Travelling in Merino with The 5 Kilo Traveller

Travelling light can be a struggle for some of us. Lugging around huge, heavy suitcases can be a pain... a big pain for your back as you pull and carry them through airports and train stations. Luckily we have Katherine, The 5 Kilo Traveller, who is a professional traveler that has mastered the art of packing light! 
Bluebridge Ferry from Wellington to Picton, NZ - all layered up.
Katherine wears our Striped Cap Sleeve T over our Long Sleeve T
Like our founder, Kerrie, Katherine grew up on a sheep farm! This is where Katherine's love for Merino started and then when she caught the travel bug this grew to beautiful affair with Merino clothing! In 2019 Katherine started her blog to help other travelers pack more with less to help make the journey easier and more enjoyable without the added stress of packing. 
We had a chat with Katherine to ask her about her travelling adventures and her advice for packing light.
The 5 Kilo Traveller
Katherine wearing our Stripe Cap Sleeve Top at Waihi Beach, NZ.

How long have you been travelling for and what are your favorite places you’ve travelled to?

I've been travelling since my early 20's when I did my OE to London from New Zealand. I travelled with a huge 75L backpack that weighed 18kg. I'm only 155cm so I looked like a backpack with legs!

My OE gave me a thirst for travel, meeting different people, experiencing different cultures and seeing spectacular places around the world.  I pretty much love everywhere I've been. When I was younger and based in London, it was Europe, India, the Middle East and Africa.

As a family we've been to America and seen a lot of their incredible National Parks, as well as their legendary music locations like New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville. 

I've travelled light and solo to Italy and Croatia, China, and did a 14 day camping tour from Darwin to Broome. I have family in the Kimberley, so I've spent a lot of time up there. And in the last year, we've been making the most of seeing New Zealand. Most recently though we enjoyed five days in Rarotonga since the New Zealand - Cook Islands travel bubble opened.

Travel really is my happy place. I particularly enjoy slower travel these days. It's nice to stay in one place for three to five days and experience a place more in-depth. 

Travelling in Merino Clothing New Zealand

Victory at getting to the top of the Hakarimata steps, Waikato, NZ.

Why did you decide to start your 5 Kilo Traveller blog?

In 2017 I travelled by myself to Croatia and Italy for four weeks. It was a challenging trip in many ways. One thing I was worried since travelling alone was safety and the security of my bag. I also wouldn't have anyone to help me with my bags. I don't think I would have coped with struggling with heavy bags for four weeks. So I came up with idea to travel with just a small 24L day bag that weighed 5.5kg. 

I discovered that travelling with a lot less luggage is really freeing. It was much easier to get around. I had less decisions to make, and packing and unpacking wasn't the drama that it used to be. 

Friends and family followed me on that trip, asked lots of questions, so I thought, why not start an Instagram and Facebook page. From there I went on to create the website with the aim to inspire others to travel lighter. Learning to travel lighter is a journey in itself but I do warn people that they can become a bit addicted to it! 

Ultralight packing (like 5 kg) isn't for everyone, but there are so many clever skills people can learn to carry less and just make their travels so much easier. So on the website and social media there's plenty of tips no matter what style of packing you do. 

It's been a lot of fun. I've loved all the people I've met doing this. It's been a huge learning curve, but it's so worth it for the confidence I've gained and the opportunities that have opened up.

Travelling light - what to pack

What 5 kilos looks like for Katherine - what she packs!

 What are your top 5 things to pack on any adventure? 

Good walking shoes that you know are comfortable and will cope with walking on cobblestones. Breaking in shoes before you go is so important. 

I pack layers of merino clothing. That includes socks, leggings, long and short sleeved tees, a neck gaiter and gloves. 

My puffer jacket - because I hate being cold. Puffer jackets are also light and compress down to a very small size. That's super important when you're restricted in packing space. 

 A laundry bar for handwashing clothing. When you only pack a small wardrobe handwashing is the key to making it work. I tend to do a few items every second or third night. It's not a huge chore, and it beats spending three hours in a laundromat wasting good sightseeing time.

 My smartphone. So much more than a phone. It holds my maps, guides, tickets, books and my extremely detailed spreadsheet planner. Plus it's my camera, my connection with home, friends and followers, and most recently my covid-tracer. It holds so many travel apps. I laugh about how different it is to travelling in the 90's compared to now.

Travelling New Zealand

Katherine in Waikato during lock down on daily walk.

Why do you love Wool for travelling and how has it changed the game for you?

Merino wool is an absolute game-changer for travel. 

I love it's thermo-regulating properties. When we went to New York it was bitterly cold. We'd walk into the beautifully heated indoor spaces and I didn't need to peel off all my layers. I'd take my woolen coat off, and stuff the scarf and gloves into the pockets, but other than that I wasn't boiling hot. And when I've been in the outback I haven't felt any hotter in merino clothing than any other fabric. 

Merino is also a great fabric to fly in, as it's not restrictive and it's just so comfortable. 

Merino also breathes beautifully, and it doesn't retain smells. I hang my merino clothing up at night to air them, and I can easily wear them for five days before they need washing. It's also fast-drying, so I can easily wash a top at night and it will be dry by the morning.

Merino Country Stripe Cap Sleeve Top

Katherine wearing her Merino Striped Cap Sleeve top styled with jeans and boots. She even tested how long she can wear the same top everyday and did 7 days without washing it! Merino can be worn without washing for many days!

What are your favorite Merino Country items to travel in/with? 

Definitely my striped Cap Sleeve top. It is incredibly versatile. I can easily layer it. It's not too clingy, is a great length and it's just a more dressier option than a plain tee shirt. I can dress it up with a necklace or scarf. I can wear it with leggings, jeans, shorts or a skirt.

 Travelling light means you need clothing that can be worn in different ways, and this top is so versatile in my mix and match travel capsule wardrobe.

 I also have a plain tee shirt from Merino Country that gets worn so much as an under layer. And it makes a great sleepwear top. 

 I've had both these Merino Country tops for around three years and I can honestly say that they are the most robust merino tops I've got. Where other brand merino has faded, got a bit threadbare and developed holes, my two Merino Country tops still look as good as new.

For more travel and packing tips - Katherine's website has tips and guides you can download to help you on your light travelling journeys.

  www.the5kilotraveller.com

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