My goal was minimalism. Keep the pack light. Some great websites to start:




  • It really comes down to how it fits/feels. Try to find a store to help with fitting. You can do all this research on bells and whistles to find the “best” pack, then put it on, and it hurts your shoulders.
  • Narrow down by size you want to carry and how you want to access your stuff (top or side). Rest is personal preference (e.g. how many pockets, if straps can hide, etc.)


30L Backpacks

I knew I wanted a smaller size for ultralight travel (30-40L) and side loading for easy access. It wasn’t hard to narrow down options. Round 1 were 30L.


Bought/Returned: REI Traverse 30L from REI $76

Bought/Returned: Osprey Porter 30L from Backcountry $110


RTW travel backpacks

Bought/Returned: REI Trail 40L Pack from REI $92.59

Bought/Returned: North Face Stormbreak 35L from REI $99

Kept: Osprey Farpoint 40L from Surfdome $100

Bought/Returned: Gregory Border 35L from ebags $128




  • Merino wool is amazeballs. Stays cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather. Supposedly doesn’t stink and dries quickly.
  • Search for discounts – whether online or thru email subscriptions. I don’t think I paid full price for anything (eBay, Backcountry, The Clymb, Amazon, REI). FYI I didn’t find any of the same brands at US discount stores like TJMaxx or Nordstrom Rack.
  • Toss up between going with light or dark colored clothes. Dark hides staining and is a good neutral but gets hot and attracts mosquitos.
  • Keep track of return policies


RTW clothing jackets
JACKETS – Patagonia Nano, Marmot, Mons Royale

Wasn’t going to bring puff due to space but scared I may need. Read that rain jackets are a must. I’m also bringing an umbrella so seems like overkill.


Bought: Patagonia Nano black puff jacket from eBay $60 // Considered: Uniqlo Ultra Light, Montbell Ex Light

Had: Marmot mustard gore tex jacket // Considered: Marmot Precip or Micro Outdoor Research Helium II

Bought: Mons Royale merino wool hoodie from The Clymb $60 (I dyed black from gray) // Considered: Chrome Pasha, Ibez FZ, Uniqlo


RTW clothing dresses
DRESSES – Nau, Icebreaker Crush

Dresses in summer are nice. Debated maxi but didn’t due to space. Figured I can get sarong or buy something if I need it.

Bought: Nau Camber black cotton dress from Backcountry $31

Bought: Icebreaker Crush black merino wool dress from eBay $25 (I Project Runwayed it removing elastic and dying black) // Considered: Nau M2 Hooddress, Athleta


RTW clothing skirts
SKIRTS – REI skort, Icebreaker Villa skirt

Don’t usually wear skirts. Figured I’ll keep cooler and look somewhat classy. And, hey, who doesn’t love skorts?

Bought: REI black skort from eBay $18

Bought: Icebreaker Villa black merino wool skirt from Rodale’s $57

RTW clothing tops
SHIRTS – Lole l/s, Icebreaker s/s, Smartwool tank, Segments l/s, Icebreaker s/s, Lululemon tank

Wondering if I have enough tops (seriously(. Wanted at least 2 l/s for mosquitoes. Lululemon will double as sleep top.


Bought: Lole Mariann grey polyester l/s shirt from Backcountry $36

Bought: Icebreaker 150 grey merino wool s/s T-shirt from eBay $29

Bought: Smartwool grey/white striped merino wool tank from eBay $13

Bought: Segments grey l/s shirt from eBay $15

Bought: Icebreaker 200 black merino wool s/s T-shirt from eBay $20

Had: Lululemon Power V black Luon tank // Considered: Uniqlo, ExOfficio



RTW clothing pants
PANTS – Craghopper Pro, Lole Refresh

I decided not to bring jeans because of dry time and weight. Think i may miss them. Would like to try technical travel jeans eventually.


Bought: Craghoppers Kiwi Pro graphite Trousers from Craghoppers $65

Bought: Lole Refresh black pants from Amazon $45 // Considered: P^ Pants, Anatome Skyler Skinny Pants, Outier



RTW clothing shorts
SHORTS – Nau, Lole capri, About boxers

Freaked out about not having enough so added Nau merino wool pants at last minute. About boxers are also merino wool and will double as sleeping shorts.


