FAQs: Packing

FAQ: What are you going to pack?

I hope not a lot! Everything will be in my rucksack and it will be on my back. I know I will acquire things along the way, so my goal is to pack as lightly as possible.

As I know all too well, anything I need, I can buy on the road.

My route will take me through mostly warm climates but air-conditioned buses and high-altitude will make things a bit colder.

FAQ: So really, what are you going to pack?

I haven’t attempted to actually pack just yet but this is my guide so far. I know I can buy toiletries (and really almost anything) on the road so am starting out with just a few travel size containers. Is 2 overkill? Should I start out with 1 of each instead of 2?

I do not want to be busting at the seams before I even get on the plane. And I would like to go carry-on so need to ensure I have one plastic bag with toiletries coming in at 3oz or less.

If you have any suggestions, deletions, additions, please post in the comments below.

Here goes:

60L rucksack – if I don’t exchange for something a little bit smaller
Foldable daypack

Tank tops (4)
Short sleeves (2)
Long sleeves (2)
Shorts (2)
Convertible pants (1)
Black cotton dress (Just in case? I’d be happy to go shopping should I need something!)
Leggings (1) – Leaning towards no, because of the…
Yoga pants (1)
Pajamas – tee and bottoms (1)
Quick-dry or moisture wicking socks (2; still need to buy once I decide on the shoes – suggestions welcome)
Underwear (8)
Bras (2 regular, 1 strapless, 1 sports)
Jeans (1) – I know this is a big debate for travelers but mine are so super comfortable
Fleece (1) – $11 from Wal-Mart. I tested it on a red-eye flight and it kept me warm. Almost hot. Never happens. A winner.
Bathing suit (Mix and match – 2 tops, 2 bottoms essentially giving me four options)
Beach cover up (1; may buy there)

Trail shoes (1) – Testing out four different pairs in my apartment this weekend, one will emerge the winner
Flip Flops (1)
Foldable flats; debating and would need to buy them first. I will have no problem going shoe shopping – I can always mail them home!

Shampoo (2 travel size)
Conditioner (2 travel size)
Face wash (Kiehl’s samples)
Body wash (2 travel size)
Hand/body lotion (1 travel size)
Razors (2)
Shaving cream (1 travel size – it comes in a pouch so not even a big can)
Toner – for when I can’t wash my face
Eye makeup remover
Cotton balls
Q-tips (1 travel pack)
Nail clippers/file
Toothpaste (1 travel size)
Floss (1)
Mouthwash (1 travel size)
Hair stuff (1 travel size)
Chapstick (2; I will lose one)
Eyelash curler
Mascara (Don’t laugh at these last three, I wear no ‘real’ makeup but these I must take)

EYE CARE; this gets its own category because this is crucial for me
Contact lenses (4 pairs each eye)
Contact solution (2 travel size)
Contact case (4; each time I change lenses)
Dry-eye drops (2 travel size)
Glasses (1 pair, debating on bringing 2) – My reasoning: 1 – because if it breaks, I will get a back up pair poste restante!; 2 – because if it breaks, can I depend on the international post?

Chewable Tylenol (I hate swallowing pills. My quart-sized plastic bag will be filled to the max with other liquids so I have to forgo Children’s Liquid Advil – don’t laugh)
Chewable Pepto Bismol
Neosporin (1 travel size)
Band aids (just a few to start with)
Ayr gel (awesome stuff, especially for dry climates)
Blister stuff (it’s a rub for the backs of your heels, comes in a tiny case)
Bio Freeze (sample sizes in little pouches)
Girly stuff (have heard mixed things about bringing your own stash but I will bring enough to start with and stock up once I get down there)
Sunscreen SPF 30+ (1 travel size to start with)
Mosquito repellant DEET 30%+ (any suggestions on brand?)
I have read about Dehydration stuff? Charcoal stuff? Do I need to start out with it?
Prescription medicine and notes from the doctors saying that I take it
Malaria pills (apparently the FDA does not approve of the liquid version)
Pill crusher (once in malaria zones, this will be as important as my passport!)
Vitamin D – chewable 😉
Travel powder packets; Go Greens Veggies and Benefiber to get vitamins and nutrients I may not get on the road

ELECTRONICS; or anything with a battery
Netbook, case and charger (still a big TBD)
Camera, battery, extra memory card and charger
iPod, charger and earplugs
Head lamp
Mini flashlight; do I need this if I have the head lamp?
Alarm clock
Watch (I don’t even own one, I still need to buy a cheap/cheap-looking one)
Converter to charge said electronics (already own)

Guide book
Book (1)
Pens (2; for the same reason I need two chapsticks)
Moo cards

Passport photos
Yellow card
Credit cards (2)
Debit cards (2)

