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What Do You Pack for 8 Months in One Carry-on Backpack?

With the backpack that will take me around the world!
The backpack that will take me around the world!

Meg looked up from her tea with disdain. “Why the heck would you possibly need three bathing suits?” she asked.

“I want to be on the beach all the time!” I protested.

“Yea, well, you probably won’t be,” Meg snapped. “Take two swimsuits, MAX, you little pack rat!”

I glowered as I plopped the red bikini into the Leave-With-My-Bro-in-the-U.S. pile, but Meg was right: I thought I had packed light, but the half hour schlep through SFO Airport taught me I needed to go even lighter.

With wonderful Meg’s wise insights (and rockin’ insults) I eliminated nearly a fourth of my overpacking (!!!), including scissoring out half my travel book (regarding Malaysia and the Philippines, since I ain’t goin’ there), and chucking a giant flowered skirt and five tank tops that look exactly the same. The resulting puffy blue bag is now more of a buddy and less of a giant obese beast clawing my waist with arms of lead.

According to my sweet friend Marleny, everyone needs both “Yes” friends and “No” friends. “Yes” friends are the ones who embrace all your ridiculous ideas and buoy you through them with their positivity and encouragement. “I want to marry Li’l Wayne!” you say.

“GREAT!” the “Yes” Friend responds. “Let’s find out where he lives and buy you a good push-up bra!” The “No” friend, on the other hand, is necessary so you don’t die. “I want to have unprotected intimate relations with Li’l Wayne!” you declare. “You are an idiot,” the “No” friend responds. We love them both :)

“Which kind of friend am I?” Meg asked me, after I told her this theory. I laughed uproariously then gave her a giant hug. Thanks to her, I may smell really bad over the next 8 months, but I won’t have a broken back by September.

What the heck is in the newly svelte blue backpack:
– 2 t-shirts; 4 tank tops
– 3 long-sleeved shirts
– 2 pairs of pants (1 jeans, 1 hiking)
– 3 shorts with pockets
– 2 bathing suits
– 1 skirt
– 1 sarong to use as towel and 1 bandanna to use as washcloth
– 7 pairs socks, 14 pairs underwear, 5 bras
– Sneakers, sport sandals, dressier shoes, flip flops
– Camera
– Small netbook computer to be purchased off a famous novelist in Japan(long story)
– Assorted first aid, toiletries, plug adapters
– 1 journal, 1 book of crossword puzzles, 1/2 of a Southeast Asia guidebook, plane ticket printouts
– Passport, travelers checks, copies of all vital documents, etc.
-A happy, loving, and inquisitive heart :)

“Why do you have 20 pens??” Meg screamed. “They HAVE stores in Asia!!”


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Douglas Vautour

Thursday 18th of April 2013

Exactly. There is no reason to travel with anymore than this! The only thing I would add would be a bar of laundry soap, but that's just because I'm cheaper than I am lazy.

Douglas Vautour

Thursday 18th of April 2013

I used to have more hair than you, so I know what you mean! I would give it a shot for a week or two before going, it's well worth it if you can find one that works for you! Lush makes a lot of different kinds. They last a long time as well. I only used half a cake on a six week trip.

Douglas Vautour

Thursday 18th of April 2013

Oh, and a solid bar of shampoo. They last forever, and they don't count towards your liquid limit!


Thursday 18th of April 2013

Laundry soap is a great addition to this list!


Thursday 13th of September 2012

A funny last sentence about the pens... While it was definitely easy to find pens in Japan, for the most part, I didn't like the ones I saw in Japanese. It was actually much cheaper (usually) to buy a stack of 10 pens in the U.S. than one in Japan. Also, the ballpoint pens I like the most aren't available in Japan.


Friday 14th of September 2012

Hah!!! After all these years I am proven right!!!

Shane Lake

Saturday 9th of June 2012

How long did it take you to pack that all?


Sunday 10th of June 2012

To simply physically place those items in a bag, it takes 5 minutes, but to DECIDE what to bring and what not to bring is a weeks-long process!

Triston Xie

Wednesday 21st of March 2012

I think that you have packed wisely. I would have packed less shoes. I think you won't need that much shoes. Another thing I would take out is the crossword book. I think that you won't need it because there are a lot of stuff on the trip for you to see.


Sunday 9th of January 2011

That's an awful lot of extra baggage. I myself would stick (as I do on all my long trips including ATW) to 1 teeshirt, 1 tank top, 1 longsleeved shirt, 1 pair of shorts, 1 bathing suit, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pieces of underwear, 1 bra. Yes on the pants and skirt, eliminate either sports sandals or flip flops. What I WOULD bring is a long nylon string to use as a clothesline to hang my nightly wash to dry.

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