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When I finally pulled out my backpack and opened it up to start the process of attempting to fill it with all the necessities I would need to travel the world for a year, I immediately began to silently panic. Over the last few weeks I’ve read countless blog posts about what to pack and up until the moment I had to do it myself I had felt prepared. I’m a sentimental person and a heavy packer by nature so I knew trying to get my life into a backpack would be tough, but I underestimated just HOW tough. I took a deep breath and decided to tap into the logical part of my brain (something I don’t do very often) and after a few minutes the initial panic subsided and by the time I was done I felt pretty good about my choices. Now, I’m not nearly as organized as Anthony, and I absolutely overpacked, but my backpack is a comfortable weight and I managed to get everything packed without too many extra frivolities.
For me, the biggest sacrifice was the decision to leave behind my flat iron. I know that sounds ridiculous and so vain, but sometimes a girl just needs to feel put together and my flat iron is the tool that makes me go from feeling like a hot mess to feeling like I’m someone who is presentable enough to be in public. Unfortunately, Southeast Asia is going to be incredibly hot and humid so I finally talked myself out of the need for straight hair and decided I will simply have to embrace my natural beach waves. I’ve broken my list into categories and a lot of my items overlap with Anthony’s, but there are plenty that are unique to my pack. I know that I brought too much, and I’m sure in a month or two I’ll be writing a dramatic post about how I don’t need anything I brought and I’m going to throw it all away, but until that time here is my list:
REI Women’s Grand Tour 80 Travel Pack—Much like Anthony I’m very happy with my main backpack. It’s a front loading pack which is key to lessening the hassle of long term travel. Having used a top loader before I think this pack will be much better for the type of trip we’re taking. The front opens nice and wide like a regular suitcase and will make accessing everything I need super easy as opposed to having to dig through everything I’ve brought to find my other flip flop. The straps are thick and padded as well as easily adjustable so I can customize the bag to fit me well. I personally prefer to have the pack sit high and close to my body, and this pack does this perfectly. It also comes with a rain cover which will come in handy during those tropical downpours as well as keep the straps enclosed when I check it on flights. There are plenty of little zippered pockets for extra storage, and I also love the color! Totally in love.
REI Stuff Travel Daypack—This little pack is the perfect daypack/carry on and one of my favorite purchases. While my main pack has a removable daypack, I decided to take this as my carry on due to the fact that its lightweight, holds a ton, and folds into itself. I took this with me to Europe this summer and was very happy with it. There is a mesh pocket for a water bottle and a zippered top pocket as well. This pack may seem small, but it holds everything you need for a full day or two away from your main bag. The perfect carry on.
Ebags Packing Cubes—These little tools are total lifesavers and I wish I’d known about them years ago. They come in all different sizes and colors so they’re good for any packing need. I bought mine through Ebags and went with the medium size in a nice shade of pink. There are three total in my backpack and every item of clothing I’ve packed fits nicely within the cubes. If I’ve left something out of them within the pack it’s because I want quick and direct access to it.
Cube 1—Everyday Clothes:
Four lightweight dresses—I don’t like to wear pants at home so leaving my one pair of jeans behind was never going to be a problem for me. I had trouble when it came to narrowing down how many dresses to bring. I decided on four because they pack up easily and I know I’ll use them. Three are mid-thigh to knee length and the fourth is a maxi dress for when we are visiting temples or for a night out.
Two basic stretchy spaghetti strap tank tops—one black one white
Three knee-length cotton/poly blend skirts—one black, one hot pink, and one patterned all good for both touring around during the day and going out at night
Three crop tops—one black, one white, one patterned, again good for different occasions and can be mixed and matched with the skirts
One lightweight cotton t shirt—purple
One lightweight sheer cardigan—hot pink
Cube 2—Underwear, socks, etc.:
Three regular bras—I read a lot of blogs saying that one thing that is particularly difficult to find in Southeast Asia is a bra that fits anyone over a size A properly. Seeing as I’m a 36B I definitely don’t fall into that category. I went with three because I can wash them by hand often and I’ll also be supplementing with bathing suits and sports bras regularly as well.
Three sports bras—One lightweight and two with a little more support. All Victoria’s Secret since I think they make the best bras in the universe. We plan on hiking a decent bit, and once I’ve gotten used to the heat I would like to get some running in as well. Again, these are easily washed by hand and can be rotated with regular bras.
One strapless bra
ExOfficio Underwear—Three pairs: one bikini, one thong, one full coverage. Antimicrobial, moisture wicking, quick drying, and breathable these are the perfect traveler’s underwear. They’re comfortable and lightweight and can be washed in a sink or even in the shower.
Victoria’s Secret Sport Thong—Three pairs: one pink, one yellow, one teal. These are also antimicrobial, moisture wicking, and fast drying, they simply came in super bright colors which is why instead of buying six pairs of the ExOfficio’s I bought three of each.
Four pairs SmartWool Mid-calf Length Hiking Socks—Antimicrobial and they keep your feet cold when hot and hot when cold.
Three pairs SmartWool ankle socks for running
Bathing Suits—Two tops, four bottoms, all in various colors so they can be mixed and matched.
