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Giving it away - Packing and Backpacking

Updated on September 22, 2013
Everything I own is in that backpack
Everything I own is in that backpack

I'm finally doing it, I’m going to be one of those nomads that I used to admire from afar. You know the ones that don’t have a lot of stuff, no mortgage, no debts, no job, no worries. Just backpacking their way through life, taking it a step at a time. Okay so I don’t think I want to be one forever, as I’m only a nomad at heart with a weakness for fashion and good food, so I do need to find a job eventually once I settle in London. I will be travelling to Thailand for two weeks and then flying to Spain where I will be backpacking around for three months. Then after that I will settle in London and hopefully find a temporary job until I set off again. So I have had to give away 95% of my stuff. It’s not the first time I’ve given away most of my belongings, first time was when I left my life behind in 2007 and moved to Mexico. So this time around it’s a lot easier. A year and a half has passed since I’ve been back in Sydney from Mexico and let me tell you I’ve collected two full wardrobes and a whole bookshelf of books, some furniture and perhaps 80 pairs of shoes. However this is my first backpacking adventure, and I must say, it’s quite nerve racking, as I’ve always travelled with my suitcase, even when I was staying in hostels. I bet the other backpackers looked down on me, saying, “here comes the Paris Hilton of the backpackers” naah I wasn’t that bad. But I just could never accept that you could get around with all your stuff in a tiny bag. And living in Bondi I see too many backpackers around, with tension in their shoulders from the huge Eiffel tower looking thing elevated above their heads. Knocking and pushing everyone around on the crammed bus with these heavy bags. And so I used to think nup not for me. But after weeks of pondering and researching, I've had a change of heart. I now see the benefits of doing it the minimalistic way. So this week I've purchased myself a brand new backpack and since I'm going away for two years I've been selling, giving away and throwing out quality clothes. Like a $300 hundred dollar dress that I've only worn once. And let me tell you, it’s kind of like a cleansing ritual. Because Stuff drags you down, not only physically but emotionally.

GIving it all away
GIving it all away

So if you’re attached to your crap? Let it go! Throw it out, give it to charity, and if you’re so attached to these material items then there’s always the option of storage, leaving it at your parent’s house or shipping. Excess baggage will only weight you down and you may feel like you’ve done nothing else but carry around your dirty laundry around Europe, Asia or wherever you are for the next few months to a year. Okay for the girls reading this I know it’s going to be a challenge, (more of a tragedy) especially that you probably can fit only one pair of your favorite stilettos Ahhhhhhhhh. But we do have more of an advantage, because we can scrunch up so many tiny tops in the back pack, compared to guy’s bulky T-shirts. (unless you’re a one of those metro dudes that wears extra tight tops to show off your pecks)

Some Essentials

Camera: Unless you’re into photography I would suggest nothing over $350. I bought my Canon IXUS105 for $165.

Comfortable Walking Shoes: A pair of well fitted walking or running shoes. Make sure that you’ve worn them a few weeks before taking them. Nothing worse than a blister to ruin your day. I bought a simple black pair of Dunlop volleys.

Bathroom kit: I would recommend that you buy small travel size shampoos, moisturizer, face wash etc. I also advise that you rap them in glad rap or plastic individually, in case of leakage.

First Aid Kit: I suggest that make your own from the first aid kit in your medicine cabinet. This proves to be much cheaper than the overpriced kits from the markets

Photocopy of passport etc: Making copies of your passport, credit cards, travel insurance and other important documents can save you from a huge hassle if you lost them.

Money Belt: This will give you the peace of mind. This is like a belt, you put under your pants or clothes which you place all your valuables in. Such as credit cards, cash, passport.

Flash Light: Is very useful in dark hostels, especially if you’re sharing the room with several other people and need to find your way to the bathroom. Also handy for reading in bed.

Laundry bags: A few plastic bags for separating dirty clothes and wet clothes will go a long way.

Laundry soap sheets: very convenient when washing undies and socks over the sink.

Washing line or rope: This may sound funny. But each time I had stayed in a hostel I wished had a washing line to hang my bathing suit, socks or towel.

Towel: It’s probably better to take a decent size towel rather than a small one that will soak up heaps of water. A useful tip I read in a travel book is to sew a couple of cloth loops to your towel so you’re able to hang it from your backpack and then let it dry while you move around.

Sewing Kit: You can either buy one or make your own. Always good to have, especially since the clothes you’ll wear many time may wear and tear.

Sunscreen: If you’re health conscious I will say these two words “Skin cancer” and if you’re vain then I will say this one word “Ageing.”

Prescription for glasses: If you wear glasses, the worst thing that can happen if you lose them is to run around to find an expensive optometrist in order to give you another prescription.

Prescription Drugs/Vitamins: If you have any prescription drugs make sure you take them along. And vitamins are important for staying healthy. I myself will be taking my vitamin C, to keep my immune system strong.

Essential Clothes to pack

So now this is where it gets hard, especially for us fashion conscious women and metrosexual males. I mean we do need a pair of shoes for each occasion and we also need to accessories our outfits with our funky jackets. And I guess there are others who find packing minimal a piece of cake. Like one of my friends who goes clothes shopping once a year and just went backpacking around Asia. Packing for him was too simple, as he took a tiny 35L backpack and didn’t even fill half of it. He basically took one pair of shorts, two t-shirts, and of course the pair of shoes he had on. As for me I’m willing to do minimal, but not to that extreme, so this is why I purchased an 85L backpack. To at least fit my black stilettos and the brown leather boots I love so much, and also a warm coat to have by the time I reach freezing London.

I will go through a list of clothing items that I’ll take, to give you an idea of packing. Just keep in mind although I may take a few extra items, the packing experts always stress to say “keep it to an absolute minimum.”

This is what I will take:

  • One pair of jeans. It’s better to stick to dark colors, that way if they get dirty you won’t look like I live on the streets.
  • One pair of lightweight trousers (like pyjama pants)
  • One pair of black tights
  • Two pairs of shorts
  • Two summer dresses
  • One short black skirt
  • Two going out tops
  • One Black dress
  • One red dress
  • Two T-shirts, non white
  • Two long sleeve cotton shirts
  • One hooded casual jumper, (for cooler nights)
  • One skivvy
  • A small jacket
  • Warm long coat
  • Under garments
  • Socks (seven pairs)
  • One pair of comfortable walking shoes
  • Thongs (no thongs are not G-strings, they’re flip flops)
  • A pair of solid walking sandals
  • One pair of black high heels
  • A hat
  • Bathing suit
  • A few accessories (such as small earrings and necklaces)
  • Towel
  • Sarong

Just keep in mind that I will be travelling in summer and will purchase some winter clothes once I get to London. So there you have my clothing items for travel. And let me tell you that I am a little nervous about once again becoming a consumerist whore once I reach Thailand, as they do sell clothes at bargain prices. Ahhhhh better keep my eyes shut while walking through the markets.


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