Inside my Packing Hell

I’ve never been a big fan of packing: my natural indecisiveness can turn picking which pair of flip-flops to bring into a life or death decision. Packing for this trip is like the Boss level of packing challenges because:

  1. It’s for an ENTIRE YEAR. An entire year full of variety, events and weather.
  2. I have to carry every single thing I bring around on my back. And I am weak. And lazy.

It’s a tricky set of parameters that requires a whole different way of looking at clothing and possessions. In the past month I have morphed from a person who owns 25 purses and 45 dresses (and still, somehow, has nothing to wear) to someone with the clothing options of a well-shod homeless person. Essentially, a backpacker.

Banished to Goodwill

About 75% of my wardrobe went off to goodwill and into friend’s closets. A few things I’m keeping for the unknown future. A very few things I’m taking with me.

But how to choose?

The contents of my backpack:

Technology

This part was easy enough. I’ll need my new net-book (an Asus EEE), an external hard drive to keep up with my blog and document my trip. Same with my little Canon Elph point’n’shoot with extra battery and memory. The iPod touch is for entertainment and navigating the streets of foreign cities. The cute little bag holds the cords that make everything go.

Shoes

This is how hard packing is for me: for the past two days straight I’ve been agonizing over whether three pairs of shoes is TOO MANY SHOES. But I’m keeping them: one pair of sturdy walking shoes, on pair of REALLY comfy flats, and one pair of awesome flip-flops.

Clothing

The bane of my existence. I’ve made lists, edited the, gone shopping, made new lists. Bought things, returned them, crossed things off the lists, and I STILL have this nagging feeling that I’m bringing too much clothing.

But it’s not all that much really: I’m down now to six tops, two pairs of pants (one pair that rolls up into capris), shorts, a skirt and a maxi dress that can be dressed up or down. There’s two swimsuits (I see a lot of beaches in my future), a long sleeve shirt, and a light jacket for when it’s chilly. Underwear, socks and that’s really it. A few pieces of statement jewelry will help me to not look like a total slob ALL the time.

Is it too little or too much? Ugh I don’t care. At this point I’d rather go naked than make another change.

Miscellaneous

The random little things that make life easier. A multipurpose scarf, a bandana, an eye mask and a pack towel. The yellow and black bag is a silk sleep sack, the green is a tiny fold out shopping bag. Tiny flashlight, tiny sharpie (I love tiny things) and business cards. Lots of business cards to impress all those randos I meet on the road.

The luggage

And this is where it all goes. I love my REI Venus 65L backpack, it got me all around Europe. That plus a slim Keen laptop/ day pack and a cute little hip purse should hold everything nicely. At least I hope so, I’m packing it all up tonight.

So that’s pretty much it- aside from some toiletries and a first aid kit. Every piece has been weighed and weighted and debated in it’s justification for existence.

I think that packing is so hard for me because even though I’m heading out into the unknown, this is one thing that I can control. I really want to set myself up to be comfortable. By now I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Time to put my packing skills to the test.

57 thoughts on “Inside my Packing Hell”

  1. Great list!
    Although i haven’t started packing for my RTW yet (only planning it) i can tell that i’m going to have a struggle. I ALWAYS over pack and end up not using over 50% of what i bring…

  2. My daughter is going to be backpacking solo in SEA for about four months. She’s travelled quite a bit, but this is the first time she’ll be doing it on her own (she’s in her early 20s). Should she bring a smartphone (she has an iPhone), an iPad, etc? is it worth the hassle of worrying if they’ll be ripped off? From your experience, does it seem to you that most backpackers are bringing these items?

    Thanks!

    1. In my experience nearly ever backpacker these days has some sort of laptop with them. I traveled through SEA with a netbook, but I’ve since upgraded to a macbook air. I do know some people who traveled with iphones but I personally didn’t use a phone in asia.

      I think the key is to not flash these items around, always lock them up, and don’t travel with anything you’d be devastated to lose.

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