“Don’t give TSA a reason to check my bag.”
After some 60 odd countries and countless flights, I’ve earned my stars in the art of getting onto my flights, and through airport security, as smoothly and efficiently as possible. A large part of that comes from knowing how and what to pack. As a travel photographer, it’s a pain to take out every bit of gear when they want to have a look, so it starts with traveling light and never giving TSA a reason to open my bag. Oddly enough, it’s not all the electronics or even my drone that set off the red flag, it’s usually something in my wash bag. Mistakes are made and we can learn from them.
My carry-on has to have everything I need when I land and I’m a big of fan of the GoBag wash bag because it’s transparent and just the right size. I take it out of my carry-on and at a glance, I can see all my contents and so can TSA. Here’s what I take me with on every trip and my favorite tips.
Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss: The Big 3. I’m a huge fan of these charcoal infused bamboo toothbrushes and Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. Keep it simple but good. And these are my go to brand of floss. Very important for all those exotic eats.
Multi-purpose Soap: I fill my travel bottles up with the Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Soap. It’s good for showering, shaving, shampooing and even doing the dishes or laundry. Smells great and is multi-functional so I don’t have to carry a bunch of different soaps.
Loofah: It’s not exactly an essential, but it’s nice for the shower and allows me to use less soap.
Deodorant: It’s a bit on the indulgent side, but until it runs out, I prefer to have a travel size version of my favorite deodorant: Baxter’s Citrus and Herbal-Musk Deodorant. It smells fantastic and is aluminum and alcohol free, if that matters to you.
Hairspray: My hair will be flying in every direction if I don’t hold it down with something, so it’s nice to have a 1.5 oz bottle for those occasions I want to look presentable.
Razor: There’s nothing like a straight-edge shave, but it’s not allowed in my carry-on, so it’s disposables most days for me. I use it a few times and grab a fresh one when I can.
Nail-Clipper: With all the running and climbing I do, I like to take care of my hands and feet. I keep a small version of the the Japanese-made MUJI nail clipper in my bag to stay well groomed. I’ve tried a few, this is my favorite.
Lotion: I’m a huge fan of Kiehl’s “Grapefruit” lotion. Long flights and bus rides will dry you out. This and a cold bottle of water will keep me hydrated inside and out.
Sunscreen: Ever important. More so if you are somewhere right near the equator or high on a mountain. This is by far my favorite that I fill into smaller travel squeeze bottles.
Lip Balm: This is overlooked, especially by guys, but a small tube of Kiehl’s lip balm with SPF 15 is just as important as sunscreen and takes up no space at all.
So whether I’m riding a horse in Mongolia, climbing a mountain in Norway, or gambling in Macau, my bag has everything I need to stay fresh and clean.
Kien Lam - Where and Wander
If you like these tips we've created a failsafe packing list.
It's a PDF so it can be easily printed and it includes everything you'll need for an awesome adventure. We've even added in some top tips. Enjoy the freedom of traveling with only one bag.