3-Month Backpacking Trip: What’s in my bag?

Welcome back, my travel enthusiast fellows!

Packing for a backpacking trip overseas can be a gruesome task. In my experience, my biggest problem has always been over-packing. I remember, because when I studied abroad in Singapore, I brought two large suitcases full of things with me. I didn’t use most of them. When I decided to travel in Japan, I had to lug around my two giant suitcases, which became a huge pain.

Nowadays, over-packing would be detrimental in the long run as I carry all my possessions on my back. Over time, I’ve cut down the stuff I take from 2 luggages to 1 backpacking bag and 1 day bag. Like so: IMG_0454Without further ado….

What’s in my bag?

Previously in my post on Ways to Budget Travel, I’ve mentioned my love for my Osprey 48 liter bag + waterproof cover. Here, I just want to emphasize how important proper gear is to traveling.

I specifically chose this size because it easily fits into all airline carry on cabins. Especially with budget flights, I can just pack it up and just bring it in as a carry on without having to pay for a luggage. The state-of-the-art suspension system made all my material possessions in my bag feel weightless, and is a lot easier on my back.

Best price of $130 at Amazon!

I am a minimalist in the things I pack when traveling. I also like to under pack to buy some clothes in the country I’m traveling as souvenir. 😉 Because I carry everything in my bags, I like to keep all my clothes and accessories as lightweight as possible.

  • 1x stuff sack
  • 5x shirts (3 tank tops for comfort/going out, 2 formal)
  • 1x water resistant jacket
  • 1x stuffable dawn jacket (I highly recommend getting these for ultra lightweight and warmth)
  • 2x pants (1 comfort, 1 going out) 
  • 3x shorts
  • 3x dresses
  • 4x socks (sporty and comfortable)
  • 1x scarf/shawl
  • Underwear (lots)
  • 1x shoes
  • 1x flip flops
  • Waterproof bag set (for water activities)
  • Safety pins/needle and thread
  • Multi-tool knife
  • Duct tape
  • Ropes
  • Headlamp
  • Ao dai – since I’m planning on celebrating Vietnamese New Year, Tet, in Vietnam, I’m bringing my custom made ao dai. I don’t typically bring this on my trips! Here’s a picture for reference!

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First Aid Kit – whatever brand or name you use, here is the gist of medications you want to take with you.

  • Anti-diarrhea
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Band-aid
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Allergy
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Pain reliever
  • Anti-mosquito/anti-itch cream (tropical countries)

Paperwork – I like to keep all of my paperwork in zip lock bag to protect them from water damage

  • Printout/screenshots of plane tickets 
  • Passport book/card (+2 photocopies to bring on day/night trips)
  • Vaccination records (depending on country)
  • Visas (Vietnam, for example)
  • Copy of TEFL certificate (If I plan to teach while abroad)

Travel cards

  • Capital One Quicksilver – 1.5% cashback on all purchases, no foreign transaction fees, no annual fees
  • Charles Schwab – no ATM fees, no foreign transaction fees worldwide. With this card, you can withdraw from anywhere at any ATM!

Day Bag

ADDITIONAL GEAR: IF YOU PLAN ON HARDCORE BACKPACKING + CAMPING

  • Camping tent and poles (poles can go on side straps, tent can go on bottom straps); I loved our Marmot tent because of lightweight and the air flow system. We had taken it on our trip to the freezing top of a volcano and survived thanks to it. The high price is worth the durability. 
Best Price at Amazon for $189.90

Final thoughts

Whether you’re traveling short term or long term, I hope that my list has helped you. Thanks so much for reading! I’d also like to know what you have in your bag. Let me know in comments below- Cheers!

Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

These awesome people are also doing the challenge!!! Click to see their stories!

 

Floating on the Clouds: Volcán Acatenango

Everyone who visits Guatemala must visit Antigua, and anyone who visits Antigua, must try to climb Acatenango, a dormant volcano since 1972. It is the dream destinations for activities as a backpacker. Cultures, nightlife, colors, foods, nature, ruins… Guatemala has it all! One of the many reasons why Guatemala falls on the top of my favorite list is Acatenango.

Why must you climb this volcano?

Reason 1: Acatenango is a twin peak. That means, sitting right across from it is a twin sister, Fuego, who happens to be a very active and angry erupting volcano. The twin volcanoes Acatenango and Fuego draw hundreds of visits from travelers every day. Fortunately, there have been no casualties of people hiking to see the eruptions.

