My Traveling Indefinitely Packing List: An Update

It’s been four and a half months since I wrote about my Traveling Indefinitely Packing List and I’ve been traveling with the contents of this list for more than four months. So I thought I’d share how it’s working out for me.

This is the original post, but with notes added to each item.

Luggage

I have successfully been able to travel with my luggage as carry-on!

  • Carry-on suitcase: I’m really pleased with how my suitcase has worked out. It’s easy to carry around because of its small size and has been very robust. The wheels have withstood trundling over dozens of kilometres.
  • Small laptop backpack: This bag has been great! It’s also very robust and has served me well as a daypack for hiking or hauling home groceries. The small size makes it perfect for taking onto a bus or putting under my seat on a plane.
  • Tote as purse/daypack (carried in the suitcase on travel day): As expected, I got tired of the purse I brought as a day pack, wanting something a bit bigger that I could wear cross-body, even though I loved all the pockets in the purse. I replaced it in Sarajevo.I like how the new bag looks and how much it can comfortably hold, but miss having all the pockets for organising the contents. So I guess I’m still in the market for the perfect day bag!
  • Luggage locks: I didn’t start to use these until I left Bulgaria and was storing my suitcase under buses. I have no illusion that they offer any protection against a determined thief, but they are a deterrent to someone who just wants to snatch and grab. I felt more comfortable sleeping on public transport with my laptop bag having the lock.

Outerwear

  • Fleece zip-up hoodie: It’s not fancy, but it’s warm and comforting. It feels like both a jacket and a sweater, so it’s comfortable to wear indoors on chilly days without feeling like I’m wearing “outside clothes.” I’m keeping my eye out at second hand stores for a better quality one in dark grey, but until then, I’m happy with my pink one.
  • Lightweight rain jacket/wind breaker: As a wind breaker, it’s great. As a rain jacket, it’s proven to be a huge disappointment. Now that I’m somewhere that I speak the language, I’m going to look for something like “Scotch Guard” to see if I can properly waterproof it. I love how lightweight this jacket is and that it folds down to nothing. The bright pink colour is a tad obnoxious, but adds that pop of colour on a grey day that I need. I know I’d look more “polished” in a black one, but the pink makes me smile!
  • Chrysalis Cardi: I haven’t used this as much as I would have hoped, but it has earned a place in my traveling wardrobe. I actually really love how it feels and looks as a cardi, but it is a huge pain to get on and styled correctly. It also annoys me how the tag is always showing (but you need the tag to help you position the fabric correctly — they should have gone with something embroidered into the cloth in the same colour). I have used it mostly as a dress, and been very happy to have that option! But I am rather distressed that the fabric started pilling right after the first use, not something I expected for such an expensive item. There are a few more stylings I’d like to try with it, but haven’t managed to successfully.

Clothing

  • Two black medium-weight skirts, ankle length: I’ve been happy with these! They are a bit lighter weight than I would have liked, so I have to wear them with a slip or leggings. They drape beautifully and can really be dressed up or down.
  • Two pairs of jeans, one dark wash, one light wash: I love my jeans! I only started to wear them in Sarajevo (because it hadn’t been cool enough to wear jeans until then) and was struck by how comfortable they are. I even wore a pair for the plane ride to Barcelona. I mostly wear the lighter wash pair and save the darker pair for when I go out.
  • One pair of dark grey capris: They served me well in Bulgaria as my hiking capris, but haven’t aged well and the material is super thin. I would love to find a replacement pair in the same colour, but thicker material. I don’t wear these in public, but I’m happy to slip them on when I’m just hanging out at home.
  • Four tee-shirts: As expected, I am sick and tired of these! 🙂 I’m now actively seeking replacements. But they served me well all summer.
  • Three three-quarter sleeve tops: The good quality purple and grey ones are still some of my favourite tops ever. The pink one is cute, but doesn’t fit as well and has started to get a little pilly. I’m not looking to replace these yet.
  • One tank top: Along with the capris, this was my uniform in Malak Izvor! It’s now got too many stains to wear in public, but I still keep it for hanging around at home for sleeping and cooking.
  • One black shift dress: I’m surprised by how little I’ve worn it, but know that it’s mostly because it’s so short. Now that I’m somewhere that I “go out” regularly, perhaps I’ll pull it out more and style it with leggings and my Chrysalis cardi.
  • Black casual trousers: I added these in Bulgaria and they’re great for lounging around or a long day of walking.

