The unbearable lightness of packing

13 Feb

Those who know me well would know that I love making lists. Packing lists are no exception. I harnessed all the powers of the internets to develop my master list, spending countless hours online.

I found other travel blogs that both outlined their packing philosophies and included lists and photos a brilliant reference and source of inspiration. So to return the karmic favour I’d like to share my little patch of packing happiness.

What’s in Em’s backpack?


It’s amazing how much you can fit in a small bag. I decided against buying fancy schmancy packing cubes as I felt that they were overpriced and, depending on the brand, would probably add unnecessary weight. Instead I’ve relied heavily on zip lock bags and also a bunch of other small travel bags I already had lying around at home.

In the front compartment of the pack I’ve stored:

– toiletries in zip lock bags (2)
– a book and a calendar [presents for my host family]
– copies of all my important documents [for example, passport, contact details, itineraries etc.]

I’ve kept what’s in here down to a minimum because if i put too much in the front of the pack it won’t close easily and will look too bulky. I also wanted to make sure that my toiletries were easy to access, as they’ll have to come in and out at airport security.

In my Liquids, Aerosols And Gases plastic bag I’ve packed the following toiletries:

– moisturiser in 60ml GoToob
– sunscreen in 60ml GoToob
– Cetaphil (soap alternative) in 60ml GoToob
– toner
– roll-on deodorant
– hand sanitiser
– toothpaste
– mascara
– chap stick
– perfume sampler

The other toiletries bag contains:

– hair comb
– hair ties
– travel wipes
– toothbrush
– tweezers and nail clippers [inside toothbrush container so they don’t poke holes in the bag]
– lush shampoo bar
– make up removal pads
– small utility set [it includes teeny scissors which I may need to abandon at airport security]

I’ve packed more clothes than I was originally planning to take simply because they fit. Time will tell if they make it through the whole trip or get left behind in various countries along the way. My clothes are in the main compartment of the pack and include:

– Gortex lightweight, waterproof, breathable jacket
– lightweight fleece [not pictured as I’m wearing it on the plane]
– merino long sleeve top
– merino t-shirts (2) [one not pictured as I’m wearing it on the plane]
– my favourite cotton singlet top
– travel jeans [not pictured as I’m wearing them on the plane]
– convertible travel pants
– lightweight travel roll-up pants
– quick-dry shirt dress
– scoop-neck short-sleeve shirts (2)
– quick-dry undies (4) and quick-dry socks (2) [in small Envirosax clip button bag]
– bras (2) and sports bra [in grey drawstring cloth bag]
– scarf
– cap [with my beloved Diamond Phoenix Dragon Boat Club logo]
– nightie
– swimmers and rashie
– Keen ‘Owyhee’ waterproof shoe/sandals [not pictured as I’m wearing them on the plane]
– Teva ‘Tirra’ sandals

Also kept in the main compartment of my backpack are miscellaneous items such as:

– travel towel
– silk sleep sack
– money belt
– fold-up Envirosax shopping bag
– a selection of small gifts and Aussie souvenirs
– small bag with my ‘girls only’ toiletries
– my back up credit card for emergencies

I’ve created a small and very basic ‘first aid’ and ‘useful items’ kit. I didn’t feel the need to go overboard here as I’ll be able to buy things as I need them. Pharmacies will be easily accessible, but if I can’t get to one straight away I will have the following at hand:

– small variety of band aids
– antiseptic powder
– gastro-stop tablets
– pain killers
– cold and flu tablets
– prescription medicine with letter from my doctor
– Steripen to treat water
– Puritabs as a back-up in case the Steripen fails
– spare zip lock bags
– small roll of gaffe tape
– spare carabiner
– spare ear plugs

Most of the medications and pills etc are still in the green ‘First Aid’ case and not pictured.

My electronics are split between my backpack and my handbag. My pack holds:

– power outlet adapters (1 grounded, 1 ungrounded)
– camera battery charger
– iPad mini cable and charger
– iPod Nano cable
– mobile phone cable
– spare 8GB SD memory card
– USB SD card reader
– 8GB USB memory stick
– 4-pack of AAA batteries for Steripen (2)
– Head lamp

And lastly tucked into one of the outside pockets of my pack is the most important item:
– Travelling Ted Junior a.k.a TeeJay.

What’s in Em’s handbag?


Missing from the image is my mobile phone, because I’m using it to take the picture.

My handbag has all my travel essentials. I bought a handbag that was deliberately on the small side, as I knew that if I bought a large one I would just cram more and more stuff in it until it was heavier than my pack. Even so, it’s still holding quite a lot. In the main compartment I have:

– original travel itineraries and accommodation vouchers
– passport
– vaccination card / immunisation certificate
– outgoing passenger card
– wallet holding my driver’s licence, – credit card with no foreign transaction fees, debit card, and cash
– TravelSIM instructions and actual SIM card
– small digital camera with 8GB SD card
– iPad mini
– foldable sunglasses
– small LED key chain torch
– small key chain hiker towel
– good luck key ring from mum, dad, and sister Sarah
– gift for my host family that will get transferred to my pack after check-in
– 2013 diary*
– small plastic pencil case holding, pen, pacer pencil, eraser and five highlighters*

* Yes, I’m trying to pack light, but I’d leave out my underpants before I left out my diary and highlighters. It would be easier for me to go commando than to live without them!

In the front pocket I’ve placed stuff i’ll want to get quick access to like:

– mobile phone
– tissues
– ear plugs
– eye mask
– iPod Nano
– in-ear head phones
– hair clips
– my combination locks (3) to put on the pack once through security

Clipped to the side of my handbag is a small travel pillow that I’ll chuck when I arrive in Mexico and my long (12.5 and 8.5 hour) flights are done, as well as a 1 litre Nalgene water bottle with Steripen pre-filter attachment.

And that’s all folks. Amazing what you can cram into a small pack and handbag. I’m sure this list will get refined as I go on, so if anything major changes I’ll update the blog. For now, I have a plane to catch.



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