My packing is done—except for a few toiletries—and I’m ready to go! I leave on Tuesday for a month-long solo trip to Guadeloupe, Martinique, then to visit family in Connecticut, then to a TBEX conference in Spain. In June I’ll leave on another solo trip, this time for two months.
Besides the issues of solo travel that I’ve written about before, packing is a challenge for me. I tend to pack too many “just in case” things that I don’t wear. Or I pack things I’m sure I’ll wear but never do.
This time, because I’m traveling alone, I realized that I have to be more concerned about the weight of what I take along than I usually do. Normally, if I can’t lift a suitcase up a flight of stairs to an Airbnb apartment, for example, my husband can help with it.
This time I really have to be independent. So I bought myself a convertible trolley/backpack that only holds 35 liters. It’s an Eagle Creek Flip Switch Wheeled Backpack (And, no, I wasn’t paid to review it. I paid €235 for it, which was full price.) For comparison’s sake, the big backpacks often carried by long-term backpackers tend to be in the 60 to 70 liter range.
It seems a quality backpack so far, but of course I haven’t put it through its paces yet. A disadvantage I’ve already spotted is that the backpack straps don’t fold down very small, so they add a lot of bulk, folded into the outside pocket. On the other hand, some details seem well thought out. For example, the clips where the shoulder straps attach have been encased in a cover, with means they’re less likely to get snagged on conveyor belts in airports. I’ll write a more complete review after both of my solo trips this year.
I figured that buying such a small bag would force me into packing more carefully. It worked! Fully packed, the bag weighs about 11 and a half kilos (about 25 pounds). If I have to use it as a backpack, at that weight I can lift it from the ground by myself and get it onto my back. And the rest of the time I can roll it.
I also have a smaller backpack which I’ll use as a day bag and a carry-on for the plane. At the moment it weighs about five kilos (11 pounds), but that’s including almost two kilos’ worth of a gift for my sister.
In order to make this work, I read lots of advice posts on-line and decided to go with the strategy of rolling everything and packing it vertically. The idea is that you can spot what you want without having to unpack the whole thing.
It sounds great to me in theory. I’m a little skeptical, though, whether rolling things up really prevents wrinkling. And what do I do with dirty clothes that I have to take with me? Roll them up the same way?
For my passport, cards and other valuables, I’m wearing a SCOTTeVEST. I’ll write a review of this too at some point, since I also wore it last year on my trip to Israel and Jordan. It’s got lots of pockets, mostly on the inside, so I can carry my cards and passport and reading glasses and whatever else I want to take with me on a daily basis. Wearing it, I still have my hands free to walk comfortably and take pictures. (And, again, I was not paid to review it: I bought it at full price last year.)
We’ll see. After my trips, I’ll post about how this went, and write a proper advice article based on my experience: what to take, what not to take, how to pack it.
For now, I just need to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything …