The 5 Most Important Things in My Backpack

Packing for long-term travel can be a gamble. It’s hard to anticipate all the things you could really appreciate having months down the road, especially if this is your first long-term trip. You pack a lot of things that you think you’ll need (or think you might need) but you can only guess at what you’ll really be glad you packed. When packing for this trip I tried to be practical while adding as much comfort as I could fit into my backpacks without going completely overboard. Here’s the 5 things I’ve been repeatedly thankful to have:

1. My Birkenstocks

I bought my Birkenstocks when I first moved to NYC because my older shoes just couldn’t handle all the walking and these shoes have exceeded my expectations every time I wear them. They’re not the smallest shoes but they can handle copious amounts of walking. I bought a nicer-looking pair of Clarks sandals and they haven’t even come close to the Birks. I would recommend breaking them in before attempting to take Birkenstocks on a walking intensive trip but once you’ve gotten comfortable in your Birks they won’t let you down. I personally have not found a better shoe for all the walking that travel requires.

2. Dr. Bronner’s Soap

If you’ve never heard of this soap then prepare yourself. Dr. Bronner’s is an 18-in-1 soap that you can use for just about anything. I was first introduced to this soap while backpacking in the mountains. It’s a friend of the mountain backpacker because you can use it to replace just about any form of soap or soap related product you can think of. You can use Dr. Bronner’s for everything from washing vegetables to brushing your teeth. I’ve used it as bodywash, to clean my bellybutton piercing and to wash clothes in the sink. A good rule of thumb for packing when you’re pressed for space is to make sure everything you bring serves multiple purposes and Dr. Bronner’s is a prime example that can save you a lot of space. An added bonus is that the bizarre manifestos printed on the label make for good entertainment during long bus rides.

This REI backpack is my main luggage

3. Warm Clothes

When I scheduled my trip it was supposed to be 7 months of summer. I started in Europe in late June, am scheduled to spend fall in Southeast Asia and then move down to Australia and New Zealand in December. However, until just last week the temperature averaged around 60 degrees Fahrenheit for the vast majority of my trip. The point is weather is extremely unpredictable. Nights can also get surprisingly cold and the air conditioning on some transportation can leave you wishing you had a coat. Things like altitude and getting caught in rain can also warrant some warmer clothes no matter the climate.

4. Compression Sack

Surviving on a small amount of clothes for months can be hard. With a compression sack you can dramatically increase the amount of clothes you can fit into the same amount of space. I thought I wouldn’t mind significantly cutting back on my wardrobe but I’ve been missing the ability to express myself through my clothes. I definitely wouldn’t want to have any less clothes than I do and for that I’m extremely thankful to my compression sack.

5. Tablet

Electronics can take up a lot of room as well as add lots of weight. The tablet is a new hybrid that’s much more practical for traveling. My tablet can act like everything from a computer to an e-reader and is substantially lighter than a laptop. I also feel like tablets are less likely to be stolen than a laptop making them both more convenient and more safe to travel with.

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What items are you glad you packed?




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