Suitcase or backpack?
Lately, I was asked a lot about my luggage when I travel. When I worked as a flight attendant I always carried my sturdy Samsonite Suitcase. And this suitcase is still super valuable to me for a trip around Europe. It’s easy to carry around in airports and cities and the suitcases are super durable! Also, the wheels are integrated within the suitcase so they don’t fall off like so many suitcases do! I used to tear my hair out when I lost the wheels AGAIN! When I travel as a backpacker, however, I swear by a robust backpack! The reasons are countless as to why!
My favourite backpack
For one, if you use a small backpack, you can take it on board of the plane as hand luggage and you’ll be saving a ton of money on airline fees! This also means you really have to think about what to bring and what to leave at home. Most of us will always bring too many things, mostly clothes and you won’t wear half of what you’re bringing! Also, when you’re backpacking you might have to walk a few kilometres on the beach (why did I bring a suitcase here?!) or your bags are carried on top of a bus or truck!
Take for example the Osprey Fairview 70 or the Osprey Farpoint 55. These backpacks have a daypack included to you always have a smaller bag with you with great support straps! They are easy to pack and accessible. I hate it so much when something is at the bottom of the bag and you can’t easily get it! This bag makes travelling fun and easy! It is also super handy to grab a quick lunch before your flight without having to drag your suitcase around the cities. A bag like this is perfect for a long holiday or a few months backpacking! Are you only going on a short city trip? Bring the small bag which has enough space for a few days away.
Another thing that is hugely helpful is packing cubes. This way you never have to search for your underwear, clothes or toiletries. It saves a ton of space in your bag and it is a lot easier to organise your things!
A Packing List
Before your trip, it also makes sense to use a packing list. I’ll be honest though, I’ve travelled for 20 years and I know exactly what I need. But there is always the risk of forgetting something!
Bring your own water bottle
By bringing your own water bottle you’ll save a lot of money but also the planet! I absolutely LOVE the Lifestraw which is long-lasting, free of BPA and you can renew the filters easily.
The downside of this bottle, however, is that it is pretty clunky in size and it can leak easily. Another option is to bring a water bag with a water filter! It is super easy to pack and takes up barely any space when empty.
Are you a coffee or tea addict?
Well, I for sure am! And although I’ll definitely treat myself to a nice Latte Macchiato, I saved a HEAP of money by bringing a water boiler! I buy great local fresh tea and coffee so I can always have a cuppa on the go!
To prevent myself from overpacking I only allow 2 or maximum 3 pairs of shoes. Wear bigger boots or shoes on the plane and change to flip flops when it’s sunny. I couldn’t live without my trusty Havaianas and I bring them everywhere! To have more support I also love my Birkenstocks although they are a little bigger. Some may laugh but I’ll bring them back into fashion! Salomon has great hiking and walking shoes that are usually sufficient for some long hikes. They offer perfect support, are lightweight and very durable.
Are you still carrying bottles of shampoo, conditioners and shower gel around? Look no further. I switched to dry toiletries a number of years ago and they save a lot of weight, money and storage space. You can get some really nice vegan shampoo bars that don’t dry out your hair. I still haven’t found the perfect conditioner so let me know if you found a good one! For your body, you can get some lovely handmade soaps. Using dry toiletries is also really handy as you’re not allowed to fly with bigger than 100ml liquid bottles.
As for a hair conditioner, I love the leave-in styling treatment by Sebastian Potion 9. It smells amazing, makes your hair super soft and you can give yourself a hair salon type treatment while you travel!
Another great way to look after the planet is to bring a Bamboo toothbrush and teeth cleaning capsules or powder.
Do you love taking pictures?
As a photographer, I do of course! For many years I travelled around with my Canon 5D Mark IV but boy this is heavy! Especially as I was often bringing multiple lenses. When the Fuji XT3 came out I jumped at the opportunity to buy this camera! It weighs a lot less and it’s my favourite camera to travel with! Another great option is the X-E3 which is a bit cheaper as well.
iPhone or camera?
I see this discussion time and time again on travel blogs. And the camera phones are getting better and better! I recently started shooting with the iPhone 11 Pro and was happily surprised (I went from the iPhone 6+). It takes great images and for ease of use I can highly recommend just taking your phone with you to take images. Being a photographer I still see some limitations though. But this is more to do with low light images and image quality. When I zoom in the pictures on the iPhone compared to the FujiFilm or Canon camera, I can see a huge difference. I’ll always be the camera girl I’m afraid!
Books VS Kindle
I am still a huge fan of reading paper books. But when travelling it soon gets too heavy and bulky. It took me years to switch but since I travel with a Kindle my back is thanking me!
And do you want to get in the travel spirits? One of my favourite books is The Way of Wanderlust by Don George. In a number of essays, he’ll share his favourite stories and destinations.
What else to bring?
I usually bring 3-4 tops, a couple of shorts, 2 bikinis and of course underwear. Leggings are also easy to carry and don’t take up much space. If I travel to a warm country I try to leave the bulky jeans at home or I bring some nice jeggings. If you want to travel light or you’re on the road for a number of weeks or months, you can easily do your laundry on the way. Another item that never fails is a scarf. You can use this on the plane as a blanket, wrap it when your cold or cover up when you visit a religious place. I bring some basics in terms of medication and of course diarrhoea tablets, some plasters, paracetamol etc.
Need to do some work?
I always work when I travel and I want to bring a small, lightweight laptop. As a photographer, I’ve used iMacs and MacBooks for years and I cannot live without my MacBook Pro. If you work with large files, make sure you have enough hard-drive space. I always travel with an external hard-drive as well to make backups of my work.
Keep you stuff safe!
Theft is everywhere but you don’t have to freak out when you travel! I often travel alone and knock wood, I only got robbed once! Thieves are quick so it’s important to be vigilant and keep your stuff safe. I always carry 2 or 3 padlocks with me so I can easily lock my bags. Fanny packs are no longer frowned upon and I find them so handy! I wear them over my shoulder so I can easily hide it under my coat or jumper. It’s the perfect place to keep your documents, money and passport. Tip: don’t have all your credit cards, money and important things in one place! And make sure you have copies and emergency contacts ready for if you need them.
I hope this list helped! Did I forget anything? Feel free to let me know or share any tips in the comments below!
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Disclaimer: To be fully transparent, please note that this blog post contains affiliate links and some purchases made through such links might result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). Not all links are affiliate links as I just want to share knowledge and tips with my readers and this blog is not aimed to make a ton of money! However, every little helps of course to fund future travels.