Packing for this trip has probably been the most challenging part of planning so far. I’ve never backpacked before, I’m more of a suitcase on wheels and wear sweat pants all the time kind of traveller. I’m not just packing for a quick tour of England, I am travelling Europe and then moving to London. How are you supposed to pack for the frequently cold English weather, dry heat of the mediterranean, party clothes for nights at the disco, and professional clothes for the inevitable job interview, all while fitting it in my 60L MEC backpack? I kept praying for the angel of packing to take care of it for me, but to no avail.
I started taking a serious look at my wardrobe. Would I really need three different party dresses? Do I even wear those shirts anymore? I had to really be willing to part with of a lot of my clothes. I donated 5 garbage bags full of clothes I just don’t need anymore. I packed and repacked my bag 6 times before I was satisfied. Space is precious in my bag and every item I bring had to really be worth it.
Seven pairs of shoes. Yes, seven.
- 1 pair of flip flops for the hostel showers
- 1 pair of runners because I like to stay active when I can
- 1 pair converse sneakers for street wear
- 1 pair of Blundestone boots which I love so much. They’re super comfy and waterproof and I wear them when I travel from place to place.
- 1 pair of black heels for the dancing times
- 1 pair of ridiculously cute ballet flats because I love them and I refuse to leave them behind.
5 Dresses 4 light and summery for hot weather and 1 fancy one for going out dancing.
- 7 T-shirts
- 6 tank tops
- 4 button up shirts I’m Canadian, of course I have plaid.
- 4 pairs of pants, 1 for going out and 3 for day wear.
- 4 pairs of shorts 2 for day wear and 2 swim shorts
- 2 swim suits
- 1 denim jacket. This is my favorite piece ever. I wear it with everything
- 1 wool coat I should have ditched this before leaving the UK for south Europe. I’m glad I had it in Hampshire but now I’m questioning just how attached I am to it.
My eagle creek compression cubes are the best decision I have ever made for travelling. I can keep my clothes organized and sorted instead of pulling everything out of my bag to find something, it’s there in neat little cubes. They’re like drawers for my backpack!
This is it. This is all the toiletries I need for my trip. You’ll notice there’s no bottle of shampoo or conditioner. I have really long, super fine and thick poker straight hair, making it do anything nice is a challenge. So for me my shower ritual is sacrosanct, but I didn’t want to deal with the weight of liquid shampoo and conditioner. I needed an alternative. On the recommendation of a fellow traveller I decided to try Lush’s bar shampoo. That tiny little round tin holds the power of 200 washes and I love it! It lathers up and makes my hair feel so soft and clean. I’m not sold on the conditioner. It’s ok. It leaves my hair soft and fluffy, but I think my high maintenance locks require a little more conditioning than the Lush bar can provide. Instead of a loofah, I use the exfoliating glove. It’s small and dries fast after use and takes up little space. So far I only use the disposable razors. My favorite are gillette, which are geared towards men, work exactly the same as a woman’s and cost less.
I keep my makeup bag pretty simple. Back home I had all the different brushes, eye shadow, blush, setting spray, the whole shebang, but even at home I rarely use any of it. These are my essentials and the ones I cannot live without. A primer, a cover up, foundation and powder. I don’t usually wear eyeliner or mascara because I don’t like cleaning the mascara off the delicate skin around my eyes every day. I feel I can get enough vavavoom by just brushing and curling my eyelashes but on those special occasions it is nice to have, so I brought them with me.
Looking at other travel bloggers my electronic set up is pretty sparse! I have my Canon EOS DSLR, which I got on craigslist for $300. I did splurge and bought myself a macbook and I am so glad I did! It’s light and it’s made it so easy for me to make these blogs and post them online. Originally I intended to use my iPad with to blog from, but since I bought my computer it has largely laid unused in my bag. Now I think I’ll only use it when I finally get an apartment and I would gladly have left it behind. I brought my iPhone since I would be working the in the UK and wanted to have something reliable with me. Travellers frequently pick up a cheap pay as you go phone for making local calls and texts. This hasn’t been necessary in my travels. I have met with little difficulty in using my iPhone, which I leave on airplane mode and connect to wifi either on the streets or in coffee shops. I can use the map even when not connected (I downloaded google maps) and I frequently use my phone to translate when I am struggling with the language. Not only that, but my phone takes pretty awesome photos. It is my life line on the road. It has my calendar which I share with travel companions and my mother (who is doing a great job at being supportive despite her concern.) All of these life line items are kept really close to my chest. Literally. When I’m on the road they live in my Herschel backpack which I wear in the front.
There are professional bloggers that have awesome underwater camera cases, go pros, and lenses and filters. If you have the good fortune to come across Alex in Wanderland’s fabulous blog, check out her What’s in my bag? Series where she covers her essentials in great detail for a variety of destinations.
Some travel essentials not pictured but included:
- 2 Locks, both combination, one for my locker the other my backpack
- Power adapters
- Headphones and the various chargers and cables that keep my electronics going
- Wallet and passport. These I keep really close to me. My wallet has a loop that goes over my wrist and helps me feel more secure about having it out when I’m in public
- Eagle Creek bra clip money pack. This is a low profile way to keep a backup stash of money when travelling through major tourist centers.
- My sketchbook which also contains my travel documents in the back pocket
- Journal…yes I write about my adventures in two places.
I think I have included everything! I know I’ll pick up a few things on the road, I already have my eye on a laundry bag and a better travel towel and face cloth.
So what about you, what things do you find impossible to leave behind when on the road?