Now that we are a little less than two weeks away from our trek to Southeast Asia (Ah!!), I’m re-starting the process of packing up my life into my backpack. Lists are being made, clothes are being sorted, and hair is being pulled out.
This got me to thinking about my original packing list for the first five months. I’ve decided it would be a good idea to go back over the list I posted in July, and update it for you with what I actually used/didn’t use.
Side note: I was very fortunate that I saw my mother not once, but twice during these five months. She was able to help me swap out some stuff that I didn’t need for things I did, and I’ve noted that below with an asterisk* (along with items I purchased along the way).
Also, as I finalize my SEA packing list, I will post that up here for you too!
(This is going be a little long, but I found these very helpful when I was planning for my trip so I hope you do too!)
Updated Europe & Central America Packing List
What did I actually use?
As a reminder, I’ve been using the Osprey Farpoint 55L backpack. The large backpack is 40L and it comes with a 15L detachable daybag. These bags are awesome and hold so much! After five months, they are still in near-perfect condition. And even though they are not advertised as “carry-on” size, they fit into every overhead compartment that we tried (Ryan Air, Easy Jet, Volotea, Vueling, United, American, Delta, Air Transat, etc).
Converse Wore these a lot when we were in cities. Wore them so much I put holes in the sides and got new ones for Christmas!
Nike running shoes Honestly didn’t wear as much as I thought I would but for days that we went hiking & travel days, I was glad that I had them. Sidenote: they do take up a lot of room in your bag so I would recommend a lightweight pair!
Sandals Wore all the time when we were in hot climates and touring
Flip flops Wasn’t sure if I needed these and I’m SO glad I brought them. They were the cheap $1 pair from Old Navy and for as much as I wore them (beach, weird bathroom situations, etc) they still look brand new. Will definitely be coming to SEA.
*Black slip on sneakers These were purchased from H&M for $10 in Budapest. Once we hit colder weather, I really wanted another closed toe shoe that I could wear around cities. They were really lightweight and took up very little space so I was glad I bought them, even if they were a little unnecessary. I gave them to my Mom when I saw her for Thanksgiving (didn’t need them for Central America).
+ People say that three is the magic number for shoes. Obviously, I went over that, having five pairs at one time! However, I found good use for all of my shoes and I will be packing the same original four pairs for SEA.
Jean shorts Wore a lot
Black shorts Didn’t wear a lot. Probably wouldn’t pack these again.
Black skinny jeans Jeans are controversial for backpackers because they do take up so much space & are heavy. However, in colder weather these were on every day and I didn’t regret bringing them once.
Green linen shorts Wore a decent amount and were a great beach cover-up. Annoying because they wrinkled so easily.
3 Bathing suit tops, 2 bathing suit bottoms Ahhh probably my most worn items and also my most annoying. Simply put, I didn’t bring the right types of bathing suits, so I ended up purchasing another top along the way. I will be living in bathing suits in SEA so expect this number to be the same, if not higher. I kept these separate in this cute, lined bag that I bought for $2 at Old Navy. Great for when you have damp clothes.
Romper Wore a lot. Would pack again. Great for going out or as a beach cover-up
3 Dresses And I purchased two more on the trip. With dresses (and all clothes, honestly), only bring things that you love wearing and will be okay wearing all the time. Two out of the three original dresses that I brought, I wore once or twice, and
Black cardigan Maybe wore it once in Paris? Gave it to my Mom when she came to Italy. Wouldn’t pack again
Lightweight, Zip-up hoodie Wore all the time when I was chilly and used it to layer when I was in Eastern Europe.
3 Long sleeve shirts Two I wore a lot and one I never wore. Two would’ve been the magic number here.
6 Tshirts Four would’ve been fine. I didn’t wear two of them that often and ended up giving my Mom one in Italy to take home
3 Tank tops Two would’ve been fine. One was dressy and I wore it once or twice. Probably wouldn’t pack it again.
10 Pairs of underwear Most packing lists I read said 5-7 pairs was perfect (some even said 3, yikes!), but I’m glad I brought 10. You never know when you’re going to be able to do laundry again, so you want to have some extra pairs just in case! Also, I kept these in a cute bag from JCrew that separates dirty/clean. Great buy!
2 Bras One was an every day bra and one was strapless. I didn’t wear the strapless often, but I was glad I had it when I needed it and it didn’t take up too much room.
2 Sports bras Used both a lot
Sleep/lounge outfit Obviously wore a lot, but I will be taking sleep shorts that take up less room to SEA.
Auburn T-shirt As much as I love my team, I never wore this. Gave it to my Mom in Italy to take home.
Leggings Wore A LOT. Perfect for travel days when you don’t want to wear shorts on an airplane.
Gym Shorts I practically lived in these. Will probably bring two pair to SEA.
2 Pairs of socks For as little as I wore my sneakers, I could’ve gotten away with one pair.
Baseball hat I guess this came in handy? I think I only wore it on the beach a few times.
