Confession: I fucking love packing.
It’s really weird. I love sitting down, making a detailed list and then pulling it all together in nice, organized compartments while crossing things off as I go. I don’t plan so much because I worry I’ll forget anything – I know I can buy whatever I need when I arrive, if I have to – I just do it because I honestly love packing bags.
However, I am also a horrific over-packer. Like, criminally so. Take a look at this pic of me the day I left for 2 months in Asia last year.
What. The. HELL. There is no reason I needed 4 bags. NONE. By the end of my two months, I’d given away several bags of clothes to villagers in Cambodia and consolidated the duffle into the suitcase. And I was STILL annoyed that had that much shit to lug around. I didn’t want think of myself as a backpacker then, but I quickly found myself jealous of all the people with only a small pack on their back.
This time, I was determined not to make the same mistake again.
I’m allowing myself to be a backpacker this time, and I’m carrying only one big pack (an Osprey Ariel 75 L) and one day pack (Osprey Daylite pack) that can easily attach to the bigger bag for one (albiet heavy) backpack.
Here’s a peek at what I brought and why.
Pack: Osprey Daylite. I wanted a small pack that would hold all my computer and camera gear tightly and securely. This 13L pack was a no brainer because it also attaches to my bigger backpack when I want to consolidate. I’ve been carrying this bad boy around daily for over a year now, and he’s fresh as ever.
- Books – Yes, I carry old school books, usually 2-3 at a time. I know they are heavy. I don’t care how awesome your Kindle is. I love the feel of a book in my hands. #SorryNotSorry.
- Spibelt (up top) – Sometimes I wear this around my waist if I’m worried about pickpockets. It holds my essentials – cash, ATM card, and sometimes my phone and passport. It also doubles as my running belt while I’m training for my half marathon.
- Canon Rebel t3i with an 18-55mm lens – This is my entry level DSLR with a standard walking around lens. It’s about 3 years old, but I love it and it suits my needs just fine.
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens – This is my more expensive lens, and honestly not sure what use I’m going to get out of it. I’m bringing it to see if I use it, if not I’m leaving it at home for the next longer leg in Asia.
- Nikon Coolpix AW130 – Waterproof Shockproof Camera – This is a new gift from my parents as I set out on my travels. Can’t wait to use it when I’m diving in Mexico and Belize!
- GoPro Hero 3 Black on a clip – This little guy has been through the ringer with me (check out my timelapse from LA to Dallas) and is still going strong. I know it’s a bit much to have 3 cameras, but I plan to shoot and edit videos while traveling and this guy packs a great video punch for shooting big adventures on a small budget.
- iPhone 5c – Cheapest unlocked iPhone available. I’m keeping my US number but minimizing my bill and keeping it on airplane mode 99% of the time.
- Universal Power Adapter – necessary.
- Macbook Pro & charger – Bought this a year ago, fully upgraded with memory and RAM. It’s the 2012 edition, right before retina display, when they still made them with a lot of hard drive space. This beast has been worth every penny. Enough said.
- Wall charger & USB splitter – I don’t remember where I got this thing, but it’s awesome for making good use out of one USB plug and keeping your wires all contained. I can charge, my GoPro, phone, Nikon camera and my GoalZero portable charger all at once.
- Ikea Kitchen Timer – I use this for epic GoPro 360 time-lapses. I made it myself for $10.
- Ape Case – Lens case that holds the Timer, my intervalometer and my extra Canon lens.
- Mini-Tripod – I actually ended up leaving this at home.
- Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes. These are good for cleaning up grimy surfaces on busses, planes, in hostels, restaurants, you name it.
- Intervalometer – For time-lapses with my Canon. I used it a lot in Nepal and Thailand last year.
- Journals – these are small and each have their own secret use. Don’t ask.
- Sunglasses – always cheap for when I inevitably lose or break them.
- Bug spray (mini), sunscreen, Purell, and chapstick. Essentials.
- Goal Zero Switch 10 Portable Charger – this is my on the go power pack. It can be solar charged (you’ll see below) and holds loads of juice, and is slightly bigger than a magic marker.
- Nalgene 1L Water Bottle (side holster)
- Travel Tripod – (side holster) I chose this because it extends to 50 inches but condenses to only 17 inches. This was surprisingly cheap at Target at $15. It’s held up so far, but time will tell if it’s durable enough for the entire journey.
Here it is all put together.
And it weighs a whopping 14 lbs. Yeesh.
On to the big boy…..
Pack: Osprey Ariel 75 L – I intend on writing a full review of this pack later on, but suffice it to say I LOVE THIS THING. I’ve nicknamed it Weasley, because it’s red and sometimes awkward but has surprising depth and versatility (Jesus I’m such a geek). I’ve had this pack for year now and it’s been on a couple trips already.
