This details our first attempt to follow this sage travel advice: “Lay out everything you want to pack. Now put half of it back.”
It’s really difficult to do. I began to think of all the possible scenarios in which I would need my makeup bag, three different kinds of yoga pants because it might be cold, or it might be hot. I wanted to bring ten tank tops because I love to layer, and I wanted to bring athletic shoes, hiking shoes, dress sandals and a pair of casual sandals because I want to make sure I’m accessorized and equipped for any occasion I may encounter.
But I’m carrying all this shit around for five months and that puts things in perspective. If you’re packing and you can’t lift your pack with one hand, IT’S TOO MUCH STUFF. And if you think it isn’t heavy, walk around your neighborhood for thirty minutes and reassess. If I had done that I’d have about a third of the stuff I do now.
We used the Kelty Redwing 50L Backpack ordered using Amazon Prime. We picked these packs for the following features:
- Carry-on compliant for Ryanair, AerLingus, Norwegian. Win.
- Front zip so the pack unzips much like a suitcase
- Functionally sized side and top compartments
- Highly adjustable shoulder, waist and chest straps – paramount for comfort and avoiding injury!
Outerwear: one fleece jacket from Poshmark, one waterproof North Face jacket (lost in Istanbul).
Tops: Four long sleeve, three short sleeve, two tanks.
Bottoms: Two Jeans, One Yoga Pant, One skirt, One Pair of Shorts.
Little things: Two bras, one sports bra, one bathing suit, ten underwear, 1.5 pair of socks*.
Shoes: Leather Sandals (Aldo), Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe
These hiking shoes have walked through farm mud, forest mud, slippery rock faces, sludgy trails, and everything in between. They provide enough stability for the ankles for a moderate hike, up to six hours in length.
I think he overpacked, but he was prepared. His pack weighed over 20 pounds before we even left.
Outerwear: 1 insulated Calvin Klein jacket
Tops: 5 t-shirts, 3 long-sleeve shirts, 1 button down,
Bottoms: At least four trousers plus work pants, 1 pair of athletic shorts
Little Things: 10 pairs of boxers
Shoes: Running shoes, hiking shoes, casual shoes, and flip flops.
However, when we were ten days between laundry facilities, I was the one re-using clothes, not him. I’m actually surprised he didn’t run away when I was on my second or third wear of t-shirts.
That was my world of traveling light.
- 1 17″ Dell Laptop
- 1 iPad Mini
- 1 iphone 4s
- 1 iphone 6s
- 2 Apple charging blocks
- 2 Apple USB cables
- 1 Car charger
- 3 power adapters
- 1 power converter block
- 1 13″ Macbook Air*
- 1 Nikon D5200
- 1 External Hard Drive
- 6 SD cards with carrying case
- 1 Digital Camera Tripod
What Weighed Us Down
- Leather gloves – total waste in damp climates
- Chi flat iron – adorable that I thought between the farming and touring a city I’d flat iron my hair. Nope.
- iPhone 4s – used to send departing texts from Ft. Lauderdale on July 7th and never again
- iPhone 4s charger
- Oversized messenger bag – doubled as daypack and purse
- Bulky plastic water bottle – for refilling at water fountains but there’s never one around
- Makeup bag. I gave up with makeup somewhere in August in Finland.
- Nikon D5200. No getting around this. It’s heavy.
- Two textbooks for my online classes
- 17″ Dell laptop – I wound up carrying this
- Aluminum water bottle – bulky and makes the water taste funny
What We Tossed:
- Mark traded his Nike free runs & Sketchers dress shoes
- 4s iPhone Charger
- Dead iPhone / iPad Charger
- International Power Converter from Brookstone. All we needed for the phones, iPads and laptops were a handful of adapters.
- Plastic and Aluminum Water Bottles
- Melody’s mascara, eyeliner, ‘cheap’ foundation
- Pairs of socks that got irreparably dirty
What We Bought:
- Mark swapped two pairs of shoes for these NorthFace Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes found at a TKMaxx in the UK.
- Digital Camera Tripod from a Kodak Store ($30)
- Full-size shampoo & conditioner to refill our many empty travel toiletries
- Travel journals
- *Macbook Air
- International Power Adapters
- Awesome Feetures Elite Ultra Light Socks. These make any shoe instantly comfortable with a compression band built into the sock that supports the arch of your foot. Translation: With these socks, you really can walk 500 miles.
What We Wished We Had:
- Wool gloves for cold days
- Box of Earplugs
- Airplane Sleep Mask – the best one is this Alaska Bear sleep mask
- More hand and face lotion
- Emergency snack kits that we made before 5, 6 and 7 hour bus rides.
- Cheap flip flops to walk around hostel in or to the car.
- Slip-on sneakers. Many countries in Europe have a custom to leave your shoes at the door, and it gets frustrating untying and retying your shoes every hour or so.
Takeaway: You need a lot less than you think you do, especially if you’re traveling from America. We wore the same week’s worth of clothes for five months and you’ll surprise yourself with the mileage you get out of your stuff. Make all of your clothes the same color-scheme (pinks, reds, and oranges or blues, greens, and browns) and you’ll go quite a long way.