What to take

Trip update. I am still in Houston, Texas, visiting with my cousins, and working on both a translation and business left over from the ATA Conference. I will be hitting the road the day after tomorrow, but not before hearing the Houston Symphony perform Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4. Houston is a full-size, proper city, and I am enjoying being surrounded by the conveniences and luxuries of a major metropolitan area.

Being here has allowed me to evaluate my packing. There are some things that I wish I had brought, and there are other things that I should have left behind. This week, I would like to discuss what I brought. It is a very personal list; anyone’s packing list for a trip like this will be unique.

There are several aspects of an indefinite road trip that one must consider when deciding what goes on the bicycle and what goes in the bounce box. These questions can be repeated for each major leg of the trip.

  1. Will I be staying in hotels and homes or camping?
  2. Will I be eating out or cooking on the road?
  3. Will I have any dress requirements other than a bicycle kit?
  4. How will I maintain and repair my bicycle?
  5. How will I continue to work?

Some of these questions I have covered in previous posts, for example, my office suite, which fits into a computer bag in a rear pannier. Although I own a tent and a sleeping bag, I have not brought them on the Southern Swing, because my itinerary so far has me staying in motels or with family every night. Similarly, when I am not eating in restaurants, I am either eating at home with family, or using the microwave and refrigerator in the motel room. These details may change after the Southern Swing, depending on where I go next.

Starbucks tumbler.

The indestructible Starbucks tumbler rides in a bottle bracket of my bicycle. It also holds the rig for the morning brew.

Here is the list of what I have brought with me:


  1. Helmet, bike lock.
  2. Smart phone
  3. Repair kit (detailed last week)
  4. Field stripping kit, meaning those items I need to break down the bicycle into its bike bag: drive with 8- and 10-mm socket & 4- and 5-mm hex; pedal wrench; bone wrenches; gloves; large zip ties; hand cleaner & rag; most items are in the repair kit.
  5. Computer; power supply, mouse, numeric keypad, hi-quality microphone/headphone set
  6. Office bag: flash drives, editing rulers, pencil & eraser, sharpener, USB and Ethernet cables, extension cord, three-way plug, phone charger and micro-USB adapter.
  7. Toilet kit: includes soap, shampoo, comb, razor, aftershave, liquid detergent, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and spare batteries.
  8. “Mini-mess kit,” which is a toothbrush holder containing a small knife, fork and spoon. There are camping multi-tools that do the same thing.
  9. Towel & washcloth
  10.  Enough vitamins, prescriptions and supplements to get to the bounce box destination.
  11. Water bottles
  12. Bike clothes: jerseys, socks, shorts, long tights, bike hat, gloves, bike jacket, rain jacket, glasses
  13. Street clothes if needed: sport coat, slacks, belt, socks, shirt & tie, jeans/shorts (seasonal)
  14. Water shoes (what I walk in when not wearing my cleats)
  15. Blender bottle, instant coffee/tea, coffee filter. Stainless steel Starbucks tumbler.
  16. Food: Whey protein, nuts, Protein bars, trail mix, OS Trim® meat sticks
  17. Soprano recorder (good thing that I don’t play the piano!).
  18. Calling cards

    Toilet kit

    Besides the usual toiletries, this kit holds laundry detergent and a mini-mess kit.


  1. Prescriptions and supplements.
  2. Ink (for my fountain pen)
  3. Clothing needed later: e.g., long pants; full-fingered gloves; scarf, lined bicycle jacket, long jerseys. Extra underwear and street clothes.
  4. Chain cleaner.
  5. Alto recorder (the bass and tenor recorders had to stay behind).

Each time I get to a place where my bounce box is waiting, I decide what I will need before the next place to which I send the bounce box. An important consideration is whether I will be taking the bus or train during the next leg of the trip. If yes, the bike bag goes in one of the panniers; if I am riding to where my bounce box is going, I can put the bike bag in the bounce box. In fact, my bike bag has been in the bounce box for the last two months, because I rode my bicycle from Ft. Worth, Texas, to San Antonio and then to Houston.

bike bag and bounce box

Folded tightly and belted in, the bike bag can travel in a pannier (L) or the bounce box (R),

It takes time to figure out how to do this, so be prepared to send some stuff back or give it away. I sent five bounce boxes from Charlottesville, and it has taken me two months to figure out how to get everything into just one bicycle and one bounce box. Even so, there are some things that I wish I had not left behind. We can discuss those next week, along with any questions or comments you may have.

Smooth roads and tailwinds,


3 thoughts on “What to take

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