Skip to Content

Packing: My Top 5 Essentials – 3 Weeks On the Road

I’ve been living out of a backpack for more than three weeks now. I’ve quickly adapted to my limited wardrobe and lack of amenities. I tried to be very deliberate in my packing to only bring the items I would need regularly and couldn’t easily buy in a pinch. Even with that high standard to earn a spot in my backpack, there were a few items that have become absolutely essential. I assume this list will probably evolve based on where I’m at and how long I’ve been gone, but here are the five items I reach for most as I approach my third week of this trip.

1. FlipBelt

I’m obsessed with my FlipBelt whether I’m traveling or not, but when I am traveling it’s always the first thing I grab. While FlipBelt is typically advertised as a running belt (which I also use it for), when I’m traveling it keeps my phone, cash, passport copy and keys concealed and safely within reach. If I bring a purse, I’ll keep things like my sunglasses, business cards or packable rain coat that are easily replaceable in case I get pick-pocketed or leave my purse somewhere (something I’ve definitely done!). But usually I’m all FlipBelt all day. (Nope, I’m not sponsored by FlipBelt, although I would LOVE to be if you can get me the hookup! Just a big fangirl.)

2. Scissors

I saw this pop up on a few RTW travel packing lists, but not as many as I’d have guessed. I threw in a pair of kids scissors mostly just thinking I would use them to cut my hair. I was honestly surprised that I’ve reach for them as much as I have! I haven’t cut my hair once, but I have used my scissors pretty much daily for things like opening food items or cutting off tags on my new travel gear. I’d recommend sticking to the blunt-edge scissors though for airline security purposes (they’re technically allowed, but I’ll let you know if I run into issues at any airports.)

3. Collapsible Backpack (Daypack)

Unlike the scissors, it was hard to find a RTW travel packing list that didn’t include a daypack. Everyone is absolutely right in saying that you need a small bag for daily life. We spent a pretty penny on our full-size Osprey backpacks (Farpoint 40 and Porter 46) so we weren’t interested in purchasing a pricy daypack. And guess what? You don’t need to! We’ve been really happy with this 20L collapsable daypack. For $15, you can’t beat it! We use them to get our laptops to cafes daily, carry our raincoats and water bottles on day trips and as our personal item on flights.

4. Collapsible Water bottle

I swear, I have the collapsible version of just about everything in my backpack and LOVE it! I didn’t ever carry water bottles in the States, but here I feel like I have to have water on my person always! I think it’s because I don’t have reliable water everywhere I go like in the US where I could get free water at work, Starbucks, the Lakefront Trail, etc. I fill this collapsible water bottle up anytime we leave the apartment and either stick it in my daypack or clip onto my jean’s belt loop.

5. Dry Sack

I had a feeling that this would be an item that I bought because other backpackers said to buy it, but would actually end up sitting in my pack unused. Since the 4L Sea to Summit Dry Sack was small and inexpensive, I went ahead and bought it anyway and was so glad I did! I ended up using this as my laundry machine on a daily basis and it also saved our electronics when we got caught in a torrential downpour during a coffee farm tour in Medellin. This guy is small but mighty and I’m glad I’ve got it along for the ride.

Full size daypack, water bottle, FlipBelt, scissors and Dry Sack

Honorable Mention: MacBook

I struggle to call this a travel essential, because it’s more of a life essential. I’ve brought you this entire world of Lattes & Runways from my brand new MacBook. I wouldn’t say you need a brand new laptop for travel, but I got lucky because I needed a new one anyway because would turn colors and start beeping if it got tilted the wrong way. If you were buying a new laptop for travel, I would completely recommend this one. It’s tiny and light, but powerful enough to run iMovie, Illustrator and everything else I bog it down with.

My Macbook makes a guest appearance in most of my coffee shop photos.