She has visited every corner of the world, but photographer Jill Paider always travels light — with only a carry-on case as luggage.
Paider has traveled everywhere, from Guatemala to Tokyo and all places in between, photographing her adventures along the way.
Now she’s has written about her experiences in a new book, “Carry-On Only.”
“The goal was to, part one, document it and keep a record of it for myself and, secondly, to inspire people to travel or to consider places they might not normally go,” Paider tells CNN Travel.
Paider branched into freelance photography shortly after graduating from her master’s degree in photography. The flexibility and opportunities of her role allow her to indulge her passion for travel.
“It’s kind of an addiction — taming the dragon so to speak — on new experiences and just that high of being somewhere that’s so different from what you’re used to,” Paider says.
Her reliance on her carry-on came partly by necessity — it’s easier to pack light, she explains.
“After so many trips you get down what you need,” she says.
“Having things that will pack well, you can roll well, that are very light-density items, that still look good when you wear them.”
Paider advises keeping it simple, no matter where you might be heading — and doing your research on what’s available in your destination.
“I think it’s just having all the basics and then really knowing, if there’s an emergency or you need something special, knowing what you can buy in the location that you’re in,” she says.
Her other golden rule is the power of layering and accessories.
“You can pick up sarongs and other things to layer with tops that are just lightweight,” she says. “I think also having the right accessories: scarves, hats, so you don’t feel like you’re wearing the same thing everyday.”
Ready for anything
Paider does extensive research before she sets off on her travels.
“I’m all over the Internet, I look over all the design publications,” she says. “Just trying to see what’s been built and what’s there. I put together a trip that way.”
Her photographs have formed the basis for 13 stunning design and architecture books, charting her globetrotting adventures and the sights she’s seen along the way.
“Once I arrive I usually end up connecting and networking with other people who know something that’s going on,” she says.
Paider wanted to visit 100 countries before turning 40 — a goal she’s now achieved — helped by a mammoth around-the-world trip in 2011.
“That was interesting because it was the Middle East, and then the Far East,” she says. “They were also countries that don’t usually see women travelers alone, and so that kind of added an interesting aspect to it as well.
“That was the hardest carry-on only trip. It was in December and I started off in Istanbul, where it was fairly mild. But then as I moved east, I was in Vietnam, which was warmer, and then Tokyo which was colder.”
So what essential items does Paider pack on every trip?
“I always pack an umbrella,” she says. “I always have an eyemask, that I sleep with. I always have comfortable shoes, not necessarily the same pair, but definitely very, very good walking shoes.”
People tend to pack too many shoes when just one pair will do, says Paider, who advises selecting shoes that are good for walking in but can double up for dinner.
Paider also packs tea and snacks, whatever the destination, alongside jet lag pills, basic cosmetics and a yoga mat.
“I usually travel with a packable yoga mat that rolls down very, very small, for just doing stretches in the room,” she says.
Cosmetics are the hardest element to consider because of the restrictions on airlines. Paider says she uses mini versions of her favorite products or she decants products into little bottles.
She’s also selective with her camera equipment.
“I think the biggest thing for photographers first and foremost is limiting your gear as much as possible,” she advises.
She has a travel tripod and takes out the extended battery pack on her camera — and limits her lenses.
“You really can’t afford to have a regular-sized piece of equipment if you’re traveling carry-on only,” Paider explains.
Paider hopes her new book will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.
“It was in part to encourage and maybe inspire people to travel more, to take a risk and travel somewhere they wouldn’t necessarily think of going or if they don’t have a travel partner, consider possibly going by themselves,” she says.
Paider also hopes the book will act as a record of a certain time and place.
“I just think it’s so important to document the day-to-day experiences of what it’s like, because places change so much, so fast,” she says. “Even some of the trips I did back in 2005, I was in China. Seven years later, it was a completely different place going back.”
Paider continues to plan upcoming trips and adventures — and says she’ll stick to carry-on only.
“I’ve found it to be a mostly successful enterprise,” she says. “I find that when I do pack carry-on, versus the few times when I don’t, that I actually pack much better and do have everything I need.”
Paider considered slowing down but she realized her desire to travel is as strong as ever.
“I think it only ultimately gets heightened because it brings you joy and you know there’s more out there to see.”