Packing cube (1; quarter cube)
Packing sac (3)
Compression sack (1; for heavier clothes while I am in warmer climates)
Dry sac for any wet items on travel days (TBD)

Travel bath towel
Silk sleep sack
Sink stopper
Travel clothesline
Sunglasses (2) – I lose and break sunglasses, so two five dollar pairs from Old Navy will suffice
Waterproof money holder for pool/beach
Hand sanitizer (1 travel size)
Wet Ones hand wipes
Floppy hat (1) – May just buy down there to blend in
Gloves (2; 1 fleece and 1 stretchy cotton) – Each was 99 cents and if the buses are as cold as I have read, this is a good investment.
Winter Hat (1) – May buy down there, if it’s necessary
Whistle and Door stop – thanks for these tips, Legal Nomads
Locks (2; 1 retractable cable lock and 1 combination lock)
Hair ties
Plastic bags
Cheap earrings; wear in my ears
Travel toilet paper (2)
Duct tape; wrapped around a pencil
Carabiners (2)
Sleep eye mask
Ear plugs

What do you think? Too much? Am I missing anything?

My departure date looms…let me know what I can eliminate!


9 responses to “FAQs: Packing

  • Katie Boué

    Packing is the ultimate paradox – you will always pack too much, but always be missing something, you will always try to pack light, and still find that you return home with a few items that never were used, and you will always end up buying a ton of supplies along the journey – just embrace it!

    I think it’s a great idea to pack that cotton black dress. I always carry my own little cotton black dress around, both because it’s handy on that one day you have to get fancy, and because sometimes a lady just likes to feel feminine after weeks of hiking boots and flannels.

    My one suggestion: don’t ‘test’ your trail shoes in your apartment, get outside and test them on terrain that will be more similar to what you’ll be trekking through outside!

    Good luck with packing! Here’s a link to my recent post about my own trials and tribulations while trying to ‘pack light’ – http://themorningfresh.com/2011/12/18/how-to-pack-light-and-smart-lessons-learned-from-a-chronic-over-packer/

    Katie Boué

    • simply three cents

      Katie — Great post on your site. I always thought I was a light packer but even my first go at a ‘semi-final’ packing list is still too much!

      About the trail shoes. I ordered four pairs online, need to pick one that I will keep and then wear them outside. I can’t return once I wear outside so once I commit to a pair, I am going to wear them non-stop to fully break them in.

      Thanks for the feedback…especially the case for the black dress. I’m still torn!

  • Ayngelina

    Okay here is my feedback in random order of thoughts based on what I did there:

    – only one pair of shorts, regret bringing convertible, now I’d just take leggings as you can push them up to your knees and they take up less room
    – quick dry socks are expensive, just bring socks
    – beach cover up? really?

    – all fine, I wore flip flops, chacos and a pair of flats out at night, only wore trail shoes when hiking

    – all the stuff you are bringing two of just bring one, they have tons of sample size stuff there in brands you know for half the price
    – girly stuff – other than Bolivia they have all the brands you know,
    – I did bring a small bag of make up and used it at night

    First Aid Kit
    All of the big name pharmaceutical companies are down there selling stuff at 1/4 the price, I was buying birth control pills for $4 a pack.
    – Ayr gel/Blister stuff/Bio Freeze have no idea what that is, never used it but if you are hiking in the jungle for a week maybe you need it?
    – Deet – I never used it, if you are going deep into the jungle sure but the stuff burns through backpacks, I don’t like the idea of putting it on my skin
    – Malaria pills, never used them, again if you are going deep into jungle ok but you can buy them there for much cheaper
    – Dehydration stuff/Charcoal stuff: not sure where you would need this
    – Zithromax have no idea what it is, most hospitals are free and you can get most stuff over the counter
    – Cipro I carried it never used it but you may need it for Bolivia as most people get sick there

    – no need for a flashlight if you have the headlamp
    – many countries use the same voltage as the US, those that have different outlets you can buy the converters for 50 cents when you arrive
    – I never carried an alarm clock or watch when I was there but thats just me

    – I did not use my silk sleep sack once, hostels are clean there and its very very rare to hear of bed bugs
    – no need for a sink stopper, they have stoppers and it costs $2-3 bucks for someone to wash and dry a load of clothes
    – get rid of the travel clothesline and get the hostel to wash your clothes, if you insist on drying there are tons of places to hang things

    I suggest buying a lot of clothing down there, you can get hats, sweaters etc for 1-2 bucks in Peru. If it was cold I’d buy a sweater for $3 and then when I landed somewhere warm I just left it for the hostel maid.

    • simply three cents

      This helps plenty for phase 1 of elimination 🙂

      Did not know hostels wash clothes?! Good to know.

      Ok, beach cover up is off the list. I can also take ‘buy quick-dry socks’ off my to do shopping list and my converter is one of those 50 cent ones off the street!

