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6th April
written by Hazel

Ready to Travel

I have been meaning to write this post ever since I hit publish on part one.  When we were preparing for our trip I found this kind of information so helpful and was anxious to document what I’m carrying with me.  So this is long overdue.  On the other hand, now that we’ve been on the road for four months I’m in a much better position to comment on what has been needed and used and what hasn’t.  So here it is, what I have with me now.

After writing the last post but before leaving home I snuck into my pack a few extra items of clothing:

  • extra hiking pants (bringing the total to 3 pairs)
  • extra socks (I snuck in two pairs, one short and one knee length.  The short have since been mailed home, so they don’t count.  Total 5 pairs)
  • woolly hat (I have been really, really glad to have this).

On the road the clothing I have bought is:

  • 2 pairs of long underwear bottoms.  They can double as leggings, keep me warm, and are perfect as pajama bottoms.
  • One pair of very cheap gloves (used for hiking, but then thrown out)
  • one summery short skirt
  • one blue and white tank top (total up to 4)
  • one extra set of undies

I consider this to be a major packing success.  We have gone through a very wide range of climates, camped and lived in cities and I’ve managed to buy very little and also had very little that I haven’t used.  I haven’t always been thrilled with my choices of outfit, but it has always been comfortable and good for the weather I’ve experienced.  This clothing is packed into 2 compression sacks and is the majority of the space in my backpack.

So, on to the rest of my gear.  I’ll try to make this list as complete as possible.  Sorry the pictures in this post aren’t so sharp, there wasn’t a lot of light.

Pack and Purse with contents approximately how they fit

Camera Case

Toiletry Bag

Clothes in compression bags

Paperwork, First Aid Kit, Sandals in Ziploc

Camelbak flat against my back


In black bag: pens, notebook, lock, ipod, wallet, sunglasses, camera, and Kindle (not pictured)






Small Black Timbuk2 Purse – this is useful as a day bag.  My camera fits in easily, as does a water bottle, waterproof coat, etc.  Good for hiking or cities.  It pretty much always carries my wallet, sunglasses, Kindle (not pictured) and camera.  Justin has a small fabric backpack which he can use for this purpose.


  • Driving License
  • Credit Card
  • Debit Card
  • Traveler’s cards – we had these made on Moo.  They have our flag on one side and our contact info including the blog on the other.  We give them out to people we meet.
  • Emergency contact info
  • Copy of travel insurance
  • Passport card
  • Calling card


  • Kindle – Our friends gave us this device as a wedding present and it has been awesome!  Not only can I download books from the road, but Justin was able to get an iphone app for it, so we can both read whatever books we want.  It also can check email pretty much anywhere.  Not so good for writing back (in fact, pretty much impossible to use to write with), but so very useful.
  • iPhone – ok, so this isn’t in my backpack, it’s in Justin’s, but it’s really useful to us.  He unlocked it and so we can use it when hostels have free wi-fi and we can buy sim cards in different countries if we think we will need to make calls.  We use it for chess, crosswords, and Justin reads on it.
  • Headlamp
  • Various plugs, cords, chargers
  • iPod nano – very tiny, tons of music, perfect for long bus rides
  • Watch (cheap, so I won’t mind if something happens to it)
  • Camera with 2 battery packs and several memory cards.  I have a camera case, but since I tend to carry the camera in my purse without the case in order to be able to take pictures easily I pack the case with miscellanious things and it fits perfectly into the top pouch of my backpack.

Camera case unpacked

First Aid Kit:

  • Prescription meds (antibiotics, altitude meds, malaria pills, etc.)
  • Over the counter meds: painkiller, antihistamine, antidiarrheal, motion sickness pills, Pepto Bismol, laxative pills, cold medicine, allergy pills, cough drops, antiseptic cream, anti-itch spray for bug bites
  • Band Aids and small roll of gauze
  • Hand Sanitizer and alcohol wipes
  • Moleskin
  • Nail Clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Duct Tape
  • Ear plugs
  • Neosporin
  • ACE bandage
  • Ankle brace (I twist my ankles all the time)
  • Q-tips
  • Rubber bands
  • One extra earring – I have 2 earrings in one ear and 1 in the other.  Brought the extra earring in case I lose or break one.
  • Shoelaces – 6 or 7 of them instead of rope
  • Mini bottle of sunscreen
  • Mini bottle of bug repellant
  • Small package of wet-wipes
  • Thermometer

First Aid Kit unpacked and including "things in stuff sacks"

This kit turned out to be much bigger than I had anticipated, and takes up a large part of my bag.  I feel as though it’s worth it though because we are incredibly prepared and have had occasion to use many of the things we’ve brought.  We saved a lot of space by buying small sizes and getting rid of as much packaging as we could.  I also figured out that the bag we bought for the kit is much bigger than the first aid supplies, so I pack my “things in stuff sacks” into the first aid bag as well.

