Inside my backpack

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For my 2-month expedition through Europe and North America during winter and then into South America where it was summer I researched blogs and travel sites for endless hours looking at every single detail on packing light. I spent many hours shopping online and in stores looking for essential travel items in the most lightweight form possible. My hours and hours of hard work paid off as I set off with a backpack lighter than standard carry-on luggage limits (weighing in at just 6.3kg – minus my laptop and ipad which I carried in my hand) and I sincerely hope this list will save you as much time and effort that I spent, so you may have more time to focus on other aspects of your amazing getaway!

Packing essentials

Deuter Backpack 34 Litres

4 packing cells variety shapes and sizes

2 Korjo medium size compression bags

Bluebird handbag

Frontier money belt

Passport

Clear folder with travel documents

Cash in each currency I will need

ANZ travel card

Credit Card

Drivers Licence

Kathmandu Silk Sleeping Bag Liner (tiny, lightweight and excellent for hostels if you’re not sure about the cleanliness of the bedding)

Clothing

1 pair leather gloves

1 beanie

1 scarf

2 Altica thermal long sleeve tops

2 pairs Altica thermal tights

1 swimsuit

1 maxi dress for casual and dress wear

1 pair loose flowing cotton long pants

1 black cardigan (recommended for any journey on an airplane – I always freeze!)

4 shirts

2 pairs of tights

2 bras

2 pairs of socks – one pair merino wool and one pair thin cotton

5 pairs underwear

1 pair Leather boots (waterproofed before departure)

1 pair North Face Hypershock Shoes

1 pair cheap thongs

CAPE pack-it rain jacket (this weighs next to nothing, is contained by its own pocket which turns inside out to become the case, and was fabulous even for that extra layer of warmth in Eastern Europe where it was -15 degrees and snowing, it kept the melting snow off me and also felt like a layer of insulation)

Kathmandu DVT socks (highly recommended when you are flying long distances around the world and I flew every 4-8 days)

Medication/Cosmetics/Other

Small purse with assorted jewellery

Small purse with all makeup (no liquids!)

Small box of the smallest size Ziplock bags (I threw the box and put all the bags inside one)

Cotton buds (small handful in a ziplock bag)

Tissues (3 small purse size packets)

Band-Aids (small handful in a ziplock bag)

Ecolite Laundry leaves (highly recommended space saver!)

Small pill case with nurofen and phenergan (I get hay fever sporadically)

Aqua tabs – water purification (essential for budget travellers to save those extra dollars when travelling through South America to avoid purchasing water everyday)

Bar of soap (cutting down all unnecessary liquids!)

Lush shampoo bar in shower case (cutting down all unnecessary liquids)

Toothpaste (small size under 100g)

Toothbrush in shower case

Tooth floss

Ecolite face and hand wash leaves (excellent space saver, helps to avoid liquids and lovely products to use!)

Hackey Sack (just for some fun if I got bored)

Travel Earplugs in their own small case

 

Liquids, Aerosols and Gels

Lucas pawpaw ointment 25g

Mouthwash 80ml

Somersets shaving oil for women 15ml

Conditioner 100ml (I couldn’t find any conditioner in a bar like the shampoo from lush)

Deodorant Spray 50ml (This didn’t last long at all so I switched to a roll on as soon as it ran out)

Argan oil 7.4ml (tiniest bottle but used sparingly lasts months)

Electronics

Universal Travel Power Adaptor

iPhone

MacBook Pro 13inch

Neoprene case for MacBook

iPad 2

Canon Powershot Camera and case

My Passport ITB portable hard drive

Lexar 8gb USB stick

4 SD cards for my camera

Travel size mouse for MacBook

Charger for camera, MacBook  and iPhone

And that’s it! My entire packing list.

I highly recommend using packing cells and compression bags as they keep your bag organized and make it so much easier to find things as well as save a lot of time when you’re constantly moving hotels (packing is a breeze!).

The reason I was so successful in keeping my luggage light was because I did not take non-essential items. When I arrived in Germany; (it was -4 degrees) my first stop, I went straight to the restrooms in the airport and changed into a pair of thermals (top and bottom), my merino wool socks, boots, scarf, beanie and gloves then put my thin tights back on and wore my cardigan and also my rain jacket which provided shelter from the wind. Surprisingly I was quite warm!

My first mission after finding my hotel and dropping off my very small bag was to hunt down charity stores to buy a secondhand winter jacket, a pair of snow pants and an extra pair of wool gloves. As I was spending 17 days in cold countries over Christmas and New Year, these items were essential for keeping warm, however by purchasing them when I arrived I saved myself so much trouble by not checking in a bag and potentially losing my luggage. When I flew out of New York  (my final winter destination) and into Cuba I donated my new (secondhand) winter gear back to charity. All together I spent approximately $40 on the extra clothing, but I saved a lot more that that by purchasing all my airfares without paying any check-in luggage fees (10 flights in total).

I spent the remainder of my holiday in South America (where the lowest temperature was 12 degrees) so I no longer needed winter clothing. Doing what I did meant that I wasn’t stuck carrying unnecessary clothing through the remaining 5 countries. Another major bonus was the ease of jumping on and off buses in South America, where the only place to store luggage was on the roof (and there aren’t any straps to tie bags down!), my small backpack fit easily under my feet so I knew where it was at all times.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask and if I can I will help any way possible.

Happy travelling!

Xoxo – Siobhan

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