To say that Josh Gates is well-traveled is an understatement. Over the last eight years, the archeologist, explorer, and now-host of Travel Channel’s show Expedition Unknown, in which he investigates legends of old (see the clip above for an exclusive peek at tonight’s show), has traveled to 97 countries. And he’s not about to stop: This year alone, he’ll be spending 220 days abroad. Phew.
All this travel has led naturally to an expertise of how to pack efficiently. After all, lugging multiple ginormous brand-name suitcases doesn’t exactly jive with his whirlwind, barebones-adventure lifestyle. As his Travel Channel bio states, Josh “currently resides in Los Angeles and on airport floors around the world.”
Luckily, Josh was able to take time out of his busy flight-hopping schedule to share some of his best tips for packing light with us. Here’s what he had to say:
You Need Less Than You Think: “The most important packing tip is also the simplest – pack less. It took me years to be confident enough to not throw everything I own into a suitcase. But the fact is, you don’t need 10 pairs of socks (they can washed in about a minute in a sink), and unless you’re headed to Monte Carlo, you only need one or two nice outfits. If you’re traveling for over a week, just do laundry on the road.”
Luggage: Carry On Or Check?
“If you’re traveling for less than four days – carry on only. If it’s more, check a bag and carry a small backpack. Your checked bag should be something reliable and useful, not fashionable. I love a wheeled duffel with a drop bottom compartment. That way, my muddy boots and dirty clothes are in a totally different zone than the rest of my clothes. If you’re checking a bag, put some dryer sheets in with your clean clothes to keep them fresh, and throw in two or three garbage bags, as well as a few Ziplock bags. You’ll use them.”
The Perfect Backpack Is A Simple Backpack
“Your day-to-day travel bag should be something comfortable, but also anonymous looking. No bells and whistles. I carry a simple black backpack. Don’t attract attention with a designer bag slung over your shoulder. It’s just an advertisement to would-be muggers. Keep it simple.”
Never Leave Home Without These Things
“Inside my pack, you’ll find a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, which are absolutely indispensable for long flights. I also think everyone should carry a great novel (preferably related to where they’re traveling), a decent guidebook, a stocked iPod, and a small, but excellent point-and-shoot camera (I’m currently carrying a Canon PowerShot S110).”
Also Consider These Two Extras
“Pack a reliable pen and a Moleskin notebook. Then, force yourself to journal about your trip every night before you go to sleep. It’s a hard habit to keep, but if you do, you’ll be rewarded with memories that will last a lifetime. You don’t need to be Hemingway – just recount your day and express a few thoughts. Believe me, that journal will be more valuable to you in the future than any photo.”
Don’t Take Over Your Hotel Room
“If you travel extensively, it’s easy to leave things behind in your hotel room. For years, I left a string of iPhone cables, chargers, sunglasses, and books in hotels around the world. Then I wised up. I now stick to the “one surface” rule. It’s simple. When you check into your room, choose one surface. For me, it’s usually the desk. Clear everything off it – hotel brochures, TV remotes, whatever. This is your one surface. Everything you take out of your bag goes here. When you check out, just make sure there’s nothing on the desk, and you’re good to go.”
Like Any Good Boy Scout, Be Prepared
“Sleeplessness and sickness are two things that affect every traveler. Buy a top-notch eye-mask (one with cups so your eyelids don’t touch the mask), and a good pair of earplugs. Personally, I think neck pillows are useless. For medication, my pack always has the following — an antibiotic for everything below my waist (Cipro), something for everything above my waist (a Z-Pak), and some Pepto Bismol. Throw in a bottle of Advil and a travel first aid kit, and you’ve got yourself pretty well covered.”
Want more of Josh? Watch him on Travel Channel’s Expedition Unknown every Wednesday at 9/8c. Pack your bags (just don’t over-pack them), and get ready to join him on all new adventures!