Last time I let you guys have a peek inside Weasley, my beloved red Osprey beast of a backpack, I was just setting off to Central America as a long-term traveler for the very first time. My back aches at the thought of that 46 pounds of combined weight I lugged to Mexico City! I mean, a solar panel charger?! WTF did I need that for? Was I planning to be lost in the woods for several days?
After writing that post, I ended up shedding quite a bit from that bag, and when I set off for this next leg of my trip in Asia in December, my pack was even lighter. Some of you have asked me for packing tips for long term travel, and while I appreciate your trust, I’m not sure I’m the best person to dispense advice! I may have learned a thing or two about minimalism since I set off….but don’t get me wrong, I still love my jeans and my luxury beauty items!
But since you asked, here’s a look at what I’m packing these days, with explanations (and justifications) when necessary.
Pack: Osprey Daylite Pack
I love this thing because it looks small, but it holds so much more than you can imagine! The list below is what I carry in the pack when I’m traveling to a new location. For the most part, I leave much of this back in the hostel or guesthouse when I’m venturing out on a daily basis.
- SpiBelt – This is made for runners, but I like to carry extra cash and cards in it, inside my bag. If I’m super worried about being pickpocketed I will pop it on under my shirt, but that’s honestly never happened. It stays safely tucked in the bag unless I go running (which is never).
- Nootrobox Sprint pills – These are nootronics that I bought on a whim a while ago when I was still working on TV and found when I was home for the holidays. They’re nutritional supplements to enhance cognitive function and they pair with the once daily Rise pills that I keep in my first aid kit (see below). They do work and I definitely feel more focused when I take them, but they are expensive so I won’t be buying them again anytime soon. Might as well take advantage of the stash I have left!
- Universal Power Adapter – there are plug changers for every country around the world in this small little square.
- Nikon Coolpix AW130 – A shockproof camera waterproof to 100 feet. I love using this for diving and water sports because I can really abuse it and it still works great!
- Macbook Pro (2012 edition) & Charger – I obviously need a heavy-duty computer to write and do the video editing and photo processing I need, and this thing is a tank, with lots of storage capacity.
- Books – see my last packing post about why I still carry and love old school books.
- Wet Ones & Charmin Wipes – Always come in handy at some point!
- Old Sock – Why do I carry this? Inside it, I stash some emergency US cash – my “get out of jail free” card, if you will. No one thinks to look for it. (Wait, now anyone who reads this will look there……damn, I’ll have to find another secret hiding spot!)
- Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans – Honestly laughed when I found these just now. I don’t remember putting them in there but I’ll keep them on hand for emergencies. Fred swears he got a bogie flavored one once.
- Brown Leather Journal – I don’t buy souvenirs from the places I go. Instead, I try to get everyone I meet to write in this journal. I tell people to write their best piece of life advice, but I end up getting personal messages, inside jokes and words of encouragement too. It’s already got some great wisdom in there, and I hope by the time it’s full it will hold a lifetime of memories from people all over the world!
- Passport – Duh.
- Canon Rebel t3i – The camera I take the majority of the pictures on this blog on. It’s a great entry-level DSLR and since I’ve had this, I’ve worked my way up from auto to manual and am getting close to being ready for an upgrade. I highly recommend this if you want to improve your photography from a point-and-shoot but aren’t sure if you’re ready for a big-time professional camera yet.
- GoPro Hero 3+ – Obviously a great camera that shoots outstanding video! I use this most for videos I do and action shots. Its also great for taking selfies because of the uber-wide lens. (I know, I hate selfies too, but when you’re a solo traveler, sometimes they are your only option!)
- Ikea Kitchen Timer with GoPro mount – For doing 360 degree timelapses. It cost me $7. I’ve yet to post one of these on the blog but the day will come!
- Cheap Polarized Sunglasses – I buy these in bulk on Amazon because I lose and break them so easily. That’s why I always carry a backup pair!
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens + case – I put this in the last post I wrote about packing, but it still remains…..I don’t really know how often I’ll use this. I barely use it at all, but I carry it because it is a prime lens and will be great when I want to do some serious photography or video projects. The day will come, otherwise I’m leaving this at home next time. (I told you I still overpack!)
- Headphones, charger cords, etc.
- ATM card, credit card, and ID in orange wallet – I keep these in the SpiBelt most of the time.
- Intervalometer – I use this for timelapses on my Canon. I don’t know why people buy expensive ones when cheapies like this do the job fine.
- Sunscreen, Lip Balm, Purell, and Eye Drops – Tiny travel versions of these I always keep on me in my day pack for emergencies.
