• Sharon Kelly

What's in a Backpack... part II

What I have learned I can’t live without (that I added to my pack), what I have learned I can live without (and removed from my pack) and what I am really glad I packed!

Added to my pack

  • Moisturizer - was going to make due with just moisturizing soap but realized I needed more to feel good about myself

  • Grocery bag - a little thing I know but I begrudged having to pay even €0.50 for a reusable plastic bag when I had so many better quality reusable bags at home. And since I am trying to stay in places where I can cook, I need to grocery shop and therefore need a bag at times

  • Battery power bank - I’ve had cell phone battery issues from time to time. Another thing I begrudged having to buy as I had at least one at home but having a power source to charge on the go has been very useful - have to be able to take lots of pictures!!

  • Smaller toiletries/cosmetic bags - when I was going through my pack with a friend the night before I left, he advised against having my toiletries in several separate bags, saying when he did a 6 month trip he found it easier to only have to pull out one bag. So I borrowed one from him and threw everything into one. But as I have packed up each time I have moved on, I have found it harder to work with one large bag. Although I admit it is easier to just pull out one bag if you are only stopping over somewhere for a night, or if you are in accommodations like a hostel, for me, since I tend to stay somewhere for longer and have my own space, I can unpack multiple bags. And having items in smaller bags means I can stuff them into corners or small spots in my back vs. having one large unyielding bag to fit in. Just takes a bit of organization the night before to have only the bare essentials handy if I know my next stop will be a quick one. I decided to treat myself and buy a set from Ted Baker

  • Great sounding music - whether I'm facing a long bus ride or just sitting by myself in my room/apt in the evenings, music can make the time pass so much quicker. It wasn’t until a friend joined me in November and he brought along a Bose speaker that I realized how much I missed that depth of sound that my phone or laptop speakers just don’t have. His was too big for long term travel or else I would have ‘stolen’ it, so when I met my parents in Scotland for Christmas I asked them to bring me a Logitech UE roll 2 speaker. Small, weighing only 330 grams (less than 1/2 pound) but great sound. For a music lover such as myself, well worth the CAD$109 and finding room for it in my bag

  • Hot water bottle/heating pad - my left knee has bothered me on and off during my journey and some days I need to add heat to it and my leg to loosen up the muscles. Something extra in my pack - and I try to live by the motto of add something only if I remove something - but I decided this was needed for the long haul

Hmm… that seems like a lot!!

Removed from my pack

Nothing significant… don’t know if that means that I packed exceptionally well or am still a bit delusional as to whether I really need everything I originally thought I did. Suspect it’s more of the latter :-)

I did find that some of my clothes just didn't work for me. My initial wardrobe of mainly plain t-shirts left me feeling like a slob at times. I accepted that I couldn't be as stylish as I once was, but I needed to look a bit better. So I went shopping over Christmas and replaced most of my plain with some with stripes and even a casual button shirt

Glad I packed

  • Lightweight cutlery set - buying food in the supermarkets when you are on the go is a great way of keeping costs down but they usually don’t come with cutlery. I packed a lightweight, travel knife, spoon and fork and have used them many times

  • Pashmina - lightweight and easy to pack, it has been very handy on chilly buses or trains to wrap around my legs, especially my troublesome knee. And it doubles as a scarf so saved me packing an additional item

And not something I packed but really glad I have, google drive that allows me to create or edit documents even when I’m not on wifi. I wrote most of this blog post offline while on buses and trains in the UK 🙂

A post about what I’ve added, removed or happy to have wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a couple of things I miss but decided to make due, largely due to the impracticality of adding them

  • Different weight blankets or duvets. Staying in hotels or Air BnBs I’ve found you usually get just a duvet with no top sheet (maybe it’s just a Europe thing). I’m often too hot with the duvet but then would be too cold without some bed covering. So many times I have taken the duvet out of the duvet cover and just slept under the cover, using it as a top sheet

  • Tupperware containers to store leftovers or keep packets of meat or cheese fresh in a room fridge

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