I won’t leave home without…

IMG_1795Let me start by saying that packing for a 3-month adventure that included 8 countries and both warm and cool climates had me in a tizzy. Looking back I can see that I’ve learned a few things about what to bring, and what to leave out.

What to bring?

First thing that comes to mind as a ‘must have’ item is the PacSafe Metro 250 shoulder bag I purchased from Wanderlust in Vancouver. I love this bag! Aside from being very comfortable to wear, the tweed fabric made it look less like a typical tourist bag so I didn’t feel like I stood out wearing it. The fabric stood up well and even after 90-days of continuous use it still looked like new. The other features of this bag were the locking zippers, and the releasable shoulder strap that allowed me to strap it securely on top of my suitcase.


PacSafe bag & packable down jacket

Another item I won’t travel without is a packable down jacket. Lightweight yet extremely warm, my jacket came with a small carry bag that it could easily be stuffed into and then tucked neatly into my shoulder bag. When it was cold I wore it under my raincoat, on warmer days it was cozy and comfortable on its own.

Lastly, an item that makes me feel comfortable is my Force Guard lock. This clever little lock slips into the door latch and has two expanding arms that hold it securely against the door frame to prevent the door from being forced open from the outside.

Force Guard lockWhen I didn’t always know who might have a key, the Force Guard lock added a measure of security that allowed me to sleep comfortably knowing that any attempt to gain entry would, at the very least, make enough noise to wake me up.

How much stuff to bring?

OMG! How many times and how many people did I have sorting through my intended travel wardrobe until it was reduced to less than 50 pounds? Let’s just say it was a group effort! At one point my dearest friend reduced my cotton balls by half, now that’s precision! And I did come home with a couple cotton balls leftover.

What to leave out?

I deliberately packed ‘donation’ clothing items that I was happy to doff in favor of items to be acquired abroad. Despite leaving a whack of stuff behind in Malaga, by the time I reached the end of my stay in Paris I knew my suitcase was over-gross (for both baggage restrictions and my own limitations). A friend who was returning to Vancouver from Paris said he could take 10 pounds in his luggage so I stuffed as much swimwear and summer stuff as I could into an ‘I love Paris’ bag. When I was done it took two of us to close the zipper and the bag felt like a brick. I delivered it with a warning that the contents would explode if unzipped!

For starters, next trip I would like to reduce from a 26″ bag to something smaller…maybe not just a carry-on but at least something manageable…maybe 35 pounds. Having schlepped my suitcase up and down 10 flights of stairs in a day (I’m not OCD because I count the stairs, it’s just a way of distracting myself from the burden), and needing help to get it into the overhead rack on trains, I think disposable clothes are the answer! Doff, donate, and trash, combined with relentless paring, and creative pairing of items that work together in a multitude of ways.


afterpost kathryn abroad


  1. Catherine says:

    Great blog Kathryn.
    Keep writing, as I really enjoy your style of writing and hearing about your adventures abroad.

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