“We’re a family of professional packers.” -My mom
This is a list of my favorite items to take on my travels.
Organizational Bags: I hate having stay items floating around in my backpack: 1. because it makes my brain hurt and 2. because I won’t use it if I don’t know where it is. The organizational bags help me keep track of everything I packed. Plus they keep my mess somewhat contained when I check into a guesthouse and my backpack explodes like a bomb all over the room. I like organizational bags that are squishy so I can stuff them into the backpack easily and they don’t take up any extra room.
Quick Dry Towel: There’s no guarantee the places I go will have towels. I like how these towels roll up so tiny and dry…umm…quickly. I bought a medium sized one and am happy with that size. They’re not exactly made of a snuggly material I want to wrap myself up in.
Dr Bronners Soap: I love how versatile this soap is. I’ve used it for body wash, shampoo, laundry soap, dish soap and toothpaste (that was a bad, bad choice). Packing this saves me a lot of room in my bag since I don’t need to pack six different soaps. I do make sure to pack a good conditioner if I’m going to use this as shampoo because it dries out my hair. But the conditioner doubles as shaving cream, so it’s all good.
Keens: I’ll be honest, I think these shoes with casual clothes can be ugly as sin. That being said, I bought a pair to bring with me to Thailand and I have fallen completely in love. They are so comfortable and versatile. I’ve worn these trekking, riding elephants, on the beach, biking and at Song Kran. My feet always seem to thank me whenever I opt to wear these instead of my usual flip flops.
Observe the matching outfits, from the blue shirts to the Keens.
Oatmeal: 1. Because I love it! 2. Because it’s cheap! Eating oatmeal for breakfast while traveling saves me the cost of eating a meal out, which adds up quickly. 3. Because it makes me feel good! Eating out all the time makes me and my body feel out of wack. Whenever I eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of a meal out I usually feel much more ready to conquer the day. Many guesthouses have hot water for coffee or tea. If not there, then I’ll hit up 7/11 for a cup of hot water. And some raisins.
Peanut Butter: I use this as a mixer in the oatmeal to make it really stick to my ribs. I also like to have the PB around to add to snacks such as apples or crackers to make them last longer. Just to clarify, I pack the PB in my suitcase, not my purse. I’m not walking around with a jar of PB on me at all times, but now that I think about it, maybe I should.
Handy Dandy Notebook: Not just for the listing and documenting obsessed, or maybe it is. I use this to write down notes about guesthouses, directions, bus times, language phrases, food I liked, friends address, whatever feels right. I pick out notebooks that are small and light and bound really well. My first handy dandy notebook fell apart before its time and I had to copy the notes to a new notebook. I also like notebooks with a sleeve in the back for business cards and secret notes. And I like notebooks that have something to keep them shut so that the pages don’t get all bent in my purse.
Black Tights: I like to pack a pair of black athletic tights. These double as workout pants for hikes and tights that I can wear under skirts to keep me warm and comfy while walking around the town.
Scarf: Personally, I’m a little scarf obsessed, but in my defense they serve many purposes while traveling. 1. They look tres chic. Yes, I love to feel like I look nice so I can look back at pictures without being reminded of what a hot mess I was, but looking chic is sometimes necessary when traveling to nicer places. 2. Shoulder cover. A lot of religious locations require full shoulder coverage. Throwing a scarf over the shoulders fixes that. 3. Chilly (…). Some places are just unexpectedly chilly…buses, offices, Big C. 4. Impromptu blanket. Whether I find myself sleeping on a school floor or in a guesthouse without a blanket, I’ve found a scarf to be a decent blanket substitute on more than one occasion.
Crossword Book: Good for long bus/plane rides or chilling out when a book isn’t gonna do the trick.
Antibacterial Lotion: I think most antibacterial products over rated and the constant use of them does more harm than good, however, it really doesn’t hurt to have some antibacterial lotion in the purse for times that there’s not soap in the bathroom. I don’t like the feeling of antibacterial gels, so I go for lotions. Bath and Body Works carries my favorites. The yummy smells don’t hurt either.
Flip Flops: Ok I wear these all the time so it’s a no brainer for me to pack them, but I also like how easy they are to pack and come in handy for beaches, walking around the hostel and in dirty showers.
Eye Mask: These are a godsend on overnight bus rides or long flights. I didn’t realize how much changes in lighting were to blame for waking me up until I started using an eye mask. They’re also nice if you’re sharing a room with someone who goes to bed later than you.
Jewelry: I hate packing lots of clothes on trips. I like keeping my bag light and having extra space to buy gifts and souvenirs. Since I don’t have much variety in the clothes I wear I like to pack fun jewelry options to change up the outfits and keep them feeling fresh. I didn’t realize how important this was to me until I’d been living out of a backpack for a month and began to cringe at the site of the shirts and dresses I’d packed.