Pack One Bag

When you backpack Europe, you should carry one bag. That’s what I’m doing. I speak from experience when I say that it can be frustrating to backpack and have more than one thing to lug around. When Matt and I traveled to London and Paris for a couple of weeks, we shared a small piece of luggage and we each had a regular sized backpack. The backpacks were fine. The rolling suitcase got annoying. Never again. The Osprey Farpoint 70 bag that I have (seen in the picture in this post) has a detachable day bag that I can use as a carry on. I’m taking full advantage of that cool feature. Plus, I’m also carrying a smaller bag with me that takes up minimal space in my luggage and will be good for day trips that don’t require much technology or food.

 

So how exactly does a woman pack everything she needs for three months? I’ll tell you how. First, you start packing early. This allows you to think clearly about what you need and don’t need. Also, use compression bags to help keep your clothes organized and more compact. Second, you sacrifice things that you don’t need. I definitely had a few things that I had to say farewell to. In the end, I believe I only have one gratuitous piece of clothing in my bag. The rest are necessary — well, for now they seem necessary. I also picked clothing I knew that I would absolutely use and all matched each other. Third, you remind yourself that if you really need something, you can go buy it. Given the fact that I’m traveling in Europe, I have a feeling that I’ll be able to get my hands on things that I need when I run out. If I was traveling elsewhere that might have less access to certain items I might need, I would bring those products with me.

 

If you happen to be planning a trip, I figured that a list of everything I’m packing might come in handy for you. I certainly looked up lists other people had to get an idea of what they brought with them and actually found useful. Here’s another to help you out. The list is long but it all fits in my bag with room to spare.

 

Osprey Farpoint 70 -- Two bags in one essentially. You see the day bag (my carry on) above the open larger bag.

Osprey Farpoint 70 — Two bags in one essentially. You see the day bag (my carry on) above the open larger bag.

 

Checked Bag

 

Foot Wear

– flip flops (for the hostel showers)

– Timberland boots (waterproof and excellent in cold weather)

– running shoes (I’ll be buying thinner ones the next trip. These are a bit bulky.)

 

Typical Day Wear

– mittens

– hat

– black skinny khakis

– dark skinny jeans

– light fleece sweater (This is an awesome recent find! The outside doesn’t look fleece-like but the inside is and it’s super thin.)

– scarf (That matches all my shirts.)

– maroon t-shirt

– gray tank top

– blue tank top

– gray sweatshirt (light and thin)

– beige top with lace on the front (the one gratuitous item)

– 2 bras

– 7 pairs of underwear

– pajama top and bottom

– 2 pairs of socks for boots

– 2 pair of socks for sneakers

– rain jacket

 

Workout Clothes

– two pairs of underwear for working out

– workout tank top

– workout long sleeve

– workout pants

– 2 pairs of workout socks

– sports bra

 

Miscellaneous

– power converter

– lock

– day bag

– small travel alarm clock

– small quick dry towel

– small quick dry wash cloth

– small sponge for face washing

– medicine

– Tide to Go (Matt is carrying our laundry detergent)

– small sewing kit

– bungee clothes line

 

Toiletries

– 2 solid shampoo bars

– bar of soap

– 2 types of face wash

– contact cases

– contact lens solution

– elastics

– 2 hair clips

– razors

– small mirror

– feminine hygiene products

– nail clipper

– small scissors

– tweezers

– mouth wash

– 2 solid perfumes

– blush

– concealer

–  mascara

– pressed powder

– moisturizer

– primer

– foundation

 

Carry On Bag

– Kindle

– tablet

– camera

– chargers

– wallet

– contacts

– contact solution

– eyedrops

– solid perfume

– toothpaste

– toothbrush

– dry shampoo

– medicine

– passport

– sunglasses

– water bottle

– 2 plastic sporks (We’ve needed them in the past and not had them. Lesson learned.)

– deodorant

– floss

– brush

 

On Me

– black Vans

– black zip-up hoodie

– black sweat pants (thin)

– gray t-shirt

 

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3 Essential Electronic Devices for My Trip

I wish that I could go entirely off the grid for this trip but that’s impossible. I need to blog, take pictures, and read. I’m bringing a mere three electronic devices with me on this trip. You’ll notice that a cell phone isn’t on the list — I’m actually quite excited about not having one with me. I think it will make me more focused on my trip even though it might cause some stress in certain situations. In any case, check out what I’m bringing with me on my backpacking trip.

