I want to shift gears a little bit here and have a practical post on what to actually bring on this type of an adventure. Since I’m backpacking, I obviously have limited space, but I had to pack for being away for six months. I’ll be heading back to the Bay Area in December to enjoy the holidays, swap out stuff, and most importantly, spend time with my people. So, I had to think about all that I might need over a six month period, that could fit into a BIG backpack. I feel like my years of playing Tetris on my GameBoy finally paid off for this particular challenge!
Here you have it, my packing list, along with tips about the packing process. I’ve also added a few things that I didn’t realize I needed until I was already traveling (yes, that ALWAYS happens). In an upcoming post I will share the products that I have found to be the best for me so far!
Tip #1: think LIGHTWEIGHT. This is important not only because you’re carrying everything on your back, but because you need stuff that will also dry quickly for when you wash them or get caught in the rain.
- one pair of jeans
- one thermal shirt
- one pair of comfortable pants (like sweats)
- one pair of super lightweight pants
- two pairs of shorts (one pair that’s longer for traveling in more modestly dressed areas)
- one dress (cotton cotton cotton!)
- two tank tops
- two shirts
- bikini (or swim suit)
- pajama bottoms
- two weeks worth of underwear (because honestly, I don’t want to have to wash them every few days)
- 2 pairs of long socks (for hiking boots)
- 3 pairs of short socks (for tennis shoes)
- two regular bras (skip the padding, it’s too hot and too bulky!)
- two sports bras/bralettes
- raincoat (this has been one of the best things I brought with me)
- lightweight zip up jacket (like a track jacket)
- zip up vest
- scarf (not only to keep you warm, but to enter certain places of worship or to cover up in conservative areas – cultural sensitivity y’all)
- belt (I recommend a military style belt that has an adjustable clasp – you end up gaining and losing a lot of weight when you travel and can’t be bothered to punch holes into a regular belt as you go along)
- one pair of sneakers
- one pair of hiking boots
- one pair of sandals (waterproof, arch support, durable, and thick soles)
Tip #2: minimalistic is the way to go here; because it’s easier (less to carry) and then there’s less to be stolen
- watch (waterproof)
- fanny pack (this little guy has been my best bud every single day I go out! you end up carrying very little because it has to fit in your pack, plus you an fish the belt through your belt loops, making it significantly more difficult to be stolen/pocketed)
- a reusable grocery bag, but the kind that can fold into an itty bitty pouch
Tip #3: these extras will go into your smaller backpack that you wear on the front of you, like a kangaroo pouch when you have your big backpack on the back of you.
- kindle (it’s worth it to get the cheapest, lightest version that is made; it stores thousands of books, has an extremely long battery life, and is teeny tiny!)
- lightweight towel (I unknowingly ended up staying at an air bnb that didn’t have a single towel! So having a lightweight, backpackers towel came in extremely handy. They also dry very quickly.)
- journal (even if you prefer to keep a digital journal, consider having at least a small notebook with you for those times when your electronic device of choice is out of battery)
- chargers for everything
- eye mask and ear plugs (heaven sent!)
- water bottle
- foldable hand fan (I have no idea what else to call it!). These are the fans that you can literally buy at the dollar store; also known as old school air conditioning. I was in triple digit weather and roasting like a pig on a spit, and buying one of these little fans at a street market in the South of France absolutely saved me!
This is highly specific to each person, so I won’t bother putting my list of toiletries, instead, I’ll just give some tips 🙂
Tip #4: think small. Again, because you’re carrying everything, the things you bring have to be in miniature size. And fill them up whenever you get the chance (at a hostel, hotel, or air bnb).
Tip #5: ziplock bags or tiny bags with zippers are lighter than containers and also take up less space.
Tip #6: don’t forget the bug repellant! The mosquitos have been going crazy over my ‘exotic’ American blood.
Tip #7: buy a really small pair of scissors. You don’t realize how often you actually use scissors until you don’t have access to them!
Tip #8: keep a very small bottle of shampoo with you but make sure it’s a shampoo/conditioner combo; it saves time in the shower, and sometimes you have a limited amount of hot water to use so every minute counts
Tip #9: bring at least 5 ziplock bags with you; they tend to come in handy
Tip #10: hand sanitizer… ‘nough said
Tip #11: TRAVEL CUBES!!! They keep your pack organized and everything gets packed efficiently
Tip #12: at least a few bandaids; you just never know
Tip #13: bring a very small container of laundry soap. You need very little and it goes a very long way.
I’m sure that as I keep trekking, I’ll have even more to add to this, but until then, this seems like a good enough start 😉