Pack: Osprey Ariel 75 L
Oh Weasley, you’re one of the most reliable men in my life right now! This is my third Osprey pack and I still see no reason to ever go with another brand. Their packs are the top of the market in price, but they are so durable it’s insane. Also Osprey will fix anything that breaks on it, for any reason, FOREVER. It’s a life-time guarantee that’s worth the price.
Yes, it’s still big and bulky, but since I’m not using up all 75 L, I have lots of extra space and I’m able to pack it in nicely to my back. Once I get the hip straps on, it feels so light I could walk for miles with it on. Sometimes I consider getting a convertible backpack with wheels, but I love the way this guy feels on my back. I don’t see myself switching anytime soon!
Top of the Pack: Essentials I may need to grab quickly….
- Padlock with Key – For locking up my bags in a locker at hostels. I keep an extra key in my other bag always.
- North Face Venture Rain Jacket – Great rain jacket that balls up small when I’m not using it. I’m lucky I only needed it a handful of times in Central America but I have a feeling here in Asia it’s going to be utilized a lot more. Also doubles as a rain cover for my day pack – I bought it a size bigger to cover both me and the pack together!
- REI 80L Pack Raincover – Whip this out and suddenly Weasley is waterproof for the rain.
- Giant zip lock bags (extras) – You never know when you’ll need one of these
- Sunscreen SPF 50 & Natural Bug Spray (not pictured) – I keep big bottles of these in the top of my bag because I always need them quickly.
Clothes: This trip I’m visiting Thailand (including cool Chiang Mai), Vietnam (including the chilly Northern mountains), Myanmar, India, and potentially the Philippines and Indonesia. I also may be heading to London in April before heading back to the States, so I’m all over the map in regards to climate.
So, I’ve opted for lots of layers, as well as items that can be dressed up or down depending on my needs. I like comfortable backpacker clothing, BUT I also like dressing up occasionally for a night on the town. But more than any of that, I like traveling light, so versatility is the key.
Long Sleeve & Layering Tops
- A&F Flannel – My “winterwear” in Los Angeles. Always good to have one on hand.
- Gap Black Zip Up Jacket – A nice light jacket that can really dress up an outfit if I need it to. It’s really light though – I wouldn’t use it in cold weather.
- ‘ello Wildfox Sweater – My favorite clothing item. The Brit bought it for me! It’s super warm and comfy, plus it reminds me of home.
- Gap White Long Sleeve top – Already wishing I’d brought another of these. I didn’t realize it would be so cool in Chiang Mai!
- Bella Dahl Black Cotton Button Down Shirt – Super lightweight and comfortable, but can be dressed up easily. This fits me so nicely that I’m going to have another one made in Hoi An when I’m there (for hopefully a fraction of what I paid for this!)
- White Cotton Button Down Shirt – I bought this for the White Party at Yacht Week and decided to keep it with me. It’s light-weight and extra long, and goes with everything.
Tank Tops & T-Shirts
- 3 T-shirts – In solid colors, they go with everything.
- 8 Tank tops – For daily wear, layering and sleeping.
- Peanut Butter Vibes – This Glass Animals shirt is a sure-fire conversation starter in hostels!
- Black Nike running cropped pants – Great for running, yoga, or hiking.
- J. Crew Jeans – I know these are always controversial to carry, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I LIVE in jeans back home (I’m a Texas girl at heart, what can I say) and wearing them makes me feel fantastic.
- 3 pairs of lightweight, loose-fitting pants – These are lifesavers in Southeast Asia. It’s so hot, but in many places outside of tourist areas, women are expected to cover their knees, especially when entering temples. These keep you covered but also cool. And yes, those are elephant pants. Buying a pair is a right of passage in Thailand, don’t pretend like you’re too good for them.
- 2 pairs of shorts – Besides yacht week, I haven’t worn shorts much because of the culture here, but I’m sure when I get to Phu Quoc (an island off Vietnam) I will wear them again.
Dress, Accessories and Shoes
- 3 scarves – these are great for layering but also will be necessary when I get to India and parts of Myanmar.
- Black Gap Dress – I wore this on New Year’s Eve, and will keep it in case I want to dress things up again somewhere!
- Fedora – Because it is fedorable.
- Havianas Flip Flops – Sturdy as all hell.
- Nike Air Max 90 Essential – My new sneakers!
- Strappy Orange Sandals – I brought these in black with me to Central America and I wore the hell out of them. So of course, I bought another pair in a different color for this leg. Nothing like neon orange sandals to give you an energy boost!