Bought: Nau grey merino wool long shorts from eBay $15

Bought: Lole Trail Capri grey nylon shorts from eBay $36

Bought: About black merino wool boxers from eBay $ // Considered: Ibex, Icebreaker, Lululemon


RTW clothing (under things)
RTW clothing (under things)

Went with reversible bathing suit. Everyone raves about ExOfficio underwear and SmartWool socks.


Bought: Rip Curl Mirage black/white reversible suit from SurfStich $92 // Considered: Lululemon, Basta Surf

Bought: Icebreaker grey merino wool Sprite Racerback Bra from Icebreaker $30

Bought: Gap favorite wireless nude bra from Gap $36

Had: Champion weblack sports bra

Bought: Boody Ecowear nude bamboo briefs from Amazon $12

Bought: ExOfficio black/white/nude nylon briefs from Orvis $18/ea

Bought: Icebreaker Sprite garnet merino wool hot pants from Icebreaker $18

Bought: SmartWool blue merino wool socks from eBay $8

Bought: Wrightsock 553 black merino wool socks from eBay $7

Bought: Point6® Extra-Light Micro-Crew Active Socks from Eddie Bauer $17

Bought: Icebreaker Sprite grey merino wool leggings from Icebreaker $45


RTW clothing shoes
SHOES – Lems, Abeo, Haviannas

Don’t think I’ll do a lot of hiking so went with urban style.


Bought: Lems black Primal 2 Shade shoes from Lems $95

Bought: Abeo Bryce Metatarsal black sandals from The Walking Company $140

Had: Haviannas turquoise flip flops // Considered: Chacos, Tieks, Vasque


RTW travel hat, scarf

Forgot to include my sunglasses. Decided on no jewelry; will buy as souvenirs.


Bought: Straw hat from TJMaxx $15

Bought: Lululemon Vinyasa black scarf from eBay $42





  • I’m using my unlocked iPhone 4S with Skype and Google Voice to talk for free with Wifi. If it fails then looks interesting.
  • Store data on a USB drive and carry with you
  • Travel specific apps I’ve downloaded so far:
    • WhatsApp, Skype, GV phone, Hangouts, Viber
    • Wi-Fi Finder
    • Trover
    • Hostelworld, Hotel Tonight, Airbnb
    • Skyscanner
    • Jetlag Rooster
    • MiFlight
    • TripAdvisor, Rick Steves
    • Moovit, Busbud
    • Triposo
    • CityMaps2Go
    • Google Translate, Duolingo, iStone, SpanishDict
    • Trail Wallet,  Convert, Fancy Tips
    • Evernote



Knew I would try to blog on road so hence laptop; look into VPNs and locks. Not great photographer so ditched DSLR. Opted for hard drive but considered cloud options.


Bought: Macbook Air 13” from B&H Photo $899 // Considered: Macbook Air 11″

Bought: Speck See Thru Satin Case for MacBook from eBay $16

Bought: Anker 2nd Gen Astro E4 13000mAh Battery from eBay $16 // Considered: Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation

Bought: Casio F105W Mens Black Watch from eBay $13 // Considered: Casio G-Shock

Bought: Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon $120

Bought: Omoton Case for Kindle from eBay $17

Bought: Seagate 1TB Backup Plus Slim harddrive from B&H Photo $64 // Considered: WD My Passport Air

Had: iPhone 4S (already had from the lovely AM) with LifeProof Case from eBay $26

Bought: Sony RX100 accessories (grip, LCD protector, extra battery) $36

Had: (3) SD Memory Cards

Bought: Sony RX100 camera from B&H Photo $448 // Considered: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

Bought: GoPro Hero 2 from eBay $89 // Considered: Sony Action Cam

Had: iPod Classic with case and headphones

Bought: Accell D0808 Travel Surge Protector from Amazon $13 // Considered: Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Travel Swivel Charger Surge Protector

Bought: Tripshell International TR-Adap-BK Travel Plug Adapter from eBay $7 // Considered: Kikkerland Travel Adaptor

Bought: (2) Nite Ize 6” Ties from eBay $4, (4) Nite Ize 3” Ties from Amazon $3

Charging cords for ^





  • Minimize liquids. There are: solids for shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream; toothpaste powder, DYI toothpaste dots and perfume.
  • Mix foundation with sunscreen for an all-in-one



This seems to be the bulk of my stuff. While you can get things abroad, I’ve read it’s hard to get some things like aspirin.