2 Scarves Only needed one
*Black bomber jacket Also purchased at the H&M in Budapest for $20. Not something that will last me a long time, but it definitely served it’s purpose in Eastern Europe and when we stopped through NYC for a weekend in November. Gave it to my Mom over Thanksgiving because I didn’t need it in Central America.
*Lightweight lounge pants My Mom brought these to me in Florida for Thanksgiving because I was DYING for some loose, lounge pants for lazy mornings/evenings. These are definitely not a necessity but something that makes me feel like I’m at home, so I will probably be taking these along to SEA.
Packing cubes A lifesaver for keeping organized. Can’t believe I’ve gone this long in life without them. I fit everything (including shoes) into one large and two small E-Cube bags.
Toiletries & make-up Obviously needed this stuff and used it every day. Two things to note, some toiletries were unnecessary, some I wish I had brought (hair conditioner!). Make-up, I used frequently, but less and less as the trip went on (sorry, Casey). I think that just naturally happens when you’re used to wearing it every day and then realize it’s mostly unnecessary. I will only be bringing essential make-up to SEA.
Medicine bag Thankfully we didn’t this a lot, but great to have it when we did.
Small, cross body purse Used all the time. However, I wished I would’ve had a slightly bigger one to hold more stuff like an umbrella and camera.
Laptop & charger Used all the time, but something to note: if you have a MacBook, you don’t need to bring the extra extension that comes with the charger (if you have one you know what I’m talking about). It’s heavy and I never found myself THAT far away from an outlet. I gave that part to my Mom in Italy.
Kindle & charger Yep, used a lot.
Cell phone & charger Duh.
DSLR Camera with camera bag This is a difficult one because we used the camera ALL THE TIME in Europe. However, because my small purse was well, small, the camera didn’t fit and it was clunky to carry around. Convenience alone, we resorted to using our iPhone’s for a camera and stopped using it altogether in Italy. I ended up giving it to my Mom before Central America. For Christmas, I got a GoPro knock-off, so that will be coming to SEA with us.
Over-the-ear Beats Headphones I was glad that I had these for plane rides and when I lost my iPhone earbuds but they do take up a lot of space. Accidentally left them at my friend’s apartment in NYC so I might take them to SEA if I get them back in time to pack them. Maybe not though.
2 pairs of sunglasses Only wore one pair. The back-up pair was unnecessary. You can buy cheap sunglasses everywhere.
Passport w/ copies Thankfully, never needed the copies but these are a must-have.
Copies of travel insurance & other important documents Same as above.
Plug converter Used all the time in Europe. Central America has the same outlets as the US. However, the one’s we bought from Amazon weren’t great. They were kind of clunky and the USB ports on one of them stopped working a month into our trip. Could’ve done with just bringing one I guess.
Small portable battery for phone Didn’t use all the time but I was really happy I had this on occasions when we were traveling and my phone was dying. Just remember to charge it up so you have it when you need it!
Microfiber Beach towel We used these things every single day around Europe in the Summer. We went to a lot of beaches and it was so nice that we had our own towels. They did however, take up a lot of space in our bags (could’ve gone with smaller ones) so we ended up giving them to our Airbnb hosts in Greece, since we didn’t need them in Eastern Europe.
Microfiber Hair towel Loved this thing but I left it by accident in Athens. I like having a separate towel for my hair so this was a nice-to-have, but not necessary for most people.
Inflatable travel pillow Only used on our long-haul flights to/from Europe, but since it’s inflatable it took up very little space. I was glad to have it on those long flights.
Day planner Meh. I’m up in the air on this one. I brought it as a way to keep a record of every day on the trip, which is great in theory but it means you have to actually write in it. Something that I didn’t keep up with. I’ve gone back and retroactively filled in the days, so I will probably still take it to SEA and just hope I do better this time around.
2-3 ziplock baggies Take up virtually no space and a good-to-have when you need them (liquid thats leaking, to store extra food, etc).
2 Bag locks Didn’t use every time we traveled (like if our bags stayed with us), but for when we checked bags or had to leave them somewhere, we were glad to have these for security.
Fitbit & charger I lost the charger on day two of the trip soooo the FitBit only lasted me a week. Still have it though (with a new charger!). Not sure I’ll take it to SEA.
Cheap watch Threw this out in Malta. It was annoying to wear and ticked really loudly at night. Didn’t miss it at all.
*Wide Headband Random thing to list here, but I bought one of these in Costa Rica and I barely took it off in Central America. Great for hot days when you don’t know what to do with your hair (of if your hair is dirty)
*Headphone Splitter Something I forgot to add to the original list but this little device was a lifesaver. We used this on every train/plane/bus trips when we wanted to listen to the same thing. Only cost like $12 on Amazon and I would buy it again in a heartbeat if i lost it.