Even if I wouldn’t name myself an experienced traveller and backpacker, I want to share my saying about packing my life into a 40LT backpack with the forecast of being in warm countries for a couple of months.
This was part of my wardrobe until a few days ago:
I tried to sell as many things as possible, but unluckily I succeeded only with my gym equipment and some other small electronic devices.
For the time being, I can just say I was dying to give away all the things which I could not squeeze into my brand new Deuter. I believe that the moment of my life I am living is bringing me back to that state of essentialism where there is no space for unnecessary belongings.
For this reason, I didn’t feel much concerned about keeping my old things, which now rest in a friend’s basement and are resumed as follows:
One box contains some clothes I do really love and the other box has teaching materials, notes and books from my Journalism studies and some small items from my friends or my family that I want to keep.
All the clothing and other items that I did not sell or are with me inside my backpacks, they all went to a dear friend of mine from Colombia. She will likely send her stuff to her sister and will open a clothing store in Cartagena:
This way I will be able to really focus just on myself – as it is only myself what is left.
Right now I need to feel freedom breathing through every pore of my skin.
So – let’s get to the point now – what’s in my backpack?
The first thing I do is always to separate every group of an item so that I have a clear idea of all kind of things I want to bring with me.
After this, I wrap each group with transparent plastic bags. This will save up a lot of space and also it will be easier when unloading my backpack to find what I am looking for.
You can also buy plastic cubes in Amazon or in other stores which sell travel gear.
Now let’s look at some of the items into more details:
- Clothing for jogging/workout (bra, shorts, and pant)
- A couple of T-shirts and a shirt with long sleeves
- Shoes: one flip-flop, one pair of walking sandals with straps, a pair of sneakers plus the runners I wear that I don’t need to pack
- A belt, a light day bag, flashing lights for night running or walking, a running belt and a yoga strap.
- Makeup pouch, transparent bag with liquids (perfume, body cream, shampoo and conditioner) and a small purse
- Four or five jeans shorts
- Bangles, earrings and necklaces
- A mix of useful things: accessories for manicure, condoms, travel sewing kit, painkillers, tampons, hair bands and accessorize, brow tweezer, dental floss, two lockers, a good camping fork, plasters…
- Travel towel
- Two pairs of blue jeans and a pair of long trousers and two evening dresses
I planned this clothing thinking about the possibility to have something clean by washing them up just 3 times a month. No matter how light you plan, there will always be something you will cut from the original plan. This time for me the superfluous items were:
- A black blazer to be used in case of interviews. If I will need one, I will buy one. I also have the black shirt which can do
- A kimono. Even though it is small and not heavy to carry, I felt I may not use it
- An additional pair of jeans. I am going to warm countries, I prefer to bring more shorts that I am sure I will use!
You will also find inside my backpack: soap with its box, make up tissues, lots of tea bags, hairbrush, nail polish and polish remover, toothpaste and tootbrush, electric shaver, some family pictures, a scrub glove, cotton pads, cotton buds, a coffee maker with coffee powder (yes, I am Italian!) . Once I will be on the road there will likely be some powder detergent for my clothes, mosquitos/insects spray and sunscreen.
Purchasing a good backpack it’s essential. Better to save money on something else because you really don’t want to have stupid zippers or holes when you are on the way. As for the size, I wouldn’t go for anything bigger than 40 Lt for two main reasons:
- I have all my stuff with me in case of flights. I also personally hate check ins and to carry around lots of things, especially if it’s summer and it’s warm
- You live with what you have. It is the same principle of your wage: if you earn 10.000$ a month, you live with those but if you earn 1.000$, you learn how to live with 1.000$ as well. Having one jeans or three doesn’t make any difference, you will know how to live with the only things you have already with you
- I am not carrying heavy clothes or lots of other kind of equipment which may require a bigger backpack
This time I chose to purchase a Deuter Futura for 119EUR, as it fits perfectly my hips and has adjustable straps on my shoulders. One of the feature I like the most is probably the air circulating system that will allow my back to be a bit more ventilated:
All the electronic gear (Chromebook, camera, Kindle, various cables, mobiles, chargers) plus two books, my notebooks, cash, credit cards and passport will go into a small day backpack.
Some other tips:
- When flying, I always wear the heaviest items. When not flying, I like to hang the heaviest shoes outside of my backpack
- I always think that most of the things I now think I may need, more likely I won’t. I plan my stuff trying to be very realistic. Especially if travelling for long time, I know soon I will hate all the stuff I am carrying! Never forget that you can always buy something on the way or swap items with other travellers (this is a trick I always use with girls for either shoes or clothes)
- I don’t bring any printed documents with me except my passport. I have everything additional I may need stored in the cloud (from CVs to IDs). I use both Google Drive and Outlook One Drive but you can also email them to a friend
- I always bring a pre paid credit card with some cash in it and I use Skrill. In case my normal bank card would be stolen, it is always good to have a backup
- I like to store my dirty clothes in a laundry bag and leave it at the bottom of my backpack (where I normally store shoes) with some lavender leaves
- If your backpack comes with a rain cover and you are moving inside cities or touristic places, I suggest you to cover it so that it won’t tempt thieves
- Hostels are crowded with any kind of people. Bring a lock for the items you can put inside a locker and a wire too – in case you need to lock the backpack to something
- Being a backpacker for a month or one year is a matter of organization and skills get better with experience. Saying that, each of us have different needs so this is just what works out well for me. I just know that being on the road it doesn’t change me much as a person in terms of appearance. I do shower daily, I use body lotion, perfume and deodorant and I always do my nails and scrub my skin as I do home
It is my sole responsibility to create the life I want for me. I really want it to look as much as possible as I want it. No one has the right nor the duty to make me happy except myself.
For the time being contentment to me is represented by living out of a backpack with the perspective of meeting new people in new places, helping them if possible and write all that I feel.
When things will change again I will be ready to welcome another stage of my life.
Right now I love to see a bare key ring while my heart sings a thousands songs!