  • Prescription glasses
  • Years worth of monthly disposable contacts/contact solution/contact case



  • Microderma Face mitt
  • Chagrin Valley Olive Oil & Shea soap from Chagrin Valley $8
  • SolBar SPF 38 (tinted with my foundation) from SkinDirect $12
  • Bobbi Brown eyeshadow, Mascara, SPF lip balm, mirror
  • Pond’s face wipes



  • (2) Oral-B toothbrushes
  • (2) Sanitizing toothbrush covers from Container Store $2
  • (2) Floss
  • Eco-Dent toothpowder from Amazon $8
  • (100) Handmade toothpaste dots
  • Mints
  • Night guard



  • Travel Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Aveda Damage Remedy sample
  • BigSexy Hair Power from eBay $7
  • (15) Goodie hair ties
  • Lululemon hairband
  • Hard Lotion hair butter from Hard Lotion $4


Personal Care

  • Deodorant
  • Pacifica solid perfume
  • Chagrin Valley Shaving Soap from Chagrin Valley $5
  • Chagrin Valley Don’t Bug Me lotion from Chagrin Valley $7
  • Microderm Body mitt from Microderm
  • Razor and blades
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Hair trimmer
  • Sawyer Stay Put SPF 30 from Amazon $13
  • Sawyer Insect Repellant from REI $10
  • Insect repellant band
  • Nail clippers
  • Cuticle stick
  • PackTowel XL from eBay $21
  • (40) Tampons
  • (2) Rolls toilet paper
  • Go Girl from eBay $9
  • Kleenex travel pack
  • Wet ones
  • Cottonelle wipes



RTW Medical

Feel like I have to keep a medicine cabinet with me.


  • Thermometer
  • (28) Levaquin (infections)
  • (12) Zithromax (bacteria infections)
  • (42) Zofran (nausea)
  • (60) Malarone (malaria)
  • (80) Ibuprofen
  • (20) 2,000 IU Vit D
  • (35) antihistamine (allergies)
  • (8) antiemetic (motion)
  • (65) Electrolyte tablets
  • (20) Cold/Flu daytime
  • (10) Katadyn Micropur Water Purifier $6
  • (70) Lomotil (diarrhea)
  • Neosporin
  • Alchohol wipes
  • Bandaids/Blister pads



RTW travel sleep

I don’t normally use this stuff but heard hostels can be noisy.


Bought:(20) Howard Leight Laser Lite Ear Plugs from eBay $3 // Considered: Hearos

Bought: Cocoon Mummy Liner Silk from eBay $48

Bought: Bedtime Bliss Sleep Mash from Amazon $13



Rain gear

Bought: SteriPen Classic from eBay $27 // Considered: Water to Go bottle

Bought: Platypus PlusBottle 1L from Amazon $13

Bought: Sea to Summit Waterproof Pack Cover from eBay $10

Bought: Lewis N Clark Travel umbrella from WalMart for $13





Batteries for SteriPen, hair trimmer, flashlight

Bought: RFID Passport ID /Credit Card Sleeves from eBay $6 // Considered: Aluminum foil

