What are we taking with us? Panama

suitcaseHow do you pack for a six-week trip to a foreign country? Well, you have some choices. We have chosen to pack as light as possible, and will not be checking any luggage. Each of us will have our own roller carry-on bag, and I’ll be taking a laptop bag and a backpack.

How can we possibly fit everything we need for six weeks in these small carry-ons? Well, we probably can’t! We plan on buying some things when we get there. And we also realize that we probably don’t “need” as much as we think. Here are a few other good reasons we’re not checking any luggage:

  • Airlines now charge an extra fee for each bag you check
  • Our flight to Panama has three stops and goes through two different airlines, thus increasing the chance of our luggage being lost – which we do not want.
  • Once we’re in Panama, we’ll be moving around to several locations, and everywhere we go, we’ll have to take all our stuff with us. Lighter is better.

Despite the light packing, we’ll still be taking two computers with us: my 13″ Dell m1330 laptop running Vista, and a 9″ Dell Mini running Ubuntu (Linux) – both fairly small computers. Of course I’m taking mine for convenience when I need to work, and also so I can update this blog. :) The small computer will mostly be for the girls to play games on if they’re really bored, and for Jen to use for blogging, etc. when I’m on mine.

We will have a washer and dryer in many of the places we’re staying, so we’re not taking a lot of clothes.  I’m only taking 4-6 pair of underwear/socks, two pair of pants,  three shirts, a tie, and a swimsuit. We’ll just keep washing them over and over again – or maybe we’ll get some new clothes if we find something we like.

With purchasing things there, the question comes up of how we are going to take our purchases home if our bags are so small. Any souvenirs we purchase will probably be have to be shipped home (are you ready, Ashley?). Other items, such as toiletries will probably just be used up as much as possible and left there.

Obviously we’ll need to take travel documents as well, such as passports. Fortunately, airline tickets these days are all handled on-line, so they won’t add to our baggage. We’ve also scanned copies of all our essential legal documents, passports, itineraries, and booking confirmations, etc. and have them stored securely on-line, which I can access through my iPhone (provided we have service) in case we need them.

iphoneYes, I’m taking my iPhone. But I won’t be using it at all as a phone once we leave the states, because of AT&T’s extremely high international rates ($3/minute). So please don’t call me! I will be using the phone as an iPod to listen to music during the long car rides, as a Spanish translator (provided I can find a dictionary for it that doesn’t require an Internet connection), and again to play games on if things get really dull (is that likely?).

For communication, we will be getting special short-term (prepaid) cell phones from MoviStar once we reach Panama, for use around the country and in case we get lost (which is a possibility since Google maps doesn’t do directions there yet, leaving us to rely on the old paper system – we have already purchased a good road map of Panama, which we’ll be bringing). We will also be bringing walkie talkies, mostly for use in airports, such as when we need to separate so Jen can take the girls to the bathroom, etc. – those have come in very handy on previous vacations.

The state travel office also gave us prescriptions for some diarrhea and malaria medication should we have issues with either of those (malaria is only a remote risk in one area we’re traveling to). I’m not too worried. We plan on being careful of what we eat, exercising and trying to stay healthy, clean, and safe. Sure, there’s always a risk. But if Jen wasn’t so insistent, I probably wouldn’t have even gotten the typhoid fever vaccination or these other medications. I just don’t care much for needles and pills. But I’m glad to have a wife that cares, and makes sure we’re taken care of.

Brandon is a location independent entrepreneur, musician, worldschooling father, and the principal author of this blog. He's all about reaching his potential and enjoying life to the fullest in each moment.


  1. Yay!! You guys are leaving so soon. Fun, fun, fun. Yes, I’m ready and willing to take any packages you send me. But I reserve the right to keep anything I like ;)

    You are very smart to pack so light. Carrying around big suitcases can be very annoying.

  2. Yes, the lighter the better I say! I agree, that typhoid fever vaccination was pretty miserable, but I’m all about taking precautions I guess. A safe trip is a fun trip right?

  3. Oh my goodness you’ll be on your way before I get home from AZ …less than a week right??
    I commend you for packing light. You’ll be so glad you did every time you have to move from one place to another. It’s amazing what we CAN do with out. :o)
    I’m sure glad that Jen insisted on the vaccination. so much better to be safe than sorry.
    I sure love ya’ll

  4. You may already do this – but a great way to pack your underwear, etc. is in gallon ziplock bags. Put them in, close them most the way, insert a straw and suck out all the air and quickly zip closed. Will make for tighter packing – as well as more convenient if you are one of the ‘chosen ones’ who gets searched at the airport.

    Kristin has some great travel packing tips….

  5. Best use of space is often to roll your clothes in tight little rolls all stacked next to and on top of each other. Makes lots of wrinkles, but you can fit more things in. The underwear in the baggie is a great idea.

    Woo Hoo! So soon! I’m really looking forward to the updates!

  6. Thanks for the great packing tips. We’ll definitely be using some of these. We plan on packing all our bags tomorrow (two days early), so we’ll have a couple days to pack all the extra things we forgot to pack the first day. :)

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