Underwear and Accessories

  • One convertible bra: I’ve been glad to have the strapless option to wear with my Chrysalis Cardi as a dress!
  • One bra with underwire: I wear it when I “dress up” as it gives me a better shape.
  • Four soft bras: These are my daily bras and super comfortable, even if they are rather shapeless.
  • Four pairs briefs: I’ve moved to wearing these exclusively and they are surprisingly comfortable. It took me a long time to find a style of briefs that fit my body type and these are them.
  • Four pairs boy shorts: I managed to wear through most of these and only have one pair left to wear as pyjamas. I got annoyed with how the legs roll up and I have to wear leggings with my skirts anyway.
  • One half slip: I haven’t worn it much, but have been glad to have it when I needed it!
  • One pair long leggings: I haven’t worn these yet as it hasn’t been cold enough to!
  • One pair capri leggings: I’ve worn right through these and am looking for a replacement pair!
  • Five pairs of socks (three long, one short, one fluffy for around the house): I haven’t worn socks much as it hasn’t been that cold, but when I’ve needed them, these have suited my needs. I was happy to have the fluffy pair in Sarajevo.
  • One pair lightweight thermals (top and bottom): I haven’t worn these yet as it hasn’t been cold enough to!
  • One small scarf: I wore it once. It just hasn’t been that cold!
  • One large scarf (pashmina): Again, it hasn’t been that cold. I’ve only used it once to go into a mosque.
  • Four head scarves: I’m happy with the ones I brought with me as they offer me enough variety.
  • Earrings: I’ve lost some, picked up some, and am always happy to have a variety to choose from!
  • Two spare pairs prescription glasses: I’ve been wearing the same pair, but am glad to know I have backups.
  • Two pairs prescription sunglasses: I’ve been wearing the same pair, but am glad to know I have a backup.
  • Wig: I’ve only worn it on border days to make sure I look like my passport picture!

Footwear

  • One pair “dressy” flip-flops: These are my iPanemas and I love them. I can walk all day in them and not feel a thing! I actually hiked up to the fortresses in Kotor and Almería and the castle in Alicante wearing these! They are super “grippy,”  but they don’t offer any protection for the ankle, so hike in them at your own risk. I’ve found them quite good on uneven cobblestone streets as well. My only complaint is the straps are a bit fussy and getting them on isn’t a quick process. They really are a tad “dressy” and I love pairing them with my Chrysalis Cardi as a dress when I want to dress up.
  • One pair ballet flats: These are my Tieks and, with a slight reservation, I adore them as well. They are just so cosy! I’ve worn them on a rainy London evening when my feet were aching and while walking all over Sarajevo, among others. The flooring in the house in Malak Izvor wasn’t suitable to wearing socks as slippers, so I spent many long chilly days wearing them as slippers and could even operate my foot pedal with them. They are the perfect shoe for walking on cobblestones. But like many other Tieks owners, they are tight around the big toe, to the point that I have had to change into my iPanemas after a really long day of walking in the Tieks (more than 10KM). This is improving the more I wear them (with the shoe stretching), but it is making me reconsider buying a pair in leather as I’m worried about the leather moulding to my big toe. I’ll reassess when I get back to North America, but with my experience so far, a pair in a neutral leather colour (like chestnut) that I could wear year-round would be a fantastic addition to my packing list.
  • Two pairs hiking sandals (one heavy, one light): The heavy ones are my Keens, which are starting to fall apart, right on schedule. I’m waiting to see where I spend the rest of the winter before replacing them with possibly a light hiking shoe. The lighter pair are Earth Spirits and I have gotten rid of them as I wore right through them this summer, as expected. I really miss them here in Spain, but I’m not going to be here long enough to make it worth replacing them. So I’m making do with my iPanemas and Tieks.

