Long-Term Travel: What to Pack by Joshua Berk

Traveling for an extended period of time requires a unique approach: this list attempts to synthesize and condense the result of my research, with a few major themes in mind: independence, comfort, and sustainability. My itinerary consisted of moving between areas frequently while also living affordably, which required discipline and minimalism. If you find this useful, please make purchases from the provided Amazon affiliate links.

A few caveats — what you pack will be determined by many things: the region, type of trip, sleeping accommodations (hostel vs. camping), travel partners, etc. Feedback welcome!

Fundamental Organization: Step #1

  • Boreas Muir Woods 30L: Ultralight, compact, durable, and versatile. Choosing a pack might be the greatest challenge — time invested in this choice will be VERY well spent. Important: Choose what suits your body fit. Most people would suffice w/34L!
  • MountainSmith Rain Cover: If a cover isn’t included w/your bag, useful for other “bag like” purposes than covering your pack (e.g. laundry).
  • Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Specter Cube Set (2): Beyond essential for remaining organized, maximizing usable space in the pack — these are ultra-light and water-resistant — try nesting your cubes. #inception
  • Aloksak Bags (Multi-Pack, Small): Stores assorted items/toiletries. Waterproof seal.
  • Eagle Creek Undercover Money Belt: On-person storage for your passport, wallet, money clip, and miscellanea. Don’t get robbed.

Clothing/Laundry: Step #2

Emergency Preparedness/Nutrition: Step #3

Random Electronics/Gadgetry/Gear: Step #4

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What NOT To Bring (but I was seriously considering): Step #5

  • Pacsafe 35L Bag Protector: Not enough space; too heavy. Low risk.
  • Sabre RED Pepper Spray: Theft is preferable to jail time. Simple trade-off.
  • CDC Vaccination Record: Bring if you have it already, otherwise: get all the necessary jabs from International Red Cross to save $$.
  • VISA: Get them at each border. Easy, quick, zero confusion, w/exceptions (e.g. Burma).
  • Thule Gauntlet MacBook Sleeve (Black): Waterproof, damage-resistant encasing.
  • Bowtie: Smaller than a normal tie and can dress up an outfit, if done properly.
  • Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Sunglasses: You’ll be walking under the sun a lot.
  • Monster Outlets To Go Travel Power Strip (Black): Unnecessary, given that I’m taking the Apple adapters. Might be worthwhile, since it requires just one wall outlet + converter.
  • Sea to Summit X Tupperware Set & Soto Pocket Torch: No camping on this trip.
  • Avon SKIN-SO-SOFT Bug Guard PLUS IR3535: Lotion/repellent/sunblock in one bottle.
  • GoPro Hero: Overkill, but would be really sweet.
  • Food: Consider the flavor, cost, size/weight, and nutritional composition. Everything in developing worlds will be interesting & inexpensive.
  • Medication: Whatever I would need to buy is readily available at much lower prices (than the U.S.A.) in capital cities of Bangkok, Singapore, etc. (e.g. Malaria, Antibiotics)
  • Travel Insurance: the renter’s policy covers theft (importantly, outside of your home/apartment, often at 10% of the total policy coverage), and health-care is inexpensive elsewhere in the world.

Pack your bag to gauge available space — double check that everything’s snug. Also: Buying all this from Amazon records the transactions in one place, making any possible insurance claims quick/painless. Worth noting: this list is TSA compliant for carry-on. Happy travels, friends!

Want some help planning your next trip? Get in touch!

Further Reading: www.travelindependent.info

6 Months in Southeast Asia by Joshua Berk

Last year, I decided to travel Southeast Asia. In total, I spent six fantastic months in six countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam), touring over 6000 miles by bus, bicycle, and scooter. Just a few months ago, I returned home to visit family and live once again in Brooklyn, New York. For more detail on my route, check out the Google Map.


During 2013 and 2014, I have attempted to do many things -- some have been hard, some full of wonder, but none of them boring. While on the road, you're expected to overcome various obstacles, ranging from distance and climate to cultural and political. The pace at which the world operates around you awakens enthusiasm, attentiveness and appreciation for the brevity of our time on Earth. Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations; it had always been admired from afar, for me -- it's alluring, safe to travel solo, and easy to communicate with locals. Everyone has a story, some of which may clash with your structural model of global understanding, but most of the time, it's just a smile and a casual conversation. During my time, I boarded with hospitable, local families whenever possible.

