As a serial over-packer I’m not sure if there has ever been a more daunting task than packing a mere backpack for six months of travel. My backpack, for context, is the Osprey, Fairview 55L in Misty Grey [Shown in this link]. Pedro went for the Osprey, Fairview 70L in Volcanic Grey [That link is here]. Even though I am the over-packer, I have the added struggle of the smaller bag. The guy at REI insisted the 70L was going to be too big for me and the result of such a bad would be me upside down, like a turtle stuck on their back.
My preparation came in two steps.
2) I decided that when I went to England, three weeks prior to heading off to South America, I would only allow myself to bring my ‘Bigger Carry On’ by Away (Link here). A much smaller option than I would have previously ever chosen. Result? Overall, my trip to the UK went smoothly, I did end up doing quite a lot of washing but I learnt I could survive any situation while only packing a quarter of the amount I would normally. Who knew?!
Being that we are going to South America, there are some added complexities to my packing list. South America is HUGE and that in of itself poses a couple issues. As distances are so large, it is an inevitable that we are going to have to take flights between some locations… This means, unless we want to pay the big bucks, we can only keep our load to one backpack and a small personal item each. Packing light is key. On the flip side, South America is home to a massive range of climates and terrains. In Cartagena, Colombia, I plan on living in jean shorts and a bikini top. Where as, somewhere in the Andes, I’m going to be wrapped up in multiple layers with two chunky all terrain, Gore Tex shoes strapped to my feet.
Taking all these things into consideration, I think I came up with a list that is practical and functional but still leaves room for flexibility. [I will report back on this hypothesis when I return from the trip]
7 Tank Tops [3x black, 2x white, 2 x Striped]
1 White T-Shirt
1 Black Long Sleeve T-Shirt
1 Pair of Blue Jean Shorts
1 Pair of Blue Jeans
1 Pair of Athletic Shorts
1 Pair of Sleep / Lounge Shorts
1 Pair of Leggings
1 Thin Sweatshirt
Warm Clothing Layers
1 Long Sleeve under layer [Nike Running Shirt]
1 Rain Jacket with removable Down Lining [This one from The North Face]
When it actually came to packing, I took out the inner layer and stuffed it into a compression packing cube to make it as tiny as possible
16 Pairs of Underwear [Actually, I think this number is closer to 30 but who counts underwear anyway]
2 Sports Bras [One for exercise and one for lounging and bus rides]
5 Pairs of Socks [2x Hiking, 3x Sports]
1 Pair of Hiking ‘Shoes’
1 Pair of Sneakers
1 Pair of Toms
1 Pair of Havaianas
1 Pair of Ray Ban Sunglasses
3 Pairs of Earrings
I’m sure this is still too much but my plan has always been to donate / throw things away as I find I have no use for them. I also decided to forego packing any dresses or fancy tops. When I go out in NY my outfit normally consists of black Vans, black jeans and a black crop top. So, as you can tell, I’m not big on dressing up. No point fondling the idea that I might suddenly become a dress-wearing queen in South America. If I need to attempt to look good I’ll chuck on a pair of hoops and I’m ready to go. Simple.
This is my weak spot. Luxury to me comes in the form of silky face cream, expensive scrubs and shampoos with delightful smells. I decided my tactic would be to buy one averaged sized toiletry bag and everything that I would take would just have to fit in there. If it didn’t, it couldn’t come. This bag was also to hold all our medicine, first aid equipment and my makeup. Combine my luxury facial creams with my mum’s hypochondriac tendencies lead to a slightly stuffed Amazon bag. My mum convinced me that the potential of dying from extreme diarrhea during this trip was a real possibility. This lead me to go on a $150 spending spree in CVS for every type of medicine you can imagine. If you have an ailment, I have something for it. Basically I am just a walking pharmacy.
So, what did I bring?
Medium Tooth Paste
Small Deodorant Stick
Travel Body Wash Bottle
1 250ml Sun Cream [SPF 50 because I’m pale AF]
1 bottle of SPF 50 face cream [Again, Pale AF | Link]
Medium Face Moisturizer [Clinique Dramatically Different Gel]
2 Mini bottles of Facial oils [Sample Size from Drunk Elephant]
Makeup remover stick [This was a puzzle that perplexed me, both wipes and bottles of fluid were too large, this stick from Clinique was the perfect solution]
Tweezers, Nail Clippers, Nail File
Glossier Concealer in Medium
Bare Minerals Powder
Glossier Boy Brow Eyebrow Gel
MAC Twig Lipstick
Around 50 Plasters (band aids) of all shapes and sizes
2 x Mini tubes of Neosporin
Anti Diuretics Pills
Anti Constipation Pills
Motion Sickness pills [Two packs because I need to be able to read on 50 hr bus rides]
Medium Advil PM
2 Small Tubes of Pepto Bismol
Medicated Lip Salve [I get cold sores when I travel]
1 Large Microfiber Towel
Between Pedro and I we are taking a lot of tech, mostly for content creation [Digital marketing jargon for taking pictures and videos]. Most of the larger tech is in Pedro’s bag so this is just what I am taking in mine.
All The Things We Need for Content Creation
Macbook Pro 15” (That has decided to shit itself since packing)
An array of USB wall Plugs + Cables
Kindle + Charger
Airpods + 1 set of Normal Headphones
Fold Away Day Backpack
Half of me is surprised this all actually fits in a 55L bag. The other half of me is freaking out that I am meant to live off of only this for 6 months. My biggest concern is that I am going to have about no space for any purchases so I need to be really good about not buying too much… or I’ll just send it to Brazil to collect on my way home.
Wish me luck! I need it.