  1. Asus Transformer Book: This Asus tablet comes with a keyboard dock and Windows 8. So basically it’s like my laptop in a smaller form which is exactly what I wanted. The current laptop that I have is just too big to bring traveling. The Asus solves this problem. I can blog, do research for the trip, book hostels and transportation, and keep in touch with my family. And I’m completely familiar with the interface. Perfect fit. And it didn’t cost too much either.
  2. Canon Powershot SX700: I needed a camera with good image quality, zooms well, is thin, and works with WiFi. As much as I want a camera with a lense (that’s probably a future purchase), I knew that I didn’t want to have to carry that around on an extended trip. Perhaps when I become more knowledgeable about cameras, it will be more important to me to bring a more complex camera. At this point, this Canon is exactly what I need.
  3. Kindle Paperwhite: I’ve already written a post on my need to read while I travel. My aunt recommended and purchased the Kindle Paperwhite for me as a graduation gift. I’ve already read a book on it and I’m impressed. This is going to be a great way to keep up with my reading. Plus, I have a cute leather case that it’s in so it looks like a nicely bound book. Now I’ll be able to read as much as I want — when I have the time of course.

5 Things that Freak Me Out About Backpacking

My excitement to go backpack Europe clearly trumps my worries associated with the trip. But there are still some things that make me nervous. What can I say, this is a completely new situation for me so I’m going to have some things that nag at my brain, those what-ifs. Here they are:

1. Language Barrier: I can speak English. I can technically speak French (I’m so rusty). I know German to some extent. That’s it. There’s definitely going to be a language barrier. Most of the time I don’t expect this to be a huge problem. There are always ways to get around it and making an effort by learning a few key words in the language can go a long way (at least as far as my experience in the past tells me). But it can get frustrating even on the simplest levels. For example: “Hey, what’s in my food? I have no idea because I can’t read the frickin’ label.” And I’m vegetarian so that’s going to make a real everyday difference. Matt and I already experienced this firsthand when we were in Paris. At least I could speak French but Matt had no idea what anything said in the market so he had difficulty looking for products. We were looking for ham at the time and I specifically remember him getting frustrated because I told him the name in French but he reminded me he didn’t know the language so I’d have to spell it out. There are even more dire situations in which language barrier can be horrible, like medical emergencies. Which leads me to my next bullet!

2. Major Medical Emergencies: Can you imagine having to get surgery in a foreign country where you can’t speak the language? I can’t either. It freaks me out. I know that I would be able to go through with it if I was in that situation but it would definitely be crazy nerve-racking. If it was Matt that needed to get the surgery, I would be all over that situation. I would probably be even more freaked out because I would feel so much pressure to let absolutely nothing bad happen to him on my watch. We are always looking out for each other anyway but that would raise the stakes even more. Oh yeah, not to mention all the money that we would owe for a major medical emergency. And the fact that they don’t know any of your medical history. Plus, I wouldn’t know how their culture around medicine and hospitals work. Lots of room for error and nervousness.

3. Minor Medical Emergencies: It’s the little things that really count. Like not being able to get medicine right away to clear up minor issues like an ear infection or pink eye or some other random illness you never thought of. Who knows, am I right? And those little things can quickly turn into big things that can be painful. It kind of goes back to the whole situation of being unfamiliar with medicine and hospitals in another country. I don’t like being sick when I’m at home. I find it annoying and frustrating. When abroad, I can imagine myself getting quite irritated if I get sick and can’t get what I need right away. It freaks me out that my trip could be ruined by a simple illness if I can’t get what I need.

4. It Lives Up To All My Expectations or It Lives Up To None of Them: So I could end up really happy on this trip and never want to go back to the life I’m living now. That presents some problems because I do have to go back to my “normal” life at some point after this trip. And if I can’t bear to do that, I have to do a lot of work to figure out how to make my life different. That would be worth it though. If the trip doesn’t live up to my expectations (which I highly doubt but, hey, it’s a possibility), I’ll have blown a whole lot of money and time that could have both been better spent. And I would be sad about it. In reality, I probably won’t regret the money or time spent. Something good seems to come out of everything I do despite how much money or time I wish I hadn’t spent on it (yes, I do occasionally get cynical and bitter about my college loans). What it really comes down to is that this trip will throw off my equilibrium which I believe I need right now in my life but I undoubtedly will need to deal with the fall out, whatever that may be. The unknown can be scary.

5. The Whole Relationship Thing: Matt and I have already talked about the possible outcomes of us spending three whole months together. We’re solid in our relationship (almost eight years people and we’re experts at change and flexibility due to our long distance experience) and believe that everything will turn out how it is meant to, ultimately positive for our relationship. Yet, other people always find something to say about it. When people find out that I’m going with my wonderful boyfriend on this trip of a lifetime for three months, they promptly mention something along the lines about how it might cause us to break up OR we’ll get sick of each other OR we’ll get engaged OR we’ll get married. It’s pretty, to be frank, irritating to have people focus on the relationship aspect of the trip and the future outcome. It definitely is a big part of the journey but it’s frustrating to hear people’s knee jerk responses sometimes. I know they mean well and can’t help but be curious but we’ll do the worrying about the ultimate outcome. Rest assured, I am absolutely certain that this trip will change our relationship. That’s cool because that’s what’s supposed to happen.