“Momma always told me to pack light.”
Unfortunately, my desire to have comfortable attire and still look sharp when I need to, and have all of the things that I needwant, is counterintuitive to this old adage. As I prepared for my trip in process – where I’ll be going through the jungle, to the beach, a yoga retreat, and in some cosmopolitan cities – it really posed a diversity of clothing and gear needs that I couldn’t compress down.
Halfway into the trip, I’ve worn most of the clothing, and have been pretty validated in my packing choices.
Here are some of my tricks on how I managed to squeeze it all into a manageable load and other items I’m oh-so-glad I brought:
- A roller duffle combo – I acquired a small-ish duffle with wheels, but it lacked a shoulder strap. Since it was free, I decided to go all “home-ec” about it and try to sew on a shoulder strap from another bag. Said strap already started to rip at my first destination. It was pouring in Panama City, and I just happened to be near the biggest mall in Latin America, and lo and behold – they had a behemoth duffle at the “Cases” store (and I’ll warn you that they have 4+ of the same store often, including Cases, which created quite the confusion), that comfortably fits all of my clothing, with extra room to boot. I wish it had a bit more structure and a better pull/wheels system, but for $20, I really can’t complain!
- A thief-proof purse that holds it all – Now I’m probably being a bit paranoid in the fact that I bought an “anti-cut” strapped purse made by TravelOn, but it’s actually the other travel benefits that I’m really digging. It’s a water proof material, it has tons of useful, and easily accesible pockets, it’s cross-body and pretty much fits everything I’ll need for my 13 flights this month (yep, 13!).
- Bug lotion, not spray – The smell of bug spray is just so absolutely offensive, and can pose a risk of leakage. Thankfully, 3M makes a nice under 3-ounce lotion (carry on approved!) that comes in multi-packs from Amazon. It’s only about 30 percent DEET and though a co-worker scared me into getting 100 percent, just in a case, I haven’t opened the stuff, and haven’t need to (even in the depths of Bocas Del Toro’s jungles).
- A quick dry microfiber towel – This was recommended on many travel sites, but I wasn’t super inclined to go out of my way to purchase it online. The one I procured at “The Camping Store” at the said gigantic mall has been a god send. It folds up oh so tiny, and offers the perfect amount of absorption for beach visits and other aquatic pursuits, and doesn’t track in a bunch of sand or take all day and night to dry.
Space bags – You can find these at most drugstores and they claim to save up to 75 percent of room in your bag. I’d say that’s possible, though a lofty claim, and the real benefits come from separating your clothing – so I have my nicer outfits in a different bag than my more active clothing, a smaller bag of underwear, bras and swim suits, and then another I use for laundry. It keeps the odors out, too!
- “The makeup case” – I’ve had this for eight years! I can’t tell you many things I’ve owned for 8 years that are still as useful as the day I got them, but this is one of them. I have no idea where it was purchased, but it’s simple and has separate compartments for a razer, liquids, etc.
- A toiletry case-turned-electronics case – I think I got this little zipper pouch from a gift set of kiddie lotions (yes, I’m the proud owner of “Nerds” scented body washes), and it perfectly fits all my chargers, my portable mouse, and all other miscellaneous electronic accessories I don’t want thrown across my bags. I also know what it looks like when it’s full, offering an extra layer of helping me not forget any of these items.
- Mace + whistle – I brought this handy little tool because it had a compass and a magnifying glass, and was really pleased to see it has a whistle too. I used it when I got lost kayaking (which brought a nice indigenous family to shore, and they kindly directed me to the right dock), and have it next to my mace… just in case. I haven’t had any incidents, but hold the canister in my hands whenever I have to walk somewhere alone at night (or even in the day, based on the area).
So there you have it! When I embarked on planning this trip, I recall that I’d love to just have a checklist to make sure I’m doing everything I should. So I decided to make one, for myself for future travelers, and hope you can find it useful, too.