Size does matter

12 Feb

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”

~ Susan Heller

In all my research for this trip (and believe you me I’ve done a lot) the one area that I probably spent the most time on was what backpack to buy and what to pack in it.

I have dozens of links on the topic, however I have not read a single blog or forum or travel website that advocates packing more or packing heavier. Every single site I found recommended a less is more approach to packing.

Having never backpacked before I decided I would do my best to start where I’d like to end up. It made sense learn from everyone else’s experiences instead of making well-documented mistakes myself.

This is why I deliberately purchased a small backpack that has carry-on baggage dimensions. After much deliberation I went with the Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack. I got the small/medium size to suit my 5’3” frame, which actually ends up being 38 litres, not the full 40 litres. (The medium/large backpack is 40 litres.)

I also purchased a small anti-theft handbag to take with me, the PacSafe SlingSafe 200 GII RFID Handbag. And that’s it. Apart from a drink bottle and throw-away travel pillow clipped to my handbag, that’s all I’ll be taking.

I did a trial pack run the other day and this is what my luggage looks like:

This is my best attempt at travelling light: backpack, handbag and drink bottle.

This is my best attempt at travelling light: backpack, handbag and drink bottle.

(Apologies for the poor quality of the photo. I’m typing this blog entry in the car on the way from Canberra to Sydney so I can’t take another picture.)

My pack weighed in at 7.1 kilos, which I think is a fair effort for a first attempt at packing light. Especially considering I’ll be gone for six and a half months and my last weekend trip away saw me lug a 12-kilo suitcase.

And to be honest, I’ve actually over-packed compared to what I was originally planning. I started off by including many ‘nice-to-haves’ with the pack weighing 7.7 kilos. The carry-on limit for most airlines is 7 kilograms, so I started removing and redistributing items until I’d shaved off enough weight.

If push came to shove there’s still a fair bit I could jettison. Although for the time being, if it fits and I’m not too far over the weight limit, my attitude is why not throw it in? I guess I haven’t quite fully embodied the ‘pack light’ mentality yet but I’m working on it.

I’ll try to find some time tonight to document the final list of what’s in my pack as I think it will be interesting to see how much of this changes as the trip goes on.

Only one more sleep to go!

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8 Responses to “Size does matter”

  1. Brian February 12, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    This looks great! I’m excited to see how this pack does for you. Kaitlin and I loved ours and have recommended them to friends and readers over and over!

    • honduranhiatus February 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

      Thanks Brian! Your blog post about your Ospreys was a deciding factor in my pack choice. Hopefully it will be the perfect pack. First big test will be seeing if it gets on board as carry-on with no hassles tomorrow. Wish me luck!

  2. Paul February 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Hi Em, my only suggestion is to fully load the backback including water and laptop, and then go do your weekly shop. See how you survive.

    • honduranhiatus February 12, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      I fly out tomorrow so it’s a little late for that sort of test run, but at just over 7 kilos I think I’ll be ok. I’ll find out tomorrow morning at the airport!

  3. Jaime February 13, 2013 at 1:25 am #

    You’re doing the right thing by packing light… you won’t regret it later. The funny thing is as you start traveling you will wish you were lighter even though at 40L you will already be ahead of the game. You’re gonna see people with so much and think wow. Glad my post was able to help. I remember when I planning my two year trip I did so much research and am glad I learned from others mistakes. Good luck on your trip & enjoy it… you’re gonna have the time of your life.

    • honduranhiatus February 13, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      Thanks Jaime. I’m at the airport now and was just standing next to a backpacker whose daypack was almost the same size as my entire pack and his pack was almost as tall as I am! I’m already feeling that this is a much easier way to travel (even though there was much dithering about what to take and what to leave.) Posts like yours were definitely super helpful when making those decisions. Can’t wait to get on the plane and officially start my journey.

  4. ladylighttravel February 16, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    You are going to absolutely love going light. You’ll never look back.

    • honduranhiatus February 17, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

      I’ve enjoyed breezing past the luggage carousels twice now. I imagine that the ability to exit an airport quickly won’t grow old. 🙂

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