G Adventures: Coast to Coast Eastbound – What I Took

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.

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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.

Toiletries

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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

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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.
  • Black jeans – easiest thing to dress up or down, boy or girl or other.

Camping

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.

Technology

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.

Any regrets?

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!

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The One-Bag Pack: Trial and Error

On a recent trip to Cyprus, I tested out my Osprey Farpoint 40 for the second time to see how it holds up with carrying everything I need for my long-term trips. This holiday was nine days but trying to figure out what I think I need and what I actually need is turning out to be more of an art that I previously anticipated.

IMG_3856As you can see I have some cheap arse packing cubes at the moment. They were a gift and a great learning curve for why these bits of material can save so much hassle on a holiday where you want to be at a beach or exploring a temple rather than trying to figure out where your favourite pair of knickers are. I have three that fit into this bag and their uses came pretty naturally – one for underwear, one for swimwear and bed clothes, one for outwear. The things that don’t fit into these categories either go down the sides or in the front compartments like my jean shorts and flip flops. I think I’ll be investing soon in some sturdier cubes as these ones are already falling apart with holes and loose thread after two trips.

IMG_3855So this is the majority of the outerwear I took with me to Cyprus. I didn’t wear three of the things pictured. We never learn, do we. The lovely orange dress from New Look was too small and taken back to the shop. I had the palm tree shorts from H&M in black also but found them uncomfortable to sit down in. I always bring the metallic playsuit from Topshop because it was expensive and deserves a night on the town.

Lesson learnt here is test out your clothes for what you’re actually going to use them for. I suck at this and need to get better at it to efficiently use the small amount of space I have given myself. Not pictured is a vest from Vans that might as well be surgically sewn to my skin and a plain white shirt that was perfect for day and night. These aren’t pictured because they were being worn and loved so much. Go figure.

I also took my MacBook – big lesson. I’m not taking my MacBook anywhere, ever again. It’s too bulky, I can’t rely on wifi anywhere on this world and its benefits do not outweigh the literal weight of this thing.

I can’t see my requirements being completely different for a cross-country road trip in the USA so I’m happy with what I found out on this holiday.

Less is more and know what you like and use. One would think this was simple!

Minimalism: DVD Storage

I feel as if I’m coming to a common minimalist road block – DVDs! What do we do them? Give them all away or sell them? But I worked so hard on building it over the last ten years!

Since an early age, I’ve preferred keeping discs in folders so messy and unorganised cases didn’t get in my way but now I’m pressed with a decision. As digitalisation is such a viable option now, is there any real reason why I’m clinging onto my collection?

Has anyone got any tips for dealing with their DVD collection, minimalist style? I am very much at a loss as some may be able to tell!

The Daily Declutter: Scrapbooking

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So this is my beautiful (I think that’s sarcasm, I feel like it’s currently similar to that pair of socks that you just can’t throw away because they’re too comfortable and you love but anyway) scrapbook!

I was one of them teenagers with a room covered floor to ceiling in posters, cinema tickets, train tickets, drawings, whatever – if I could put blu-tac on it, it was on the wall. Even though we redecorated that room around six years ago (not to mention moved), I still had all those memories stuffed in plastic envelopes that I’d sometimes go through but never properly organised… Until now!

It’s quite a big book so this is just one of the many concert ticket pages. Bought from Paperchase and mementos stuck on with corner sticks or invisible mounts, it’s been fun and a cute way to keep all my teenage crap without having it cluttered.

Sometimes I wish I had the desire to be an extreme minimalist – no sentimental crap, only the essentials – but then I think about how much fun it is to look back on things like this to be inspired to do more.

How has keeping your past mementos affected your decluttering process, if at all?