You can’t go wrong with Osprey. Their bags are definitely pricey, but they are incredibly durable and come with a lifetime guarantee. If it falls apart on you or anything breaks, you can send it to them and they’ll replace/repair it, no matter how long you’ve had it. How’s that for customer service?
Top of the Pack
- Deck of cards – Useful for making friends.
- Padlock with Key – For locking up my bags in a locker. I keep an extra key in my other bag always. So far haven’t used but my next hostel offers lockers.
- Toilet Paper in a Ziplock – Because you never know when you’ll need it!
Loose in the top of the pack:
- REI Large Quick Drying Towel (previous photo) – Good for the beach, packs down quite small but is super absorbent. I much prefer using this to creepy hostel towels if I can help it.
- Sea to Summit Silk + Cotton Sleep Sheet (previous photo)- It’s nice to have for itchy hostel sheets, and I feel more at ease sleeping in it without fear of bugs.
- North Face Venture Rain Jacket – Got this on sale. I ball it up really tight until I need it.
- REI 80L Pack Raincover – Whip this out and suddenly my bag is waterproof for the rain.
- Yalumi Headlamp (Small) – Haven’t used this yet, I won’t lie to you. But it came in handy last year in Nepal during the regular power outages, so I’m not discounting it’s usefulness just yet.
- SteriPen – This + my Nalgene bottle = less plastic water bottles clogging up our oceans and landfills. Yes, I know there is plenty of bottled water available in most places in the world, but I prefer to be environmentally friendly and drink the tap water – after of course I’ve zapped it with the Steripen.
- Fun fact, they tell you that SteriPens don’t work in anything other than water, but I zap my chilled and icy cocktails sometimes just to be sure. I haven’t gotten sick yet!
- Goal Zero Solar Charging Mini-Panels – charges the Goal Zero Switch 10. Not sure how much I’ll use this trip, honestly. This is another thing I may lose before Asia and just keep the Switch 10.
- WD Passport 1 TB Portable Hard drive – Bought it with a sturdy travel case. I use this to back up my computer weekly.
- InCase Camera Case – Holds all my camera accessories.
- Extra memory SD card and Mini SD Adaptor
- Various GoPro mounts
- Extra Canon Lens Cap – I buy these in bulk because I always lose mine.
- WoCase GoPro Dive Filters – cool clip on filters for my GoPro for use while diving to help make the colors pop. Haven’t used them yet.
- GoPro Chest Harness – Bear with me here. I plan on doing a time-lapse of the half-marathon I’m running in Mexico, and then shipping it back. Go ahead, laugh.
Pack: ALPS Mountaneering Compression Sack – this motherfucker can consolidate any hunk of clothing into a basketball size hunk, guaranteed.
Temperatures: I’m going into mostly fall/winter tropical temperatures (highs in the 80s) but will probably hit some cool spots (highs in low 70s) in the mountains in Southern Mexico and Guatemala. It’s all about the layers, dude.
Casual vs. Dressy? I live for casual. I’m a tomboy at heart. But, I tried to bring one or two things that I could also dress up, if for some reason I were to meet Javier Bardem on a beach and he wanted to take me for a nice dinner with Penelope.
- 6 T-Shirts – Oh you didn’t think I was going to leave my Cowboys jersey at home did you? HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA
- Sidenote: The Peanut Butter Vibes shirt is my favorite thing to run in.
- 11 Tank Tops – 3 of them are more undershirts for sleeping in. Man I like grey and black, don’t I?
- And yes, that is Biggie.
- Sol Angeles Sweater – This is what I almost always wear on planes. Its so cozy, and you gotta love the dream livin’ vibes.
- Red Flannel – this is my “winterwear” in Los Angeles.
- Denim Shirt – Who doesn’t love a chambray? Another good layer option.
- Light Jacket – something that takes up little room but looks nice. I’m ready, Javier.
- Denim Shorts – I don’t like shorts, but I’ll wear these if it’s hot enough.
- Jeans – CONTROVERSY! I live my entire life in jeans, it was fucking hard to only bring one pair. I don’t care that they’re heavy and slow to dry. You’re heavy and slow to dry. They make me happy.
- Nike Cropped Run Pants – Awesomely versatile. I work out in them, hike in them, sightsee in them, and sleep in them (sometimes on the same day)
- Nike Skinny Sweatpants – They’re cozy.
- Running Shorts – As I mentioned earlier, I’ve decided to run a half marathon in Mexico. I’m still not sure why.
- Two pairs of flow-y traveling pants – Cool, breezy pants that work anywhere. All the cool travelers wear them, especially in SE Asia. Also known as elephant pants or gypsy pants.
