While I don’t often offer travel tips one aspect I do like to share is my packing list because it is such an overwhelming task. Over the last three years the way I have packed has changed quite a bit:
– When I first set out I had a 65L backpack and wondered if I packed too much. Here is that RTW packing list.
– In Colombia I broke my first travel rule and bought jeans for traveling.
– Returning back to Canada I shared what I learned worked and what didn’t for packing for travel in South America.
– Heading to Europe I decided to get a 48L backpack from MEC and I packed much differently with a few controversial items. See my packing list for Europe here.
For the most part I have moved onto roll on luggage but when I traveled to Mexico last year I realized that does not work in Latin America’s cobblestone streets or Finland’s snowy streets.
It is time to break out the backpack.
But 48L is too much. I want to travel carry-on only. I know it’s so hard to believe but lighter really is better even if it means you wear the same thing over and over again.
If I can over one single piece of advice you must take is that when you go to a store to look at backpacks please get someone to help you with it. I love Mountain Equipment Co-op because it is a Canadian co-op but also they have amazing service – just don’t go on Saturday because it is ridiculously busy.
Although I thought I wanted a 35L pack, staff there made me realize that the MEC Aria 40 Daypack had a nifty separate pouch on top that was perfect for toiletries and still within carry-on guidelines. They also showed me how to make sure it fit my body and the four straps I needed to pull when I put it on.
If a backpack isn’t your thing you can also apply the same principles with luggage. Here’s a great guide to carry-on luggage size, I also use luggage when traveling to places like Europe – although sometimes hotels don’t have elevators and I really regret it. I think a backpack with wheels would also be a great option.
So now onto the packing list. The next three months are a bit challenging, 2 weeks on Maui, ten days in Brazil, ten days in the Galapagos and then 2 months in South America. The good news is that it should be all warm weather but I do need to bring some nice clothes as I will be going to a conference as well as some nice restaurants on Maui. My solution?
Black dress + Tieks
I wrote a review of Tieks and I really do love them, they fold up, are comfortable and make plain black dresses look much nicer than my bronze flip flops.
Here is the rest of my list:
Toiletries – All must be under 100ml for carry-on
Travel size shampoo and conditioner – believe me every country sells decent shampoo, I don’t need a 3 month supply
Small make-up bag
Sunscreen – I’ll buy more as I need it
Travel size hair dryer and flat iron – I know this it controversial but I’ve learned it’s non negotiable for me.
Medication – lip chip sized bottle of acetaminophen with a few sinus pills in it. If I need more I can buy it.
Electronics – I wish I could go with less but I need to blog so these are non negotiable.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 – my Canon 60D and 3 lenses were too much. I bought this in Portland and have never looked back.
Go Pro Hero 3 with waterproof casing and headstrap for the Galapagos
Hard drive for back-up
HP Laptop – wish I had a Macbook and when I can afford it I’ll upgrade
Samsung Galaxy III with extra battery.
Chargers, memory cards etc.
8 pairs of underwear (I won’t do laundry more than once a week)
4 dresses (2 black for events)
2 swim suits (Latin America has atrocious quality for swim suits, last time I only took one and couldn’t find another without lining when it fell apart)
2 pairs of shorts
2 tank tops
1 long sleeve shirt
1 button up shirt
One thing that has not changed from the first time I traveled was the use of packing cubes. I use them in backpacks and luggage. I put shirts and shorts in one, undergarments and swim suits in another and dresses in a third. They are incredible, especially when you need to search through a bag to find something.
Most importantly, I do not believe in turtle-ing – you know the backpackers that have one bag on their back and another on their front. I have a small purse that goes across my body that I’ll exchange for a messenger bag on the road. But whatever I buy it also has to fit in the backpack.