All of my clothes fit into a small REI Compression sack, which is much smaller than the ALPS one I carried to Central America. I’m glad I downgraded in size because I’m forced to bring less with me!
Toiletries & Makeup
In a medium sized clean/dirty Eagle Creek Packing Cube:
- Shampoo & Conditioner – Full sized, because my hair is long and thick and I’ll use up a travel size container in 2-3 washes.
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Sugar Scrub (pink tube) – A luxury item that I have leftover from Christmas. I’ll go back to using shampoo to wash up once I use all of it up.
- Aloe Lotion – So cheap to buy in Thailand!
- RayBan Glasses & Case
- Dallas Cowboys Contact Case & Solution – Gotta support my ‘boys somehow! They need all the help they can get right now…
- Johnson’s Baby Oil – I use this on my legs to ward off sandflies & mosquitos. More useful in Central America where sandflies are more prevalent. Will not replace once I use it up.
- It’s A 10 – Fantastic product if you have super dry hair like me.
- Red Nail Polish – tiny little bottle.
- Brush & Extra Hair Ties
- Secret Weapon (turquoise tube) – Great for taming humidity-frizzed hair. I only carry a little bit of this on me.
- Tom Ford perfume – Tiny tiny vial of my favorite perfume from home for special occasions.
- Face Lotion with SPF 20
- Anti-Wrinkle Serum – I’m over 30 guys, it’s a necessity.
- Makeup (not pictured) – concealer, BB cream, eye liner pen, mascara, small eye shadow case, lip gloss. Keep it simple.
First Aid Kit
- Bandaids – Used several of these already at Yacht Week – lots of bumps and cuts from moving around a rocking boat while intoxicated!
- DayQuil – Already used some of this when I got a cold.
- Zzzzquil – Great sleep aid. I switched from melatonin because it made me feel weird.
- Ciproflaxin (prescription) – Always good to have an anti-biotic on hand.
- Rise – see above description of Sprint in my day pack.
- Pepto Bismol tablets
- CVS Migraine Relieve – generic version of Excedrin Migraine. This is my hangover miracle relief.
- Pain Relief tablets – generic Aleve. For aches and pains.
- Emergen-C – Immune booster for when I’m feeling sick. I already used most of my stash after yacht week.
- Canon Battery Charger
- miniSD to SD Adapter – for the occassional times my GoPro won’t connect properly to my computer via USB.
- GoPro Accessories & Mounts
- WeCase Dive Filters – for GoPro.
- 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.
- Lav Mic & External Audio Recorder – For use in shooting interviews and videos where I need someone to wear a mic. No, I haven’t used it yet, but I will. Just having it reminds me of my old TV life 🙂
All random stuff I won’t use often but may come in handy in a pinch. In a Quarter Eagle Creek Packing Cube:
- Small extra ziplock bags
- Duct Tape wrapped around a Sharpie
- Dive Logbook – To record my dives.
- US SIM Card – I keep it here for when I return to the States. I have started buying SIM cards in each country I go to, and it’s a much cheaper option than paying for roaming data.
- Extra Pairs of Contacts
- Sewing Kit – Small, will probably never use it. But I have it just in case.
- RFID Safe Wallet with Extra Credit & ATM Cards – These are my backup money I keep far away from my day pack, just in case something happens to my first round.
In Unigear dry bag (which I freaking love having, by the way):
- 3 swim tops + 2 bottoms – I had more for yacht week but I tossed the rest after!
- Roxy Boardshorts – These are awesome for paddle boarding or kayaking.
- Snorkel Gear – We’ll see how long I keep these with me. I bought them for yacht week and kept them for my remaining island adventures, but I don’t have much time at the beach coming up. I may toss them.
NOTABLY ABSENT ITEMS
- REI Large Quick Drying Towel – A casualty of The Yacht Week. I’m really sad about it……that thing was so necessary. I’ve tried to find a microfiber travel towel in Chiang Mai with no luck so far.
- Sea to Summit Silk + Cotton Sleep Sheet – I accidentally left this at home, and I’ve already missed it a few times. It was such a good item to have on overnight busses and trains, and right now I’d love to have it in Chiang Mai because it’s been chilly at night.
What Weasley looks like in all his glory:
Weight: 26 pounds (seriously!)
I’m pretty proud of my odd collection of stuff that I get to carry on my back from place to place. When you’re forced to fit everything you need for several months in a backpack, it’s about finding a balance between the necessities and items that make you happy or remind you of home. I could definitely do with less, but there is a lot of joy that things like my ‘ello sweater and that brown leather book bring me.
What is your packing style? What do you never leave home without?