Trips like these only work if any aspect of routine life has been abandoned, including detailed plans or deadlines. Go into it with a rough outline of the agenda, some high-level must-see/do things -- and that's it. Improvisation creates flexibility, adds to the excitement, and enforces the authenticity of your experience. Southeast Asia is rife with backpackers that have a wealth of knowledge to share, and the expenses are low such that mistakes can be accounted for in a budget quite easily. Each person you'd meet has quite a bit in common; a sense of fervor -- a desire to dive in head-first, deliberately exploring the unfamiliar whenever possible, but not for an escape. Some things that stick out in my mind: the crazy driving rules and the ability of everyone to co-exist peacefully, despite vastly different socio-political/religious beliefs. Ask me about the food in person sometime (the seafood and mango-sticky-rice were unforgettable)!

Now that I've settled back into the rhythm at home, I occasionally revisit the vivid memories in my mind of the trip -- if you want to plan your own or know more about mine, say hello -- I'd love to help you get ready! But, if I could leave you with these three simple tips for your own trip in Southeast Asia or elsewhere, it'd be to...

✓  Be pro-active and adventurous in each possible experience.
✓  Live a modest, simple life on the road.
✓  If you ever stop wondering, searching, analyzing -- go home and rest.

Included below is a small selection of pictures from the collection of the wonderfully talented Sandra Pangonyte, then some of my own below that. Enjoy!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures -- especially the photo spheres [App Store] [Google Play]

Joshua J. Berk
Founder, BERK Labs

Thoughts on Distributed Productivity by Joshua Berk

Provide tools to the distributed learner/worker for shared success.

Just as co-working is becoming the new-norm for the modern worker, education will become similarly stratified, aimed squarely at point-solutions for specific end-goals. Long gone are fully-integrated conglomerates, and the same is true of universities. That is not to say the need for multi-disciplinary learning will erode, but rather that it will become ever-more prevalent, with students seeking their knowledge from various, loosely-intertwined sources of specialty. In our new digital reality, everything will distill into what one might recognize as self-sufficient “minimum viable entities” (MVEs) … professionally, and personally. This shift is more simple than it may appear — the economist notes that how we organize ourselves will define our focus.

The new vector of value-addition in this modular economic model will be a layer of services (on top) and infrastructure (below) to support specialists which represent (effectively) the concentrated nodes of informational/experiential density. Others (like Gartner) have referred to this as the 'bottom-up economy.' The premium will continue to be paid to the creative destructors of our generation, the thought-leaders who re-orient our understanding of fundamental problems into simpler, more resonant concepts through the connection of otherwise disparate ideas. Take note: opportunities emerge for knowledge transfer and specialized skills development to assist in portability and agility of MVEs (e.g. coding bootcamps or Skillshare).

Abstractly speaking, the distinct barrier between aggregated entities and individuals will continue to blur, as each will take on characteristics of the other; value that one might capture is a function of what one will create, rather than protect. Much like GitHub, entrepreneurs should strive (primarily through software) to unlock the benefits for everyone from (traditional) larger organizations, which will gradually cease to exist. Economists understand this concept as 'unbundling' -- shifting the focus to search and discovery (using AI/ML recommendation algorithms). Examples of the new distributed productivity are abound: MIT's curriculum is fragmenting, and mobile devices are proliferating, which enables sharing-economy services like UberAirbnb, Taskrabbit, Makespace, or Teleport (although there are challenges). Digital nomads, prepare for the new normal.

Announcing BERK Labs by Joshua Berk

Welcome to the future.

At BERK Labs, we help entrepreneurs transform challenge into opportunity. Whether that be distribution strategy, branding, design, technology selection, or access to our large network of entrepreneurs and investors -- we're here to help.

What began as a humble portfolio has quickly grown into a business serving titans of the Fortune 500. Before we say anything else, we should extend our gratitude to our friends and family who gave us support along the way -- without whom none of this would be possible. If you're learning about us for the first time, ask yourself how BERK Labs can help build your business.

Get in touch -- let's build something great together.

Joshua J. Berk
Founder, BERK Labs -- Joshua@Berk.is

Credit: 'Hexagon Ripple' animation built with Processing. Partner: Dave Whyte.