RTW: 2007-2008, Travel Tips, Trip Planning, World - other travel posts — By on June 26, 2008 5:15 AM

Packing has to be my least favorite past time. I have never been know to be a “good packer”; however, I have to say that I have learned a lot and improved upon my packing skills on this trip. I have packed an repacked a dozen times already, slimming down my bag each time. Danny refers to my packing as a mini-series drama called “I just don’t know what to bring!?”

I laugh at myself for thinking I did a good job packing for this trip. This could not be further from the truth! What the hell was i thinking bringing a bag that is literally called “The Beast”? NOTHING beastly should ever be taken on a long backpacking trip! The “Beast” is an enormous rolling duffel bag made by REI, that when empty weighs 12 pounds and when full was too heavy for me to manage! In addition to the beast, I also brought a big backpack. The mistake I made with the backpack was by not getting fitted by a professional and ended up buying a pack that was too long for my torso and was also too large of a capacity. I definitely struggled with 80 liters on my back, which weighed 50 pounds! Lucky for me I was able to store items at the Bunac program office in Sydney for only $20/month. In storage I left behind “The Beast” and the 80 liter pack filled with all the extra clothes and other items that I do not want to travel with in the future. As my friend Jody told me, one should pack for a two year trip the same as they would pack for a two week trip. This is completely true!

Before leaving for Southeast Asia, I knew I needed to find a better and smaller backpack. I went on a mission to find the perfect backpack for me and ended up choosing the following:

Osprey Woman’s Wayfinder 57L Backpack with attachable day-pack.

The main compartment of the bag is only 47 liters and the attachable daypack is 10 liters. Does everyone realize just how small that is??? I would have preferred the main compartment to have been 60 liters. Because it is small, it is light, weighing only 12K/25lb…light enough for me for carry for an extended period of time and run in if necessary.

I highly recommend this backpack for other women as it is made for a smaller frame. I also love how this backpack unzips like a suitcase unlike most backpacks that one has to load and unload from the top, which is extremely annoying and inconvenient. The bag can be carried on your back or on your shoulder with the large duffel like strap. I also like the way the straps can all be tucked away and zipped close, which is handy when checking the pack at the airport. The bag also has straps at the bottom to attach a sleeping bag.

Below is an inventory of the contents of my little bag! I am sure I will buy stuff as I go along, but it will require me to toss out old stuff to make room for anything else, as this bag is packed full!

CLOTHING AND SHOES: all of my clothes, minus my hiking pants and jacket, fit in a single “cube” which is only 14″ x 8″ and is about the size of a sweatshirt folded! The key is to roll!!!

1- fleece: doubles as a pillow
1- rain jacket
1- hiking pants: mine roll up into cropped pants as well)
1- long pants: linen because lightweight and breathable
1- kapri pants
2- shorts
2- dresses
2- long sleeve shirts: to keep off the mosquitoes and required to wear inside temples
2- tshirts
6- tank tops: several quick drying tops.
1 – bikini
8- underwear
3 – bras
4- pairs of socks: 3 short, 1 tall
1- running/hiking shoe: I went for Northface- Gore-tex trail runners that were perfect for hiking and running and are also waterproof.
1- sport sandal/water shoe: they may not be the most fashionable, but I went with Keen’s lightweight water sandals.
1- flip flop: also serves as my “dressy shoe” as they are gold!

1- sarong: used as beach towel and cover up skirt
2 – hats: 1 sporty and 1 floppy wide

Get a good toiletries bag that can hang up in the bathroom. Be sure to get a bag that zips closed, as there is nothing more depressing that lotion spilled all over your clothes!

Bring the small travel sized bottles, you can always buy more.

•Shampoo/Conditioner: because my curls can’t live without it
• Soup: lasts longer than body wash
•Moisturizer (with SPF): to help keep me looking young
• Toothbrush/Toothpaste: I like the mini travel size, although I always get made fun of for my tiny toothbrush?
•Razors: be sure to bring lots of extra blades!
•Floss: because my dentist yells at me when I don’t
•Deodorant: I recommend Secret Clinical Strength
•SPF 30 Sunscreen: because “there is nothing cool about a tan”
•Chapstick with sunscreen: because it tastes good and protects!
•Contact Solution: because I didn’t eat my carrots when I was little
•Headbands: for the many days I don’t feel like messing with my fro.

I can’t be bothered to wear makeup these days, except for mascara which I can’t live without!


