How to Prep to Live Out of a Backpack

Moving from a 1,000 sq foot apartment into a 46L backpack is no easy feat. You want to be as prepared as possible, but still bringing the bare minimum with you. I definitely struggled when deciding what was absolutely the most important items to pack my backpack with. I had to re-pack about 4 times until I could get everything to fit. I'll probably still shed items along the way, but after one week, this is what I've got in my backpack!

Techy Things​

I am going to be building websites on the road, so I needed a small, but reliable computer to bring with me. I got the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, because it could double as a tablet and a work computer, plus I liked the touchscreen. It's less than 3 pounds, which makes it easy to throw into my bag. 

digital nomad tech accessories

I signed up for the Google Project Fi phone, which so far has worked great. It has a virtual SIM card in it, so you don't have to switch it out depending on what country you visit. Google has a combination service of T-Mobile and Verizon and it works in over 120 countries. It's $20/mo plus however many GBs you use. What's really nice, is they pay you back if you don't use it all, and no charges if you go over.

So far, I'm in love with it! Only down side is it only works on the Nexus 5 phone, which has a type C-USB charger. You can only find these online, so if I lose my current one I'm screwed!

​I love the YurBuds headphones, because they are super comfortable and work well for Skyping, working out, or walking around. These Universal All in One travel power plugs were relatively cheap and work fine, don't get them if you're planning to use heat conducive plug ins (hair dryer or curler). I'm going cave-woman style, so I didn't need to worry about it. 

I also got a surge protector, because usually outlets are pretty limited in hostels. Plus, when I need to charge multiple things ​I can use the same adapter.

Lastly, I got this flexible BendyPod camera stand for taking photos when I'm by myself. Jury is still out on whether it's worth the space though. It'll be nice when I'm alone and need a picture taken, but so far I've stayed in civilized areas!​

So Many Clothes, So Little Room

best travel yoga mat

I struggled choosing the right outfits to pack. I wish I hadn't bothered to bring summer clothes, now I have to carry them around with me until the weather gets warmer, but at least I'll have tops to layer.

My main goal was to pick items that could easily mix and match and weren't white! I'm notorious for spilling on myself and I'm too lazy to separate colors in the wash, so my main color scheme hits pretty hard on the black side, same color as my soul. 

I brought my yoga mat with me, because I find it reduces a lot of anxiety and stress in my life. The precious extra space for yoga gear has been worth it so far. ​My friends from the Yoga Nomads suggested the YoFoMat, which I've loved so far. It's really the best travel yoga mat. YoFoMat is thinner, but has the right amount of cushioning to practice on hard floors. I also like how sticky it is. 

Little Extras

Having traveled before​, I knew that some things can really save you on a long flight, or when you're in a pinch. The hard thing is to not cave and watch a movie or play on your computer. Even if it's a movie you've been dying to see, don't do it!

The light from the screen messes up your circadian rhythm, which can prevent you from sleeping. When you can't check into a hostel for 8 hours and have to walk around like a zombie until then, you'll be happy you had that extra couple hours of sleep!

things to pack

Ditch the full sized neck pillow, a la Leslie Knope. Blow up ones are so much easier to pack and do the same job. Ear plugs and an eye mask will save you on a long international flight. They constantly have announcements and turn the lights on every time food is served. Plus, using your headphones sucks the battery out of your phone. It's nice to start your jet lagged day with a fully juiced cell. 

​I packed what I thought were the "essentials" for make up. Then, my sister went through it again to cut it in half. Ok, sometimes gold glitter eye liner CAN be an essential! Face wipes are miracle workers when you can't properly wash your face, or just want to feel somewhat clean.

I used one of those everyday pill counters to put vitamins, melatonin (to help sleep), and advil in. Make sure the containers will stay shut, I currently have melatonin dust all over my plastic baggy. But, that's the beauty of plastic baggies, use them for EVERYTHING!

I packed some laundry detergent and a lingerie bag. I threw some of the detergent cubes away, because they took up a lot of space. I also ended up tossing the wrinkle releaser, because seriously, who cares?​

Check our Diann Abroad's guide for packing unmentionables!

All of that has to fit into what??​

I really wanted to push myself to carry a "smaller" backpack. Part of my goals for this trip is to not depend on so many material items. I bought the Osprey Porter Traveler Backpack. I could go on a huge list of why I love this backpack, but I'll keep it short.

  • If it's not too full, it can go in as a carry on
  • Zips into itself when you want to check it
  • Unzips like a duffle, so it's easy to see everything
  • Removable day pack
  • Strap at the bottom for my yoga mat

How did ALL those things fit into this backpack? The magical powers of Space Bags! I put everything, except my jeans, flat inside the bags and squeezed the air out. Usually I would recommend rolling your clothes, but when you use space bags, you can get more air out by laying them flat. 

I get a pretty good workout carrying this bad boy around. I'm expecting to have shoulders like Arnold Schwarzenegger ​by July. The hip belt does help distribute a lot of the weight though! Until next time!​

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