Toiletries and Miscellaneous Items

  • Blossom cup: This has been a game changer for me and a change I’m rueing not making much earlier in my life. I don’t have to worry about finding suitable products in each country or making a mess in someone else’s bed, don’t have to deal with the trash, and  limited bathroom breaks on long trips are a non-issue. All traveling gals of reproductive age should consider switching to a cup.
  • Comb: Useful when I use the wig. 🙂
  • Hair ties: Useful when I use the wig. 🙂
  • Pumice stone: I use this a lot for both my heels and exfoliating my skin.
  • Nail brush: I use it daily.
  • Nail clippers: I use them weekly.
  • Tweezers: I’ve used them mostly for first aid!
  • Crystal nail file: I use it almost daily. I’m only five years into not nail biting anymore, so I still have to make sure I polish rough edges right away or I risk falling back into bad old habits.
  • Wash cloth: It’s amazing how many places don’t give you a wash cloth. I’m happy I packed this!
  • Deodorant: I miss my brand from back home!
  • Toothpaste: I’ve replaced it with whatever was the cheapest local brand wherever I needed it and have been satisfied.
  • Toothbrush: I was surprised that my favourite tooth brush is about 1CAD in Bulgaria versus about 3CAD in Canada!
  • Sunscreen: I was glad to have my Canadian stuff when I was in Bulgaria as it’s a product that you have to ask for at a pharmacy and we all know my language skills were lacking! I need to buy some more and it’ll be easier in Spain.
  • Body wash: I’ve just been replacing it with whatever’s cheapest.
  • Body lotion: I’ve actually stopped using body lotion! I’ve been in humid climates and like in Mazatlán, my skin has not needed additional hydration.
  • Ibuprofen: I’ve gone through a lot of this and been happy to find replacements when I needed them.
  • Band-Aids: I went through a lot of these in Bulgaria because of the spiky foliage!
  • Wet Wipes: I can’t imagine traveling without these! There has been so much finger food and so many bathrooms without toilet paper!
  • Purell: See the above!
  • French Press: Being able to make coffee anywhere I have access to hot water has been a blessing.
  • Business cards: I haven’t handed out many of these, but have been glad to have them when I needed them.
  • Pens: It’s amazing how many places I’ve stayed where I couldn’t find a pen. I’m happy I brought a bunch and have one in every bag.
  • Highlighters: I use them to mark routes on my town maps. A luxury item, but one I’m happy to have.
  • Power adapter: The most precious thing on my packing list and the one I take especial care to make sure I’ve packed when I move on from somewhere! I had a scare in Bulgaria once that I had left it behind when I had four hours of work to do with a deadline in six hours and only one hour of battery time left on my computer — so no time to get to Sofia to find a new adapter! I always triple check that I have the adapter and it travels in my purse, along with my Phone/iPad cable.
  • Passport, driver’s license, proof of health insurance: All very important, of course! I haven’t had to use the health insurance, but it’s something that was very important to my host here in Spain that I have.
  • Change purse: I only carry in it the money for the day and it works pretty well, but I’ve rued it in countries like Serbia that don’t really use coins and it’s hard to sort through folded bills!

Electronics

  • What I need to run my transcription business, including an unlocked phone. I won’t be going into detail about what’s going into the electronics bag: The only thing “extra” that I haven’t used is my Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter to hardwire myself to the Internet. I’ve been delighted with the fact that my pared down office has worked so well and that I’ve redefined functionality when it comes to my transcription equipment and workspace.

In short, I packed really well! Clothing-wise, yes, there are a few colder weather things I haven’t worn yet, but they take up so little space that it doesn’t matter. I’m not tired of my colour scheme, just the tee-shirts, and hope to replace them with something more stylish while I’m in Spain. They were perfect for my Bulgarian summer, however. The pieces I brought offer me a surprising amount of variety and I don’t feel like my wardrobe is as small as it is. Work-wise, I’ve been able to stay productive with what I brought with me.