Medical Kit

First Aid Kit
• Bandaids
• Neosporin
• Bug spray with Deet
• Hand sanitizer
• Gauze
• Alcohol Swabs

• Olympus E500 Digital SLR Camera: 8.0 megapixel camera with 18-180mm zoom. The camera is big, but the pictures are well worth the inconvenience of carrying around with me.
*I switched the camera strap for a pacsafe strap that is slash proof.
• Olympus Stylus 1030SW Digital Camera: 10.1 megapixels, 28mm wide-angle lens, Waterproof to 33 feet, shockproof to 10 feet, crush proof to 220 lb, snow proof 14F; also can produce sound videos. The toughest camera on the market, great for clumsy people like me!
• Portable Harddrive: 320G Western Digital USB Portable Harddrive, for backing up all my important files, photos, and videos.
• Extra Camera Batteries: because there is nothing sadder than your battery going dead in the middle of a great shot!
• Laptop: (used in OZ but did not bring to Southeast Asia)
• iPod: for entertainment on long bus rides and inspiration for uphill climbs

• Cell phone: with pay as you go plan, be sure phone is “unlocked” so that you can insert a new SIM card in each country for better rates.
• Pac Safe: In the rare event that the above electronics (or my backpack) are out of my sight, I can keep them safely secured inside this mesh metal bag and bound with a padlock to a pipe, pole or the heaviest object in the room. Slash-proof, pick-proof and for the most part, thief-proof. Also great for peace of mind while trying to sleep on an overnight train.

Backpack raincover: because I am traveling in monsoon season!
• Waist Pouch: to keep my passport and money close to me and safe
Silk pouch/liner: because chances are those sheets are dirty, and bed bugs bite!
• Document holder: for copies of all your important info (passport, credit cards, receipts)
• Small Calendar: for when you are forced to plan ahead
• Umbrella: because I don’t want to melt
• Universal adaptor: American plugs don´t mix with overseas outlets
• Clothes Line: to dry your cloths because dryers are hard to come by
• Concentrated detergent/sink plug: because I only have enough cloths to last a week and have to do laundry often!
• Sunglasses: because they look cool and protect your eyes
• Reading/writing materials: Book, Lonely Planet Guide, Journal, pens, coloring pencils (because I like to draw pretty pictures in my journal). I went for the watercolor pencils, thanks for suggestion Jodi!
• Duct Tape: because you never know when you might need it. I have used to keep my adaptor plugged into the wall.
• Spork: because you don’t know where that communal spoon has been!
• Earplugs: For those who have to share a room with me as I apparently I have been known to snore?
• Waterproof Bag: Great for taking on boats, rafting, and in your daypack in case you are caught in a downpour with your electronics.
• Swiss Army Knife: mine contain a scissors, blades of varying sizes, tweezers, toothpicks and the highly essential corkscrew and bottle openers. Be sure not to leave in your carry on luggage like I did one time!
• Flashlight: Because everyone hates the girl that comes into the dorm room at 2 am and turns on the overhead light.
Headlamp: because sometimes you don’t have a free hand and it’s dark!
• Rain Poncho: because sometimes you find yourself in a monsoon
• Quick Dry Towel: the best towel ever, they wick moisture efficiently and dry rapidly. Be sure to buy the extra large size.
• TSA locks: To lock your bags
• Sterile Pen Water Purifier:
Ultraviolet (UV-C) light rays safely sterilize clear water by destroying viruses, bacteria and protozoa
• Mosquito face net: for the annoying flies in the Outback of Australia, and the dangerous mosquitoes in Southeast Asia.
• Blowup pillow: good for planes and the occasional budget accommodation lacking the basics!
• Candles/Lighter: for worst case scenarios
• Playing Cards: for long bus and boat rides
• Bungee Straps: to strap loose items to your backpack when it becomes to full
• Fold up bag: to use in case of bag overflow emergency. Temporary fix until a post office can be located.
• Sleeping Bag (left in Sydney but used throughout OZ): The Sumberjack Saguaro 45F Sleeping Bag was perfect for camping in Australia. The bag folded down to a tiny size and weighed less than two pounds.

Leave at home…
• Perfume: it attracts bugs
• Nail Polish: it will spill in your bag
• Shower gel: it runs out too quickly
• Denim: too hot and slow to dry
• Laptop: too heavy and always something to worry about
• Don’t bring black clothes, you will be too hot


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  1. Aine says:

    Kelly, you’re blowing my mind AGAIN! Good thing you have all this sh!t as I can just use yours! Good advice on the perfume as I was thinking to bring some so you wouldn’t smell me??! I’d rather reek then have malaria, though!

  2. Dan Lavee says:

    I had hard time following, it is a long detailed list, I am sure to go over it again if I ever go backpacking. While reading, I could only be reminded of when I was 15 and was taught how to pack. The guide started pulling out stuff from his back tossing over the shoulder saying "we dont need that and that and that…" Until we are left with a tooth brush actually. If you are conservative you can carry extra underwear and T-shirt.
    Easy packing for anyone who has difficulties. 🙂

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