, I held my breath.

Perhaps my bag would be the next lucky one spinning from the machine’s dark mouth.

One by one, the crowd surrounding me hauled their bags from the conveyer belt until it was only me and three others still waiting, anxiously watching the conveyor belt. It kept churning out empty air with a straggler bag occasionally popping loose, its the owner sighing in relief. My watch said I’d already missed two trains headed downtown.

It’s silly, but I felt like the last kid selected for a softball team. The kid that couldn’t hit a ball to save her life. All because of a bag filled with stuff that I believed would make or break my trip.

Finally, my black suitcase broke free of the rubber curtain. I hauled it off the conveyer belt and, on my way out to catch the next train, I intentionally hit it on a few sharp corners.

I hate waiting. For anything. That’s why I now pack in a carry on.

When the plane lands, I simply pull my bag down from overhead storage, sling it over my shoulder, and catch the first train. Forget about waiting.

To make that possible, I mined my existing closet for clothes to fit my new carry on lifestyle. Just because you’re a girl, that doesn’t mean you have to pack like one. Have you ever wanted to pack like a man, still look good, and not have to buy a new wardrobe?

Here’s my “Girl’s Guide To Packing In A Carry On Without Revamping Your Wardrobe, “(with packing tips, of course)!

By the end of the guide, you’ll have a selection of clothes to mix and match which complement each other and will pack lightly for your next trip, in your carry on.

1. Examine Your Closet

Chances are you wear the same favorite clothes over and over, with some variations on pants or jackets. These are the clothes you want to take on your next trip.

Identify Favorites

Here are two strategies for figuring out which are your favorite (most worn) pieces of clothing:

  1. Move your entire wardrobe into an empty closet. Over a couple months, move only the clothes you wear back into your main closet. Congrats, your favorite clothes, those you most often wear, have now been identified.
  2. Rotate your hangers so the hooks face you, rather than facing the closet’s back wall. Over a couple months, as you wear your clothes, switch the hangers of the worn items so that they face the correct direction. After a few months, you’ll have a good visual of exactly which clothes you regularly wear and which ones just take up space in your closet.

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When I first sought out travel podcasts, I was disappointed in the options. The existing shows were boring and focused exclusively on destinations. The episodes were never relevant to my recent or upcoming travels. The topics were “just in case” not “just in time.”

After more digging, I found Extra Pack of Peanuts, Zero to Travel, and a few other travel podcasts worth listening too.

Simultaneously, we’ve grown the team here at Packsmith freeing up more of my time. Heading into 2015, we wanted to focus on helping travelers by creating great, informative content. One of our “unfair advantages” is that we have a brilliant content creator and producer on our team: Jeremy. He’s responsible for all of our product pictures and videos.

When we considered how else to help travelers using our strengths, we realized that starting a podcast was the next logical step.

We’re podcast junkies. In addition to travel podcasts, I also listen to a few comedy podcasts, business podcasts, and, of course, Serial.

Today, we launch the Tortuga Backpacks’ podcast: Power Trip.

Should You Subscribe?

Let me help you decide. Each week we’ll be covering:

  • Travel news and how it will affect your next trip
  • Travel products and the creators behind them
  • What’s going on behind the scenes at Tortuga Backpacks

If you like our product “sneak peek” blog posts, you’ll love the show. You also might like Power Trip if you are a:

  • Travel nerd
  • Gear junkie
  • Current or prospective entrepreneur
  • Digital nomad
  • Devoted member of Team Tortuga

Episode 0 is the pilot and will give you more detail on what the show is about. Otherwise, you can skip to Episode 1 to hear the most in depth version of our founding story that we’ve ever published.

The show notes for the first four episodes are below.

Please check out the show and let us know what you think on Twitter or via email at podcast at tortugabackpacks dot com.

If you like the show, please support it and tell your friends about it. The best way to spread the word is by subscribing in iTunes or Stitcher and leaving a review.

Every month, one lucky subscriber/reviewer will win a $100 Tortuga Backpacks Gift Card. All of the details on how to subscribe, leave a review, and enter to win the gift card are here.


We started a podcast. Check it out, subscribe, leave a review, and let us know what you think.