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Fuego, photo taken atop Acatenango

Reason 2: At over 13,000 feet high, Acatenango is the tallest volcano in Guatemala, and the third tallest in Central America. To put this in perspective, Grand Canyon is only 6000 ft deep. Therefore, scaling it is not for the faint of heart.

Not only is Acatenango very tall, the incline is ridiculously steep throughout the hike, averaging about 20 degrees incline. People who wish to scale the volcano are recommended to join a group guided hike. Cuong and I, being budget travelers and very, very brave individuals, decided to go on this trek by ourselves- no guide.

Going up 13,000 feet stressed the importance of traveling light. I only took the things that I truly needed: cellphone (which unfortunately got stolen on the bus ride there), tent and sleeping gear, outerwear, 4 liters of water (heavy, but paid off), 2 giant bags of red beans, 1 bag of apples, 1 bag of tortillas, and 1 bag of bread. All these things were essential in supplementing our energy. We also invested in two sturdy hiking sticks in preparation for the steep hike.

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This is the outfit I chose for the big hike.

The Hike took blood and sweat to climb all the way up to Acatenango. With the incline, I felt as if I was trying to climb a vertical wall. About 30 minutes into the hike, I was already out of breath. There was still over 8 hours left!

We took frequent breaks, and were able to admire the beautiful views of the nearby Guatemalan cities.

About an hour into the hike, we encountered park officials, who required that we pay an entrance fee of 50 quetzales (about $7, a pretty hefty fee for Guatemala). We thought that they may just be extorting money from us as corrupt officials. So we haggled it down to about 40Q.  It turns out they were legitimate, and were there because they started collecting fees to deter criminals and thieves away from the trail– perfect.

We set off again on long trails of dirt paths, switchbacks into the woods. Once we’re high enough, we started to see beautiful lush green floras. Large vines, thick shrubs, and huge trees surrounded us. The one downside of going on a grand hike without a guide is the inability to know where you’re going.

About halfway through the hike, we were lost. To make it worse, it started to rain. We weren’t going to make it to the peak before nightfall. Thankfully, we ran into two guys who were also hiking to the peak. Misery loves company. We were so happy to meet people who also don’t really know what they’re doing. We set up our tents next to each other and huddled to keep warm and talked through the night. Careful to not deplete our food supply, we restrained ourselves from eating large meals.

The higher we climbed, the colder it was and the thinner the trees became. Pine trees were abundant in this section of the volcano. Soon enough, we reached the cloud forest. It was bizarre to hike through the clouds, and see it around us. I thought of how being above the clouds meant that we can’t be rained on anymore.

Each we start again on the torturous, I would be reminded of why we took the break in the first place. In my head, I was kicking, screaming, and deeply regretted my decision to do this hike.

…. and then…

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Above the clouds!

There it was. A deep rumble coming from within the ground. It’s difficult to describe what I felt at the time. It was a mixture of excitement, adrenaline, and fear. It reminded me of the first time I scuba-dived with a whale shark, completely out of my comfort zone.

It was so large, dangerous and strange, yet so natural and comforting.

We were just a two miles from the lava erupting from Fuego.  We were close enough to hear and feel Fuego. The angry twin sister erupted every five minutes. Every moment I lost hope on this seemingly never-ending hike, Fuego erupted again, and renewed my determination to finish the hike.

Finally, we’ve reached the top! I thought this moment would never happen. Hours and hours of scaling up the massive volcano.

What they didn’t tell us about the peak: it was freezing cold. 

You’d think being on- or near- an erupting volcano would be at least tropical warm. Wrong. There was nothing shielding us from this force of nature. The air is paper thin, the wind is vicious, and it’s absolutely frigid cold. We set up our tent right across from Fuego, seeing first class views of the bright eruptions throughout the night.

That night, we laid wide-awake, freezing, breathing in ashes, and listening to the volcano roar. We watched as the lava fill the night sky with angry, bright red. We were enthralled by the rumble, captivated by the colors, and felt fear of mother nature’s true power. The satisfaction of watching Fuego far outweighs all the hardships we’ve been through. I can’t wait to come back.

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We set up our tent right across from Fuego, giving us first class views of the eruptions.

I would love to hear from you! Please leave your thoughts, comments, questions, and let’s exchange stories!

via Daily Prompt: Climbing