I don’t own a car, so I rely heavily on my bicycle and public transit to get around. And when you have to deal with crowded buses and trains, you learn to pack light. Here’s how I go about doing just that.

STM Sphere small backpack

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I purchased this bag back in 2006 to accommodate my then-new 13-inch MacBook, but what drew me to this since-discontinued bag was its compact size. Up until recently, I was a regular bus commuter, and when dealing with a crowded bus, the smaller the bag you can get away with, the better. And despite nearly eight years of heavy use, the only real damage is a tear in the small mesh pocked on the front.

13-inch MacBook Air

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I’ve owned several Apple laptops over the past 11 or so years, and this is my favorite yet thanks to its compact size and speedy performance. I find the 13-incher to be the perfect balance between portability and screen size: It’s small enough for me to take anywhere, but large enough to not feel cramped.

Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR

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In keeping with the theme of  “compact,” this starter DSLR is  small and light as far as these sorts of cameras go, and it fits reasonably well in the front-most large compartment.

iPhone 5C

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I’ll admit it—I’m not above making a purchase based on looks. With that in mind, when it came time to upgrade from my well-worn iPhone 4, I opted for a yellow iPhone 5C, mostly because I like yellow. Don’t judge me.

160GB iPod Classic

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I carry one of these around partly out of habit, but partly because I still want to be able to listen to music if  one of my devices runs out of battery power. It also makes a handy portable hard drive, too.

Other Stuff

  • Power adapters and USB cables (Of course).
  • Ibuprophen: Headaches suck.
  • Zyrtec: Allergies suck.
  • Hand sanitizer: Because public transit it a germy mess
  • Lots of tissue or paper towels: You never know when you’ll need to wipe something off, blow your nose, or deal with a sudden nosebleed on the bus (not that I would have any experience with that…).
  • Chewing gum: It helps me fend off the urge to snack throughout the day.