I need a small bag, new shoes, clothing that can be washed in a sink, if necessary, and quickly dried. It’s easy to get carried away as there are no end of websites that offer advice. “Pack light” is the mantra. But multiple continents and climates are involved, and travel by ship, trains, airplanes, so some planning is required.

But it makes no sense for me to obsess about travel gear. I keep reminding myself that wherever there are people, there are T-shirts and toothpaste for sale. Climbers can now surf the Internet and send 140-character updates from Mount Everest since 3G towers were recently constructed near base camp in Nepal. (“My Sherpa is so slack! 1★!”) Theroux says he travels with a small carry-on bag and buys clothing as needed in secondhand shops:

But most of the time, if I needed clothes, I went to the market. And you may have given clothes at one time or another to Clothing for Africa Fund. If so, I was wearing them because you get them and launder them. But I had T-shirts saying Top Notch Plumbing and — you know, the Saskatchewan Blue Bombers and things like that. I tried — it`s protective coloration. I tried not to stand out.

He also travels with a portable shortwave radio, which he calls his “only electronic indulgence.”

A computer is a millstone, a pager is a joke and a cellphone to me is a secular form of purgatory — merely a subtle, more nagging version of the electronic ankle bracelets that perverts and felons have to wear. But a shortwave radio is instant access to the wider world. It’s enlightenment, security and amusement.

I want a computer to help with making arrangements, for music, and for keeping up with this thing, but can surely do without the cellphone. We’ll see about the shortwave radio but for now getting away from the constant news stream is attractive.

About Saint Expedite

Retired early, then took a trip across the Pacific from Seattle by container ship. From China I stopped in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Holland, Denmark, England and Ireland before heading home to Puget Sound. This blog is an account of my travels. Write to me at
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