What’s in Our Bag?
When people find out we are travelling for a year, one of the first questions we get is: “What did you pack?”. It can be daunting, thinking about packing for a year+, but worst case scenario we know we could buy something if we forgot it or really needed it. We’ve started this third week with a little bit of down time, so we thought we'd open up our bags and walk through our gear and what we brought for our year long adventure.
The most important decision we had to make while packing was whether to bring suitcases or to pack a backpack. This decision took quite some time as we knew we weren’t backpacking through Europe - we have a car and therefore do not need to carry a backpack with all of our belonging to each destination. However, we didn’t want to lug a giant suitcase along as we knew our car wouldn’t be very big, and realistically most of the places we are staying in are apartments without elevators. We had also been discussing how long we’d like to have a car, and we will most likely return the car before heading to Croatia and Greece, where we want to explore some islands where cars are not needed. This would mean all of our belongings would need to be carried as we make our way by train, bus, or ferry to each destination.
With all of these factors in mind, we came to the decision that we would like something that is more of a backpack style, but would fit more than a typical backpacking backpack. We found these awesome bags made by Eagle Creek called the Cargo Hauler Rolling Duffel. These bags come in two sizes: 90 litre and 120 litre. We love it because not only is it a duffel bag that we can open up completely to easily access our stuff, but there are rollers on one end so it can be used to as a rolling bag (like you would a suitcase), and there are also removable straps that clip on so that it can be worn like a large backpack. There is a separate section at the top which we both use for our shoes, and as an added bonus, they are covered under Eagle Creek's No-Matter-What Warranty. Another plus is their size. We had debated between the 90L and the 120L, and opted for the 90L so that it would be easier to manage when we are without a car (it’s essentially the same size as 2.5 carry-on bags). We both loaded our bags up, and both of our bags came in under 50 lbs (roughly 42lbs for Darrell and 47 lbs for Sharleen). If we had went with the 120L, we would have easily been over the weight limit, which would have cost us a significant amount over the course of our travels. For us, these bags were the perfect solution, and on the third week of our trip we couldn’t be more happy with them!
In order to keep everything in our bags nice and organized, we made sure to pick up a bunch of packing cubes from both MEC and Eagle Creek. Packing cubes make it super easy to organize all of your clothes, and they allow for quick access of items from your big bag. When all of the cubes are packed, it’s basically like playing a quick game of TETRIS to get everything situated. They are also very versatile during different parts of a trip. They can be used for laundry bags or a way to pack daily outfits so that you don’t have to unpack every cube in the bag if you are just trying to get in and out of an Airbnb.
Now that we had figured out our bags, we needed to fill them! Below is a list of what each of us brought, and now that we had been on the road for a few weeks, we already have some changes to what we would have packed (or not packed) along.
I packed my back a couple weeks before the start of the trip. I basically took everything that I thought I would need and made sure that everything would fit. To my surprise, all of my stuff fit with no problem. This left me slightly apprehensive that I was forgetting something, but now that we are almost 3 weeks in, I am pretty happy with everything I have. I would have only added maybe 2 or 3 more t-shirts. It has been so nice here that the 4 long sleeves have not really been used, and probably 1 or 2 of these would have been better suited as tee’s. But this also leaves me some room to pick up a couple cool shirts if anything peaks my interest, and as we go further North into Scandinavia it might have the right number to begin with! In my bag I packed:
Shoes: 1 pair of flip flops, 1 pair of runners, 1 pairs of casual shoes
1 rain jacket
1 Patagonia micro puff jacket (awesome because it packs into its own pocket!)
1 medium weight fleece
4 long sleeve shirts (3 outdoor/casual and 1 button up)
7 short sleeve shirts (5 t-shirts and 2 button up)
3 pairs of jeans
1 pair of sweatpants
2 pairs of shorts
10 pairs of underwear (MeUndies, honestly they are best and they pack really well!)
1 pair of swimming trunks
1 ball cap
2 pairs of sunglasses (1 SMITH & 1 SPY)
I packed my bag about 4 weeks before we left, and then I removed about 8 items before doing the final pack. I feel as though I could have removed a few more items, probably a few long sleeve and short sleeve shirts, and maybe a pair of pants. It’s hard to know for sure though because the weather so far has been amazing - mid to high 20’s (C) and sunny each day. Once we get into fall and winter season, it will be easier to know for sure, but so far I’m happy with what I brought. The only two exception are:
My curling wand, which doesn’t seem to get hot when I use the transformer and converter, so it’s basically useless on our trip.
Most of my outdoor pants do not have pockets, which has been a bit annoying as we go on hikes or walk around cities. I’d like to be able to put my phone in my pocket so it’s easy to reach for when I want to take pictures, so I find that I’m either holding it in my hand, or putting it in our day pack, which isn’t very convenient.
In my bag I packed:
Shoes: 2 pairs of sandals, 1 pair of runners, 1 pair of casual shoes, and 1 pair of casual boots
1 rain jacket
1 Patagonia micro puff jacket (awesome because it packs into its own pocket)
2 fleece jackets (one light weight and one Patagonia Better Sweater medium weight)
9 long sleeve shirts (7 outdoor/casual, 1 sweatshirt, and 1 nicer sweater)
6 short sleeve shirts (4 outdoor/casual and 2 that are more business casual)
7 sleeveless shirts (5 outdoor/casual and 2 that are more business casual)
2 pairs of jeans (1 pair of black jeans and 1 pair of blue jeans)
2 pairs of shorts
7 pairs of leggings/yoga/hiking pants (5 pairs that are long or 7/8, and 2 capri length)
1 maxi dress
5 bras (2 regular and 3 sport style)
3 pairs of socks
9 pairs of underwear
1 bathing suit
1 pyjamas set
2 casual scarves
Hair straightener and curling wand
2 pair of Kate Spade sunglasses
In addition to our clothing, we each packed a full toiletry bag, which contained full sized contact solution, a couple sticks of deodorant, full sized shampoo/conditioner/body wash, a couple bars of soap, and other necessities. We also have a medium packing cube full of pharmaceutical items, in case we get cuts/scraps, a cold or flu, or have stomach issues. We'll get more into the specifics in another post.
Lastly, looking back on a couple of the hikes we have already done, and a few that are upcoming, we both realize that we would have benefited from bringing hiking shoes - something with more grip than a running shoe would probably be benefical. We will likely be purchasing some hiking boots in the next few days, so we will need to find a place in our bags to store them!
All in all, we feel like we packed the right items in the right amounts, but it's still early in our trip so we should know better once fall and winter rolls around!