- Black Cotton Dress – This can be casually worn to the beach or dressed up for a fancy event. Hell, I’ve even worn it to a wrap party before.
- Globe Scarf – Doubles as a sarong.
- Black Strappy Sandals (to be packed loose in bag) – Bought these at Urban Outfitters this year on sale -very durable but also cute.
- Havianas Flip Flops (to be packed loose in bag) – Also sturdy.
- Saucony Hurricane ISO Running Shoe – My running shoes with custom insoles. Will they carry me the entire 13.1 miles of my half marathon on October 31st? Who knows. But since I had to bring these, I couldn’t bring my more stylish trainers. Oh well.
Not pictured……..a half size Eagle Creek Packing Cube with my underwear. 10 pairs of undies, 6 pairs of socks, 2 regular bras and 2 sports bras. In case you care.
What do all these clothes look like squished up in the compression sack?
In the past I’ve bought full-sized everything in my toiletry bag. This led to multiple lotion explosions followed by a tedious clean up. This time, I’m going small (and tightly capped) for everything.
- Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel & Lotion – All in clear 2 oz containers. I’m trying these out to see how long they last before a refill. Fingers crossed they get me to December.
- Hair Product and Face Moisturizer – in two squishy bright bottles I found in the Target travel section. Love them!
- Razor – with 3 replacement heads.
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Contact solution and case – I’m actually legally blind. Not pictured: My obscenely thick eyeglasses.
- It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In – My beauty splurge. A few sprays of this on my wet hair and it stays in perfect shape. Without it my hair is brittle straw. I don’t need any styling when I use it. It’s my secret weapon.
- Bug Spray from Thailand – This shit is the BEST. No deet, smells good, and more effective than any chemically-laden thing I’ve tried before and since. I just hope I don’t run out before I get back to Thailand to restock.
- Perfume Bottle – Instead of bringing my fancy perfume, I funneled some in this tiny bottle.
- Hair Brush & Hair Ties
- Dove Deoderant
- Burt’s Bees Face Towels – Perfect for traveling. I’m a huge fan of these.
- Lady items – for ladies.
- Nail Polish – I’m allowed one color, to keep my toes looking nice. I never bother with my fingernails anymore.
Unigear Drybag: Essential item for someone like me who loves the water. I can take it with me kayaking, on dive boats, SUPing, snorkeling.
- New Balance Multi-Sport Shoes – These are the best looking water shoes I’ve ever seen – most of the time people think they are just normal sneakers. They have holes in the bottom for water to seep out of, so they’re perfect for kayaking, rafting, etc. I actually wear them in the ocean because while I love the water, I don’t love stepping on jagged rocks or spiky sea creatures.
- Roxy Rash Guard – For SUP, kayaking and shallow dives in warm water.
- Roxy Board Shorts – Tomboy to the core, but I love them.
- 2 Swimsuits
- Snorkel & Mask – I bring these with me everywhere I go because snorkeling is my favorite beach activity. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s good exercise and I love feeding the fish.
First Aid & Miscellaneous
- Excedrin Migraine – The only thing that cures my hangovers.
- Cipro – Anti-biotic my doctor prescribed me in case I get a bad case of Montezuma’s revenge.
- Naproxen Sodium – For aches and pains.
- Melatonin – For when I need help sleeping
- Pepto Bismol Chews – I mean, I’m going to Mexico folks.
- Tums – For when I overindulge in jalepenos.
- First Aid Kit – With Neosporin, band aids, burn creme, alcohol swabs, sewing kit.
- Extra contact lenses – did I mention that I’m legally blind?
- Extra ziplocks – I always need these.
- Laundry Detergent Slips – very handy when I need clean undies.
- Back up credit cards and ID – I bury these deep in this pouch for a reason. In case anything happens to my ATM card or cash on hand, I carry extras hidden in my other bag, along with emergency contact numbers and a little extra USD.
What does this all look like put together?
It weighs a whopping 32 pounds!
Here I am, all ready to go!
The final weight of both packs combined was 46 lbs. Not too shabby, considering it all weighs less than just one suitcase I checked to Asia last year!
But while I’m excited for the lighter load, I have to say this: I realize this is still a lot. I probably have still overpacked. Listen guys, I’m not perfect, but these next 3 months are kind of like a test run. I figure that I can dump the stuff I don’t use at home over the holidays before heading to Asia.
Phew, that was exhausting. If you’re looking for other good packing advice, there are LOADS of other travel bloggers that have done the same. Here are some of my favorites:
Do you have any packing tips that you want to share? Anything I forgot? What is your packing style? Comment below!