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To pack or not to pack? Part 1 : A trip down memory lane

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Seven years ago (Seven! Where has the time gone!) I spent 3 months backpacking around Peru, Bolivia, Coast Rica, and Nicaragua. Everything I owned, I carried in my 36 litre backpack.

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The goal of this was twofold – obviously, I needed to be able to carry everything around with me from hostel to hostel. But the main thing, which I never would have thought about before being there, was to avoid having to put my backpack under the bus when going from city to city. This way, I didn’t have to worry about getting my bag stolen at any of the stops (scheduled and unscheduled – being stopped by the army, who wants to see all of your belongings, is not uncommon). I also didn’t have to worry about having my bag peed on by animals also kept under the bus (Trust me. This happened to a friend of mine.) Every time we took the bus, my bag came along with me. I would put it on the floor in front of my seat, and curl up with my feet on top of it

So, how was this possible? Here’s what was in my bag :

1. I had no ‘beauty’ supplies. In my backpack, I carried a plastic bag that contained a toothbrush and toothpaste, a bar of soap which I used on my hair and body, one stick of deodorant, one bottle of sunscreen, a disposable razor, and my contact lens solution and a couple of pairs of contacts. I could replace all of these things (except for the contacts), in any village. I had dreads back then, so I didn’t use any hair products, and I never wore makeup.

2. Clothing wise, I had one pair of jeans, one skirt, three tank tops, three t-shirts, one pair of hiking shoes, one pair of converse, one pair of flip-flops, one zippy sweater, and one long-sleeved t-shirt. I had a bikini and a sarong, which I used both as a beach cover-up, a skirt and a towel.  Accessories? Not really – I had two scarves, which I wore on my head when it got really sunny. The one luxury that I afforded myself was two weeks worth of underwear and socks. I’m no stranger to washing clothes in the sink, but I prefer to avoid it.

3. I also always carried, in the top zippy bit of my backpack, juggling and poi balls. It was always the best way to meet people.

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And that’s it.

As well as my backpack, I carried a large cross-body purse, that I could wear while wearing the backpack. (Which you can see in this photo. This trip happened with my buddy Marina, on my right. See her small backpack, and purse? That’s all she travelled with, for three months.)Image

This bag contained my journal, my point and shoot camera, my wallet, a book and my passport. I think that this was made easier because I feel like this trip happened before technology really did. There was no facebook, no smart phones. Now, when I pack, I have one or two laptops, two cellphones, my kindle, charging cables for all of those, and my DSLR. Ugh.

This post happened because I’m in the middle of packing for a business trip, and blogging is more fun than packing. I’m also trying to figure out if I can fit everything I need for a three week business trip in my carry-on. Obviously, the setting is a bit different – I’m going to be having meetings, and I’m travelling in Canada in the middle of winter. Still, I’m up for the challenge, which I’ll document in the next post. My buddy Vanessa at turnipseedtravel has a great post about this (and so many other great posts!), and I’m going to try and follow her advice. 

This post also reminds me that it was easy, and much less stressful, to travel for so little. I’m hoping to go on holiday in September, and to put that backpack back to work. And to go back to no technology.

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2 thoughts on “To pack or not to pack? Part 1 : A trip down memory lane

  1. Hear hear for packing successes! Graeme and I were SO proud of ourselves for traveling to India for 2 weeks with only one large backpack, a camera bag, and a tiny roll-up backpack for both of us. It was such a relief because if we DID have to carry our bags around (which happened a few times), Graeme wore the big bag and I the little one with the camera. Easy peasy.

    As an aside: taking very little in the realm of hair and make-up supplies makes things so much easier.

  2. Pingback: To pack or not to pack? Part 2 : Three weeks, one carry-on | Where's Alex?

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