Niro: 24 countries in 2 bags.

Posted by Julian Chow on

This series is about everyday people making every day count. We met up with our resident wanderer Niro (@niroshan_a) on one of his many trips out here, and dig into how he gets by with just two bags...

What do you do?

I work as a freelance product and brand designer, helping early stage startups and companies create digital experiences and brands. Though I consider myself a generalist digital designer and tread the line on a few different mediums.

Where have you been?

I left San Francisco in early 2018 with the purpose of full time travel financed by remote freelancing. A little over a year later and I've lived in a couple countries (HK/UK) and along the way ventured through a total of 24 countries over 4 continents.

Packing tips?

Pack with a camping mentality.

I grew up in small town in New England and camping, backpacking or anything in the outdoors was core to my upbringing. One thing that's stuck with me throughout life is the idea that you should never carry more gear than you absolutely need. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared!

Just ask yourself some questions before you pack:

  • What are my essentials to living or working productively on this trip?
  • Can I bring an item that has dual-use and save space?
  • Do I really need to bring those extra shoes or that neck pillow I'll use once?
  • Can you cut your amount of clothes by half and just wash them while on the go?

It comes down to a factor of the volume/weight (whichever is greater) and the amount of time/happiness you expect to get out of that item during your trip.

Cutting down on the amount of gear you bring on a trip can be extremely gratifying and only get better at it with time!

Travel tips?

Embrace the layover.

As a freelancer I try to take full advantage of owning every minute of my time. I often book long connecting layovers to/from destinations to tack on an extra trip. It often saves you money from expensive direct flights and allows you to explore a new city while you're at it!

A great site I've been using t find stopover cities is

Staying sane?

Find anchors in your life.

When traveling so frequently it can be hard to feel sane when your setting is constantly changing. Routine is everything. Whether that's creating a daily workout, morning regimen or scheduling time to connect with friends and family; small moments of curated time can have a huge effect on your sanity over the course of long travel.

What's your idea of a day well spent?

If it's purely a day of travel and no work

Favorite city?

This is a cop out, but it's far too difficult to pick just one. Here are my top five.

Top of the list is, of course, Hong Kong for its organized chaos between the city skyscrapers and lush mountainous jungles.

In no particular order:

Colombo, Sri Lanka for family and its insane growth over the last decade.
Melbourne, Australia for the coffee, bars and West Coast vibes.
Copenhagen, Denmark for bike-ability, friendliness and design.
Yangon, Myanmar for cheap food, gritiness and low tourism

What's in your Daily?

Phone, drone and clothes.

I keep it fairly simple, what you see in that photo my gear is usually what I carry on a one to two week trip give or take some clothes and electronics. I've paired it down to my three essential categories: living, entertainment and productivity.

What's your favorite spot in HK?

I have a fascination with skyscrapers and Hong Kong being the city with the most of them but also being juxtaposed with jungle makes this place and its views unforgettable.

Pack your bag in the night or morning?

I'm a last minute packer, but out of choice.

I usually need only an hour before I leave on a trip depending on the length of being away. A little bit of time pressure goes a long way when it comes to packing, allowing you to focus on picking only the true essentials.


Follow Niro's adventures:
Instgram: @niroshan_a

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