Packing! Or, How to Live Out of a Backpack for Five Months

A lot of people have asked me if I really intend to live out of a backpack for five months. I do! And here’s the proof – my entire packing list!

It took a lot of reading a lot of travel blogs, but here’s  what I ultimately narrowed it down to:


One large backpack.

One small daypack from PacSafe – wire mesh fabric, RFID-proof pocket for credit cards, detachable strap for hooking around chair leg, steel wire zippers for safer locking


– Five shirts, including two “safari” shirts that are UVB resistant, long sleeve, wrinke-free, quick-dry

-Three undershirts / tank tops

-Two skirts, one “fancy” (or at least not obviously tourist-wear) and one hiking skort

– One pair of sandals (Mephisto brand, of the dorkus totalus species)

-One pair of Vibram five toes (for hiking)

-One pair of jellies, to wear at the hostels, in the shower and at the beach

-Two pairs of trekking pants

-Two hats, including one “safari” hat and one more normal straw and ribbon one. (I don’t want to be that tourist wearing “safari  gear” in the middle of a metropolitan area. That’s weird. )

-One sundress

-Bathing suit

-One fleece jacket

-One windbreaker jacket

You may have noticed that there are more tops than bottoms; I intend to buy skirts and fabric to make skirts out of along the way. I brought lots of safety pins for this purpose and needles and thread. I also purchased two Magic Wrap dresses (the kind that come with fabric “straps” that can be adjusted to make the dress a halter dress, strapless, sleeved, etc.) This dress is a favorite suggestion on female travelers’ blogs, but I just found it to be unwieldy because there’s a lot of heavy fabric.

I will also say that when I started planning this trip two years ago, I was determined not to look “like a tourist” and to “keep my high standards.” hahahahahahahaha.  I’m so glad I’m not making this trip with my first clothing choices.


-face wash, sunscreen, mini shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, floss, toothpaste, lotion, razor, cosmetics, combs, hair ties, green tea (useful as  an astringent)


– traveler’s clothing detergent (50 mini sheets in a container the size of a matchbox), two clothes’ pins (to hang stuff up to dry or to close curtains), mace, pocketknife, mini towel, insect repellant, safety pins, paper copies of all tickets and visas, glasses, six months’ worth of contacts, first aid kit (bandaids, Neosporin, Emergen-C, anti-diueratic, ibprofin), water bottle, sunglasses, tweezers, nail polish, deck of cards, three small combination locks, wire cable bike lock, knife-spoon-fork set, expandable nalgene (made of silicone so it can be rolled up when not in use)


– iPad, camera, phone, chargers, portable UV-ray water purifier, plug adaptors, and external battery

Total weight: 23.5 pounds for the large backpack, 8 pounds for the small

I’ll do a final post at the end to say what I actually used.

Update: Haven’t even got to Bangkok and I’ve had my first casualty. The expandable Nalgene has already sprung a leak.


4 responses to “Packing! Or, How to Live Out of a Backpack for Five Months


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sally Fogarty

    23.5 lbs + 8 lbs is seriously impressive! I can barely fly to TX for a weekend under 50lbs. In awe I am.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve followed those sure, footed Vibrams up a trail, or two! Have a wonderful adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I found traveling in Indonesia that clothes were so inexpensive it was cheaper to buy new than to wash. Had I to do it over again I would have brought less, bought more. That and when you get back you have wearable souvenirs.

    Liked by 1 person

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