Bought: Tuff N’ Tiny USB drive from eBay $18

Had: Fake wallet

Bought: 15’ Parachute Chord from eBay $4 // Considered: clothes line

Bought: 3oaks Survival Eat-n-Tool from Amazon $6 // Considered: spork

Bought: Sewing kit from WalMart for $1

Bought: Nite carribbeaners from WalMart for $1

Bought: Petzi Am’D Screw-Lock Carabiner from eBay $16

Bought: J015 Duct Tape from Amazon $6 // Considered: Gaffers tape

Had: Lighter

Bought: Fox 40 Micro Whistle from eBay $6 // Considered: personal safety alarm

Bought: Doug Ritter MkII Photon Freedom Micro Flashlight from Knifeworks $23 // Considered: 4Sevens Quark AA²

Bought: 5” Rubber Sink Stopper from eBay $4

Bought: Master Caster No-Slip Doorstop from eBay $5 // Considered: Addalock, door lock

Bought: Eagle Creek Nude Silk Undercover Bra Stash from eBay $12

Bought: (4) Diaper pins from eBay $1

Had: Sesame Lock // Considered: Squire

Bought: 6’ steel cable from WalMart $4 // Considered: retractable lock

Bought: Kolumbo luggage lock from Amazon $14

Bought: (200) Cable zip ties from eBay $5

Bought: Small nail clippers for zip ties from WalMart $1




Gift: Luggage tag (xo JY, SA, JH, AM, CF, SC)

Gift: Letters from friends to be read on the road

Bought: (20) Peter Pauper Press Thank You cards from Amazon $9

Gift: Journal (xo TO) and four-leaf clovers (xo KJP)

Bought: (2) Uni-ball Signo DX Gel Ink Pen from Amazon $6

Bought: Point It: Traveller’s Language Dictionary from Amazon $5

Bought: Lululemon Manifesto Zip Wallet from eBay $3

Copies of passport, passport photos, Drivers License, Rx, Vaccination card, International Drivers License




Decided not to do packing cubes or compression sacs because I need the flexibility to roll and pack in 40L.


Bought: Travelon Cross-Body Bag from Amazon $28

Bought: Elaxor Compact Zippered Travel Document Wallet from Amazon $13

Gifts: Passport holder (xo JO and SC, CF, JH, AM, SA, JY)

Bought: HikePro Packable Backpack from Amazon $19

Bought: Tapp C. Runners Pack Runners Belt from Amazon $7.77

Bought: Jack Wolfskin Mini Washchsalon toiletry bag from eBay $18

Bought: Sea to Summitt Ultra Sil 2L Dry Sack from eBay $10

Bought: Baggu 3D Bag Small from eBay $8

Had: Misc makeup/toiletry bags

Bought: Tenba 10” Padding Wrap for camera from Amazon $11 // Considered: Domke wrap

Bought: (4) Vaultz Mesh Bags from Amazon $6

Sea to Summit Waterproof Pack Cover from eBay $10

Ziploc bags



For a document list, click here ->travel


I’ll be updating this list too as time goes on so check back.

England Bits

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With limited wifi, and limited time (I’m a busy girl), I decided to start doing country recaps.   ENGLAND   Cities visited: 20 Miles driven: 2,815 Times got into car from left vs right: 32/34 Sights seen:   Trends: Squared eyebrows, high buns, … Read More

West Coast

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Heard about Cornwall England so drove hours to St Ives and Gurnard’s Head.   Was supposed to stay at Eden Project (biodome) but got totally lost. Ended up driving all night because didn’t have place to stay – getting a hotel … Read More


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Did a day trip to see some stuff.   Bath – Lacock – Avebury – Amesbury – Glastonbury – Wells. Lots of buries.   Lacock is a village with an abbey founded in the early 13th century. It cost money … Read More

Bath then bed

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Decided to save London for last. Going to Bath.   A two hour train ride to southwest England, Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for their Roman Baths c AD60.   Woke up and got chocolate croissant and coffee. … Read More

Road Trip!

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England, Wales and Scotland.   Good way to ease into the trip. I decided to rent a car after looking at costs/times for buses and trains. The car and gas will put a dent in my budget, but I’m looking forward … Read More

It’s About Time

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I honestly thought I would be gone months ago. Just jump on a plane and go – that was the whole idea.   Found out I needed to stick around for a while. Decompress. Enjoy another Chicago summer. Re-learn to appreciate … Read More

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