Always the biggest question with longer trips and bloggers – what did you pack?! I know I slaved over this question when deciding on every little thing but I’m pretty happy with what I decided for and against so here it goes!
Along the way, what kept me focused was this packing list from Tortuga Backpacks. Their prices to ship to the UK are a bit steep but I thoroughly enjoy their newsletters and anyone planning a more minimalist travel style would benefit from them.
As previously discussed, I went with the Osprey Farpoint 40. This was the perfect medium between trying to take literally a backpack and a 70 litre. I wanted something that I wouldn’t dread putting on my back if need be, that kept me on my toes when buying things and would work for future trips. Even at full capacity that I used it to, it still wasn’t terribly heavy so I’m pretty happy with this decision and would urge anyone considering it to give it a test run in their local outdoors shop.
This was a pretty huge deal for me. I’m not a particularly makeup and pampering lady, but confining myself to this teeny tiny toiletry case from Muji was hard. It was basic on some people’s standards but extravagant by a minimalist’s world. One thing out of it that I absolutely rate is Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. That tiny little bottle lasted me the whole trip and kept my skin just hydrated enough through sun, sand and wind. Big tip from me is that if it’ll make you feel a little more like yourself on a night out, allow yourself one thing. I’m not a regular mascara wearer, but after three days of not showering in campsites but a club to go to in New Orleans, it made me feel very much renewed!
Inside the Bag
This had to cater for nights out in Vegas, swimming in rivers at Yosemite, hiking the Grand Canyon, dinners in Memphis, dancing in Nashville, shopping in New York and quite a few other things inbetween. I find full packing lists a bit boring so I’ll just run over what I think is super important for this type of trip.
- Packing cubes – The ones pictured are Eagle Creek and I also had a large one for clothes from Muji. we often got off the bus, dumped our stuff and headed out on our adventures. With this in mind, I wanted to be able to change a stinky bus t-shirt or find my camera charger quickly. The large Muji one also turned into my pillow as my travel pillow sucked. The people with suitcases did not have this luxury. You’ve heard it before and I’ll tell you again, packing cubes are life.
- Tracksuit bottoms/comfy shorts – these were actually a last minute buy of mine and my god, am I happy I did. I couldn’t tell you how long we were on that bus but over 6,000 miles, I’m happy I didn’t wear jeans the whole way.
- A nice pair of shoes (but only one) – no one wants to wear Vans out in Vegas and that’s saying something from me. I took some cute Mexican loafers and got lovely comments on them the whole way!
- Good quality socks – not the ones your mum bought you a few years ago from Asda, I’m talking Nike or SmartWool. It seems ludicrous spending this money on socks but for real, I made holes in both socks walking over the Golden Gate Bridge on my very first day and then had to dive into Nike in San Fran to replace them.
- A decent sized travel towel – you shouldn’t have to dry yourself with a napkin. Just accept it.
- Black jeans – easiest thing to dress up or down, boy or girl or other.
For this trip, I had to bring a sleeping bag so I brought along another suitcase which I checked in. I tried really hard to find a four season sleeping bag that was small enough to just carry by hand but I couldn’t find one. The suitcase doubled up as a New York shopping bag and during the trip, I would put shoes in there.
I was extremely happy with my sleeping bag, the Vango Serenity Single. I decided that because I had cut down on so much of my clothes, I would allow myself this luxury as I hate mummy sleeping bags. If size isn’t your issue and you want to feel like you have your quilt from home on you, go for this sleeping bag. It’s amazing.
For some reason that I cannot explain, I thought it would be a good idea to only take a film camera on this trip. Thankfully my mum broke my camera trying to get the film out of it three days before which a) saved me from not having my amazing trip remembered in glorious HD and b) forced me into a decision quickly which is one of my main problems when deciding to buy things.
I chose the Sony a5000 after quick but thorough research and that’s what most of my pictures were taken on. I also had a neat app that meant I could send my photos to my phone to back up over a wifi connection between my phone and camera (no actual Internet required) which was handy to do on the bus. I also signed up to Dropbox Pro which backs up your phone continuously.
In hindsight, there are only a few things which I wish I brought along which isn’t that bad for this type of trip.
- A pair of good quality sandals – I almost bought a pair of Teva’s on multiple occasions but couldn’t bring myself to spend £50 on sandals. I now know that they’re much better for your feet and the benefit I would have reaped from them.
- More books/Kindle – I think on future trips, especially if they involve camping, a Kindle will be a godsend.
- A water bottle with a filter – I became very aware of how many plastic bottles we were all throwing away on a daily basis, let alone over the entire trip. To be completely honest, even bottled water in the US tastes pretty horrible to me so once water from a fountain went through a filter system, I’m sure it would be more drinkable.
Hope this helps some confused adventurer out there like these posts helped me!