I love bags, particularly backpack, and I’m not fond of a girly and luxury purse, clutch, or a handbag ew!. I own a second-hand petrol-mint colored Deuter Act Lite 35+10 SL designed explicitly for women. It’s lightweight and expandable, which gives you enough space for a week-long trip. It has 6 exterior pockets and a sleeping bag compartment, but no place for a rain cover. This is what I usually bring for a week-long rugged, and cross-country trip, which can carry around 12kg of weight.
Essentials versus the non-essentials. Which is which? We all have this thing we consider essential for us but might not be for others. We all have our own needs defined by us, and this is the key to consider when packing. By the way, this isn’t an ultimate guide to packing your life in a backpack. I am merely sharing my experience and what I pack that might help you decide about certain things. Let me share with you the stuff and knick-knacks I load up inside my backpack I named Ocean.
First of all, I use organizers. I have a compressor bag and packing cubes. It helps a lot when sorting out things, keeps your stuff in order, and easy to load and unload. This also serves a dual purpose for someone like me, who is having a hard time sleeping with one pillow. Or maybe something to hug on those cold summer nights.
I am way more comfortable wearing jeans or shorts. It’s heavy to pack it, but comfort matters to me more than anything else; hence, it’s my priority. For tops or shirts, I usually follow a 1:1 rule (1 top/day) except sleeping clothes plus two extra in case of an emergency. However, this packing style depends on the season. Spring and winter clothing are like transitioning your packing from featherweight to heavyweight division. I ditch the 1:1 rule and bring fewer tops that will eventually be covered with a winter coat.
A typical jacket or hoodie is also a must for me. It will be for those chilly and sleepy moments inside the plane, bus, train, or wherever I feel like hiding under the hood and start dozing off.
I also love shoes, closed shoes, to be exact. I know they are bulky and heavy, while I don’t like wearing fancy and glittery sandals. I usually bring rubber shoes (black or white) that can last more than a boyfriend. Something that stays with you all throughout and will not give you extra scratch and bruises at the end of the day. For calmer days, I wear white wedged shoes, which I prefer. And of course, the most essential of all, slippers to make you feel at home.
My preferred towel is compact, lightweight, super absorbent, and quick dry with ultra-fine microfiber fabric. I use two sizes, and that is the largest, which is 76xm x 152cm and a sports towel size, which is 45x90cm for daily use. For hygiene purposes, I prefer using my own towel. Sometimes, a towel is either rented for a fee/deposit or totally not available in my accommodation on some occasions.
I invested in a good camera phone, and I am happy that it serves all the purposes I need. Camera phones are lightweight, convenient, and efficient, so it works for me. A selfie stick or a tripod is also a must for a solo traveler like me. Also, one of the gadget must-haves is a travel adapter with at least 4 USB ports. Most hostels provide only 1 – 2 outlets, so we have to be smart about it and bring something efficient to satisfy our techy needs. Chargers nowadays are mostly USB operated, so having an adapter with more USB ports is just perfect. Actually, I also use a 3in1 cable charger with type A, type C, and a lightning head.
I also sometimes bring my laptop while on a trip. I know its vacay but couldn’t help it. Being an aid worker and part of a response team means you have to be on call and available, especially during an emergency.
Besides my backpack, I also bring a bag that will fit my items for a whole day. Specs-wise, this bag should be able to accommodate this non-negotiable and essential-for-me stuff.
- 1 Liter water tumbler
- 20,000mah power bank
- Long wallet
- My 6.5″” Travel Notebook and pencil case
- Cable wires and earphones
- Wet wipes and facial tissues
- My transition eyeglass
- Eating and drinking utensils
- Essentials kit (aka make-up kit)
- Pen and Passport
And, maybe, a few more extra space for snacks that I can bring whenever I get hungry on the road or a scarf/shawl for temple/church visits. My 13L Herschel Dawson backpack provides me just enough space I need for a day bag.
I sometimes prefer things that are multi-purpose to keep everything at a minimum. I rarely check-in a piece of baggage due to a lot of scary reasons happening behind the baggage conveyor belt. Baggage check-in usually happens to me on my return trip. If I bought items that require checking-in, then that’s the only reason I’ll leave it to Batman. Already had my fair share of experience of missing and lost things, so let’s not make history repeat itself. Besides, hand carry has always been the best option for me because of its cost-efficiency. Anyhow, my ultimate goal has always been to pack tight and travel light.