      Lots of helpful info here. Thank you!

  • Karen Marston

    I’d say leave behind the black cotton dress if you’re happy to pick something up along the way. Unless you’d wear it casually as well as for any special occasions.

    Wouldn’t bother with leggings if you’re taking yoga pants 🙂

    Could any of your tops/shorts double up as pyjamas?

    You could possibly get 3 pairs of special travel underwear and wash it when you shower.

    I wouldn’t take a strapless bra – just take tops that have straps!

    I think jeans are fine to take, how often do jeans ever really need washing anywhere? They are universal, worn all over the world, so it’s easy to fit in in jeans. But I think jeans + yoga pants + leggings + convertibles + 2 pairs of shorts is overkill. I would also just take one pair of shorts.
    I would only take one swimsuit! You can only wear one at a time and they dry out super quick.

    I would only take one of each toiletry. All that liquid adds up! Also, try going without shaving cream! Soap works fine.

    I would suggest cottonwool pads instead of cotton buds + balls. You can fold the pads in half and they’re almost as effective as buds! And are you absolutely sure you need mascara? You can leave behind make up remover and cotton wool if you go without it! You will gain confidence on the road & eyelash curlers will make you feel more glam if you don’t use them every day. However, if you really feel you need the make up, then take it. Although you could always pick it up on the road if you find you can’t live without it! 😉

    Personally I would leave behind mouthwash. Toothpaste and floss is enough for me.

    Are you sure you will lose a chapstick? If you only have one you’re much more likely to keep track of it!

    Personally, I am pro laptop, especially if you’re a writer! Just so long as it’s small. They’re so useful for booking things online, etc.

    You don’t need a separate flashlight if you have a headlamp. They do the same thing!

    Get a watch with an alarm clock, then you don’t need the alarm clock!

    RE. taking two of things you think you’ll lose – you’re less likely to lose them if you only have one! Because it is that much more precious 😉 Also, all those things are easy to find if you lose them.

    Do you need hand sanitizer and wet wipes? I would just pick one.

    Annnnnnnnnnnd, I’m done! Hope this is helpful. I’m Karen btw 🙂

    • simply three cents

      Karen – Thanks so much for your input!!

      I wear no makeup so the three things I do use are so small that I am hardly worried about the space it will take up.

      I think I’d like the sanitizer and the wipes. If I find that I don’t need the wipes, I can donate along the way.

      What you say about toiletries is true. If I am going to be buying them to refill along the way, I really don’t need to start with two of each. And it will ultimately save me some space.

      Working on eliminating some of the bottoms. When you write it out, it does sound like overkill — especially when it’s going to be summer, and I’ll probably be living in a pair of shorts for most of the trip.

      Thanks again. Very much appreciated.

  • Peter

    Hello Simply Three Cents!

    You certainly seem to be prepared! When we traveled South America for about 3 months in 2010, we bought new backpacks the day before the flight and packed that night. Having said that, I can’t recall too many instances when we had regretted NOT bringing something. On the other hand, bringing too much is an issue that will resurface every time you pack your bag again. Here are a few random pointers:

    – we found sunscreen to be astronomically expensive, particularly in Ecuador. Also, the price varies by SPF. And we didn’t bring any.

    – I have ALWAYS brought a pair of well-worn and comfy jeans with me and have never regretted it.

    – A good winter hat, or toque as we Canadians call them, is a cherished item. I wore mine on more days that I had expected. Mind you we were there between May and August.

    – In terms of contact lenses, I tend to go through mine at much quicker pace when traveling – the poor air quality, dust, napping on buses, etc. probably contribute to that.

    – Earplugs are an absolute top priority for us. Make sure you get the good quality ones that basically make you deaf. I bring at least a couple pairs, and then guard them with my life.

    – Instead of an alarm clock, why not just use the alarm on your iPod? Our iPhone serves that function and has not failed us yet.

    Best of luck packing and have an awesome time! Make sure to go to the Galapagos – it is much cheaper than people think!


  • simply three cents

    Hi Peter!

    Thanks for popping by and your notes.

    You’re making me think I invest in maybe two travel size (as I want to go carry-on for my international flight) sunscreens.

    I wear monthly contacts and was banking on having to replace them every two weeks, but maybe I should throw an extra pair in there. Certainly small enough!

    Not sure how I feel about leaving my iPod out when I sleep in a hostel? Lose my alarm clock (small travel one) AND my iPod should some unscrupulous type try and take it in the middle of the night, while I have my super awesome earplugs in my ears?! Have to think about that.

    And I hope to make it to the Galapagos. I read quite a few blogs about waiting to book until you are there for a better deal. If you have any suggestions on that, or want to share the tour you did, I am all ears!

    Thanks again!

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