Things in little stuff sacks:

  • Silk sleep sack – like a sleeping bag made of a single layer of silk.  Perfect for using inside a rented sleeping bag or when you don’t trust whether there might be bedbugs.
  • Inflatable pillow – good for planes, buses, camping  – about the size of my fist when not inflated.
  • Quick drying travel towel.  Lots of hostels provide towels, but very, very useful when camping.
  • Waterproof pack cover – so far this has been useless.  I bought one which fits my pack, but only when there is nothing in it.  Oops.  I haven’t seen much need for it though.  I suppose that if I didn’t have to worry about it falling off it might be nice to put on the pack when it gets stowed under buses, etc.  I will probably ditch this at some point.


  • One tube toothpaste (shared)
  • One bottle shampoo/conditioner (shared)
  • Toothbrush
  • Hair bands
  • Folding hair brush
  • Deodorant
  • Diva Cup (Men, you probably won’t be interested in this one…)
  • One small eyeshadow
  • Mascara

All this is contained in one small toiletry bag.



Camelbak in small backpack


  • Sunglasses (plastic)
  • Necklace – Christmas present from Justin.  I’m almost always wearing it.
  • One pack playing cards
  • 4 clothespins
  • Elastic clothesline
  • Sink plug
  • Ziplock and large trash bags
  • Camelbak – we each brought one of these for hiking.  Our backpacks have a pouch for them.  I also brought the small backpack for mine.  This is perfect for day hikes when we aren’t bringing our larger packs.
  • 2 pens
  • Small moleskine notebook and very small waterproof notebook
  • Plastic cutlery – thank you Qantas!
  • Small supply of tea bags
  • Lip balm
  • Small lock for lockers at hotels (this is very important!!!  I did not think to bring it, but bought one along the way)


Paperwork folder


  • Passports
  • Copies of Passports
  • Copies of credit cards
  • Paper copy of itinerary
  • Copies of all prescriptions carried
  • Emergency contact info sheets
  • Copies of travel insurance info
  • International drivers license
  • Certified copy of marriage license
  • Vaccination records
  • Small plastic folder to keep all this in!

This part took some thought to put together and a lot of time making copies (thanks Mom and Justin!) and so far we’ve had everything we have needed.

The Verdict, so far:

Our packs are, without a doubt, the smallest we have seen any travellers with.  We’ve had several people ask us how we can do it or where our other bags are!  I am often incredibly thankful that I have so little weight to carry.  The hardest part was actually when we were packing and had the option to keep adding things to the bag.  Now that we’re on the road it’s not so difficult.  The only other downside is that we have to do laundry every 4th day if we don’t want to rewear anything.  When we are hiking or out in the wilderness we’ve occasionally stretched this or washed a few things in the sink and reworn the outer layers.  When we’re not in the wilderness we haven’t had any trouble getting laundry done. 

We have sent several packages home – souvenirs, brochures of what we have done, our spanish language workbooks, etc. and that helps keep the weight about the same as we travel.  We have also avoided buying guidebooks when we can and pass them on at hostels when we are done as they are quite heavy.

So far we have managed seven flights without checking a bag!!!  This is tricky, but it can be done.  Our backpacks are small enough, but each time we have to get them weighed and they must be less than 7 or 8 kilos (that’s between 15 and 17 pounds).  We manage this by using our small day bag as the second carry-on item and putting the heaviest things we have in these small bags (and if necessary in our jacket pockets).  Our bags then come in under weight and once we are through security we can rearrange.  I have to emphasize though that this strategy would not work if our bags were much heavier to start with.  I only have to take out my electronics, washbag, jacket, and travel towel to get below 8 kilos.

There you have it, my complete packing list!  It looks like a long list, but honestly it doesn’t seem like very much when you look at it and realize that it is all you have for a whole year and 15 or 16 countries!


  1. 06/04/2011

    Awesome post!
    And yay for divacup!


  2. Bob D

    I think you might have a career in travel writing in your future. Super interesting post. What’s a diva cup? :)

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