This was my first time attempting a long trip with relatively minimal packing and I’d call the experiment a success!

10 thoughts on “My Traveling Indefinitely Packing List: An Update

  1. Rae, regarding the stain problem, I carry a couple of “stain sticks” with me. They look like a deodorant stick. When you return to the food market, you can find them on the aisle with soaps and detergents. The English language names are Tide and Resolve, and they are small and convenient to carry in luggage. It’s a solid with a secure pop on-and-off top. You just give the stain a firm and generous swipe with the stick, followed by application of a tiny bit of water, let it set for about 15 minutes, and then throw the clothing item in the washer with your other dirty clothes. It is unbelievable how magical the stain stick works.

    Dee

    • They unfortunately don’t have those over here, as far as I’ve been able to see. I find a dollop of dish soap and a quick rinse works wonders. But this top is really a mess — grease and berry juice all over it. Not worth fighting to save it. 🙂

    • One more thing; I have totally ceased buying women’s tee shirts. They are thin and flimsy; the neckline stretches out of shape easily with a lot of wear; and they look terrible after a number of washes. Those tee shirts have been replaced by men’s tee shirts; if you wear a medium in a women’s size, buy a men’s small regular. Where you are now traveling, men are so secure in their masculinity that they wear heavy duty all cotton tee shirts of numerous colors (even pink) which are appealing to us ladies. I buy those all cotton tee colors for me while in the Caribbean, and they wear like iron and wash well. As long as you purchase a men’s regular (no long tail tee), there is plenty of material to tuck into skirts or slacks (without having to be constantly tucking in the tee) and then put on a black or brown jacket to dress up the tee (which has a pop of color under the jacket).

      Dee

      • I don’t like men’s tees. I have a very masculine shape and they do nothing for me. I need a scoop or V-neckline and a little gathering at the waist to give me shape. I prefer to pay little for my tee-shirts, wear them through, and replace them regularly.

  2. I too am happy with the info in this post. Nice to know how little once can get by one. My big thing used to be shoes but I now have a pair that I can wear all day that will work for the evening if need be.

    • Shoes are also my weakness! This is why I want a pair of leather Tieks. Could very likely wear them all day and have them to dress up at night.

  3. Rae I’ve been considering Tieks but gosh – $200 USD! Are they really cushioned enough to be good/comfortable (vs. a good walking shoe or sandal) when trekking around cobblestones, uneven stone walkways, etc. all day? I live in San Miguel de Allende and was hesitant to spend so much and maybe not be able to get good use out of them. I’m so glad you talk about yours.

    I, too, appreciated this updated list. As a traveler from way back I always pack too much, or too much of one thing (shoes) and not enough of another (tops). I someday hope to get it down to all fitting in a small carry on bag.

    Many thanks for all the great posts and photos. Love your adventurous spirit!!

    • Barbara, basic Tieks start at 175USD. To me, YES, they are worth that! It depends on the kind of shoe you need and how “typical” your feet are. I’m very fortunate that I don’t have any feet issues and that I can read reviews of shoes and know that the average review will be close to my experience. It’s the same thing with the iPanema sandals.

      I find that the Tieks are great on cobblestone because they are “grippy” and well-cushioned, but still flexible. I wore them all over Plovdiv’s old town, in Sarajevo, on crappy West London Streets, all over Belgrade, and more. They don’t have much arch support, but I don’t seem to need it. I’ve had more trouble with my big toe hurting during the break-in period when walking really long distances (more than 7 miles in a day) than the rest of my feet “hurting” from all that walking.

      I find that they take up too much space in my suitcase folded in half, so I carry them stored flat and they really take up no space at all!

      I really want a pair in leather in the very neutral chestnut colour.

      I’m surprised by how well my packing list worked out. Glad you appreciated the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *