What you carry with you has a huge impact on how you travel. The more stuff, the slower you have to go. Over the past five years or so of travel, we’ve worked down from having far too much stuff to finally meet our goal of travelling with only carry-on bags, and it’s made a huge difference. Somehow, though, we still manage to have a lot of crap!

In the interest of being open and honest, we thought we’d lay out exactly what we’re carrying with us, starting with what I have – later we’ll open Craig’s bag too. This list is subject to change, as we buy more books or finally get around to throwing something away, but it’s a pretty good indication of what’s on our backs.

I have an Aarn Backfavour 35-litre pack. It has a large central compartment, with a pocket at the back for documents or a computer, a top pocket, and a large external pocket on either side. I use soft-sided packing cubes and bags to organise my things.

This list assumes all clothes are in the bag – which doesn’t usually happen. I’m usually wearing some of them!

Left pocket

  • Games: Yahtzee, Settlers of Catan card game, pack of cards, chess
  • Stuff-down backpack
  • Deodorant
  • Glasses case
  • Contact lens solution and case

Right pocket

  • Box of business cards
  • Umbrella
  • First-aid kit

Top pocket

  • Small gifts
  • Business cards in a case from Turkey
  • A lighter that doesn’t work
  • Condoms
  • Bus case: earplugs
    , blow-up pillow
    , two eyemasks
    , sleeping tablets

Back pocket

  • MacBook Air
  • Document wallet
    – spare passport, various loyalty cards, various currencies (at the moment: NZ, US, euro, Argentina), passport photos, vaccination certificates, old boarding passes, Craig’s optical prescription, various receipts, birth certificates, marriage certificate, Police report from Peru, Craig’s boating certificate.
  • Stomach pouch
    – passports, spare credit card, euros

Pink case

Blue case

Green case

  • Wallet
  • Pack of contact lenses
  • Tampons
  • Various cables
  • An adaptor
  • Condoms
  • An SD card
  • A bookmark
  • Snaplock bags
  • Three harddrives
  • A DVD
  • Lots of earpieces for headphones
  • Jewellery

Other green case

  • Brown zip fleece


  • Silabario
  • ELE Gramatica Avanzado
  • ELE Gramatica Medio
  • El Principito
  • La Abejita Curiosa
  • La Poseída
  • Catan Card Game rules
  • Spanish-English Dictionary
  • Five notebooks and a small diary
  • A few pages of Arrowwords puzzles and Sudoku

Curves black case

  • Black cotton trousers
  • Kathmandu zip-off trousers
  • Colourful skirt
  • Black cotton t-shirt
  • Blue cotton t-shirt
  • Brown ITP t-shirt
  • Bright pink cotton t-shirt
  • Pink Craghoppers t-shirt
  • Blue merino long-sleeve top
  • Black Colo Colo shirt

Zip black case

  • Travel towel
  • Blue cotton singlet (for sleeping in)
  • White sports bra
  • Black bra
  • Brown bra
  • Seven pairs black cotton undies
  • Two pairs white cotton undies
  • Four pairs black sport socks
  • One pair Smartwool socks

Loose in bag

Pink toiletries case

  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Moisturiser
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Sunscreen

Black shoulder bag

  • iPod touch
  • Cell phone
  • Five pens
  • Comb
  • Headphones in case
  • Doxycycline tablets and multivitamins
  • Small Bolivian wallet
  • Lip balm, earplugs and Vick’s inhaler

Also carrying…

  • Watch
  • Peruvian snake necklace
  • Earrings
  • Wedding ring

Your thoughts on "What’s in Linda’s bag"

  • Was wondering what sort of Umbrella you have? Looking for a decent collapsible Umbrella for travelling.

    on February 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm Reply
    • Hey Peter, the umbrella is a collapsible one that I bought at the Warehouse (a NZ superstore, a bit like Kmart) and cost about NZ$10. It's held up well over the two or so years I've had it, much better than the one I got at the $2 shop. You can get good travel umbrellas at travel stores, but I'd probably recommend you just get a mid-range one from a shop like Kmart.

      on February 11, 2011 at 12:06 am Reply
  • This is really a very helpful article for those people who have a passion for travel. A disorganized packing can be a very stressing thing for travelers.

    on February 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm Reply
    • Thanks Desiree, I agree! I like organisation and I like to know exactly where in my bag certain things are. The packing cubes are so useful!

      on February 11, 2011 at 12:06 am Reply
  • Love the idea of the separate cases. I'm going to look around for some that will work for me like that.

    on February 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm Reply
    • Jessica, the ones I have I got from the $2 shop here in NZ, so they cost $2 each (US$1.50ish) and are perfect for what I need. I think they serve the purpose just as well as the $20 ones you get at travel stores.

      on February 11, 2011 at 12:07 am Reply
  • Thanks for the tip, Linda! I'll keep an eye out for them in the dollar stores here.

    on February 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm Reply
  • Linda, Thank you for so many ideas that I can translate into practical solutions for a traveling grandma. I need to travel light to provide extra space to replenish all the goodies the kids need, like tins of NZ sweet corn, chocolate, Vegemite, etc. Cheers.

    on February 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm Reply
  • What about shoes????? How about first aid and sunscreen and bug dope and sink plug and door stop, etc? That seems like a lot of books ( and I'm a reader. ) Wouldn't a kindle be lighter and easier? What about city visits? I'm older, and prefer to look less like a backpacker and a little more urban chic. I'm heading to South America for 4 months and will have only one small wheelie bag under 40 lbs. I'm struggling with how to justify red cowboy boots (I can picture myself in them in Buenos Aires!) The above list seems like there is another person sharing the load.

    on October 17, 2012 at 12:05 am Reply
    • Hi Beverly, This list is a little out of date now: I don't have all those books anymore, for one thing! I had so many because we were heading home from Spain and I'd bought a lot of grammar books to study Spanish with. I have a Kindle now, it's much better for my back! I forgot to write shoes (because I always wear them, I just have a pair of walking shoes) and I also have some ballet flats for wearing out. First-aid kit and sunscreen are listed above. We don't have bug repellent at the moment, since it's not necessary in Europe. We just buy it when we need it. We don't take a sink plug or a door stop. While there are two of us travelling together, I actually carry most of the shared resources as my bag is bigger -- I have the first aid kit and all the toiletries (a few more than is listed above, now... things like shaving gel and hair gel). Craig has the "kitchen" -- plates and sporks etc, and he also has all the electronics cables. It might be time to do an updated version of this list, but not too much has changed really -- apart from losing the books!

      on October 19, 2012 at 3:10 am Reply

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