Published on August 27th, 20164
Packing Light for the Balkans: 6 Weeks – Carry-on Only
For once I’ve prepped my packing well in advance – and this time I’ve managed to take a full series of pics showing once-and-for-all that…
No matter how many days, or weeks or months you’ll be on the trail – it’s definitely possible to pack everything you need into a single carry-on size backpack or rollie or suitcase. Toss a small rucksack into the mix (for technos, overnight necessities, plus a few snacks of course) and you’re good to go – anywhere on the Planet for as.long.as.you.like.
Packing light is especially easy of course if you’re headed to a tropical beach. But in this case, I’ll be traveling through at least 7 different countries including quite possibly an ICE CAVE high in the Austrian alps. But again, tropical to frigid, all it takes is l.a.y.e.r.s. and a bit of planning.
So let’s take a look at just what I’ll be carrying, as well as how I fit it all into my carry-on size rollie and rucksack.
For starters, I set aside what I plan to wear on the plane. Selecting this outfit is critical as I’ll be taking no fewer than 3 flights (from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Miami, then to Philadelphia, and finally an all night flight to Munich. All this on standby, so who knows? I may be sleeping in an airport or two along the way. With any luck though, all will go smoothly, and the good news is – (if available) I’ll be flying First Class all the way!
Still… I’ll be “en route” for at least 24 straight hours. Thus, I best wear something comfy, yet stylish (i.e. one doesn’t fly First Class in one’s pajamas, yes?). And of course layered so I can adapt to all the inevitable fluctuations in air cabin temps along the way.
First of note: I shall bring 3 pairs of shoes: a sturdy pair of toed-hiking shoes (a.k.a. my “Keen” wannabees that by some miracle I managed to unearth here in Ecuador 2 years ago), plus a lighter-weight/more stylish pair of Teva walking sandals, plus the requisite “floppys” for hostel showers and the beach. Notice that (prudently) I’ve chosen to WEAR my most bulky footwear to maximize my minimal packing space/weight. Also, all black (because, you know – 24 hrs. en route), and comfy leggings plus a turtleneck (I do.not favor being cold/drafts whilst I sleep over the Atlantic) and a black dotted-swiss jumper with colorful scarf to (appear at least) to possess a modicum of “First Class” panache.
Now then – the main course: what-all do I pack in my (regulation carry-on size) rollie (which btw, niftily converts to a backpack should I need to heft it onto my dodderin’ back)?
PACKING THE ROLLIE/BACKPACK:
I’ll peck the entire packing list in detail at the end of this post, but for now – just a few stray notations:
- the shoes go in first – mainly because they just happen to fit so nicely between the back ribs of the rollie, thus saving every last smidge of space while keeping the soles away from my clothes.
- Notice too, I’ve not “rolled” my clothes (save for my thin wool long underwear shown beneath the requisite fanny-pack: both top and bottoms – given that I’ll be traveling o’er hill ‘n dale in the autumn of Eastern Europe, because: once again, “layers” people. Layers are your best travel buddy).
Yes, rolling your clothes is a standard packing “best practice”, but… suffice (much like most “rules”) I roll selectively. For this trip/particular batch of clothes, I found they fit better simply folded.
- Upper right: small blue fleece blanket. Yes, I know, I know – should a First Class seat be available on my flights, no doubt I’ll be offered my own comfy blankie (not to mention other amenities such as more generous leg-room, etc. – yay!) but… again, because I’m flying standby, there’s a real chance I may be stuck in (one or more of *six*) airports coming and going. So having my own bitty blanket might well come in handy.
- Lower right: small blue umbrella. I’m also bringing a tiny, cheapo plastic rain poncho (handy for protecting both me and my backpack should I find myself out on the street in a sudden downpour), but… Call me crazy, but I just think a bright blue umbrella might be a colorful photo prop for videos and pics I plan to shoot as I’m out and about.
Next up – packing cubes, Packing Cubes, PACKING CUBES! Small zippered cubes and bags to keep all the chunks and bits organized and tidy. Perfect for isolating shirts from underwear, from scarves, etc. so you needn’t tear your entire packing kit apart in order to lay hands on that elusive pair of wool socks.
(AFTER packing cubes – all neat ‘n tidy)
Next goes the stack of (3 plus the leggings I’ll wear on the plane) pants – to the back on top of the shoes:
PACKING THE RUCKSACK:
Now then, tucking all the technos, toiletries, snacks, etc. into the rucksack (which btw, can be handily zipped onto the rollie creating a single unit). Plus adding my jammies should I end up spending the night somewhere:
BTW… interesting etymology of my trusty High Sierra purple rollie/backpack/rucksack: The whole kit ‘n kaboodle I found more than 6 years ago – at a Seattle Goodwill for the grand sum of *$12*!)
THE PACKING LIST:
Note that I’ve deliberately made the above packing pics large (click on any to view an enlargement) so you might more easily see some of the minutiae that figures prominently in my travel packing. I’ve also included a few caveats after the packing list to explain the “why” of some of the items. Needless to say, packing for a trip is a decidedly personal endeavor, and your list may well include more or less items than shown here. But I do believe (based on 30+ years of solo, independent traveling to nearly 50 different countries) that you CAN travel – any.where. for no.matter.how.many days, weeks or months – with carry-on only baggage.
|6 WEEK BALKANS CARRY-ON ONLY PACKING LIST|
black tank top
black cotton turtleneck
*teal fleece jacket
*black leather neck purse w/ passport, phone + charger cord and plug, “Moo” travel cards, small notebook
TOILETRIES: (zippered plastic bag in rucksack)
* teal fleece jacket – the only item not pictured. I debated long and hard as to how hefty of a jacket I might need given the autumn temps across all manner of terrains in more than a half-dozen different countries. Suffice I finally settled on a lightweight fleece jacket – I figure with my beloved thin wool long underwear plus layers – I should be good for even snow and ice in the Austrian alps.
*yes, EMPTY water bottle. So as to slide easily through airport security, and fill up at gate drinking fountains thus avoiding the need to buy pricey bottled water.
*jammies. Note that as I’ll likely be sleeping in at least a handful of hostel dorms and shared bath private rooms (not to mention hopefully a couchsurf or two), a modest set of pj’s is prudent.
*GPSr – for geocaching. Yes, I have an app on my phone, but suffice it can sometimes be iffy for precisely locating a bitty micro-cache container, whereas my Magellan dedicated GPSr is far more reliable.
*fake deodorant, you may ask? Yes indeed, an empty deodorant container is a most handy place to stash some emergency cash – in a place arguably no thief would think to look.
* pen (or pencil) wrapped with about a foot of duct tape. Suffice no surprise that a small swath of duct tape can come in mighty handy for temporary repairs of all kinds along the trail.
* Yup, I’ll bet you’re wondering what the bag filled with beans is all about, yes? Suffice, a most handy “tripod” for propping up my phone at odd angles for selfies.
Finally I think I’ve written a definitive (*illustrated* even!) packing list that hopefully will inspire you to pack LIGHT for your next adventure. Do share any packing tips of your own in the comments below.
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(trust that I’ll not clog your precious inbox – I generally only post but once a week.)