As a UX designer, I’ve been homeless for 7 years.

Being married and willing to preserve my marriage, I can’t sleep on the streets. We have had lodgings in each city.

Last but not least, being a geek, I am legally required to buy tons of gadgets, devices, cases, protectors, and adapters. Some of them are great and some of them are wastes of money and weight. Weight is uber important.


In short: a large soft shell is the way to go.

With all my belongings coming in at a total of 15 kg (33 lbs), my suitcase is my only furniture. I’ve learned that while size is not important, weight is, and I learned it the hard way:

  • Extra weight — it’s something you feel not only at checkout, but on every staircase. For example, decreasing my wife’s suitcase from 20 kg to 17 cured my back pain. Why would her suitcase affect me? She won’t be happy with what I’m about to say, but let’s face it, my wife is the size of a cat – she can’t carry 17 kg up a staircase. That’s where my back pain comes in.
  • Smaller suitcases are a pain. If you also hate packing, you don’t want the extra drama that a smaller suitcase provides. I remember jogging through Geneva with a half-open suitcase. Jogging, because I was late for the train. Half-open, cause I didn’t have time to close it.

Bad: the lightest Samsonite for EUR 260
Good: soft shell Samsonite for GBP 96
Room for improvement: a soft shell with a hard section inside.

The lightest model is weak. Everything is tiny, squeaky, and tends to break (good luck with their warranty).

My wife’s soft shell is great. Being cheap, they use all standard parts, and they hold up well. Some loose threads are coming out, but that’s fine; we’ll shave it.


Let’s talk about cubes and other stuff that allows you to group stuff inside the suitcase.
Good: any kind of cube
Good: toiletry bags
Good: hanging organizer for underwear
Good: document wallet
Pouch for gadgets
Good: pouch for gadgets
Shirt pocket
Bad: shirt bags
They wrinkle shirts, requiring them to be ironed, and they’re heavy. I’m waiting for some light-weight material to appear for the hard part. Maybe those feather-light tiles they use for Airbus’ floors…
Vacuum seal bag
Horrible: anything that compresses clothes to save space.
They wrinkle everything and it’s extra work. Instead, throw the extra shit out.


Multi-port USB charger
Good: multi-port USB chargers with a cable
Multi-port USB chargers are simply awesome.
Battery packs
Bad: battery packs

Battery packs are heavy, hold little charge, and don’t age well. Sometimes, it’s worth replacing your iPhone’s battery (it costs less than $9 on Ebay and comes with tools).

Power Adapters

Power Adapters
Good: separate adapters for each country
Apple heads
Good: Apple heads
Universal adapters
Bad: universal adapters

Universal adapters are bulky and heavy. If you work in a coffee shop, you have to carry it everywhere.

Anyway, AirBnB, thanks for FedExing this adapter to Kyoto! Now, your adapter is my pet.


Short cables
Good: short cables
Long USB cable
Bad: long cables with a roll
Bad: any long cables
Long cables trap dust, and iRobo vacuum cleaners.
Rolling mechanisms are simply too heavy.


Beard trimmer
Good: small battery trimmer.

Bad: anything big and expensive
Bristle brimmer
Good: trimmers with the smallest charger.
Bad: trimmers with a cable

I had them, I liked them, and I gave them up. Finding an outlet can be unpredictable—run from cable trimmers like cockroaches from light.

Room for improvement: Replace the AC adapter with a USB plug. Polarity might be an issue. Do you have any suggestions for a portable multimeter and soldering iron?

On-Going Research

While a multimeter is something you can’t have, the research is still out on these:

  • Bluetooth headphones with noise reduction?
  • A global data SIM, so I don’t have to think about my quota?
  • A pocket Wi-Fi (Mi-Fi) model? Instead of consuming a data plan all the time it should connect to free wifi networks automatically.
  • A smart VPN for only certain websites? Your online bank, maybe? Google, but only in China?

The search is ongoing. Please share your findings in the comments.

About the Author
Ivan Boyko is the founder of Icons8. He got his first job after drawing a banner with CTR of 43%. After years of creating icons, he specializes in rapid prototyping and backlog grooming.

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