Cube 3—Trekking Wear:
Two moisture wicking lightweight exercise tanks—one pink and grey, one peach and purple
Three pairs of running shorts—one green, two pink
Two pairs of black crop yoga pants
Two pairs of full length yoga leggings—one grey and pink and one black by Victoria’s Secret Sport
One lightweight yoga pullover with hood—teal
One lightweight pocketed cardigan—white
Two moisture-wicking long-sleeved sport pullovers one with hood, one without—one pink, one orange
One pair of EMS Hiking Pants—Grey
One long green scarf to be worn over my shoulders when visiting temples
Two pairs Old Navy rubber flip flops for the beach and for showers—one pink and one orange
Rainbow Flip Flops, thick strapped for everyday use
One pair Old Navy studded flip flops for a night out
One pair Asics GT 2000-3 sneakers—Given that this particular model of Asics is designed with maximum support and treads that work for trails as well as pavement I decided to just bring these instead of both a pair of sneakers and a pair of hiking shoes. As we move on to more intense hikes in Central and South America I may need to invest in a pair of hiking shoes, but for now I think these will suit just fine for the range out outdoor activity we’ll be doing.
Not Pictured—One pair flat lace espadrilles from Forever 21 for the plane and when I want to look a little more put together.
*Note—One of my goals while we’re away is to run a race in some country besides the US which is part of the reason I’ve packed so much workout gear. Fortunately, a lot of it is lightweight and quick drying so it will be put to good use either way.
Toiletries and Such:
Ebags Pack it Flat Toiletries Bag—This bag is absolutely incredible and is another one of those things I wish I’d known about years ago. It’s fully lined (and not cheap lining either it’s nice and thick) with one main compartment in the center and several zippered compartments on either side of the main one.. I managed to pack quite a bit in it and it still stays perfectly flat while fitting snuggly into my backpack.
Shampoo and Conditioner
Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport SPF 30 —Sunscreen is one thing that is apparently expensive and hard to come by as well as being full of whitening agents in SEA so Anthony and I each packed two bottles plus a few small ones.
Toothpaste and Toothbrush
Prescriptives Px All Clean Face Wash
Travel size bottle of perfume
Venus razor+four cartridges
One bottle of mousse—Works well bringing out my natural curls and since I won’t be heat styling I figured this was a good alternative.
Extra stick of deodorant—Like sunscreen it is trendy to include whitening agents in the deodorant in SEA so I went ahead and brought two sticks.
Two 2 oz Bottles First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Moisturizer—Again many facial moisturizers in SEA also use whitening agents so I decided to stock up in the US. I also have about half a 6 ounce tub of the same moisturizer as well as a carry on size tub of ——- for the plane.
Tampons—One box regular sized Tampa Pearl with plastic applicators. This might seem like a small amount, but I’ll get to that shortly.
One bottle generic Claritin—365 count
One bottle malaria pills
One bottle pills for traveler’s diarrhea
One bottle Airborne
One bottle Ibuprofen 24 count (should be easy to fine when we run out)
One bag CVS Brand cough drops
Travel sized bottle of Purell
Mirena IUD—Deciding to have an IUD placed instead of taking a year’s worth of oral contraceptives with me was a long decision making process, but in the end it seemed the best option. Packing a year’s worth of pills would have taken up a lot of space, and there was just too much room for error. If my bag got lost or if I got sick to the point where I couldn’t keep a pill down we would be in a bit of a bind. I was also a little nervous about the possibility of blood clots with our long haul flights. The IUD is a set it and forget it option, and so far I’ve been very happy. Since Mirena also slows your period over time, I didn’t feel the need to pack a year’s worth of tampons either. A win-win if you ask me.
*Note: I know there are negative affects associated with Mirena, but there are negative affects associated with any form of birth control and this was the best option for me. Please don’t think I’m pushing the product or preaching about the best form of birth control. This is just what works for me right now.
Food—I wanted to pack a few things for the plane ride, and to keep handy while traveling around if we’re ever in a bind and need to eat. Nothing makes me grumpier than being hungry and that’s the fastest way to ruin a day out. I packed the following:
Ten packets Perfect Fit Protein in Chocolate—My favorite protein back home, just shake it up with some coconut milk and it’s a good on-the-go fix.
Ten packets of Nut Butter (various flavors)—Again super easy to eat. I would normally eat it with a banana, but let’s be real they’re just as good straight out of the packet.
10 Square Bar Organic Protein Bars (various flavors)— Throw one in your daypack and you’re all set!
Northface Rain Jacket—It’s black, lightweight, and zips into itself…pretty much a no brainer.
Microfiber Travel Towel—Dries super fast and also folds into its own little pack. Much more realistic than lugging around a full sized bathroom towel.
Cocoon Silk Liner—Good for dingy hostel beds or when long bus rides are absolutely freezing.
Headbands and hairties—I brought a ton of both because I know this is something I’ll basically use everyday. The weather is going to be hot and humid which means my hair will never be down. Keeping it off my neck and face is a huge priority as I’m also known to get grumpy when I’m hot. Mix that with hangry and I don’t know if there would be any survivors.
Two pairs of sunglasses
Pack of gum
Pack of cards
Three mini bands from Tone it Up—I obviously can’t haul around dumbbells so this was a good option for when I want to get in a quick workout.
24 oz. HydroFlask water bottle—keeps liquids cool for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 6
One issue of Improper Bostonian—I’m determined to get into the back where they post pictures of people with their Impropers in cool places. I brought one with my favorite fitness icon on the cover—Katrina Scott.
Not Pictured—Make up: I did bring my everyday make up as well as a bunch of samples I’ve accrued from my Birch Boxes. I know I won’t be doing fancy eyes or lips over the next year, but my basic make up routine is just that…basic. I know there will be times I want to feel like a human so I decided to go ahead and pack some stuff.
So that’s it. Like I said I know I overpacked, but it’s my first long haul trip so if that’s the only rookie mistake I make then I’ll take it. A few months from now I’ll reevaluate this list and see how much I used/kept!