You’re Gonna Carry That Weight

“What the heck do you pack for a year?”

Before I left home, this was one of the most common questions I was asked.  When you’re settled down in your own space, it can be difficult to picture how you would fit everything into a backpack.  So what do you really need?  Honestly?  The same stuff you would pack for a week.  The thing about living out of your backpack for a year is that you become an expert at minimizing.  You get used to having the same five shirts, three pants and one dress the pick from.  Eventually, you even forget why you needed a whole wardrobe back at home.

In some ways, I relish the minimizing.  I don’t have to think too much about what I’m going to wear each day because my options are limited.  If it’s cold, I don’t pick out one of several sweatshirts, I simply wear the ONLY sweatshirt.  It simplifies things significantly letting you spend time thinking about more important things.  Like finally putting up a new blog post…

The sum total of everything I put into my 65 L backpack.

This is not to say that I don’t still feel like I carry around a lot of junk.  When I’m traveling from place to face, I feel a bit like a traveling circus or a one-woman band.  I have the large backpack, lovingly referred to as “the beached whale”, on my back, a small backpack on my front, and the ukulele in hand.  Whenever I’m walking to and from the bus I end up feeling a bit like rather ungainly hermit crab.  Compared to everything I left at home, it’s really not much.  But I still find myself pray that the bus driver doesn’t throw his back out while loading up my gear…

So far, I haven’t gotten too sick of living out of a back.  Yes, the ukulele is sometimes a pain to carry around.  Yes, the space beside my hostel bed often looks like a warzone.  But when I’m settled with a wwoofing host for a while, the load doesn’t really phase me.  It isn’t perfect and I’m constantly adapting the contents of my bag.  Throughout my journey, I’ve been visiting the thrift store (or “op shop”) on a regular basis trying to lighten the load or pick up things I actually need to be comfortable.  It’s all a process.

For now, my address is that beached whale of a backpack.  Maybe it’s not as light as it could be, but you know what?  It gets me where I’m going.

Me and “the beached whale” taking a stroll on Stewart Island. Photo credit: Beth Thoms

If you’re curious about what I actually did take with me on this trip, I’ve included a list of my backpack contents below.  Have any tips on how to lighten the load or feel like sharing your own stories?  Leave a comment below!

Checked Bag

  • Socks (5 long, 4 short)
  • Pants
    • Quick dry zip-off
    • Jeans
    • Leggings (2)
    • PJ Bottoms
  • Shirts
    • T Shirts (8, one for sleeping)
    • Long Sleeved
      • Black turtle-neck
      • Moisture-wicking
      • Quick-dry button down
      • Black long-sleeved
    • Dress
    • Sweaters/ Outer layers
      • Light, gray cardigan
      • Sweatshirt
      • Wool cardigan
      • Light rain jacket
    • Sleeping Bag
    • Padlock
    • Head lamp
    • Shoes
      • Boots
      • Sneakers
      • Sandals (2, one for the showers in hostels)
    • Quick-dry towel
    • Laundry bag
    • Washcloth
    • Goggles
    • Bathing Suit
    • Pepper Spray
    • Multi-tool
    • Sunscreen
    • Hat
    • Binoculars
    • Platypus Water Reservoir and cleaning kit
    • Handkerchiefs (2)
    • Earrings (4)
    • Belt
    • Toiletries
      • Contacts
      • Contact Solution
      • Coconut Oil
      • SPF Lip balm
      • Bar Shampoo (2)
      • Q Tips
      • Crystal Deodorant
      • Hairbands (10)
      • Bobby pins (12)
      • Hair brush
      • Floss
      • Retainer
      • Makeup and brush
      • Jason Toothpaste
      • Diva Cup
      • Nail clipper
      • Tweezers
      • Safety Razor
    • Underwear (8)
    • Bras
      • Sports Bra
      • Underwire (4)
    • Medicine/ First Aid
      • Bandages (7)
      • Calcium
      • Vitamin B
      • Pepto-Bismol
      • Tylenol
      • Night hand brace (for my own chronic wrist issues)

Carry On

  • Eyeglass case
  • Contact case
  • Sunglasses
  • Converter for NZ
  • Laptop
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Melatonin
  • Water bottle
  • Keys
  • Passport
  • Journal
  • Address book
  • Money pouch
  • Titanium spork
  • Pens
  • BBH Card (for hostels)
  • Wallet
  • Phone (android)
  • Packable shopping bag
  • Winter hat

 Personal Item

  • Ukulele
  • Back up strings
  • Capo










4 thoughts on “You’re Gonna Carry That Weight

Add yours

  1. That’s crazy how much you fit into that pack! I’m sure you’re really good at Tetris now, too ;). When I worked my tech jobs I would have to fit everything I needed into my car. Whenever I returned from one of those jobs, I would be overwhelmed by how much stuff I would have stored at home. When you live with fewer belongings, it certainly sticks with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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