Only what you can carry

Six months in one bag. What to bring and what to leave behind? Might sound tedious to some, but this was actually a fun exercise. You look at all the stuff you own and realize you don’t need half of the crap, and when you’re faced with having to carry it all on your back, your priorities quickly change.

While the contents of your pack will almost certainly change (ours already has), it was important for us to get as close to right as possible from the start. We didn’t want to spend a fortune sending our things back to the States and we didn’t want to leave anything behind that we really needed. Here is a list (with some tips) of what we started with.

First, the bag.
Venessa’s previous bag was a Walmart special that wasn’t durable or large enough. Lesson 1: This is not the time to be cheap. We purchased the Osprey Farpoint 55 — great brand with a great guarantee. At $187 at REI, this is proving to be well worth the money. It fits Venessa’s small frame and the bag opens like a suitcase, so it’s easy to access the contents inside and easy to repack when it’s time to find a new home. Also, extremely important to note, this bag can be checked (even on the totalitarian airlines like RyanAir). It also came with a detachable day pack which has been a complete life saver. Paul had a bag from our 2008 trip to Peru. It’s heavy and isn’t perfect for backpacking (it’s more of a hiking bag). But, spending another $200 on a bag didn’t seem like an efficient use of money given our budget at the time. It isn’t perfect but it’s working. In hindsight, we should have forked up the money back when. C’est la vi.

Venessa Contents
On Venessa’s back:
– 1 pair of jeans
– 1 pair of black pants
– 1 pair of cargo pants
– 3 pairs of shorts
– 2 rompers (you may call it a playsuit)
– 2 dresses
– 1 maxi dress
– 1 sarong
– 1 pair of leggings
– 4 tank tops
– 4 shirts
– 1 beach cover up
– 1 light sweater
– 1 windbreaker/rain jacket
– 1 cargo jacket
– 1 fleece
– 1 exercise outfit
– 1 sleep set
– 2 bathing suits
– 3 pairs of socks (+1 comfy travel pair)
– 7 pairs of underwear
– 3 bras (+1 sports bra and bandana bra)
– 1 scarf

– sandals (can be worn when “dressing up” because heels are a no-go)
– converse sneaks
– flip flops (moonlighting as shower shoes)
– hiking boots (since we plan to do some organic farming via Helpx)

– passports and emergency documents (copies of passports/bank cards/marriage certificate/birth certificates)
– microfiber sleep sack
– cross-body leather purse
– journal and 2 pens
– kindle paperwhite
– leather belt
– Ray-Bans
– microfiber towel
– wash cloth
– straw hat
– nail kit and nail filler polish
– sewing kit
– cork screw (very very handy)
– lighter
– camera (an alternate to the one Paul is carrying)
– money belt
– small head lamp
– small umbrella
– eye mask
– ear plugs
– ear buds
– shoe bags
– compact mirror
– bobby pins
– medications (aspirin, Neosporin, Imodium)
We went to the doc prior to our trip and received the following shots/pills: Hepatitis B,         Typhoid (since we’re going to Morocco, Turkey, and India), Tetanus, Malaria, antibiotics
– hand sanitizer
– tweezers
– laundry soap sheets
– metal water bottle

Makeup and Toiletries:
– bronzer
– minted rose lip balm
– pink and red lipsticks (a girl’s gotta get fancy sometimes)
– mascara and eyeliner
– toothbrush and cover
– toothpaste
– deodorant
– anti-puff eye roller (magic wand)
– tampons
– eye drops
– body lotion
– razor
– shampoo/conditioner/body wash/face wash/shaving cream (all travel sizes fitting in one pouch)
– makeup remover wipes
– face lotion
– toner (ok, could have done without this)
– sunscreen
– mini hairspray and texture mist
– travel perfume

Total weight: 12 kilos exactly
Lessons learned: Bring less clothes (one less pair of pants/tank top/shirt/bathing suit). Everything else (minus the face toner and the extra camera) are used regularly by Venessa (so she says). But hey, she’s carrying it.

Paul Contents

On Paul’s back:
– 6 pairs of underwear
– 6 pairs of socks
– 7 shirts (2 white undershirts, 2 colored v-neck t-shirts, 1 awesome Ninja Turtles Shirt, 2 long sleeve shirts)
– 2 button down shirts
– 1 pair of jeans
– 1 pair of kakis
– 2 pairs of shorts
– 1 pair of swimming shorts
– 1 long sleeve light sweater (think long sleeve shirt with hood)
– 1 fleece jacket (with shitty broken zipper already)
– 1 rain shell jacket
– 1 scarf

– 1 pair of boots
– 1 pair of sneakers
– Flip flops
– 1 pair of ultra-light running shoes (guilty pleasure, haven’t used)

– 2 belts
– 1 micro fiber sleep sack
– 1 microfiber towel
– 1 microfiber washcloth
– First aid kit
– Universal sink stopper
– Coffee press mug
– Metal Water bottle
– Notebook
– Various toiletries
o Deodorant
o Toothbrush
o Sunscreen
o Floss
o Various Advil in a plastic bag
o Etc.
– Flask of Buffalo Trace whisky
– Sunglasses

– Small tablet pc (Asus t-100)
– Camera (Sony a6000) with zoom kit lens
– Three lenses (28mm, 50mm, 120mm)
– Tripod
– Audio recorder (zoom h1)
– Battery back (LIFE SAVER)
– Foldable solar panels
– Kindle
– Universal power adapter

Total weight: 13.2 kilos
Impressions and lessons: As expected, I brought way too much. I think I will divest myself of a couple of shirts and some toiletries. I don’t think I need to lug around travel size mouthwash, for example. The problem is that while I may not need some of this stuff now, I may need it in the future. The gear is by far the heaviest. I haven’t used the solar panels but I’ve been in Europe exclusively. For example, when we get to India or Morocco, there may be a need to use it to charge our cameras. The only thing I would like to have that I don’t is a travel hard drive with a large capacity.



Stranded in Tarifa


The wind has reached critical levels in Tarifa. This is great news for the pilgrims flocking to the wind and kite surfing mecca. Terrible news if you wanted to take a ferry to Morocco. All ferries from Tarifa have been cancelled for the next few days. With Africa in sight we are eager to make the crossing. There are worse places to be stranded.