Living out of a backpack.......

I get asked a lot how I travel for months with just a backpack? So..... I thought I would share how I manage a wardrobe of options, planning for different weather, along with some tricks for keeping my backpack full of the necessities I need.....all while keeping it under the weight of a carry-on and not breaking my back.

My first trip out of the country I traveled with a 50 lb roll bag with an outfit for every day and shoes to match. So getting to this point has been a process of comfort and necessity over style and at times hasn’t been easy, but so worth it. 

Then: 10 day trip!

Now: 3 month trip!

My backpack has now become my closet…it is my whole wardrobe. I have no home with a closet of clothes…well that is not entirely true, I have closet at my dad’s that has a winter coat, two nice outfits, a pair of dress shoes and boots…along with with a few other items, but other than that, I carry my closet on my back.

My backpack is at maximum weight (22 lbs.) when we first start our journey and it gets lighter as I go...depleting liquids, leaving clothes and other things not needed along the way. For example, on this trip I ditched a pair of jeans (bought at a thrift store), 2 shirts, a long sleeve shirt, a COVID test, a shaker bottle and an extra hand towel.

Of course every trip is different. I try to bring clothes that mix and match and sometimes it looks good and sometimes not so much. 

Packed in my backpack, an ebags weekend mother loader 35L (excluding the things I’ve ditched along the way and my travel outfit): 

-3 pairs of shorts
-1 shirt
-1 tank top
-1 pair of comfy beach pants
-1 pair of yoga pants (which I can wear under other clothes for warmth if needed)
-Lounge shirt (referred to as my moo moo)
-5 pair of panties
-1 extra bra 
-1 sports bra
-Pair of flip flops
-Pair of running/hiking shoes
-Black dress (can be worn casually or dressed up with a scarf, even worn as a swimsuit cover up)
-2 skirts (wore one I'll only pack one)
-Curling iron (last trip I'll bring it, rarely used and heavy)
-2 swimsuits (mix and match = four)
-Wool hat (haven't used it except for early morning travel or cold flights)
-2 pair of socks
-Beach hat
-Baseball hat
-Small bag of toiletries (don't really wear make up anymore)
-Razor with two extra blades
-An extra glass phone protector (always crack mine)
-Computer and HDMI cord (for times we just want to curl up and watch movies)
-2 hand towels (just in case the dish or bathroom towels are smelly-got rid of one on this trip)
-TSA approved lock to lock up zippers while traveling and once we are settled I use it to lock my passport in my bag.

I wear my heaviest, warmest and bulkiest items while traveling to avoid packing them:

-Jeans with belt
-Long sleeve shirt
-Light jacket
-Wool Socks
-Converse (won't bring again, will just wear my running shoes)

Items packed and left at the end of a trip that help lighten the load:

-Ziplocks (large and small they take up little space and multi use)
-3 oz. bottle of shampoo and conditioner (gets me started...most places have both)
-Bar of soap and loofa
-(4)-3 oz spray bottles of 91% alcohol (used as hand sanitizer and for cleaning surfaces)
-3 oz bottle of lotion
-3 oz bottle of contact solution 
-Stick of sunscreen
-Clorox wipes
-(2) tide laundry soap packets
-Shaving cream (non liquid)
-Ziplock bag of protein powder (enough for 7 shakes)
-Sponge (to start)

Carrying liquids is a pain....this was a great find that works awesome.

Items I don't leave home without:
*Jim carries these items.

*1. Meds we need or might need (instead of the whole pill bottle just fill up a pill box and label the back)
2. Thermo Tank Water bottle (I like cold water and I've had this bottle for years, it keeps things warm or cold for over 48 hours, can't seem to find it anymore)
3. Shower caps the kind you find at hotels (covers my shoes when packing or use as food sealers if needed)
4. Clothes pins (hang laundry, keeps chip bags closed or blinds shut)
5. Cutting board (used while cooking to avoid sketchy counter tops or cutting boards provided)
6. Bose noise cancelling headphones (bulky and heavy and really only used on the plane, but so worth it)
*7. Bose speakers (heavy item but we listen to music 24/7)
*8. Antibiotics (stock up in Mexico, rarely have needed)
9. Sarong (used as a shawl, a towel, a blanket to sit on, pillow covering or sheet if sketchy)
*10. First aid kit 
11. Life Straw (Jim laughs at me...thankfully I've never had to use it, but something I can't yet part with)

I always carry a smaller backpack which contains those items I need while traveling and once at our destination it can be used as a cooler:

-Water bottle
-Headphones-Bose and buds
-Clorox wipes
-Garbage bag (in case I get sick, had to learn this the hard way)
-Cords for charging
-Outlet adapter
-Pixel phone which uses a USB-C cord which also charges my computer
-We both carry additional portable batteries always fully charged
-Neck pillow 

I bought a small sling purse which I pack in my smaller backpack when traveling (most airlines only allow two bags). Once we get to a place I use it as a purse. I never walk around with my passport. I use my global entry card as identification, which has worked for the most part anytime I need to show ID.

Other tips:
-Traveling with just a carry on avoids costs, waiting in lines to check on and pick up luggage and most importantly avoiding lost luggage.
-About two years ago I switched from an iPhone with Verizon to a Pixel phone with Google Fi as a carrier. Google Fi 5G connects by switching between mobile networks and secure Wi-Fi connections with an included VPN. There are no roaming charges and it has unlimited data. The plan costs $40 a month and works amazing anywhere.
-We buy currency in the states before we go and split it up between us while traveling. Once settled Jim carries the money. 
-I carry four credit cards, two I can get cash from...all have no foreign transaction fees. I keep two with me and the other two at the place we are staying locked up with my passport.

With all that said, each trip is different. For example, planning for our next trip to the Amazon I am going to need to be creative in packing light with all of the possible things I'll need.... but I love a good packing challenge.

What I've come to love the most is being able to live simply and freely with only what I can carry on my back. It's amazing how little you truly need in life.


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